The one and done prospect didn’t hurt his value much by entering the NBA Draft
NBA teams selected 60 players over the two rounds of the 2019 NBA Draft. Jalen Lecque’s name wasn’t one of them. Most fans belabored his decision, but missed the bigger picture of the situation: Lecque didn’t need to get drafted for his decision to be a shrewd one.
Now, as the dust settles from the draft, it’s time to step back and realize that Lecque is in a good situation with Phoenix after signing as an undrafted free agent.
You probably know the story by now. Lecque, a 6’4″ guard from Manhattan, NY was ranked as the 41st best player in the 2019 recruiting class by ESPN. After reclassifying to the 2019 class, he committed to N.C. State and head coach Kevin Keatts. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, Lecque would never enroll, instead choosing to forgo his college career to enter the NBA Draft.
He displayed his elite athleticism by testing off the charts at the combine, holding the highest max vertical leap. He was a tantalizing prospect with great handles that would’ve been a difference maker at the collegiate level had he enrolled.
Instead, Lecque decided to skip college and found himself undrafted, ultimately signing a four-year deal with the Phoenix Suns, of which two years are guaranteed. He’s a prime candidate to see time in the G-League and he’ll be paid $857,000 a year for his efforts.
That’s a far-cry from the salary received by an NBA top-10 pick but not far off the roughly $2 million a year that the 30th overall pick receives. Lecque very well may have played his way into a lottery selection but there was also the chance he played his way out of a first round pick and right into the same spot he found himself this year.
Historically, the odds of playing himself into the lottery weren’t that great. A recruit ranked in Lecque’s position (between 41-50 in 247’s top 100) hasn’t been drafted in the lottery since 2012 when Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 43) was drafted by the Kings. There are plenty of late-first rounders in the bunch, but again, their contracts aren’t that different than what Lecque received.
Lecque received the same contract guarantees as a late first rounder and had the chance to choose his roster destination. That he chose the Suns is a different discussion, as Phoenix has a glut of guards that Lecque will need to work through to make the roster, including 2019 first round pick Jarrett Culver and De’Anthony Melton, a guard who was signed under similar circumstances last season.
For N.C. State, it was a tough pill to swallow and certainly hurt its 2019-20 roster, as the dynamic guard would’ve provided another scoring presence that the team desperately needs. However, the Wolfpack has experienced these decisions before and each time the fanbase gave its blessing. Trevor Lacey forwent his senior season for a chance to play overseas, forget the NBA.
Cat Barber, Maverick Rowan and Ted Kapita all made similar decisions and none of them had the opportunity that Lecque has in front of him.
Lecque not enrolling is a bitter pill to swallow for N.C. State fans because it was a major hit to the current team’s success but from a player’s prospective, there’s a lot to like about his decision.