NBA Draft Combine winners: Reed Sheppard, Zach Edey shine bright in Chicago

The formal testing and games at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago are in the books, meaning it’s a great time to break down winners from the last few days inside Wintrust Arena.

Now, there are still pro days to come and plenty of pre-draft workouts for players to continue to build their cases, but this week in Chicago provides a nice measuring stick for top-tier prospects, as well as those who are testing the waters and weighing whether they should come back to college. The date to withdraw from the draft and return to school is May 29.

Let’s get to some combine winners.

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky: With a 42-inch vertical, which was tied for the top mark in that category at the combine, the one-and-done Wildcats freshman showed why he’s in the top-five conversation. His athleticism and shotmaking ability, along with his feel for the game, is beyond his years. He can catch fire at any given moment and is an elite competitor. 

Zach Edey, Purdue: Measuring 7-foot-5 with a 7-11 wingspan at the combine, the two-time national player of the year showcased how much he’s improved in the conditioning categories over the past year. Edey’s mobility is why executives have gotten more and more bullish on the Purdue superstar after he powered the Boilermakers to the national championship game with 25.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. The big man also showed his shotmaking ability, something that had been questioned. If that piece of the puzzle continues to see growth, Edey could even get into the back end of the lottery.

Devin Carter, Providence: He broke the NBA Draft Combine all-time record with a ¾ court sprint of 2.87 seconds. He matched Sheppard with a 42-inch vertical, not to mention a 35-inch standing vertical leap that was tied for the combine lead, and a pro lane agility drill time of 10.63 seconds, good for third. Carter has terrific speed, has really evolved his jump shot, is mature beyond his years, and understands what it means to be a great teammate. He’s going to be a steal in the teens in this class.

Baylor Scheierman, Creighton: With a 17-point, eight-rebound, three-steal performance in game action on Tuesday, the 6-7 Bluejays product was fantastic in showcasing his wide array of offensive skills. He has length, versatility, outstanding shotmaking ability, and a knack for making the right play. Scheierman could help an organization immediately. 

KJ Simpson, Colorado: With a 40.5-inch max vertical, one of the best marks in the combine, the 6-2 guard has put together a great showing to build his stock. In game action, the Buffaloes product posted 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with three steals, displaying his defensive tenacity in the process. I really like Simpson for his aggressive nature and the ability to get downhill. 

Adem Bona, UCLA: When you think of athleticism, look no further than the Bruins’ 6-foot-10 big man, who measured out as the most athletic player at the combine. The UCLA product helped his cause in a variety of ways throughout the past couple of days in Chicago, registering a 35-inch standing vertical leap (tied for first), a 40-inch maximum vertical jump (second), and a wingspan of 7-3. In his final draft combine game of the week, he delivered 10 points and eight rebounds while not missing a shot. Having played for Mick Cronin, Bona’s defensive mobility and athleticism makes him an interesting value in the second round, and he really helped himself in Chicago with his measurables and efficient performances.

JT Toppin, New Mexico (currently in the transfer portal): Toppin is one of the best uncommitted players in the portal at the moment, but he showed on Wednesday why he might not be coming back next year. With 11 points and 10 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end in a game on Tuesday, the 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward flashed real upside in Chicago. Averaging 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this past season, Toppin is a lengthy and versatile offensive weapon who shot 9-for-17 in two combine games, including 3-for-4 from downtown.

I believe the best move from a value perspective for Toppin is to go back to school, because he’s really boosting his NIL value. For guys like Toppin and former Illinois star Coleman Hawkins, the combine is a showcase to college programs who have money to spend and are looking for one last roster boost. That rich competition to get a player like Toppin is real, and he could both cash in by spending his sophomore year in college and continuing to build his draft stock to potentially get on the first-round radar next year.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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