Saddiq Bey’s resume suggests he would be a safe choice for the Orlando Magic in Wednesday’s draft as someone who can contribute quickly and fill a role.
If you did not follow Villanova basketball this past season you probably have not heard of Saddiq Bey.
The sophomore from Washington, D.C. was the Wildcats’ leading scorer and recipient of the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, aptly awarded to the best collegiate small forward.
Bey’s journey at Villanova is similar to other prospects in this draft class, particularly Florida State’s Devin Vassell. He received some interest from other colleges but was never heralded as an elite recruit. He had to slowly work his way up the depth chart and needed time in college to find his footing and his game.
Bey joined Villanova as a 6-foot-6 small forward and grew into a 6-foot-8, 216-pound sophomore who could slide down to power forward and even center. As a freshman, he started in 29 of Villanova’s 36 games, averaging a modest 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
He filled in nicely on a roster led by seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall — the latter drafted in the second round by the Golden State Warriors that summer — and relied on their mentorship in his first season. That formative year allowed Bey to find his place in the program and instilled in him the resolve that carried through the following offseason.
As a sophomore, he was given more opportunity and became the leader of the team both on and off the floor. His offensive usage increased and so did his scoring efficiency, a feat that few players maintain over the course of a full 30-game season.
Bey’s impact is best described by Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright from an in-depth profile through Inside Villanova Basketball:
"… He’s got that understanding that whatever it takes, I can do it all, I will do it all, and I’m available to do whatever you need. He’s got a really strong will to continue to improve even though he’s having some success."
While anecdotal support like this does not define a prospect — there are plenty examples of hard-working, tenacious, grounded individuals who did not find success at the NBA level — it does bode well for a trajectory of continued development.
And as Orlando Magic fans know, the franchise has a history of targeting players knit from this fabric.
Saddiq Bey began his career as a sixth man for the Villanova Wildcats but idled on the bench for only five games before being promoted to the starting lineup. And after he proved to coach Jay Wright the intangibles he could bring to a Villanova team that already had plenty of scoring punch he rarely left the floor.
Bey earned his stripes in preseason play, and continued to improve against Big East opponents — shooting 48-percent from the floor and 42-percent on 3-pointers in conference play. For a player attempting a modest seven field goals per game, that level of efficiency speaks volumes.
After a successful freshman stint, Villanova faithful were excited to see Bey fill a larger role with Phil Booth and Eric Paschall’s departure. And he did not disappoint his coaches, teammates or fans.
As a sophomore, Bey upped his outside efficiency to 45-percent overall and 48-percent in conference play on six and seven attempts per game, respectively. His improved shooting coincided with the NCAA expanding the 3-point line, making it an even greater skill closer to the NBA line.
His versatility and increased production with additional responsibility point to his proclivity for continued growth. As Wright summarized so well, Bey continues to improve even while having success.
His size and positional versatility will attract a handful of suitors looking to expand their frontcourt depth, the Magic surely among them. Having not missed a single game for the Wildcats in either season also bodes well for his conditioning and ability to endure the grind of an NBA season.
Bey is projected to slide outside of the lottery, putting him square in range for Orlando’s selection at fifteenth overall.
So what can the Magic expect out of Bey if they were to select him?