It's workout time for lottery teams, and the stories of draft-prospect magic are beginning to trickle in. Take, for instance, DJ Stephens of the University of Memphis, who recorded a 46-inch vertical, according to Chad Ford. Performed while working out for the Brooklyn Nets, the leap is the highest ever recorded by the NBA.
Here's a shot of Stephens goofing around earlier this season, for perspective's sake:
He also lit up the arena during Memphis' brief NCAA tournament run.
The previous leap record belonged to Kenny Gregory, who jumped 45.5 inches way back in 2001. Earlier this draft season, Shane Larkin hit 44 inches. Outside the NBA, though, things get weird: Kevin Bania apparently leaped 64 inches from a standing start (see the video here). Michael Jordan and LeBron James are both in the 44-inch range.
Now, in many ways, the vertical leap in the NBA draft is the equivalent of the 40-yard-dash time in the NFL draft: a nice handy benchmark, but not indicative in and of itself as a barometer for future success. For instance, Michael Wilson, a fellow Memphis alum, could dunk on a 12-foot-rim ... but he did it for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Stephens isn't a lottery pick; indeed, he's no guarantee to get drafted at all. He averaged less than eight points and seven rebounds this year in Memphis, though his blocks were something to behold. The NBA doesn't really have room for projects, but Stephens has gotten himself some impressive positive press, and at this time of year, any positive press is golden. He may have just leaped his way onto an NBA roster.
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