Evan Mobley has been a breakout star in the 2021 men’s NCAA tournament for the USC Trojans, but he’s still just scratching the surface of his immense natural talent. The 7-foot freshman projects as one of the best big man prospects to enter the NBA draft in the last 10 years. He’s a player who fits seamlessly into the modern game while also possessing the potential to push the boundaries of what bigs are expected to be.
Mobley powered USC into the Elite Eight for the first time since 2001, back when Brian Scalabrine was the team’s senior leader. The Trojans have built a decent program under Andy Enfield with three NCAA tournament appearances since he took over in 2013 (the Trojans would have had a fourth appearance if there was a tournament in 2020), but it’s the presence of a special prospect like Mobley that has lifted USC hoops to new heights this year.
Mobley is currently projected to be the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft behind Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, but he shouldn’t be thought of as a consolation prize. Mobley’s combination of length, quickness, touch, and feel for the game gives him an All-NBA ceiling when he gets to the next level.
This is everything you need to know about Mobley, and why he’s such a gifted prospect.
Where is Evan Mobley from?
Mobley played his high school ball at Rancho Christian for all four years where he also posted a near 4.0 GPA. He was named California Gatorade Player of the Year as both a junior and senior, becoming the first player to win the award twice since Jrue Holiday in 2007 and 2008. Mobley ended his high school career ranked as the No. 3 overall player in his class in the RSCI, only behind Cunningham and Jalen Green.
How big is Evan Mobley?
Mobley is listed at 7-feet tall, 215-pounds, with a 7’4 wingspan. Those measurements are roughly similar to Anthony Davis’ at the 2012 NBA Draft Combine, when he measured barefoot at 6’9, 221.8 pounds with a 7’5.5 wingspan.
Here’s a side-by-side image of how Mobley looks next to Davis during his college days. Davis also faced criticism for being too skinny when he was at Kentucky.
Who is Evan Mobley’s dad and brother?
Evan Mobley is the son of Eric and Nicol Mobley, who both had an extensive background as players in their youth. Eric Mobley played in college at Portland and Cal Poly Pomona, while Nicol was a 6-foot center who won a state championship as a high school player in San Diego.
Eric Mobley was hired as an assistant coach by USC in 2018. A few months later, Isaiah Mobley — Evan’s older brother by about 20 months — committed to the Trojans. Isaiah Mobley was a five-star high school recruit and was ranked as a top-20 overall player in his class. Now a sophomore, the 6’10 Mobley started all 31 games next to his younger brother for the Trojans this season and averaged nearly 10 points per game.
What has Evan Mobley accomplished at USC?
Mobley averaged 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, three blocks, and 2.4 assists per game on 58.2 percent shooting from the field, 30 percent shooting from three-point range on 40 attempts, and 68.6 percent shooting from the free throw line. His biggest accomplishment is leading USC to the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA tournament, but he’s picked up plenty of individual honors along the way.
Mobley was named Pac-12 Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. He’s the first college player from a major conference to win all three awards since Davis did it at Kentucky in 2012.
Evan Mobley scouting report
Here’s a brief scouting report on Mobley’s game and why he’s such an enticing prospect long-term in the eyes of NBA scouts:
Mobley should be a dominant defender in the modern NBA
Mobley’s length, quickness, and instincts give him a sky-high ceiling on the defensive end. While USC has switched between man and zone schemes throughout the year, at the NBA level Mobley projects as a defensive big man who can pull off a variety of coverages against pick-and-rolls. He can protect the rim but still close out on shooters with his length in drop coverage. He can blitz ball handlers off a screen and contain them far away from the basket. He can switch onto a small player and hold his ground if they try to burn him off the dribble.
Mobley does a good job of challenging shots while also avoiding fouls. His 9.1 percent block rate ranks No. 34 overall in America, and he’s averaging only 2.1 fouls per 40
Mobley is a tremendous passer for a center
Mobley put up an impressive 14.1 percent assist rate as a center — which is better than many of the other big men who were drafted in the top-3 coming out of college like Joel Embiid (11.5 percent), Karl-Anthony Towns (11.6 percent), and Davis (7.5 percent).
Passing has become an essential skill for big men in today’s NBA. When defenses blitz a ball handler off a screen, the easy play is to pitch the ball to the big man and let him initiate a four-on-three break. Mobley has been excellent in similar situations in college, showing a rare ability to immediately spot the open man and deliver him the ball in a hurry.
