Evan Mobley’s former coach: ‘We’ve had conversations in high school about going to the Hall of Fame’

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley’s potential as a future Hall of Famer was something that his high school coach says he spoke with Mobley about during their days together.

Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times looked at Mobley’s continued development over the years, with that coach, Ray Barefield, using Mobley’s versatility at the time to play him at all five positions on the court.

“I know that’s a lot of pressure for him,” Barefield said, “but we’ve had conversations in high school about going to the Hall of Fame.”

Mobley was the third overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft last July and quickly showed both the Cavaliers and the league that he belonged.

In just his rookie season, Mobley is averaging 15.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He’s also showing his toughness by playing through injuries, an issue that’s plagued the Cavs this season.

One indication that Barefield may have seen the future with his past assessment of Mobley’s potential can be seen in the company that Mobley’s keeping with his rookie numbers. Among the players who had similar numbers as rookies are Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

That’s pretty heady company for any player, but Mobley is more focused on trying to get better. While he’s certainly a viable candidate to be the NBA’s top rookie this season, he’s not campaigning for the award.

Instead, he’s trying to get the Cavs to their first postseason in four years. Entering Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cavs have a 41-30 record with 11 games left in the regular season.

Exactly where the Cavaliers finish for the regular season is yet to be determined, but Mobley is prepared to use his versatility to try to take them to the top.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.