We are a few months from 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.
(See Part 1 here – McDermott, Bachynski, Fair, Joe Jackson, Payne)
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.
Patric Young, Florida, Forward, 6’9, 240
10.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 58.6 FG%, 48.9 FT%
Strong, athletic and quick, Young came to college already sporting an NBA-ready body, but even after 3 seasons, his game is still trying to catch up. Young uses his body well in the offensive post, getting low with a solid base and sealing off the defender. He is efficient around the basket and has developed the ability to hit the short hook shot with either hand off of both blocks. Young is a strong screener on the perimeter and frees his guards up well. He is a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor, getting position well and going strong after the ball. On the defensive end, he keeps his position well in the post and he has improved as a perimeter defender.
What he needs to show this season: Young’s development as an offensive player has been hindered by the Florida’s offensive style which has been very perimeter-oriented the past 3 seasons, though Young has shown small improvements each season. Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy have moved on, so there is a chance that Young, who was 5th in shots attempted last season, may become a bigger part of the offense. He has to continue to work on his footwork and ballhandling in the post, and he should start to develop a better face-up game. With his body, Young should work on going stronger to the basket with his post moves, and not settling for being forced away from the basket. Defensively, Young is a capable perimeter-defender and should continue to do well in this aspect.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State, Guard, 6’2, 190
10.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.6 apg, 41.7 FG%, 76.8 FT%, 30.0 3FG%, 2.4:1 A/TO
There may not be a point guard in all of college ball who has better control of his team, and understanding of his opponent, than Craft. He gets the Buckeyes into their offense quickly on every possession and he knows exactly when he needs to come get the ball and reset when needed. Craft is an excellent ballhandler and strong passer, especially getting the ball to teammates where they can make a play. He uses his dribble well to create space and he uses a variety of dribbles, including a great hesitation dribble, to get past defenders in space. He has good body control and can be creative getting shots off around the basket. He is a decent perimeter shooter when he has space and can get his body set and squared. Craft is an excellent on-ball defender, using his body and feet to force his man away from their strengths. He has very good lateral movement and has quick hands. Craft is very good in the open court, drawing defenders and hitting open teammates.
What he needs to show this season: Craft runs his offense well, but he doesn’t “create” offense as much as he keeps it moving. He makes the plays his team needs him to make, but NBA teams will be interested in seeing him create more shots for others, especially off of penetration and the pick-and-roll. Concerns about his offensive ability are not as bad as many may make out, but there are some key areas to work on. He can become a more consistent shooter, especially working on a mid-range jumper off the dribble and a short jumper or floater in the lane. Also, he needs to be able to knock down the long-range jumper with some consistency when open, forcing the defense to play out on him. Defensively, Craft can have a tendency to cheat towards helping which can leave him somewhat vulnerable when guarding a good shooter. Also, he needs to continue to work on getting over screens on the perimeter and in pick-and-roll situations. Continuing to build his body strength should help him some here.
Will Sheehey, Indiana, Forward, 6’7, 200
(2012-13) 9.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 48.8 FG%, 65.6 FT%, 34.6 3FG%
Sheehey has spent the last few seasons as a valuable player off the Indiana bench. With the loss of lottery picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller to the NBA, now is Sheehey’s chance to show that he can be a go-to player for the Hoosiers. Sheehey would stand out when he entered games based on his hustle on both ends of the floor, though with a possible significant increase in minutes, he may have to adjust his style somewhat. Sheehey is very good at finding open spaces on the defense, using a lot of movement and quick cuts to find places to score. He has shown to be more athletic than people may believe and he is very good at crashing the offensive boards. Sheehey can score in a variety of ways, including hitting his jumper off the catch or dribble. On defense, Sheehey is capable of guarding multiple positions, and has shown very good defensive awareness, including knowing how to play angles off the dribble.
What he needs to show this season: Consistency will be the key for Sheehey this season, especially with a likely increase in touches on the offensive end. While he shown to be able to hit his jumper from a variety of spots, he has to make sure to not rush his shot and follow-through when he feels a defender getting close. Also, Sheehey will need to work on his ballhandling to allow him to get to the basket or create his own shot when needed. Defensively, Sheehey should work to increase his foot speed and positioning when guarding on the perimeter, allowing him to force the offensive player towards the help defense.
Deonte Burton, Nevada, Guard, 6’1, 190
(2012-13) 16.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 44.9 FG%, 71.8 FT%, 30.1 3FG%, 1.4:1 A/TO
Burton, the WAC Player of the Year as a sophomore, did not have the junior year many would have expected. After considering entering the NBA Draft, he is back for hopefully a much better senior season. Burton is a good ballhandler, handles pressure well, and helps get Nevada into their offense. He uses screens and a variety of dribbles to get into the lane and can finish with either hand around the basket. He has decent range on his jumper and can spot-up and hit the three. Burton is an above-average on-ball defender, moving his feet well, keeping his arms out and positioning himself well.
What he needs to show this season: Consistency on the offensive end is one of Burton’s biggest weaknesses. He needs to work on finishing around the basket and adding a short jumper or floater when he can’t get all the way to the rim. After being almost 80% from the free throw line 2 seasons ago, Burton dipped to about 72% on a similar amount of attempts. A good passer, Burton needs to work on being more of a playmaker, looking to draw the defense and hitting the open man, including working in pick-and-roll situations. Burton’s shot as a professional is as a point guard, and it will be important for him to show that he can handle those duties consistently.
Alec Brown, Green Bay, Center, 7’1, 235
14.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 44.9 FG%, 74.7 FT%, 42.9 3FG%
While I expected more out of him last season, Brown still has the potential to be one of the best big men in the country. He is able to score from the post or the perimeter, and he runs the floor well for his size. He has developed a few go-to moves in the post, is able to use both hands, and he is solid as a passer or a shooter in the high post. When Brown faces up in the post, his ability to draw out defenders and hit the jumper makes him dangerous, and he has shown that he can knock down open 3’s with consistency. On defense, Brown has very good awareness and positions himself well. He is a solid help defender and has good timing when looking to block shots. His footwork on both ends of the court continues to improve, and he does well at getting out on the pick-and-roll, as well as recovering to help around the basket when needed.
What he needs to show this season: Though he has added some bulk, Brown’s frame makes it tough for him to hold his position on the blocks on both ends of the floor. He needs to develop both his upper and lower body strength, though he does a good job using his long arms to deny the post when he can’t hold his spot. Strength will also allow him to establish position better when looking to rebound, and he needs to be more aggressive for his size going after missed shots. Brown’s jumper is good, but at over 7 feet tall, he needs to look to dominate around the basket more instead of drifting to the perimeter. Defensively, Brown needs to continue working on his footwork and his lateral movement, as well as learning to force the offensive post player to his weaker side.
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