NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/21/08-- Part Two

NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/21/08-- Part Two
Feb 22, 2008, 03:47 am
DeAndre Jordan, 7-0, Freshman, Center, Texas A&M
9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, .3 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 1.2 blocks, 63.5% FG, 40% FT, 21 minutes

Jonathan Givony

Despite suffering through a somewhat underwhelming debut season coming off the bench, averaging 9.2 points in just 21 minutes per game, 19-year old freshman DeAndre Jordan looks like a pretty safe bet to be sitting in the Green Room on June 26th, the night of the NBA draft.

Watching his film, and looking beyond his stats, it’s not difficult to tell why. Jordan is about as rare a physical specimen as you’ll find, the type that NBA teams have a very difficult time passing up when considering what he might develop into down the road. Jordan is a legit 7-footer with a pterodactyl wingspan, outstanding hands, and unbelievable athleticism—showing terrific quickness, incredible explosiveness getting off his feet, running the floor like a deer, and making highlight reel caliber plays at times that few players in the world are able to execute.

Offensively, Jordan is still extremely raw, displaying unpolished footwork, having a tough time establishing position for himself in the post, and clearly struggling finishing through any type of contact, even against very average competition at times. He has a difficult time holding his spot on the block, lacking a great deal of core strength and balance, and therefore often preferring to fade away from his matchup softly rather than go up strong at the rim. He lacks fundamentals on this end of the floor, not really knowing how to set proper screens, blowing open dunks at times, and not possessing any real counter moves or a left hand to speak of at the moment. The abysmal 40% he shoots from the free throw line tells you all you need to know about his shooting range, while the five turnovers he commits for every one assist makes him the second worst player in our entire database in that category, and speaks volumes about where he is at in terms of his court awareness and overall feel for the game.

With that said, there is a great deal of potential (the operative word here) to speak of. Jordan has excellent hands, and this combined with the phenomenal extension he gets thanks to his terrific wingspan makes things fairly easy for him once he catches the ball close to the basket. He also has very solid touch, which leaves some hope that as he continues to grow into his frame, the rest of his offensive game won’t be too far behind. Right now we see some basic post moves—a little drop stop, some simple jump-hooks, and of course some incredibly impressive dunks. His quickness in the post also makes him very effective at drawing fouls.

One area that Jordan shines, as you might expect, is on the glass, where he pulls down 12.2 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted-- which ranks him 22nd in our database, and 5th amongst freshman. His length, quickness, hands and height are all felt here in a major way, and you’ll often see him beating other players to the offensive glass with his tremendous second bounce, only to throw the ball in with an emphatic one-handed dunk.

Defensively, Jordan does not make as much as an impact as you might hope at this juncture of his career, especially considering the physical tools he has at his disposal. He gets pushed around due to his lack of strength, giving up too much space in the post waiting for the shot to go up, but does not display the instincts and reactivity you might hope for once it does. Jordan’s awareness defensively is clearly average, both in the man to man setting and as far as team defense is concerned. He’s only blocking 1.2 shots per game (2.2 per-40 minutes pace adjusted), which is a pretty disappointing number when all's said and done. Jordan clearly lacks some toughness on the defensive end, as his motor is average and he doesn’t seem like one who is willing to do the dirty work. He does display impressive quickness hedging screens out on the perimeter, and has to be considered a factor to be reckoned with in the paint just by standing in the lane with his tremendously long arms outstretched.

All things considered, we’re talking about possibly the biggest high-risk, high reward prospect in this draft. Jordan is the type of player who is capable of getting a GM fired for taking him too early, but he’s also capable of getting a GM fired for deciding to pass on him. What it will probably boil down to at the end of the day is the work ethic and drive Jordan possesses to get better over the next few years. The early returns we’re hearing in this area from scouts who have been out to watch him practice and play have not been the most encouraging regarding his maturity-level, mentality and all-around intangibles, though. The lack of improvement he’s shown throughout his freshman season has been slightly concerning too, but to his credit, he’s a player who needs to have a great point guard next to him to create shots for him, and A&M doesn’t have anything close to that on their roster right now. According to numerous sources, Jordan is not getting along that well with his coaching staff, and will almost certainly be entering the draft once the season is over.

