In terms of physical attributes, few can match those of Carneys in this draft. He has prototypical size and length for a modern day NBA swingman, with a solid frame to boot. What makes him most intriguing, though, is his incredible athletic ability. Carney has an outstanding combination of amazing quickness in the open floor, a fantastic first step, and possibly the best vertical leap in college basketball. He simply explodes off the ground from unheard of distances and glides his way to the basket for extremely creative dunks.
Carney has athleticism in his genes, as his mother DeAndra Ware held the world record in the Indoor 60 yard dash, and also was an Indiana state champion in the 100 and 200 meter dash. Carney himself was the Indiana state champion as a high school senior in the high jump, with a personal-best jump of 6-11. He also excelled in the 400 meter dash.
Offensively, Carney is not just an athlete; showing the ability to score in many ways.
His perimeter shooting stroke is a thing of beauty, elevating high off the ground to get his shot off almost whenever he pleases, and showing deep range and picture perfect mechanics releasing the ball. Carney can heat up in a hurry from behind the arc, but can be fairly streaky as well at times. He shows flashes of being able to use his phenomenal quickness to just explode past his man and elevate instantaneously off the dribble from mid-range as well.
In terms of slashing to the basket, when Carney puts his mind to it there are few that can stay in front of him at the NCAA level. His first step is incredibly explosive and he shows some flashy, although not always highly effective, spin moves and floaters to get his shot off once inside the paint.
Defensively, Carney has improved significantly this year and features all the tools in the world needed to be a lock down defender, particularly his size, length and superb quickness. Hell usually get in the passing lanes about once a game and entrench himself in that nights Sportscenter Top 10 highlight reel with the ensuing dunk.
Despite being a senior, the overall impression of Carney is that he still has a massive upside to continue to improve, particularly if he can be coached into understanding the little nuances of the game that hes missing right now.
While Carney has a legit case to be considered the most athletic wing player in this draft, he really doesnt take advantage of his athleticism as much as you would hope.
The biggest issue here is the fact that he seems to lack the ball-handling skills and possibly the motivation to actually take his man off the dribble and create high percentage shots for himself. A player with his first step should take the ball to the basket strong to the hoop and either finish or get fouled a dozen times per game at the Conference USA level. Instead, Carney settles for too many mid-range or long range jump-shots, attempting twice as many 3-pointers as he did free throws (7 per game as opposed to 3.5 free throws), attempting more 3-pointers than 2-pointers, and only shooting 43% from the field. His shot-selection can be very shaky at times, as he generally appears to lack the type of feel for the game and understanding of situations you would hope for from a player with his physical tools. Making freshman mistakes were not out of the question for the senior Carney this year. His free throw shooting could also stand to improve at just 71%.
You have to wonder what he is lacking in his game right now that prevents him from going all the way to the basket and just exploding off the ground for an athletic finish. Theories include strength, mental toughness, body control and physical toughness. These same all apply to his rebounding ability at the small forward position, where his natural physical tools should allow him to average more than just a paltry 4.3 rebounds per game. The other parts of the game that make up the boxscore, including his assists, steals and blocks are also not all that impressive, although much of this has to do with the fact that he doesnt get as many minutes as most top 20 pick draft candidates.
Even though hes a senior, you still never quite know what you are going to get when Carney hits the floor each night. One game hell explode for 37 points and 10 rebounds as he did against Louisiana Tech, and in the Elite Eight hell shoot 2/12 from the field for 5 total points. If he misses his first couple of jump-shots, hell often just disappear from the game for the rest of the night, looking tentative and awkward out on the floor and not quite knowing how to get himself back on track.
While Carney has improved his defense in his senior year, it still tends to waver depending on how he is doing on the offensive end that night. Coach Calipari did not hesitate to bring him off the bench early on in the season to try and motivate him to play harder. Memphis was one of the deeper teams in the country this year, and they only relied on Carney to play about 27 minutes per contest.
Carney was not considered a highly touted recruit in high school, partially due to the fact that he did not play AAU basketball in the summer (the story says his coach thought it was bad for his fundamentals), but mainly because of the fact that he eventually improved greatly in each of his four years at Memphis.
Memphis was an especially strong team this year, being ranked in the top 10 for most of the season and eventually making the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. They played in a Conference USA that became very watered down after the departure of all of its top programs to the Big East besides Memphis, but scheduled the toughest out of conference schedule in the entire NCAA, with games against highly seeded NCAA tournament teams such as Duke, Gonzaga, Texas, Tennessee and UCLA, amongst others.
Carneys numbers improved significantly in each of his four seasons at Memphis.
Carney is exactly the type of player whose stock likely skyrockets as reports begin to filter out about his exploits at private NBA workouts, which are tailor made for him to show off his extremely impressive strengths. He will test out athletically extremely well, show outstanding defensive potential in the 2 on 2 scrimmages, and likely shoot the ball at a great clip from NBA 3-point range in the drills. That, combined with his prototypical physical attributes, his solid college numbers and the fact that he clearly has plenty of upside to continue to improve will likely convince someone to draft him in the mid to late part of the lottery. He would be best suited playing for a team with a good point guard that likes to get up and down the floor and wont rely too heavily on him to create offense off the dribble.
Brother Ron Slay was an All-SEC player at Tennessee a few years back, and finished up this past season in Israel.