The first games of the college basketball season are upon us, and the road to the 2013 NBA Draft has begun. It’s time to continue my look at this year’s sophomore class and give some brief notes on areas where they need to show improvement to maximize their appeal to the NBA if they choose to leave school.
Remember, these are not meant to replace scouting reports, which will come out during the season. Some of these players are already pro candidates, while others will clearly need a senior season. These are not all-inclusive and just meant as a brief primer for those who want to track draft prospects throughout the season.
Chane Behanan, Louisville, Forward, 6’6, 250
9.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 51.0 FG%, 59.4 FT%, 16.7 3FG% (36 attempts)
While fellow classmates Andre Drummond and Moe Harkless may have garnered more attention before they left for the NBA, Behanan had as good a season and was a vital part of a Final Four team. He is strong with a wide body which he uses well. He has good hands and nice touch around the basket, but that doesn’t prevent him from going up and finishing strong. Behanan has good rebounding instincts and he uses his body well to get position and to get up quickly after the ball. He crashes the offensive boards at almost every opportunity. He does a good job hitting holes in the defense create by the guards’ penetration or perimeter shooters. On the defensive end, Behanan is a solid anchor in the back of Louisville zone and he uses his good court awareness to help direct the rest of his teammates. Even with his bulk, he runs the floor very well and he can get out and finish in transition.
What he needs to show this season: Behanan’s offensive game is very limited at this point outside of roaming the baseline and crashing the offensive boards. Unfortunately, his role should be somewhat similar this year, though he will still get plenty of points. Behanan will eventually need to show that he can step out to 15 feet and either hit the mid-range jumper or take his man off the dribble. His shot mechanics could use work, as he seems to release his shot at a strange angle behind his head. If he raises his release point, he should have better opportunities for making shots. Defensively, Behanan needs to work on his foot speed and lateral movement to be able to guard in man on the perimeter. He uses his body well to defend in the post, but he will need to be even tougher against larger players at the next level.
Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky, Forward, 6’10, 239
5.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 43.8 FG%, 81.5 FT%, 43.2 3FG%, 11.6 mpg
Wiltjer is the remaining member of last year’s heralded Kentucky freshman class, but he will have his opportunity to step up this season. He is one of the best spot-up shooters in college, regardless of size, with a quick release and good range. He is also effective in the high post area where he can hit the mid-range jumper or use his good court vision to make plays to the low post or perimeter. He uses shot fakes well, especially when he gets the ball in the lane or low post, and he uses his nice touch and above-average footwork to get easy baskets. In transition, Wiltjer is a good spot-up perimeter option either on the wings or as a trailer on the break. Defensively, Wiltjer does a good job positioning himself well in the post and the perimeter.
What he needs to show this season: Part of the difficulty in assessing Wiltjer’s total game is the limited minutes he played last season, though his role will likely be very similar to what he did when he played last season. As mentioned, he is a good spot-up shooter, but if he is being guarded closely, there is little he can do about it. He has a good shot-fake and he can get defenders up in the air, but he is too slow and not a good enough ballhandler to make anything out of it. He hasn’t shown yet that he can be a consistent shooter off the dribble and it would be tough for him to penetrate from any further out than the free throw line. He could be a good option in pick-and-pop situations, but he isn’t a very good screener and he is slow to open up after the screen. If he gets the ball in the post and the defender doesn’t fall for a shot fake, he doesn’t have the moveset to get good shots. Hopefully, he will get to the line consistently where he can get some easy points. On the defensive side, Wiltjer has a lot of work to do. If he defends in the post, he needs to learn to use his lower body to hold his position. Last season, he used his arms and upper body too much and was backed down easily. On the perimeter, he needs to get much better at moving his feet since he will likely be matched up against quicker players. Surprisingly, for someone who uses shot fakes really well, he falls for them easily and is easy to get off-balance.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, Forward, 6’9, 230
6.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 43.7 FG%, 63.8 FT%, 15.6 mpg
McAdoo was a valuable bench contributor in his freshman season, and when called upon in March to step up into the starting lineup, he more than handled his own. McAdoo has good instincts around the basket and can finish in a variety of ways. He has a strong face-up game and can hit his jumper out to 15 feet consistently. He understands how to seal off his defender in the post, using his body well to get low and wide. He has good hands and a soft touch, but can also get up and finish above the rim. McAdoo is a good post defender, using his body well to battle for position while avoiding unnecessary fouls. He does a good job getting position for rebounds and goes strong after the missed shot, securing it well once he gets it. He hedges out well in pick-and-roll situations and he has a good understanding of how to play perimeter defense.