I've lost count of how many times I've watched this from Evan Mobley - he slips the flare screen into an open cut to hit the dive with the lob. The feel, awareness, IQ, and touch on the pass on this play are nuts pic.twitter.com/SfOoAU1bzB— Spencer (@SKPearlman) November 27, 2020
Here’s an example of Mobley’s passing out of a post touch. As soon as the defense commits, Mobley knows where his teammate is for an easy dunk.
Absolutely zero processing delay on the pass against the triple team from Evan Mobley, such a phenomenal passer pic.twitter.com/hhhGCLfTG8— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 30, 2020
Mobley can score as a roll man or on face-ups
The biggest knock against Mobley is that he isn’t a hyper-aggressive scorer. Given his incredible natural talent, he easily could have scored more than 19.3 points per 40 minutes against college competition. It’s worth noting that Davis scored even less when he was at Kentucky — 17.7 points per 40 — but then became a primary scoring option in the NBA. Even if Mobley isn’t wired to average 25 points per game in the league, the diversity in his scoring package will make him an extremely valuable offensive player when coupled with his passing and his potential as a floor spacer.
While Mobley needs to get stronger and more powerful going to the basket, his burst attacking the rim as a roll man will be a big asset. He scored in the 64th percentile in roll man opportunities this season, yet scored in the 91st percentile of all half-court opportunities. Here’s an example of his finishing as a roll man.
Nothing new here, but Evan Mobley is already such a good short roll playmaker — makes correct pass when it's need, but the finishing skills, in traffic off 1-2 dribbles, are just superb. Pairing footwork, ambidexterity, length and vertical pop. What a prospect. pic.twitter.com/Woce8NLJII— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) February 5, 2021
Mobley should also continue to develop as a shooter. While he only hit 30 percent of his threes on 40 attempts this season, he shoots an easy ball and has shown off better efficiency from mid-range.
Here’s an example of Mobley hitting a pick-and-pop three-pointer.
Evan Mobley three. Playing the game of his life in the Pac-12 semis. pic.twitter.com/Ds4JgTcTY4— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) March 13, 2021
If defenses have to respect Mobley as a floor spacer as he gets older, his ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket is only going to become more dangerous. Mobley can already handle the ball both in the half-court and in transition, and is capable of grabbing a rebound and initiating the break off a miss.
How many 7-foot, 19-year-olds can do this?
Evan Mobley is absurdly good. 7-footer doing this. pic.twitter.com/OIzfRcvTdP— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) March 29, 2021
Mobley still has so much room to grow
For all of Mobley’s talent, it’s clear he’s far from a finished product. He’ll have to add muscle to his frame and show he can hang with mammoth post players in the NBA at the five or quicker wings when he’s moved to the four. His shooting can certainly improve, both from the foul line and three-point range. He’ll need to show he can finish through the length and strength of pros.
Mobley also struggled to score on post-ups at the college level, finishing in the 23rd percentile on those play types, which took up 15 percent of his possessions. The post-game has largely been deemphasized in the modern NBA, but Mobley will still need to prove he can punish mismatches inside. The fact that he’s already this good and still has plenty of room for improvement is part of what makes him so exciting.
Here’s a big Evan Mobley dunk from March Madness
Oregon didn’t know what hit them in the Sweet 16 when Mobley did this.
What’s Evan Mobley’s NBA comparison?
Mobley’s skill set is so unique that he can’t really be compared to anyone we’ve seen in the NBA in recent years.
There have been comparisons to Davis. While it’s dangerous to compare any 19-year-old to a future Hall of Fame talent, the two do have some similarities physically and production-wise at the college level.
No better big in the country than Evan Mobley to help neutralize Oregon’s small-ball attack. Mobley averaging 3.8 blocks per game over his last 5 contests. Anthony Davis-like with his ability to guard on the perimeter and protect the rim at 7-0. pic.twitter.com/6nmAncFjtu— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 26, 2021
Mobley may never reach the heights of Davis, Garnett, or Bosh, who all certainly set an impossibly high bar. The fact that those names are even being whispered about right now in relation to Mobley shows just how good he is.
Where will Evan Mobley go in the NBA draft?
We have Mobley at No. 2 overall in our latest mock draft. He’s the obvious pick for any team that misses out on Cade Cunningham at No. 1.
Mobley would be an ideal fit with the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Toronto Raptors. The only team that might have a tough decision at No. 2 is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who already have Karl-Anthony Towns at center and would have the opportunity to add Minnesota native Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga to the backcourt next to Anthony Edwards.
Mobley is a special talent any way you look at it. We can’t wait to see where his career goes from here.