Meet Melvin Frazier with Samuel Vancini of Fear The Wave

CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 03: Melvin Frazier #35 of the Tulane Green Wave against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean Smith Center on December 3, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 97-73. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 03: Melvin Frazier #35 of the Tulane Green Wave against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean Smith Center on December 3, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 97-73. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic picked up another long wing player in Melvin Frazier with the 35th pick in the draft. What did they get? We asked Fear the Wave.

It was easy to miss Melvin Frazier throughout his early basketball life.

The New Orleans native was lightly recruited, holding offers only from American Conference schools like his hometown Tulane Green Wave and the Houston Cougars.

His three years with Tulane were relatively nondescript too. He was always a defensive ace with a role to play. And his offensive game slowly developed over the course of his three years. He finished last year averaging 15.9 points per game with 2.2 steals per game and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Frazier always impressed with his physical skills. The wingspan and length are well noted. He had the second longest wingspan among guards at the NBA Draft Combine. That obviously caught some people’s attention.

The NBA was still never really in his future as he developed. It all kind of happened suddenly. Frazier went from 5.2 points to 11.5 points per game from his first to his second year, showing some tremendous growth. But Frazier still had a lot of work to do.

His shot improved dramatically last year — eclipsing 35 percent from beyond the arc — and that helped get him over the top. All of a sudden, Frazier had some offensive potential to match his defensive abilities. That natural ability would get a few NBA scouts interested.

Certainly, the Orlando Magic were among them.

President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said the Magic had Frazier higher on their board and they were thrilled to get him with the 35th overall pick. It felt like a good pick to grab a role player there. Someone who could defend at a high level and continue to grow as a shooter.

Summer League showed a lot of what Frazier can do. He was stellar defensively and his length indeed caused a lot of problems to those he defended. But he still has a lot of work to do offensively. Frazier ended up shooting just 8 for 28 (29 percent). He looked a bit rushed as some rookies tend to do.

Orlando is still getting to know their second-round pick and how they will use him.

And so are we. That is why I reached out to the Tulane blog Fear the Wave to learn a little bit more about Frazier and how he grew in college. Samuel Vancini was kind enough to answer some questions about Frazier:

Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily: Melvin Frazier’s offense seemed to come out of nowhere his junior year. Were there ever any hints about this breakout coming? What really changed about his game to become such a big scorer?

Samuel Vancini, Fear The Wave: Coming out of high school, Frazier was already known for his defensive prowess. But, as you mentioned, his offense was still very raw entering Tulane. The athleticism was always present as he was already throwing down windmill dunks in his sophomore year.

As a result, many fans were left believing that if he could get his jump shot more consistent, he could really become an NBA player.

This is what changed most for Frazier in his junior year. His overall field goal percentage shot up from 43.8 percent to 55.6 percent and his 3-point percentage went from 26.4 percent to 38.5 percent. Look for Melvin Frazier to continue to progress into becoming a consistent jump shooter in the NBA.

Rossman-Reich: Frazier was not highly recruited from all the information I have seen. What made him stand out when he got to Tulane?

Vancini: I guess Frazier may not have been highly recruited relative to the other NBA draft picks, but he came into Tulane as one of the Green Wave’s highest-rated recruits ever. Actually, one month before signing for the Tulane Green Wave, Frazier named his final 4 schools: the Arkansas Razorbacks, Oklahoma Sooners, LSU Tigers and Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Tulane was not among his “final four.” Yet Frazier ultimately ended up committing to Tulane.

As a high school player, he was highly coveted for his defensive prowess and sheer athleticism. Frazier had already made a name for himself in the New Orleans community as he was a high-school phenom, winning the Jefferson-Orleans High School Dunk Contest. Thus, from the day when Frazier decided to join Tulane and stepped on campus, there was a large cloud of optimism surrounding him.

Rossman-Reich: What impact did Mike Dunleavy have on his development his junior year? Did that somehow make him more NBA-ready or turn him into a NBA prospect?

Vancini: When Mike Dunleavy Sr. took the job at Tulane, in his opening press conference he stated, “There’s no one out there who can prepare [future NBA players] better than I can.”

This bold quote was backed up by Frazier’s development. Dunleavy worked with Frazier
in the offseason to improve his awareness and scoring ability and it paid off as Frazier took big leaps in his game, as aforementioned.

Speaking on Dunleavy’s impact on himself, Frazier said, “He got me in the gym and told me this is what I need to work on … work on this, work on that. And I guess it showed, so I just want to thank him for that.”

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

Rossman-Reich: What do you think Frazier can do in the NBA? Where can he grow the most?

Vancini: Frazier prides himself on his defense, and rightfully so. I think Frazier’s peak is being a highly athletic wing with the ability to cover virtually anyone on the floor. Dunleavy likened Frazier’s potential to “somewhere between a Bruce Bowen and a Kawhi Leonard.”

If Frazier is to fully tap into his potential, he still needs to improve his jump shot to get a little more consistent as well as improve his ball-handling ability.

Rossman-Reich: What is Frazier’s legacy at Tulane? What will fans miss about him and what will fans remember about him?

Vancini: Melvin Frazier leaves Tulane as their highest drafted player in program history. I think he sort of embodies everything Dunleavy has been preaching: That if you have the talent, he can tap into your potential and get you into the league.

If there is one thing Tulane fans will remember about Frazier, it is his ability to produce momentum-changing dunks on the fast break. Frazier’s windmill dunk is the most iconic part about his game. He already showed it off in a summer league game against the Utah Jazz.

Frazier’s electric presence on both ends of the floor is something Green Wave fans will always remember him for and something Orlando Magic fans should be excited about in the years to come.

Next: Locked On Magic: Summer League review

My thanks to Samuel for answering some of my questions about and giving us a better idea of who Melvin Frazier is. Be sure to follow him and Fear the Wave on Twitter @fearthewaveblog.