Yves Pons was born on May 7th, 1999 at Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He was adopted by a French couple. Little did they know they would be adopting an athletic freak and college basketball star almost certain to be playing pro ball in the future.
Yves Pons did not generate a lot of attention out of high school, coming out of INSEP High School in Paris, where NBA players Clint Capela and Killian Tillie graduated. He was a 4-star recruit who only had 3 official offers, from Tennessee, Texas Tech, and Florida. Before we dive into his basketball career, I'd like to tell you a bit more about "The Most Interesting Man in College Basketball".
Yves Pons is a man of many interests, as he is a skilled saxophonist. He started off as a child learning jazz dance, before his grandfather purchased Yves' first saxophone. He also participated in Judo as a child. He is bright on the camera, but is also proficient on the other side. He is a photographer, and you can see some of his amazing shots on his @pons_cam Instagram account. Pons is also a great cook, as he hosted his own virtual French cuisine cooking class over quarantine.
Pons started his UT Basketball career quite silently. He averaged 5.2 minutes as a freshman and had a slightly better sophomore year, with his minutes increasing and points increasing to 2.2 PPG. In 2019, when the Vols lost 4 starters, Pons was expected to take the next step. Grant Williams was drafted by the Celtics, Admiral Schofield was drafted by the Wizards, Jordan Bone was drafted by the Pistons, and Kyle Alexander played on a two-way contract with the Heat, so Pons had an opportunity to play more. He was relied on even more down low when DJ Burns transferred to Winthrop and Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic was denied immediate eligibility (before the Vols appealed and won in January of 2020). Although listed as a 6'6 Small Forward with a massive wingspan, he started every game at power forward in 2019-20 (besides the ones he started at SF when Plavsic was added into the lineup). He averaged 10.8 PPG over the course of the season.
The area Pons excels at the most is defense. He blocked 71 shots last year, tying a school record (which would've been broken if COVID hadn't canceled the season), including a block in every single game. Pons now has 101 blocks in his past 48 games, which is easily best in the country.
Pons led the 2020-21 Vols in scoring for 3 games in a row, and has started to really pick it up from downtown. If Pons can become a consistent offensive weapon, he could become the next Giannis with his freak athleticism.
So how is he a draft sleeper? Here is how:
He is currently sitting at 60 on ESPN's latest mock draft. If he can improve his offense and still become the 60th pick, then teams are really sleeping on him. the only thing holding Pons back here is his age, as it isn't ideal as he is a senior this year.
If teams want to run a flex offense, Yves Pons is perfect. Only standing at 6'6, he is a small-ball center. He has the ability to guard all 5 positions on the floor, and can be a great offensive piece for teams who don't want to overload the floor with size. Put Pons at Center, you will be inviting other teams to put their big on them, and Pons can use his speed and athleticism to dominate other bigs. And it's not like teams can leave him open beyond the arc either. He has shown he has the ability to knock down deep shots. Once teams adjust their D and defend Pons' 3 (as Kansas did and always does), he just rips by the defender and throws down a SportsCenter Top 10 Dunk.
The NBA is changing. The games become more and more high scoring, great offense, and defense is not being prioritized as much as it has before. Defensive stars like Pons are becoming more rare as the years go. Grabbing Pons should be important to teams as he will enter as a Top 3 defender on any NBA team, if not the best defender. Pons will be essential to teams who love high-effort defensive players, as Pons has the ability and is willing to guard teams top players, so if you're looking for a high-value, high-ceiling, low cost player then Yves Pons should be your pick in June.