The NBA Combine ramped up on Thursday in Chicago with measurements, athletic testing and scrimmages and Nebraska junior forward Isaiah Roby took part in all of it, drawing praise from a couple of ESPN Analysts in the process.
Roby measured in at 6-foot-7.25 without shoes and 6-foot-8.5 in shoes with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and an 8-foot-10 standing reach. His hands were 9 inches in length and 10.5 inches in width. He weighed in at 214 pounds—down from the 230 he was listed at on Nebraska roster this season—with 3.9 percent body fat.
Roby displayed solid length as his wingspan was 5.75 inches longer than his height without shoes. That puts him in the top 25 of players at the combine. Only three players had a lower percentage of body fat and only four had wider hands.
During the television coverage, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz highlighted Roby as a player on the rise with a chance to really boost his stock at the combine this week along with Tennessee’s Grant Williams and Tulsa’s Daquan Jeffries. At the end of ESPN’s broadcast, Jay Bilas also mentioned Roby as a guy who helped himself and should be an early second-rounder with a chance to sneak into the first.
Roby took part in the first five-on-five scrimmage as well, coming off the bench for Team 1. He played alongside Jordan Bone (Tennessee), Kyle Guy (Virginia), Kris Wilkes (UCLA), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State), Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky), Jared Harper (Auburn), Jalen Lecque (Brewster Academy), Miye Oni (Yale) and Tyler Cook (Iowa).
Roby’s team jumped out to an early lead but the other side dominated the rest of the way en route to a 92-73 blowout.
Roby finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) and 1-of-3 from the free-throw line with five rebounds (one offensive), one assist, two turnovers and two blocks in 21 minutes.
Roby struggled during his first half, finishing with three points on 1-of-5 from the field and 1-of-2 from the line with a couple of turnovers. He tried to do too much at times with the ball, settling for a couple of tough mid-range jumpers (one of which he got bailed out on with a foul call) that didn’t fall and running over a defender in transition for a charge. He bounced back in the second half, however, converting three of his four shots including a catch-and-shoot corner 3 for seven points.
Defensively, Roby was active, showing off his anticipation and athleticism. He rotated well and held his own for the most part when switching onto guards (combine coaches were instructed to have their players switch all ball screens). He was active at the rim, blocking a pair of shots and altering a few others, but he also goal-tended one and went after a couple of shots he couldn’t reach, giving up put-backs from the weak side in the process. In fact, Roby struggled at times on the glass, getting moved out of the way or failing to box out entirely more than once.
He made a strong move through his defender early on but blew the layup at the end, something we’ve seen before. His first attempt from 3 was wide right, and he turned down a couple of potential catch-and-shoot opportunities, something he can’t continue to do at the next level. However, later in the game he finished through contact for an and-one (through missed the free-throw) and his second 3-point attempt—a look from the corner with no one around him—was all net. He didn’t show anything off the bounce, turning it over once trying to go behind his back and failing to get by his man on another occasion. He grabbed an offensive rebound once and put it back in with a baby hook, but he also got deep in the paint and created an opening but kicked it out instead of going up with it.
All in all, Roby’s first scrimmage was a perfect encapsulation of his game to this point, showing off both his strengths and weaknesses. He’ll play again on Friday.
After the scrimmage, Roby went through the athletic testing, to mixed results.
He only tested with a 32.5-inch standing vertical and a 25.5-inch max vertical, both disappointing results. The standing vertical was still seventh among the 43 players who tested on Thursday but the max was only 22nd. Roby told me a while back that he thought his max was over 40.
However, his movement testing was terrific. Roby’s 10.61-second lane agility was seventh overall and second among frontcourt players behind only Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke who put up freakish numbers. His 3.05-second shuttle run was 11th overall, tied with Clarke, His 3.21-second three-quarter-court sprint was seventh and second among forwards.
The combine will continue on Friday.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.