NCAA Weekly Performers, 12/30/09

NCAA Weekly Performers, 12/30/09
Dec 30, 2009, 02:52 am
Houston's Aubrey Coleman, Saint Mary's Omar Samhan, USC's Nikola Vucevic and Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova are the latest to take the spotlight in our NCAA Weekly Performers series.

Aubrey Coleman, 6-4, Senior, Shooting Guard, Houston
27.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2 turnovers, 3.6 steals, 46% FG, 73% FT, 39% 3P

Jonathan Givony

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the voracious scoring numbers Aubrey Coleman has been producing at the University of Houston this season, and with the increasingly perimeter oriented direction the NBA is heading in these days, he’s likely long overdue for an extended look.

A junior college transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College, Coleman was probably best known until now as “the guy that stepped on Chase Budinger’s face” last season when his team played Arizona.

Despite the poor first impression, he’s making a name for himself in other ways now, currently holding the distinction of being the #1 scorer in college basketball.

From an NBA standpoint, Coleman has average size for the shooting guard position at 6-3 or 6-4, but makes up for that somewhat with an absolute chiseled frame. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his pure athleticism, but is a very skilled offensive player who fills up the stat sheet in many different ways.

No player carries a heavier offensive load in the NCAA than Coleman, as he ranks first in both possessions per game and field goal attempts. The fact that his team plays at the third fastest pace in college basketball obviously helps, but its undeniable how intensely they rely on his scoring production. Very few of his field goal attempts are created by teammates, which makes his solid efficiency numbers (48% 2P, 39% 3P) even more impressive.

Coleman gets the largest portion of his offense in isolation situations, facing up from the perimeter and taking his man off the dribble. Not a prolific 3-point shooter (only 21% of his field goal attempts come from beyond the arc), he loves to operate in the mid-range area, where he does a terrific job creating separation from his defender and is capable of making some exceptionally difficult shots.

He takes and makes a large number of long, contested 2-pointers pulling up off the dribble with a hand in his face each and every game, showing his virtues as a high-level shot-maker and pick and roll player.

This lends itself to his 3-point shooting as well, where he makes 39% of his attempts, despite his flat-footed and somewhat slow-developing release. The fact that he can make shots effectively both catching and shooting as well as pulling up off the dribble is a big plus.

Despite displaying what appears to be just an average first step, Coleman still finds ways to get to the basket fairly regularly, averaging an excellent 9.5 free throw attempts per game—3rd best amongst all shooting guard prospects per-40 minutes pace adjusted.

An instinctive, aggressive scorer, Coleman is a very confident ball-handler who can create going either direction and shows nice hesitation moves and exceptional strength making his way to the basket. He turns the ball over at a minuscule rate (0.09%) on a per-possession basis, which definitely bodes well for his future. Unfortunately his court vision appears to be below-average, which would likely nullify most chances of him being able to make the conversion to playing the point down the road.

Coleman contributes to his team in a couple of different areas, namely with his excellent rebounding production (7.5 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted) and his ability to get in the passing lanes (3.6 steals per-40p), reminding somewhat of Lester Hudson in that regard.

Undersized on the defensive end, and not always showing the best effort or fundamentals, Coleman has terrific instincts and anticipation skills. He’ll need to apply them much better if he wants to improve his chances of making an NBA roster, though, as his potential role will likely be much smaller offensively and he’ll have to earn his minutes in other ways.

That’s typically the biggest concern with smaller-school scoring machines like Coleman—whether he’ll be able to be productive as without the ball in his hands and an entire offense built around him.

There is a lot to like about Aubrey Coleman regardless when considering his NBA potential, although he’s obviously no lock at this point. Continuing to win and produce efficiently in the underrated Conference USA will go a long way in helping his cause, as will a strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April.

