Kahlil Felder is a wonderfully gifted basketball player at my own alma mater. Oakland University in Rochester, Mi. A quiet buzz has begun as to whether Felder will ever make it to the NBA.
Argument for ---
Felder is leading the entire collegiate country in assists per game and is in the top 5 scorers. If he were to somehow get to #1 in points per game as well -- Kahlil would be the first college player ever to pull off such a two-fer. He's a superb ball handler and semi-deadly from the free-throw line. After not being recruited by "power" schools while still a prep, Kahlil has a definite chip on his shoulder to prove them wrong. A tireless worker and student of the game, Felder has shown he can play well against the "big boys" when given the chance. Despite coming from the rough streets of Detroit, Kahlil Felder appears to have come out the other side squeaky clean in his personal life. In this day and age, pro scouts are highly attuned to any "personal" issues that might come back and bite their team in the butt later. They not only want great players, but upstanding citizens in the community as well. On the surface, Felder would seem to offer both.
First and foremost, Kahlil Felder stands a meager 5 foot 9. True, it's technically illegal to discriminate against a person based on their physical characteristics and/or limitations, but pro sports has long rightfully been exempt. I mean, c'mon. You won't see an NFL team drafting a 150 pound dude to play nose tackle, no matter how mean and tough he is. And even if he was otherwise defensively brilliant behind the plate, a one-armed catcher in Major League Baseball would be problematic when opposing runners tried to steal bases. That likely wouldn't work out so well. Sure, there have been other "little guys" that had success in the NBA in years past. But they are definitely a dying breed. Even "smallish" point guards these days are usually at least 6 foot 2 or 3 while possessing the same ball handling/shooting/quickness skills that Kahlil Felder has. If he were to get a shot on an NBA team, Felder would be going up against guys that can do everything he can do, but are much taller. A definite disadvantage.
Felder has demonstrated that he's an outstanding player in the Horizon League. But the Horizon League is to college basketball what AA ball is to the majors or the Webcom tour is to the PGA. Huge success at a lower level is no guarantee an athlete won't crash and burn if given the chance to play against the big boys on a regular basis. Sometimes it happens, but usually not. The odds are highly against it.
Felder's now a junior and could declare for the NBA draft after his present season at Oakland U is over. Of he could stay on for his senior year, get his degree, and hope his stock rises even further.
Either way, last time I looked, the NBA consisted of 30 teams and two rounds of drafts each year. That means only 60 guys will be chosen. Throw in the international players from various countries and the number for American collegians likely drops to around 40. Also true is "undrafted free agents" theoretically have a shot at making an NBA roster, but it's slim. This happens far more often in pro football or baseball, merely because the team rosters are so much larger than an NBA team, with a wide variety of skill sets in play. In football, if a guy is a reliable "long-snapper" on field goal attempts and points after touchdown -- that all he needs to to. Same with punters. Kick it high and long. No other skills necessary. But NBA basketball requires multiple skills on a very limited roster.
Whether or not Kahlil Felder can ever make that very large jump remains to be seen. But first things first. For sure Felder is a great talent at the level he's playing at, but it also remains to be seen whether any NBA team will even give him a chance.
Five foot nine is what it is. If he's already a junior in college, there's likely no growth spurt in his future. And it's not exactly a desirable physical trait to have when aspiring to play in the land of the giants.
Here's wishing Kahlil Felder the best -- and go Grizz -- but count me skeptical regarding his NBA hopes.