SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – One year ago Sam Merrill became the first Utah State player selected in the NBA Draft in 34 years.
In three weeks, Neemias Queta should be the highest picked Aggie in 40 years.
After shining at the NBA Combine in Chicago a couple weeks ago, Queta’s confidence level is at an all-time high.
“I haven’t played this good basketball in a long time, never actually,” said Queta. “I’m playing my best basketball ever, so I’m just trying to take advantage of it and just keep it going.”
Queta, who is projected to be either a late first round pick or early second round selection, is coming off an outstanding season in which he averaged 14.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.
Queta tested the NBA waters two years ago, but he knew he wasn’t ready. So he came back to Utah State to work on his game and his body, and is now eager to make the make the jump to the next level.
“I’m grown now,” said the 7-foot, 245-pound center. “I’ve grown into my body. I’ve gotten used to putting all this weight on me, so I feel like I’m moving a lot better. I just evolved every single part of my game to be NBA ready.”
Queta led the entire nation in blocked shots last season, and no player in the draft has a longer wingspan than Queta at 7-feet-4.
“I would just say I got lucky,” he said. “My parents gave me the good genes. It’s just something that came to me and it’s natural. Not a lot of people use it, so I’m just trying to take the biggest advantage out of it as possible.”
But Queta doesn’t want to be known as a one-dimensional player, so he is working diligently on his jump shot. Queta says he can even make three-pointers if needed.
“I feel like I can develop a jump shot eventually,” Queta said. “For sure the mid-range is there already, so I feel with time I’ll be able to really become an effective modern big in the NBA.”
The Aggies have not had a first round draft pick since Nate Williams went first overall in the NBA supplemental draft in 1971. Brian Jackson went in the second round with the 26th overall pick in 1981.