Omar Samhan, 6’11, Senior, Center, Saint Mary’s
21.1 Points, 11.2 Rebounds, 2.2 Turnovers, 1.8 Blocks, 56.4% FG, 72.9% FT

Matthew Williams

Last time we checked in on Omar Samhan, he was fresh off a double-double against Hasheem Thabeet. At that juncture in late 2006, both players were freshman. Three seasons of steady development later, we find the senior center emerging as one of the top mid-major conference big men in college basketball. With Patty Mills and Diamon Simpson moving on, Samhan has assumed his role as the Gael’s first option and has thrived thus far –ranking amongst the most efficient players in our database this season.

From a draft perspective, Samhan is intriguing because of his blend of size and feel for scoring in the post, but isn’t a prototypical athlete by NBA standards. Though the 50-pounds he’s lost from when he arrived at St. Mary’s have helped his speed considerably, Samhan lacks the explosiveness that would make him a surefire draft pick. Standing 6’11 with a nice frame, Samhan has worked tirelessly to improve his conditioning and is reaping the benefits, but will fall under scrutiny for his ability to translate his game to the next level.

Few players at the college level boast Samhan’s combination of touch and post instincts. Capable of operating over both shoulders in the post, Samhan gets almost 60% of his offensive possessions in the post according to the data at our disposal. Receiving the ball on the left block on the majority of his possessions, Samhan’s knack for putting points on the board stems from the way he takes what the defense gives him. Prone to putting the ball on the floor almost every time he receives the ball in the post, Samhan does an excellent job surveying the floor and then shielding his man from the ball from the mid-to-low post –two things that get him to get to the line at a very solid rate.

Once Samhan picks up his initial dribble, he shows tremendous fluidity in his post repertoire, stringing drop-steps and step-throughs together seamlessly. Not blessed with great quickness, the senior plays with pace and is extremely decisive when he makes a move. Very discerning when deciding whether to use his hook shot or jump shot when going right, Samhan is a tough guard due to his ability to knock down short jumpers. He may lack tremendous hangtime, but his ability to turn into the lane and fade away often gives him the space he needs to take advantage of his defender before help arrives.

The deft touch Samhan shows on the block doesn’t translate to his midrange game just yet, but he’s able to make an impact when he’s not isolated on the block by being active without the ball. Presenting a big target and displaying excellent hands, Samhan proves to be a solid finisher, but struggles to play above the rim –a trait that won’t help his stock. His size and hands allow him to make an impact on the offense glass as well, where he frequently uses his ability to gain position to rebound his own misses.

Defensively, most of Samhan’s value revolves around his ability to pull down rebounds at a high rate. Doing a better job recently stepping out and contesting perimeter shots, Samhan is an active defender, but his poor lateral quickness makes him a liability when defending cutters or offensive players with developed face up games. Able to block shots from time to time thanks to his length and solid timing, Samhan will go straight up when his man makes a move to the rim, but would likely struggle to make the same impact in this area on the NBA level.

A talented senior who has improved in each of his collegiate seasons, Samhan’s work ethic is clear in his gradual weight loss. Though he’s played extremely well this season, he’ll need to continue proving his mettle, and would benefit considerably from a strong NCAA tournament considering the lack of quality big men he’ll find in the WCC conference outside of Gonzaga. The 25-point, 18-rebound outing he posted against Andrew Ogilvy and Vanderbilt was a step in the right direction, but beyond that the schedule looks pretty flimsy as far as big-time matchups are concerned.

It will be important for Samhan to show well the rest of the season, especially against Gonzaga, but ultimately, he’s a perfect candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. If he can hold his own against some of the more athletic seniors he’ll encounter in this class, he’ll give himself an opportunity to earn a spot in the second round on the workout circuit considering the premium NBA decision-makers place on size.

