This edition of The Case For… looks at one of college basketball’s prominent long-range shooters – Syracuse’s James Southerland. Southerland, who set the Big East record for most three-pointers made in a single Big East Tournament this past year, has great size and can be a match-up problem on the perimeter. There are still a lot of questions on whether Southerland can provide much more than spot-up shooting, and does he have the defensive ability to play at the NBA level having played exclusively in Syracuse’s zone defense? Let’s look at The Case for James Southerland:
James Southerland, Syracuse, Senior, 6’8, 221
13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.5 spg
45.1 FG%, 78.9 FT%, 39.6 3FG%
58.6% TS%, 56.7 eFG%, 14.4 DRB%, 21.3 USG%
The Good – Southerland made a name for himself this past season as Syracuse’s big 3-point threat. Southerland is a very good spot-up shooter, using his size to get good looks at the basket, getting square quickly and stepping into his shot, and having a high release and good follow-through. He is also a very good option in transition, where he runs the wings well and spots up and gets a shot off quickly, again usually from the 3-point line. Southerland is athletic, and has shown his ability to finish at the rim off of offensive rebounds or in transition. Though playing zone, Southerland has shown the ability to cover a lot of ground quickly and to be an above-average rebounder, though he does need to work on boxing out.
The Not So Good – The ability to create his own shot is a major area where Southerland is going to need to improve. Also, while he is careful with the basketball, he needs to be able to handle it well enough to take it from the perimeter to the basket. Southerland needs to improve his ability to hit his jumper, especially from mid-range, off the dribble. Shot selection is an issue at times, though it is likely Southerland wouldn’t have the green light he did at Syracuse, at least for a while, at the pro level. On the defensive end, Southerland needs to not only make the adjustment to playing man defense, he will need to work on the defensive fundamentals. He has a tendency to stand straight up on defense, and he will need to work on moving laterally and his foot speed. Southerland’s defensive awareness needs to improve as well. He could be a good rebounder at his size, but he needs to work on making his hands stronger, as he tends to lose hold of the ball when rebounding in traffic.
The Verdict – Teams always need players who can shoot the 3 like Southerland does, especially at his size. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on his game, mainly on defense, if he wants to play at the NBA level. Still, there is value as a role or situational player. His draft value falls at the end of the 2nd round to undrafted, but he certainly will need to spend time in the D-League or overseas to work on building up the rest of his game first.