We are closing in on the start of the college basketball season, and the road to the 2014 NBA Draft has become. To kick things off, I am going to spend the next couple of weeks looking at this year’s senior class and some brief notes on areas where they need to show improvement to maximize their value at the next level.
These are not meant to replace scouting reports, which will come out during the season. These are not all-inclusive and just meant as a brief primer for those who want to track draft prospects throughout the season. These are also not in any particular order other than who I choose to write about each post.
Juvonte Reddic, Virginia Commonwealth, Forward, 6’9, 250
(2012-13) 14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 spg, 56.9 FG%, 70.7 FT%
While a lot of the focus is on the VCU guards and the HAVOC defense, Reddic has been a steady force around the basket for the Rams. Reddic has an NBA-ready body, and he uses it well to establish position in the post on offense. He does an excellent job sealing off defenders and will go strong to the basket after getting the pass. Reddic has good hands, can finish with either hand around the basket, and is a good option in pick-and-roll situations. He has a great nose for the ball and is tough to keep off the offensive boards. On defense, he is a physical defender, but is able to come out and trap on the perimeter as Shaka Smart’s defense needs. He uses his body well to play post defense and is strong going after defensive rebounds.
What he needs to show this season: Reddic took part in the prestigious Lebron James Skills Academy this summer and the hopes are to see him come with an expanded game this year. Reddic is a decent shooter out to 15 feet, but he needs to become more consistent and expand his range a bit. He is efficient around the basket, but he may have trouble not being able to overpower players at the next level, so he needs to work on some finesse post moves and better footwork. On defense, Reddic is solid, but what works in the HAVOC defense will not work in the NBA, so he will need to work on becoming quicker with his feet and moving laterally out on the perimeter.
Keith Appling, Michigan State, Guard, 6’1, 190
(2012-13) 13.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 41.5 FG%, 74.9 FT%, 32.0 3FG%, 1.4:1 A/TO
Appling is now entering his 4th season as the Spartans’ starting point guard and is looking to advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time in his career. Appling does a great job running Tom Izzo’s offense which relies on precise movements and passes to get easy baskets. Appling is an above-average ballhandler, sees the floor well and knows how to get his teammates the ball in spots where they can make plays. Appling is a versatile scorer, able to drive to the basket or hit the mid or long-range jumper. On defense, Appling is very good both on and off the ball. He maintains good balance and position, moves laterally well and works hard to get through screens.
What he needs to show this season: Appling has always done a good job getting the Spartans into their offense, but he has not shown much playmaking ability. He does a good job getting into the lane, but will often miss opportunities to find open teammates and instead force a tough shot. Appling also needs work on making proper reads in pick-and-roll situations, though they aren’t a major part of the Michigan State offense. When Appling has time, he can knock down his perimeter jumper, but when the defense is close, he ends up forcing his shot which makes it come out flat. On defense, Appling needs to work more on making better reads on going over or under screens, as well not overplaying too much off the ball.
Melvin Ejim, Iowa State, Forward, 6’6, 230
(2012-13) 11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 50.4 FG%, 69.7 FT%, 34.8 3FG%
Ejim is entering his 4th year as a starter for Coach Fred Hoiberg and he has been a major part of Iowa State’s climb back to national relevancy. Though the focus has been on Iowa State’s revolving door of incoming transfers, Ejim has held on to his spot and provided a base to make the transfers’ transition easier. Ejim is no more than a 4th or 5th option most times on offense, but he creates his own opportunities. He is relentless attacking the offensive boards and he has a great understanding of spacing and how to find holes in the defense. Ejim has continued to expand his range on his jumper, and should eventually feel comfortable knocking down 15-18 footers easily. On defense, Ejim is very active and can play physical with larger offensive players he is guarding. Fundamentally, he is a good rebounder, looking to put a body on someone and going strong after the ball.
