The list of NBA players under 6-feet tall to be drafted and then enjoy success is few and far between.
Isaiah Thomas, the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2011 NBA Draft because he was taken by the Sacramento Kings with the 60th and final pick, is now thriving with the Boston Celtics. The 5-foot-9 Thomas is averaging 20.9 points, 6.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
Kentucky sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis could turn out to be the next player under 6-feet to enjoy some NBA success. The 5-9 Ulis is currently projected at No. 43 by DraftExpress.com, and at least one scout who watched Ulis help Kentucky beat Louisville on Saturday believes the diminutive floor general will get drafted.
"Yes he can [play in the NBA] and he will be drafted," said the scout who attended Kentucky's 75-73 win over Louisville at Rupp Arena. "The question is where. He's a first-round talent and he's got middle-school size."
The scout added: "He's the smartest player [on Kentucky], he's the most highly skilled, he has the best understanding of how to play. He's a coach on the floor. He loves the big stage. He had 21 points, he had 8 assists, 1 turnover. He carried Big Blue Nation on his little 5-foot-9 shoulders."
As for 6-foot-11 big man Skal Labissiere, who has now managed just 4 combined points in his last three games and 22 points in his last six, the scout was not nearly as kind.
"Big Skal, no strength, no toughness, no game," the scout said. "Comes off the bench, plays 10 minutes, had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 0-for-3 from the floor. Shot an air ball on an easy hook.
"That guy is what you call a 'Paper Tiger,' a mock draft myth."
Told that DraftExpress.com had Labissiere projected as the No. 5 pick in the draft after he was once at No. 1, the scout said: "No. 5, he's not No. 1, he's not No. 5, he's not No. 51. That's a joke.
"He's not going to play anymore for Kentucky, I don't think. There's nothing he could do. The Louisville big men are mediocre at best. Truth be told, they're below mediocre. He couldn't do nothing with them. He's a fraud. The thing is going the other way fast."
He added: "You gotta see kids play against big-time college athletes and then you can make some kind of assessment. ...This is Rupp Arena, sold out, this is religious tribal warfare. It's one of the great rivalries in college basketball and if the kid didn't have a big name, he wouldn't even have played because he didn't deserve to play. That's my opinion."
Kentucky freshman guard Jamal Murray is projected as the No. 7 pick at the moment. He managed 12 points on 3-for-14 shooting with 7 turnovers.
"Jamal got picked, seven times they took the ball out of his hands," the scout said. "He shows the ball when he drives. He shot 3-for-14. The only baskets that he made he shot 3's that Tyler Ulis set him up for when he drives through the defense and kicked the ball so Murray could get an open shot.
"Murray has strength, Murray has a chance to be a decent player. He has a lot to learn. If he's going to be taken in the first round it's hard to pass on that money."