We are about two months from the start of the college basketball season, and the road to the 2013 NBA Draft has begun. 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.
Pierre Jackson, Baylor, Guard, 5’10, 180
13.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.8 spg, 46.0 FG%, 82.2 FT%, 40.8 FT%, 1.7:1 A/TO
Jackson came on strong for the Bears in his first season at the D-1 level, taking the starting point guard job over half way through the year. Jackson did a strong job pushing the Baylor offense and creating opportunities on the defensive end. He has a quick first step and can take the ball strong to basket or shoot his jumper off the dribble. He does a good job playing passing lanes in the Baylor zone and creating points off of turnovers.
What he needs to show this season: While Jackson can make some exciting things happen when he has the ball, his decision making on both ends needs to improve. On the offensive side, he needs to do a better job handling the ball under pressure, as well as improving his shot selection and learning to make quicker decisions off the pick and roll. On the defensive end, he needs to show that he can play on and off the ball effectively in man situations, as well as limiting the chances he takes on going for steals against good ballhandlers.
Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary’s, Guard, 6’4, 190
15.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.4 apg, 44.6 FG%, 85.7 FT%, 35.5 3FG%, 2.2:1 A/TO
Dellavedova is coming off a summer spent with the Australian Olympic squad, where he started every game and helped lead them to the Quarterfinals. Dellavedova has done a solid job at both guard positions for the Gaels over the past three seasons. He controls the tempo for the team and keeps the offense moving smoothly. He is very good making plays off the pick and roll, and he uses his dribble well to get into the defense. He goes strong to the rim and can find ways to finish against bigger defenders. Dellavedova is a good perimeter shooter, though his shot selection can still improve. On the defensive side, Dellavedova is a good off-ball defender, playing passing lanes well and helping when needed.
What he needs to show this season: As noted above, Dellavedova is a good shooter, but he doesn’t necessarily take good shots. His range is limited, and he will need to show that he can hit consistently beyond the college three-point line. While he makes good decisions off the pick and roll, he needs to make sure he gets the ball out quickly when he has an opening. Defensively, he doesn’t have great foot speed or lateral movement, and he is susceptible to being beat off the dribble.
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, Guard, 6’3, 180
21.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.6 spg, 44.3 FG%, 81.1 FT%, 34.1 3FG%, 1.5:1 A/TO
McCollum, the top player in the Patriot League over the last few seasons, made himself known nationwide with a big game in leading Lehigh over Duke in last year’s NCAA Tournament. One of the top scorers in the nation, McCollum has a versatile offensive game which makes him tough to defend. He is a good shooter, able to knock down mid to long range jumpers consistently. He uses his dribble well to get into the lane and draw defenders. He is a solid rebounder for his size, and he has the ability to start the team in transition off the rebound. He can push the ball or run the wings on the break and can finish strong at the basket. McCollum has quick hands, and can get easy steals off of help or double teams. He will be one of the top guards in the country this season and will finally have the whole country paying attention.
What he needs to show this season: McCollum does a good job playing off the ball, but he will probably be a point guard at the next level, so he will need to show a greater ability to run or start the offense, as well as showing the ability to make quick reads off the pick and roll. He uses screens well now, but mostly he is looking for his shot first, which his team needs him to do. On the defensive end, he needs to work on getting over screens better, as well as working on his lateral movement.
Elias Harris, Gonzaga, Forward, 6’7, 240
13.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 50.2 FG%, 67.2 FT%, 41.4 3FG%
Harris, who showed a lot of promise as a freshman three seasons ago, has a solid, but not spectacular, college career. Harris has an NBA body and uses it well on both ends of the floor. He is very effective around the rim, and has a nice touch. He has the ability to post up other small forwards, as well as defend multiple positions on the other end. Harris is also a very good rebounder for his size, especially on the offensive glass. He has shown the ability to hit his jumper out to three-point range.
What he needs to show this season: While the Zags’ offense has always been very guard-oriented, Harris needs to be more aggressive when he gets opportunities, especially out on the perimeter. He has the ability to take the ball of the dribble to the basket, but he needs to work on adding a consistent mid-range jumper to his repertoire. On the defensive end, he is an average defender, but he needs to work on improving his foot speed and positioning out on the perimeter.
Mason Plumlee, Duke, Forward, 6’10, 235
11.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 bpg, 57.2 FG%, 52.8 FT%
Plumlee was arguably the best player on the Duke team in the 2nd half of last season. He showed improvement in just about every area of his game last season, but he still has a lot of work to do. Athletic for his size, Plumlee is most dangerous on offense off of pick and rolls and offensive rebounds. While his free-throw shooting was awful through most of his college career, he started to get the hang of it during the last half of the season. He runs the floor well for his size and can finish in transition. He rebounds well on the defensive end, and has slowly worked his way to an average post defender.
What he needs to show this season: Plumlee still has a way to go to develop himself as a viable post option on offense. His footwork needs to improve, he needs to learn how to use his body better, and he needs to develop better touch around the rim. Beyond that, he needs to show that he can consistently step out to 10 feet and be able to hit the short-mid range jumper consistently. On the defensive end, he also needs to improve his footwork and using the lower half of his body to prevent offensive players from backing him down easily. He is an average shot-blocker, but I would like to see him become more aggressive in that area. Also, it is important that he continue to improve off his second-half of the season free throw shooting.
Erik Murphy, Florida, Forward, 6’10, 238
10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 48.7 FG%, 81.4 FT%, 42.4 3FG%
Murphy has become a reliable offensive player who can play either with his back to the basket or out on the perimeter. He has good range on his jumper and nice touch around the basket. He can also be used in the high post to help facilitate the offense for other shooters. He is an average rebounder on both ends of the floor, and has improved as a defender in the post and on the perimeter. He has also shown the ability to block shots when defending around the basket.
What he needs to show this season: Murphy has been a good role player for the past few seasons, but he will need to be a bigger part of the team’s offense this season. His key is to continue being efficient on the offensive end with increased touches, while being more aggressive when he gets the ball. On the defensive end, Murphy is has been solid, but he needs to continue on increasing his quickness to cover out on the perimeter, while also maintaining his good defense in the post.