Greivis Vasquez, 6’5, PG/SG, Sophomore, Maryland
17.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 turnovers, 1.6 steals, 44% FG, 79% FT, 33% 3PT

Joseph Treutlein

After a freshman season where he showed plenty of flashes, Greivis Vasquez has come back extremely strong as a sophomore, posting All-ACC type numbers for Maryland. Vasquez’s production is up across the board, and he’s showing off his outstanding talent night in and night out, leading the show for his squad. He currently leads the team in points, assists, turnovers, steals, and is third in rebounds from the point guard position.

The multi-talented guard’s skills have to begin with his point guard abilities, where he does things most players simply are not capable of doing. Given great freedom in Maryland’s offense this season, Vasquez has dished out assists in every which way, pushing the ball in transition, feeding the post, running the pick and roll, hitting cutters to the basket, and finding open shots for his teammates. He currently ranks 9th amongst all players in our database in assists per-40 minutes pace-adjusted. The most impressive aspect of his passing, though, is his ability to make passes off the dribble, always keeping his head up and showing a pension for no-look, one-handed passes through the seams of the defense. He makes passes in this vein in transition and the half-court, showing great accuracy and speed on his passes, considering he’s throwing them with one hand while on the move. Vasquez also excels feeding the post, where he shows a good understanding of angles and recognizes when to make a bounce pass and when to make a straight-line pass, getting the ball to his teammates in strong position.

For all of Vasquez’s ability in the passing game and the running of his team’s offense, moving the ball and creating open shots all over the court, there is somewhat of a downside to this aspect of his game, as evidenced by his 4.4 turnovers per game (8th in our database). Vasquez is prone to trying to do too much by forcing some passes, and also makes some lazy passes at times. Also, while he shows very good control of the basketball moving up and down the court, he can leave it unprotected at times, leading to turnovers.

Vasquez’s questionable decision-making extends to his scoring game as well, where his shot selection leaves something to be desired. He is prone to rushing some pull-up jumpers and taking shots from NBA range frequently, which hurts his accuracy. He also seems to misjudge his momentum on off-the-dribble shots at times, leading to bad misses. That said, his 33% three-point percentage is not indicative of his true shooting ability, as he’s a much better shooter when he isn’t rushing and has time to get his feet set. He actually has a very smooth shot with strong mechanics, and is capable of pulling up in space, but needs to cut down on some of the forced attempts, whether they’re contested, rushed, from NBA range, or all three.

Vasquez excels in the dribble-drive game, where even though he doesn’t have an explosive first step, he gets into the lane and finishes frequently. He uses changes of speed, changes of direction, and high screens well, frequently penetrating with the ball going in either direction, though he strongly prefers his right. He doesn’t have much explosiveness around the basket, and with his slight frame, doesn’t take contact especially well, but that doesn’t stop him from consistently finishing, as he has an excellent right-handed floater, which he uses frequently. At 6’5, he’s able to convert with this consistently even if his defender is still in front of him. Vasquez also shows good touch off the glass, and will finish with his left and right hand at the rim, using some unorthodox scoop shots and high lay-ups off the glass to score. Vasquez gets to the glass using off-ball cuts as well, catching and finishing after making good reads on open lanes in the defense.

On the defensive end, Vasquez shows excellent anticipation in the passing lanes, where he uses his length well to pick off passes, though he struggles at times as a man-to-man defender. Vasquez’s lateral quickness is not that great, and his high center of gravity hurts him defending smaller, quicker point guards. He compensates for this somewhat by using his length and doing a good job sticking with his man off the ball, fighting well through off-ball screens. He struggles with on-ball screens, though, often going under them rather than fighting through them, leading to some open shots for his man. Vasquez does use his size and length well on the boards, though, pulling in 5.6 rebounds per game, most of them on the defensive end.

