clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rasheed Sulaimon's Long College Road Ends With a Shot at NBA

After a turbulent couple of years, the former Duke and Maryland guard will likely have to try to catch on as an undrafted free agent.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Rasheed Sulaimon's winding road is likely to continue into his professional career.

His college career started with a lot of promise. A McDonald's All-American, Sulaimon entered the Duke basketball program and immediately carved out a role. Sulaimon started 33 games, averaging 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game to make the All-ACC Freshman Team.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard saw his production drop slightly as a sophomore, averaging 9.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists while starting 17 games. He did became a 3-point marksmen, shooting 41 percent (43-for-105) from behind the arc as a sophomore.

Things went downhill on and off the court as a Duke junior. On the court, Sulaimon was passed up on the depth chart and averaged just 7.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 20 games before being the first player Mike Krzyzewski ever kicked off the Duke team. Sulaimon was kicked off in January 2015, with Krzyzewski saying that he "has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program."

Multiple reports of sexual assault eventually came out and Sulaimon became an afterthought for the eventual national champion Blue Devils. This topic will obviously come up when Sulaimon meets with NBA teams and attempts to convince them that he won't bring any of those issues to the next level.

For his part, Sulaimon seemed to be a vocal leader at Maryland. The Houston, Texas native graduated Duke early in order to transfer to Maryland and join a loaded roster that was ready to compete on a national level. Sulaimon showed fire and a willingness to chase around the opponents' best perimeter player on defense. He ended up averaging 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game and receiving honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition in his lone year as a Terrapin.

If Sulaimon hopes to make it as a professional, it will likely be another long road. While Maryland teammates Diamond Stone, Jake Layman and Robert Carter Jr. can be found in mock drafts, Sulaimon is a long shot to be drafted. He may crack the end of second round, but is more likely to have to try to catch on as an undrafted free agent, go to the developmental league or play overseas. This can be an exhausting process for anyone trying to make the NBA, but Sulaimon has had more life experience than many of the other prospects.

While Sulaimon has clearly bulked up over the last several years, he is still small for a shooting guard. Therefore, he will have to prove to teams that he can be a reliable ball-handler and decision-maker, things he did fairly well in college. He'll also have to extend his knock-down 3-point range, which should be a relatively smooth transition. While he was more of a spot-up shooter at Duke, Sulaimon showed the ability to be able to create his own shot this past year. This progression will need to continue if he wants to get to the basket and create open shots for himself in the NBA or another professional league.

Defensively, Sulaimon should be able to hold his own. He was able to use his physicality in college and will have to adapt to the quickness of professional guards, but he should have the skills necessary.

In the end, it's likely Sulaimon won't hear his name called in the NBA Draft, but that doesn't mean he can't carve out a long professional career and try to earn a shot in the NBA in the future.