Iowa’s James Daniels is one of the top centers in… Wait, let’s try that again. Iowa’s James Daniels is one of the top guards in the 2018 rookie class. Or should it be tackle? It’s hard to tell what position to call him yet, but no matter where he winds up playing, the versatile offensive lineman is a major name to watch during this year’s draft.
Daniels started two games at guard during his 2015 freshman season before switching over to center for his remaining two seasons. He excelled at both positions, and with his impressive athleticism and length, a possible move to tackle isn’t off the table at the next level either.
How has he been able to be so versatile? “I feel like I have two things that really help me: I’m smart and athletic,” Daniels explained. “You need to be smart so you can learn each position and switch over when something happens, and you need to be athletic so that you don’t have to worry about being beat on the edge.”
The Iowa football program also played a big role in Daniels’ ability to develop – just look at all the lineman talent they’ve produced for the pro game over the last few years. “(Head) Coach Ferenz and (Strength and Conditioning) Coach Doyle are the biggest reason for that,” he said. “It’s a developmental program, so we take guys who may not be ready to play right away and grow them into the best players that they can become.”
And as Daniels preps for his own shot at the next level, he’ll have two excellent role models to give him advice.
“My dad played football at Ohio State and in the pros, so when I was young, he introduced me to the sport and taught me a lot of life lessons. And my brother (LeShun Daniels Jr.) is two years older than me. He’s my best friend and we would play a lot of backyard football together. He’s in the pros now too and his journey – he got cut, picked up, cut again – really made me look at is work ethic and appreciate it.”
So he’s got the family pedigree, but Daniels is also his own player. And whether he is asked to be a center, guard, tackle, or, heck, even tight end in the pros, it’s clear he has everything he needs to be successful.
Thanks to James Daniels for his time and make sure to check out the Eastbay Blog for more exclusive stories on the biggest names of the 2018 rookie class.
adidas made a huge splash at the 2016 NBA Draft by signing some of the biggest names and top prospects to represent the brand. While Nike reeled in the biggest fish by signing No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, adidas bolstered its basketball roster with five of the top seven picks.
Basketball brands always look to add talented players to their lineup, and adidas has scored a good amount of potential star power with this group of top-rated rookies. Meet the newest members of the adidas Basketball family.
No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram is probably the most exciting adidas signee. Ingram was heavily considered for the first overall pick, but he might be in a better situation after going No. 2 overall. The 6-foot-9 small forward is a ridiculous athlete who starred at Duke for one season before declaring for the draft.
He will be playing in Los Angeles, the second biggest market in the country and a franchise well-known for its star power. With Kobe Bryant’s retirement, the city of Los Angeles will be looking for its next basketball superstar, and Ingram has the chance to fill that role. Ingram, along with teammates D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, form a young, up-and-coming core that Los Angeles fans can be excited about.
No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown
Like Ingram, Jaylen Brown also has the benefit of landing in a big sports market with one of the most passionate fan bases in the country. It doesn’t hurt that Boston also has the most successful franchise in NBA history, with 17 championships.
Boston took a step back after the dismantling of the Big 3, and the franchise hopes Brown will be a big part of its resurgence. Brown spent his only year of college at Cal, where the small forward averaged 14.6 points per game. Brown was a top recruit coming out of high school, and he lived up to the hype in college. As the No. 3 pick, there is plenty of hype for Brown to live up to once again.
No. 4 pick Dragan Bender
Every year, it seems there is a foreign player at the top of the draft who draws a lot of interest. Croatia’s Dragan Bender is the 2016 Draft’s international man of mystery.
He spent the past season playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the top teams in the Euroleague. Bender is described as one of the most unique prospects this season, given his size and skill set. The big man played point guard in his youth, giving him rare passing abilities for a 7-footer. He’ll suit up in Phoenix next season, where they hope he can replicate the successful rookie campaign of New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, another 7-footer who played overseas before coming to the NBA.
No. 5 pick Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn was largely considered the top point guard in the draft and will spend his rookie season in Minnesota. Dunn joins an exciting young core and could be called upon to steer an offense that includes the No. 1 picks from 2014 and 2015 — fellow adidas athlete Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Dunn starred at Providence College, where he averaged 16 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds per game last season. At 6-foot-4, he’s got good size for a guard. He’s an explosive athlete and an elite defender with all the tools to be an NBA star.
No. 7 pick Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray hails from Canada and spent his lone college season at Kentucky, a school well-known for churning out NBA athletes in recent years. He’ll spend his rookie season in Denver. Like Dunn, he’s got good
size for a guard. He is a prolific 3-point shooter and can play both the point guard and shooting guard positions.
Murray emerged as the star of a stacked recruiting class at Kentucky, where he averaged 20 points per game. His versatility and scoring abilities should go over well in Denver, where a combo guard scoring threat is sorely needed.
We want to hear from you
It’s always a bit of a guessing game when it comes to the draft. What do you think of this rookie class? Let us know. Leave a comment telling us what you think of the new adidas signees and who you think has the most star power.