Vasquez is likely to test the draft waters this year from what we’re told, given his strong performance this season, and because big man teammates James Gist and Bambale Osby will be graduating, without much coming into replace them. While Vasquez is an extremely talented player, there are some questions about how his game will translate to the next level, and reasons for him to strongly consider coming back to school next year. Vasquez’s ability to defend point guards at the next level is a concern, and his decision-making has a lot of room for improvement, something that will best come with playing time and coaching. It’s uncertain whether he could secure minutes in the NBA at this stage of his development, even with his outstanding talent. Despite his excellent production this season, he still has a lot of room for improvement as a player, as there are many things he’s capable of doing much more efficiently. Continuing to develop his game and honing in all his talent may be crucial to his long-term success, and entering the draft too early may prevent him from doing that.

Kentrell Gransberry, 6-9, Senior, PF/C, South Florida
16.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.5 blocks, 53% FG, 53% FT, 32 minutes

Jonathan Givony

With his college career coming to a close in about two weeks, this is probably as good a time as any to offer up a progress report on Kentrell Gransberry’s senior season. South Florida went through a coaching change this past summer, and although they weren’t all that much more competitive in the Big East, Gransberry seemed to improve to a certain extent on an individual basis under Stan Heath.

Gransberry was relied on very heavily by South Florida offensively, quite a bit more than he’ll be expected to at the next level. Over 50% of his offense came on post-up situations, with the rest coming primarily from offensive rebounds and cuts to the basket. Gransberry was not terribly efficient finishing his post-up moves, as he’s mostly a below the rim player, but he did get to the free at an excellent rate (7.5 attempts per game). He doesn’t have anything resembling an outside jumper, as you can probably guess by the 53% he shoots from the free throw line.

Gransberry does a good job using his strength to establish position down low, backing players down, and being fairly patient waiting for plays to develop. He lacks any real quickness to go around defenders or the explosiveness to go up and finish strong at the rim, but possesses a solid jump-hook and drop-step he can go to, and is extremely aggressive trying to make his presence felt, initiating contact and using his body well. Almost everything he does comes with his right hand. He’s also a solid passer out of the post, which is nice considering how big of a role he had in this offense.

Gransberry’s best attribute as far as the NBA is concerned has to be his rebounding ability. He is averaging 11 rebounds per game this season, and his 13.9 per-40 minutes pace-adjusted ranks him 8th in that category amongst all players in our database. He was actually better in this category last year, at 16 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted.

Regardless, he does a phenomenal job getting a body on players and boxing out down low. He has terrific timing and anticipation skills, and his excellent hands and strength let him do the rest. What Gransberry lacks in explosiveness he makes up for with sheer tenacity, going after every rebound with the type of ferociousness that epitomizes all great glass-cleaners.

Defensively, Gransberry can’t be considered anything more than average at best for a potential NBA power forward. His lack of quickness is very obvious both in the post and especially on the perimeter, where he struggles to move his feet and stay in front of players. Gransberry would be well served to shed a good 20 pounds leading into the pre-draft process, as he’s clearly carrying a great deal of extra weight that he just won’t need at the next level. His conditioning obviously isn’t the best, and this has hurt South Florida on a couple of occasions this season in close games, as their star player just wasn’t able to perform up to his maximum potential due to fatigue.

Gransberry is going to have to endear himself to scouts at the pre-draft camps, starting at Portsmouth and continuing in Orlando. He has the type of five on five game that doesn’t translate all that well to private workouts, so he would be well served to take advantage of any opportunity he gets to show himself in front of NBA executives in a team setting. There is a spot in the NBA for players like Gransberry who can get after it, generate extra possessions for his team, and play within himself offensively, but he’s not a sure bet to make it at this point. He should definitely take advantage of the extra time he has compared with others to prepare for the draft, and get himself in the best shape possible.

Jaycee Carroll, 6-2, Senior, Shooting Guard, Utah State
22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 turnovers, 53% FG, 52% 3P, 92% 3P, 37 minutes

Kyle Nelson

Jaycee Carroll is one of the most efficient players in the NCAA, regardless of position, and arguably the league’s best shooter. As the top option for the Utah State Aggies, Carroll has had the opportunity to showcase just about every single part of his offensive arsenal this season. However, his lack of size, athleticism, and the fact that he will be 25 years old by the time the draft rolls around definitely complicates the equation in terms of projecting him at the next level.

