By BRIAN CUNNIFF
On Thursday evening, die-hard basketball fans around Cape May County will gather at local watering holes or around the television sets in their own homes to watch the NBA Draft.
It’s a chance to see the next generation of NBA players, as well as project who will blossom into the next iconic superstar and who might turn out to be a colossal bust.
This year, however, local fans have an even stronger reason to watch, because one of their own just might be selected.
Cape May County native Jordan Hall, who played grammar school basketball at Margaret Mace Elementary and his first high school season at Middle Township, could be among the names called as NBA teams make the selections they hope will help shape the future of their franchises.
Hall, projected to be selected in the second round or sign a two-way NBA/G League contract, is an intriguing prospect. At 6-8, he’s blessed with the size of a small forward, but has played most of his career as a point guard.
Hall, 20, declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season at St. Joseph’s University, where he averaged 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting better than 36 percent from three-point range during the 2021-22 season.
He was named a first team All-Big 5 selection last season and was the 2020-21 Big 5 Co-Rookie of the Year as a freshman. His 5.74 assists per game over his two college seasons are a St. Joseph’s record.
NBA draft analysts are well aware of Hall’s skill set. Ironically, NBADraftRoom.com, among others, compares Hall to current eight-year NBA veteran Kyle Anderson, who also has ties to Cape May County. Anderson’s father, also Kyle, is a graduate of Lower Cape May Regional High School. Anderson finished his fourth season with the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this year after spending four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.
Back in the spring, an NBA Mock Draft by Bleacher Report had Hall linked to the Boston Celtics with the 54th overall pick.
Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie lists Hall as the 69th best available prospect available for this year’s draft.
About Hall’s strengths, Vecenie wrote: “Great size for a combo guard. Has great feel for the game and really reads and diagnoses the defense well. Sees over the top of defenders with his size and can make plays because of it. … Very accurate and finds guys open. Knows how to bring the help toward him and then kick out to an open player. …
“Hall has been a solid shooter, as well, over his time in college. … He’s an effective shooter behind dribble-handoffs and ball screens. … Has a real shot to be an effective two-level scorer from the midrange and from (behind the) three-(point line).”
The scouts also see some weaknesses in Hall’s game with respect to the NBA level. They include a lack of elite athleticism, overall defense and some trouble finishing around the basket. Many reports have stated that Hall needs to get stronger as well.
Overall, Vecenie thinks Hall is a solid prospect.
“Hall is an interesting player I’ve been a bit higher on than some throughout the process because of his skill level and feel,” he wrote. “… I wonder if shifting Hall into more of a rotational role as opposed to being the centerpiece (like he was in college) could end with him blossoming. He has enough size at 6-8 to be effective at it, and he has the passing and shooting ability to potentially be useful on offense. … There are enough tools to envision this working out for someone.”
NBA teams are certainly on alert about Hall. He’s worked out for quite a few during the pre-draft process, including the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and others. He also participated in the NBA G League Elite Camp last month.
In an interview posted to the Pacers’ website last month, Hall said he was concentrating on showing “the type of player I am – good teammate, can shoot the ball, I can facilitate and get guys involved. Just a good basketball player.”
Hall left Middle Township High School after his freshman season to play for Cardinal O’Hara of the Philadelphia Catholic League. He then transferred to Neumann-Goretti High School prior to his junior year and helped the Saints win the coveted Catholic League title as a senior.
After a solid freshman season at St. Joseph’s, Hall first announced he was transferring to Texas A&M while also exploring his options for the NBA Draft. He ultimately remained in college and returned to St. Joe’s for his sophomore season.
Now, Hall hopes his next basketball experience comes in an NBA uniform.
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday evening at 8 at the Barclay’s Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. The draft is two rounds long. Many undrafted players will sign contracts to play for NBA Summer League teams with hopes of earning invites to training camp in September.
Those who do not eventually stick with an NBA team could turn to the G League, a developmental league whose teams have affiliations with NBA teams. Quite a few G League players are on two-way contracts. Overseas professional leagues are also an option.