What he needs to show this season: Extended minutes in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments gave us a good look at the potential McAdoo has on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, McAdoo needs to continue to improve his foot work in the low post, and look to finish more at the basket. He can start to settle for the face-up jumper, especially if he hits one or two early on. Also, it would be good to see him start to develop the ability to finish with either hand around the basket. McAdoo needs to work on his anticipation of double teams in the post, and getting the ball out quickly or attacking before the help gets there. On defense, McAdoo does a good job with his man, but he needs to work on being a better help defender around the basket. He needs to react quicker and slide over the spot. Also, his footwork on the defensive end needs to continue to improve.
Myck Kabongo, Texas, Guard, 6’1, 180
9.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 39.1 FG%, 68.0 FT%, 31.6 3FG%, 1.7:1 A/TO
Highly-regarded coming into Texas, Kabongo had his share of difficulties getting adjusted to the college game with a young team. One of the fastest guards in college with a good handle and excellent court vision, Kabongo can be a fantastic playmaker. He can be tough to contain in isolation and he uses a variety of dribbles and great acceleration to get by his defender. He is a decent spot-up shooter, good enough that you can’t leave him open, even from long range. Kabongo can be tough to stop in transition and does a good job beating defenders to the rim or hitting open teammates after drawing the defense. Kabongo is a good on-ball defender, can pick up his man fullcourt, and moves his feet well.
What he needs to show this season: Kabongo’s biggest issue is control. Whether looking to create for a teammate or trying to get to the basket to score, Kabongo can go too fast for his own good. He doesn’t react great to help defenders once he gets into the lane and picks up needless offensive fouls or get stuck without a shot or a pass to make. His teammates also need to be aware that they can receive a pass at any time, and Kabongo also has to do a better job realizing that not all his teammates will be ready for some of his looks. He needs to cut down on his carelessness with his dribble and his passes, keep things a bit simpler. Also, he needs to improve his ability to finish once he gets in the lane, either being able to hit the floater/short jumper or go strong to the basket and take the contact. On the defensive end, Kabongo really needs to work on getting through screens, both on and off the ball.
Otto Porter, Georgetown, Forward, 6’8, 205
9.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 53.4 FG%, 69.2 FT%, 24.0 3FG%
Porter was a revelation during his first year with the Hoyas, taking to the Georgetown principles as quickly as any player I can remember. He is a versatile player on both ends of the floor, able to guard multiple positions and to score in a variety of ways. He can get good position in the post and he uses his body well to create space for a close shot. He can work in the high post or on the wing and can hit the open mid-range jumper. As with most Georgetown players, he understands the value of spacing on the floor and where to find openings in the defense. He attacks the glass on both ends of the floor, having a good nose for the ball, and even if he can’t get his hands on the ball on the first attempt, he keeps the ball alive for himself or a teammate. On defense, he does a good job on the perimeter using his long arms to make passes difficult and he shows a good understanding of positioning and lateral movement.
What he needs to show this season: A lot of Porter’s work will come on polishing the skills he already has – becoming a better ballhandler, a more consistent shooter, and a better passer. Similar to what we saw with Hollis Thompson last season, just because a player sacrifices part of his game for the Georgetown system, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the skills, but they will need to continue to work on them. We may not see Porter attack the basket off the dribble much, but he still needs to work on doing it. Overall, he needs to work on improving his foot speed on both ends. He needs to make crisper cuts on the offensive end, and he has to work on getting through screens on the defensive end.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, Guard, 6’5, 205
13.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.8 spg, 39.6 FG%, 65.4 FT%, 30.4 3FG%
Caldwell-Pope has the potential to be one of the top scorers in the nation. He has a nice perimeter shot, with excellent form, a quick release, and at 6’5, he is capable of getting good looks. He uses screens well to get space for his shot, and he is always in position to shoot off the catch. He has good court awareness and can find holes in the defense. When he gets a step on his defender, he can finish in a variety of ways at the rim with excellent body control. His court awareness extends to the defensive end, where he is a good help defender and he uses his length well to contest shots and passes on the perimeter. He has good instincts for rebounding and gets to the spots quickly to secure the miss. He runs the floor well in transition and can finish either off the dribble or spotting up on the perimeter.
What he needs to show this season: With all the scoring ability that Caldwell-Pope has, he needs to pick his spots better. He was called on to pick up a big scoring load immediately as a freshman, but he had a tendency to force too many contested perimeter shots. As part of this, he needs to work on using his dribble to create space, work on using shot fakes to get the defense off-balance, and work on hitting his jumper off the dribble consistently. Also, he should look to attack the basket off the dribble more often and look to get to the free throw line. His free throw percentage is a bit misleading as he had a few struggles early on, but by January, he had settled in, though he needs to get to the line more often. Defensively, Caldwell-Pope moves his feet well and gets good position between his man and the basket, but he needs to react better to his man’s movements. He rebounds well for his size, but he needs to make sure to put a body on someone before he goes after the ball.