What he needs to show this season: Ejim does a lot of well, but is not great at any one particular area. He is undersized for the 4, so he will need to show more on the perimeter, both offensively and defensively. He is a good screener and could show a lot in pick-and-pop situations, but he needs to be able to knock down the mid-range jumper consistently. Also, he needs to improve his ballhandling skills to be able to get to the basket. On defense, Ejim needs to work on guarding on the perimeter, especially positioning and lateral movement.
Devon Collier, Oregon State, Forward, 6’8, 216
(2012-13) 12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 51.2 FG%, 66.3 FT%
Like the Oregon State program itself, Collier seemed to take a step back last season. Long and athletic, Collier is capable of scoring in a variety of ways around the basket. He uses his length well to post up smaller forwards and is capable of finishing above the rim. Collier spend most of his time operating around the post area or along the baseline, though the lack of a true point guard, or cohesive offensive system, has made it tough for Collier to get consistent touches. Collier has shown in the past the ability to knock down the mid-range jumper, though this past season was a regression in terms of shot selection. On defense, Collier’s length allows him to disrupt passing lanes both on and off the ball, and he uses his athleticism well to attack both the offensive and defensive boards.
What he needs to show this season: Consistency has always been a major problem for Collier, and at times, it was tough to have him out there on the court. His offense hasn’t really developed as much as it should have and he will need to make major strides in his senior year. His post moves are limited and he spends way too much time dribbling waiting for an opening to make his move. On top of that, his shooting touch around the basket isn’t that great, and he doesn’t have the strength to finish in traffic. From the perimeter, Collier has shown improvement in the mid-range, but not enough. He is still slow to get his shot off, though his length gives him good looks. On defense, Collier needs to work on his lateral movement as he usually ends up chasing his man once he gets beat. This also has a lot to do with his positioning as he needs to work on maintaining balance and reacting quicker to his man’s movements. Collier’s rebounding relies too much on his leaping ability and he needs to work on getting position and putting a body on someone. Also, we are waiting to see what the fall-out will be from Collier’s off-season suspension.
Chris Udofia, Denver, Forward, 6’6, 200
(2011-12) 13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 51.7 FG%, 66.4 FT%, 34.3 3FG%
Udofia may not be a well-known name, but many came to realize how good he was in 24-point game last season against Maryland in the NIT. Udofia has been a great fit in Joe Scott’s Princeton-style offense, able to operate as a scorer and facilitator out of the high post. He does a great job understanding spacing on the court and works mainly out of screener situations. Udofia can be a threat in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations, and he has shown that he can knock down open shots behind the college 3-point line. While not very strong around the basket, Udofia is athletic and uses that well to finish creatively at the rim. He has very good court vision and makes strong passes out of the high post. On defense, Udofia can be a strong on-ball defender, pressuring the ball well and moving well laterally. He also does a good job defending off the ball and seeing what is developing around him.
What he needs to show this season: It’s tough to judge a lot of what Udofia may be possible of because he plays in such a regimented offense, but he has shown plenty of skill and basketball IQ. One major area he needs to work on is his ballhandling and being able to attack the basket off the dribble. He has shown some short bursts within the offense, but I would like to see how he attacks in isolation. Also, he needs to become more consistent with his jumper as well as expanding his range. On defense, Udofia is solid, but he does have some problems getting through screens, and the defense will often switch on screens, so it is important that the can show that he doesn’t get caught up without switching, as well as knowing when he can go over or under screens.
See Part 1 here – McDermott, Bachynski, Fair, Joe Jackson, Payne
See Part 2 here – Craft, Sheehey, Burton, Alec Brown, Patric Young
See Part 3 here – Russ Smith, Kendall Williams, Sykes, Moser, Kilpatrick
See Part 4 here – Cory Jefferson, Saddler, Dwight Powell, Napier, Early
See Part 5 here- CJ Wilcox, Releford, Melvin, Josh Smith, De’mon Brooks
See Part 6 here – McKie, Josh Davis, Davante Gardner, Edwin, Andre Dawkins
See Part 7 here – Javon McCrea, Tarik Black, DeAndre Kane, Roberto Nelson, Armand
See Part 8 here – Joe Harris, Jordan McRae, Omar Oraby, Benimon, Cotton
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