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Boise State basketball: The underappreciated Justinian Jessup

He was quiet. He did his talking with a sweet, record-breaking, left-handed three-point stroke. But there was a lot more to Justinian Jessup’s game at Boise State.
Credit: Isaac Brekken/AP Photo
Boise State's Justinian Jessup drives against UNLV during a Mountain West tournament NCAA game Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Las Vegas. Boise State won 67-61.

BOISE, Idaho — Monday, August 24, 2020.

NBA mock drafts still a thing, which seems like an odd thing to say as we near the end of August. But this is 2020, and the NBA Draft is October 16, almost four months late. And in a very 2020 twist, Boise State’s Justinian Jessup has made the latest mock draft from Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Vecenie has Jessup going in the second round—No. 60 overall—to the New Orleans Pelicans, 13 spots behind Utah State superstar Sam Merrill. That surprises a lot of people, but there are hidden things in Jessup’s game that get him that kind of notice. One of them is not three-point shooting. After all, he’s the career leader not only at Boise State, but in the Mountain West with 325 three-pointers made. But Jessup was a solid rebounder and a gritty defender, and scouts have noticed that, too.

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If Jessup is to make the NBA, Vecenie sees a circuitous route. Writes Vecenie: “Jessup is an elite-level shooter, which is something the Pelicans need more of. More than that, though, Jessup will likely be more than happy to be a draft-and-stash, given his current situation. Jessup is likely to sign a deal with the Illawarra Hawks in Australia for the 2020-21 season as part of their Next Stars program soon. Teams can select him knowing that his plans for next year are already carved out. Then, they can potentially bring him back for the back part of the season if the G-League happens. Jessup hit 96 percent from the foul line this year, and nearly 41 percent of his 800 career 3-point attempts at Boise.”

BRONCOS WIDEOUTS MAKIN’ THE ROUNDS

John Hightower got the props from Philadelphia Eagles training camp Thursday. Hightower’s predecessor as Boise State’s go-to wide receiver, Cedrick Wilson, took his turn in Dallas over the weekend. This from longtime Cowboys beat writer Jon Machota Sunday at The Athletic: “My top five list (of camp standouts) goes as follows: 1.) DeMarcus Lawrence, 2.) CeeDee Lamb, 3.) Jaylon Smith, 4.) Aldon Smith, 5.) Cedrick Wilson.”

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 All except Wilson (including Lawrence) are expected to shine. Wilson is still trying to get noticed. He’s been doing it through his connection with Dak Prescott.

“The top two offensive highlights from Thursday’s practice were plays from Prescott to Wilson, writes Machota. “First was a 20-yard TD pass to Wilson across the middle during a two-minute drill on fourth and 5. Prescott then found Wilson in the back left corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion. Prescott said after practice that the two spent a good amount of time working out together in the offseason. “Ced’s a great player,” Prescott said in Machota’s aritcle. “Injuries have kind of bummed him out in the past and maybe not allowed him to show what he’s quite capable of. He’s been healthy. And he’s been healthy all offseason. We’ve created some chemistry there and he’s a guy that can come in and show his worth.”

RELATED: Boise State women’s basketball: Joyce Harrell to the gridiron

TRANSFER PORTAL UPDATE

There are two less Mountain West players in the transfer portal now, one because he made his decision, and the other because he reneged. Fresno State star linebacker Justin Rice, the Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, has opted for Arkansas State. That’s not the Power 5; it’s the Sun Belt. Hard to fathom how that’s going to dramatically boost his NFL resume. Trey McBride, the All-Mountain West tight end at Colorado State who just last week entered the transfer portal, has changed his mind. McBride tweeted a letter Sunday night saying that he's "Proud to be a RAM!" The 6-4, 240-pounder said he has decided to "follow my instincts" and "listen to my heart.”

WILL THE HAWKS STAY CLOSE TO HOME?

If this project happens—and it has some credible forces behind it—a new Boise Hawks stadium will end up where I thought it should be all along. As first reported by BoiseDev.com, Ball Ventures Ahlquist has teamed up with Greenstone Properties and Agon Sports, which owns the Boise Hawks, to reinvent a significant portion of the Expo Idaho site. 

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Instead of tearing down Memorial Stadium and rebuilding on that site, the new facility would be just west of the current (and shuttered) Les Bois Park. The end result would be a $234 million project that would not only include housing, retail and office space and playing fields, it would leave the majority of the actual fairgrounds in place (minus Les Bois, of course). This is one that can work.

MERRITT’S MARVELOUS RALLY

Troy Merritt’s PGA Tour season is over, but he finished en fuego. Merritt began the Northern Trust on Thursday with a one-over 72 and was tied for 98th. The former Boise State star rebounded with a 67 on Friday to make the cut and finished on Sunday with a six-under 65, tying for 29th and making $55,860. The Northern Trust was the opening tournament of the 2020 FedEx Cup Playoffs, with the top 70 in Cup standings advancing to next week’s BMW Championship. Merritt went into Boston at No. 80—and came out No. 74.

RELATED: Kellen Moore: Earning it every day in Dallas

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…August 24, 1960:

Baseball’s new iron man is born. Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played almost 25 years ago, eclipsing the mark of 2,130. Ripken’s streak reached 2,632 games when it ended in September of 1998. It’s a record that will never be broken. He retired in 2001 with 3,184 career hits and 431 home runs. Ripken was a 19-time All-Star and a two-time American League MVP. Cal Ripken Jr. is 60 years old today.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.) 

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