When DJ Stewart Jr. declared for the NBA draft in April, I figured he would test the waters, gain feedback on his draft status, and then return for his redshirt junior season. Ben Howland worked the transfer portal to bring in talented reinforcements to join Stewart, Iverson Molinar, and Tolu Smith. With this starting five, the Bulldogs looked to have the talent to be a sleeper in the SEC.
The Bulldogs still have plenty of talent, but next year’s team with play without DJ Stewart Jr. as he has hired an agent and will officially turn pro as reported by 247’s Paul Jones. For Mississippi State to be a middle-of-the-road team, its best players are turning pro way too soon, in my opinion. The Bulldogs lost Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard to the NBA last year.
Stewart is also a finalist for the Howell trophy.
Is DJ Stewart Jr. ready for the NBA?
Stewart stands at 6’6″ and has the ideal body size NBA GMs look for in a wing. He is a solid free-throw shooter, and he has the ability to get the ball to his teammates as he led the Bulldogs in assists. I am shocked that Stewart will not return to Starkville. Obviously, whatever feedback he received was enough for Stewart to give up his eligibility.
I was able to find one full 2 round mock draft, and Stewart was not listed in the first or the second rounds. ForTheWin has listed him 62nd on its NBA Draft sleepers list. This does not mean Stewart will not be selected because all he needs is to wow one team.
The NBA Draft combine is June 21-27, and if Stewart gets an invite, he can improve his draft stock. While Stewart is not listed among the elite prospects, a good showing at the combine can change all that. I do not see Stewart raising his stock to the level of a first-rounder, but Alan Lue of NBA Scouting Live feels that Stewart could carve out a role in the NBA.
If Stewart is not selected in the draft, he could take his game to the G-Leauge to get better or head overseas to earn a living. The goal now is to earn a living playing basketball, and the reality is the NBA is not the only way to accomplish that goal.