2020 NBA Draft: Is Jahmi’us Ramsey Undervalued?

Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images /

Jahmi’us Ramsey, an athletic one-and-done guard, has the makings of an impact two-way player at the next level, so why isn’t he being ranked higher on NBA draft boards?

Although he held one of the most legitimate cases for a player that could have dramatically boosted his stock with another year in school, Jahmi’us Ramsey made the call just shy of the deadline, declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft after a productive freshman season at Texas Tech.

A hamstring injury cost him four games early in his season, and he endured an awful shooting stretch to close the season, but overall it was an impressive year for a guard that few had pegged to be going pro this quickly. In what appears to be a weak NBA draft class with a highly inefficient crop of guards at the top, it may surprise some that Ramsey’s name isn’t higher on boards.

He was far from perfect in his own right, but there is a considerable amount to like. If he does, in fact, end up being picked by a great team in the late first round, it could actually be for the best, as his strongest attributes translate to that of a valuable role player.

I first heard of Ramsey in the spring of his junior year of high school, in an article where Rivals.com scout Eric Bossi touted his toughness. He entered the college ranks viewed as a ferocious attacker of the basket and lockdown defender that needed to clean up his jump shot. Interestingly enough, we saw the opposite of this for much of the season. His perimeter shooting was outstanding, while there were more lapses defensively than expected, especially off the ball.

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6’4″ with a rumored 6’10 wingspan, explosive burst and a great build, his measurable grade is terrific for a modern-day off-guard. Physically, he actually already has the combination of quick feet and size that you would want in a player that can guard two, maybe three spots. Scary for a kid that still isn’t 19 yet.

He has the following stats and credentials:

Season Stats: 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 44.2 field goal percentage, 42.6 3-point percentage, 64.1 free throw percentage

Draft Rankings at Press Time:

23rd by ESPN

22nd by Sports Illustrated

28th, 24th by CBS Sports

What remains to be seen is if more pride can be unlocked in shutting opponents down. While he was certainly solid and lead a very good defensive team in steals for the season, learning to stay engaged for long stretches is vital. He often appeared to be resting on that side, as freshmen are known to do. In spite of this, he still made some spectacular blocks and what appeared to be out-of-range passing lane interceptions that only elite athletes can.

Is he going to be a reliable sniper from the perimeter right away, or was the near 43 percent shooting from deep this season an outlier? He previously had only shot 33 percent during his last summer in the Nike EYBL, but knocked down 13 of 27 attempts at the Peach Jam, the most competitive event on the high school circuit. I’m of the opinion that we have witnessed him continue to grow as a shooter.

More important than the stats are looking at the stroke itself. It’s smooth, balanced and effortless off the catch. I see shades of Bradley Beal in his form, and there should be no issue whatsoever in attaining consistency from NBA range. The only area for concern is at the free throw line, where he only managed 64 percent on the year.

The rest of the offensive end of the floor is a work in progress, particularly with the ball in his hands in the half-court. A lack of ball skills made it tough for his rim attacking to translate from his high school days when his physical advantage was exponential.

The result was a shooting percentage of only 45.4 percent from two on the year, coming on a combination of shot selection and indecision between the perimeter and the rim. I personally preferred when he would confidently pull up from mid-range after attacking a closeout, keeping it simple.

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There is a willingness and some skill in finding open teammates, but a lack of creativity with the live dribble to create space and break a defense down. He doesn’t display many moves, usually preferring to attack predictably in a straight line. This looks like someone that can be an initiator on occasion and can definitely attack in transition but is clearly best suited off the ball.

Assessing stock valuation, in this case, relates to the fit, considering Ramsey’s skill set compared to his more touted counterparts. You could strongly argue that he is actually more prepared to give a contending team effective minutes next season than Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, due to his superior shooting efficiency and defense at this stage.

Edwards, however, is more talented and dynamic offensively, thus likely to produce considerably more in a high usage role than Ramsey out of the gate, with higher upside for the future.

If Ramsey decides that he wants to take his chances of success into his own hands, he can do so by being an absolute pest defensively. A name that comes to mind when comparing his skill level and physical profile would be Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets. Even with Harris coming off a poor season and long injury history, Ramsey following a similar trajectory would still make him a terrific pickup in the late first found of the NBA draft.

Having watched a number of Tech’s games this year, I saw a player in Jahmi’us Ramsey that came in as the school’s highest-rated recruit ever, but overall appeared to play well within the team concept. He usually looked willing to make the correct play, looking for open teammates and setting screens off the ball, good signs for him as a 3-and-D role player. If he embraces his true gifts and shows a more consistent motor, this young man should have a very long pro career.

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