While Carroll is a perfect college player, his NBA potential is limited due to his lack of size, speed and athleticism. Standing only 6’2 and possessing a slight 175 pound frame, Carroll is not even athletically on the same level as former Duke standout J.J. Redick for example, which severely limits his potential be anything other than a jump-shooter at the next level. He also possesses below average lateral quickness, which makes it difficult to project how he will stack up defensively. However, what Carroll lacks in size and athleticism, he makes up for in conditioning and effort; his motor is rivaled by few in the college ranks.

On the offensive end of the floor, Carroll’s efficiency is rivaled by very few. Looking at the numbers, he is an elite offensive player. He is ranked 10th in the NCAA in scoring (22.0 ppg), 6th among NCAA shooting guards in field goal percentage (52.7%), 2nd in the NCAA in free throw percentage (91.8%) and 2nd in the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage (51.8% on 6.4 attempts per game). His shooting efficiency statistics are even more impressive as he boasts the best true shooting percentage in the NCAA (0.69) and the 9th best effective field goal percentage (0.65).

Needless to say, his shooting mechanics support these numbers. He possesses a lightning quick release with almost perfect form and infinite range that allows him the opportunity to get his shot off against just about any defender in the college ranks. He is a smart shooter, too, often utilizing a pump fake or a side step in order to get space for himself. He utilizes screens better than any prospect we’ve seen this year, combining his high basketball IQ with his endless motor to give his defender fits while he uses his superior knowledge of offensive positioning to get open for set shots on the floor. He is constantly the focus of opposing defenses, and his poise is largely due to his incredible sense of spacing on the floor and the fact that he knows where to go to get the ball into his hands. While he is an incredible shooter, he can still improve the art of getting his shot. He must get more elevation on his jumpshot if he wants to get his shot off against taller, longer, and more athletic players at the next level. He must also get stronger, because when he is forced to take an off-balanced perimeter shot, his form weakens, as he is prone to pushing the ball in order to compensate for his lack of strength.

This is not to say that he is just a set-shooter. After all, based on a sample size of six games on Synergy, he only generates about 50% of his offense off of screens and set-shots. A major improvement that he has shown during the past season, however, has been consistent improvement and greater versatility on the offensive end. He is showing the beginnings of a solid mid-range game, looking more comfortable pulling up off of the dribble than he did last season. He must continue to work on consistency, but a mid-range game looks to be possible considering his basketball IQ and shooting ability.

However, if he wants to develop a good mid-range game for the next level, he must improve his ball-handling ability. According to Synergy, an overwhelming 87% of his dribble drives are right handed. Watching him play, he rarely uses his left hand at all when attempting to create shots, and it clearly is hindering his otherwise fluid offensive game. Developing his handle may be one of the determining factors in terms of his ability to play at the highest level. He is not turnover prone at the moment, averaging only 1.8 turnovers in almost 37 minutes per game, but considering his limited handle, it is easy to think that this inability will be exploited at the next level.

Another problem is how his defensive abilities will translate at the next level. In terms of the NBA, it is safe to say that there are very few players, if any, that Carroll will be able to guard. As mentioned earlier, his physical profile leaves much to be desired, and his lack of lateral quickness hurts him as well. That being said, however, he is a fundamentally sound defender, maintaining a good stance with his hands up most of the time. His effort is admirable, and as evidenced in his 6.2 rebounds per game. One thing that he should work to improve, however, is staying close to his man on the perimeter. He sometimes allows his man too much room and then is late closing out on the perimeter jumper or is beaten off of the dribble by his man.

In order to make an NBA roster, Carroll will have to land in an absolutely perfect situation: that is how difficult it will be for him to make a mark in the NBA. His lack of size, strength, and athleticism may be enough to prevent him from getting a chance. However, the intelligence he brings to the game, combined with his lights out shooting and developing offensive arsenal will surely translate into success overseas, if the NBA does not work out for him. Carroll is having an incredible season and one that will likely garner more media attention as the post-season inches closer. That being said, he will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his abilities and prove that he can play with bigger and more athletic players.

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