Nikola Vucevic, 6-10, Sophomore, Power Forward, USC
13 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 55% FG, 71% FT, 33% 3P, 36 minutes

Joey Whelan

With a roster lacking the kind of star power it has featured in recent years, USC wasn’t expected to do much this season, and an uninspired 2-4 start certainly seemed to spell a long winter for the Trojans. With Pac-10 play kicking off this week though, the team has done a sudden about face, having reeled off six straight victories, thanks in part to the eligibility of point guard Mike Gerrity, but also due to the 36 minutes per game sophomore big man Nikola Vucevic is giving them.

Born in Switzerland, raised in Belgium, the nephew of the coach of Pro-B France based team Antibes, and the son of two former professional basketball players (his father was a member of the Yugoslavian national team and his mother played in Bosnia), Vucevic certainly has the right pedigree to develop into a strong interior presence at the college level thanks to his size and developing skill set. He had a strong showing in the U-20 European Championship this past summer as part of the Montenegrin national team, averaging 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds in nine games.

Standing 6-10, but a still thin 220-pounds, the sophomore has a frame that has plenty of room to fill out and get stronger, something that he clearly needs to do in order to be more effective around the rim. He is not a great athlete, looking somewhat slow footed and lacking much vertical explosiveness at this stage. His single greatest physical asset is his tremendous length, which allows him to rebound at a very high rate despite being unable to match the athletic gifts many opposing players have over him.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the overwhelming number of Vucevic’s shots come on the block or in the immediate vicinity of the rim, be it from offensive rebounds or moving without the basketball. He works extremely hard in the post to establish position, something he does quite well, but he doesn’t attack the rim with this same fervor.

Once the ball is in his hands, it can be somewhat of a crapshoot as to what will happen next. Vucevic is still a raw talent, but he exhibits signs of excellent footwork, mixing in a variety of pro level moves into his arsenal already. In his best performance of the season – an 18-point, 14-rebound showing against second-ranked Texas – the forward deployed an array of drop steps, hooks and up-and-under moves against Longhorn center Dexter Pittman.

As impressive as he looks in these moments of finesse and execution, the European product is quick to remind scouts that he is still learning the game, often committing turnovers when he puts the ball on the floor and failing to recognize double teams.

Where Vucevic looks like he could really develop into an intriguing prospect is as a floor spacer. He has only taken a handful of shots from outside the paint, but from what we have seen there is definitely potential for the 19-year old sophomore to become a legitimate threat as a pick-and-pop player down the road.

Though he doesn’t elevate much and his shot can be somewhat flat at times, Vucivic shows good form with a smooth, consistent release. His respectable numbers at the free throw line are also a pretty good indication that he can ultimately develop an effective mid-range game as his progression continues.

Defensively, Vucevic continues to be somewhat of a study in inconsistencies. As soft as he looks at times on the offensive end, he puts a good effort in as a post defender. He certainly isn’t the kind of player to launch into the air and alter every shot in his area, but he holds his position well and uses his length to contest a fair number of shots.

His length, fundamentals and activity level make him a very productive rebounder as well, averaging 11 per-40 minutes pace adjusted. It’s in this part of his game in which he can really continue to make a name for himself as a prospect, similar to the way Goran Suton did at Michigan State.

There is obviously a good deal to like about Vucevic right now given the promise he has shown at a young age. While his stats have been somewhat padded against weaker opponents, a pair of double-doubles against Texas and Tennessee are indications that the sophomore can play against elite defenders and excel.

He is a raw prospect who continues to show flashes of ability both as a low-post scorer and a shooter, the latter of which will be paramount to any aspirations of playing at the next level. It is certainly too early to project where Vucevic will end up, but it is a safe bet he will be in college for a couple of more seasons, granted he isn’t tempted to use his European passport once the results of the NCAA’s investigation into Tim Floyd are known. With the Trojans likely to rely on him more heavily during the Pac-10 schedule, we will get a great opportunity to see how Vucevic can continue to produce.

