Many of you may have never heard of Colton Iverson. Even though he owns perhaps the dopest name of anyone in this year’s NBA Draft, he didn’t receive much attention in Fort Collins, CO, during his senior season at Colorado State. But Iverson is a name that every single NBA team knows very well.
Coming from Yankton, SD, the 7-footer was billed as a top-100 recruit coming out of high school. He decided to go to the University of Minnesota and expectations were high. Throughout his three years with the Gophers, he posted averages of 5 and 5. Not bad, but not enough by his own personal standards. A move had to be made.
“Basically, I felt like I wasn’t progressing. My game wasn’t really developing and coming along the way it should,” Iverson explained. “After three years, it basically flat-lined and I wanted to take a look at my options to see what type of fit I could find, as well as a place that I could get better during my redshirt year.”
The aforementioned redshirt year did Iverson wonders, transforming both his body and his game. He sculpted his body into a rock, became more mobile, and added some serious skill to his game. Results showed on the court, too. Averaging 14 and 10 on a mere 8 shots per game, he was first-team All-Mountain West and firmly placed himself on the NBA radar with his filthy 24 and 16 outing versus UNLV in the MWC tourney.
“The lineup at UNLV was so tough—(Khem) Birch, (Anthony) Bennett and (Mike) Moser,” he said. “Birch can block any shot you throw up, so it’s difficult to get points in the lane against them.”
We caught up with Iverson in Las Vegas training with Impact Basketball. The strides that he made in his game were considerable, if not remarkable. For anyone who watched him in the Big Ten, you felt like you were watching a completely different player. He ran the floor, was in outstanding shape physically, and had a great feel for the game. One thing remained constant: His ability to straight lay guys out on screens.
“Not a whole lot of guards like receiving a screen from me, but whoever you are playing with loves when you set good screens to get them open,” Iverson laughed. “I’m going to take pride in setting screens like that at the next level.”
He added, “Your teammates are going to respect you a hell of a lot more when you set a good screen and chances are that the guy guarding you is going to help, so you get more often than not too.”
Colton’s size (measured 7-0, 263 pounds at the NBA Combine), athleticism and ability to set screens alone were enough to get him on a roster. Training with Joe Abunassar in Vegas added another dimension to his game: The ability to pick and pop.
Abunassar & Co. had the burly center put up well over 1,000 jumpers out of pick-and-pop scenario in our time at Impact. While no one is calling him the next Channing Frye, he certainly showed the potential of developing into a player who can keep the defense honest with his ability to shoot the ball. Once you factor in his willingness to accept a role, sets monster screens, and is a great finisher around the rim, you see why his stock has soared.
Going from a guy who had a chance to get drafted in April, Iverson has seen his stock skyrocket over the last two months. Much of this can be credited to the development at Impact, but even more can be credited to teams actually getting a glimpse of him firsthand. You don’t realize that he’s a legit 7-footer until you see him in the flesh and after a series of strong workouts, he’s sitting comfortable for tonight’s Draft. He is nearly a lock to be selected in the upper first half of the second round and we even talked to a few teams who felt there is a chance of him landing in the late first. Regardless of where he lands, Colton is going to bring the same thing to the table every night.
“I’m going to go out there and work hard, set hard screens, and rebound the ball,” Iverson said. “Some teams questioned my explosiveness and athleticism, but I’m going to go out there and show them I’m not a slug on the court.”
Given the type of buzz Iverson has going into the Draft, it’s safe to say no one is going to be saying that any time soon.