Matthew Dellavedova, 6’4, PG/SG, Freshman, St. Mary’s
13.2 points, 3.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 40% FG, 38% 3PT, 91% FT

Joseph Treutlein

Matthew Dellavedova took no time adjusting to the college game, averaging over 18 points in his first four games this season, and doing a good job keeping the pace, as he’s the Gaels’ second leading scorer while also leading the team in minutes at 34.6 per game.

At 6’4, the Australian-born Dellavedova has solid size for a combo guard, though he’s a below average athlete by NBA standards, lacking in quickness and severely lacking in vertical explosiveness. Currently playing the vast majority of the time as the secondary ball-handler and shot creator for the Gaels, Dellavedova is relied on more for his scoring punch, though he also shows flashes of point guard game.

Dellavedova’s best offensive weapon is his jump shot, unsurprising when you check the stats and see that of his 124 field goal attempts this season, a ridiculous 79, or 64%, have come from behind the three-point arc. An excellent pure shooter with outstanding touch (as evidenced by his 91% FT%), Dellavedova boasts a high and relatively quick release on his shot, and is capable of scoring in a variety of ways.

The interesting thing about Dellavedova’s shot is that he has a pretty severe flaw in his mechanics in that he always brings the ball down to his knees before shooting, something that slows down his release speed, limits the ways he can get off his shot, and causes mechanical issues when he has to rush the ball, yet in spite of all these things, he’s still an excellent shooter, making you wonder how good he could be if he removed that problem.

In space, Dellavedova is close to automatic, and he also shows the ability to make shots pulling up or coming off screens, doing a great job of keeping his balance when moving side to side. He’s not as good when rushed with a hand in his face, however, and much of that stems from his mechanical issue. This problem will be magnified even further if Dellavedova makes it to the NBA, where the defenders are much longer and much more athletic, so it’s definitely something he should work on fixing.

Dellavedova does have a bit of offensive game outside of his outside shooting, as he also gets to the line at a decent rate when you consider the volume of threes he shoots. Off the dribble, Dellavedova is crafty with the ball, making good use of changes of speeds and doing an excellent job of reading the defense. He doesn’t have a quick first step and lacks much in the line of advanced ball-handling, but he makes due with his court savvy instead. In the lane, he has a nice floater that boasts great touch, but he struggles to finish going all the way to the rim, having trouble finishing over taller defenders.

While Dellavedova spends most of the time playing off the ball, he does show flashes of point guard skills, namely with his ability to run the pick-and-roll, something he does exceptionally well. Showing outstanding patience and court vision, Dellavedova does a great job of reading the defense and passing on the move operating off picks, being able to make the full repertoire of passes.

He doesn’t show any tunnel vision in this area of his game either, as he sends just as many passes to off-ball teammates all over the floor as he does to the big screening for him. Beyond the pick-and-roll game and your standard ball movement in half-court sets, it’s tough to judge Dellavedova’s floor general abilities, because he spends the rest of the time off the ball alongside 6-0 junior Mickey McConnell.

There are definitely some problems in projecting Dellavedova as a full-time NBA point guard, however, as he seems somewhat limited in his shot-creating ability, having trouble with traps at times and not possessing great quickness with the ball.

Defensively, Dellavedova has an excellent stance, getting his body low and keeping his arms outstretched, but he is severely lacking in lateral quickness and strength, and it’s questionable whether he could be an adequate defender at any position at the next level. He likewise struggles to get around screens off the ball, just not being fast enough to keep up with small guards on most occasions.

Looking forward, Dellavedova looks like a terrific college player already as a freshman, but probably has a ways to go before he can be considered much of an NBA prospect. He has he has quite a few things working against him, namely his poor physical tools and limited defensive potential. That said, he still has four years to work on his game, and it’s not unforeseeable to see him become a Matt Bouldin-type player by the time he’s a senior. The best ways he could help himself now are to clean up his shooting mechanics so he can maximize his scoring ability and really work hard on getting stronger and maximizing his athletic tools.

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