Saer Sene NBA Draft Scouting Report

Saer Sene NBA Draft Scouting Report
Jun 16, 2006, 01:25 am
Sene is a physical specimen in the truest sense, with the type of attributes that would put him in a rare class in the NBA right off the bat. Standing 7 feet tall, he has terrific size for the center position, with a 7’8.5’’ wingspan that will make him the longest player in the league. Sene isn’t particularly bulky at this point in time, but his frame is good enough to lead you to believe that he’ll put on all weight he’ll ever need in his upper and lower body.

In terms of athletic ability, Sene passes the test as well. He is quick off his feet and has a terrific second bounce after his initial vertical leap. He has excellent footspeed and overall quickness, and runs the floor extremely well for a player his size.

Offensively, Sene is a massive target in the paint and is the type of player who you can potentially just throw the ball in the general direction of and let him go get it. He won’t always be able to catch it at this point in his development curve, but it’s impressive to see just how much potential he has as a target around the rim, particularly when running the floor in transition. If he does manage to catch the ball in a favorable position, his size, length and the quickness in which he gets off his feet usually do the rest, as he’s able to stick it the ball in the basket emphatically while barely leaving the ground. Watching him on film, he’s often able to avoid the initial challenge in the air from his defender and dunk the ball while already well on his way down, just before landing on his feet. If he has time to gather himself after catching the ball in the post, he shows some sparks of a raw jump-hook shot he can utilize.

Defensively is where Sene is probably the most attractive. His length alone already makes him a force as a shot-blocking threat, but the raw timing he shows leaves even more room for optimism in his potential as a game changer in the paint. Sene recovers extremely well and is quick to get over and challenge slashers that dare enter the paint. His nimble feet allow him to stay in front of players much smaller than him with his lateral quickness and force them into some extremely difficult shots high off the glass over his outstretched arms. For every blocked shot that he comes up with, he alters countless other just with his mere presence and the intimidation factor he establishes early on. With Sene manning the post, opposing guards need to bring it strong into the paint, or they will most likely be denied. A part of his game that really shows just how freakishly long he is when being posted up. On numerous occasions on film we’d see Sene stripping his man clean while being posted up on a one on one back to the basket play. When the post-entry pass comes, Sene can just stick his long arm out and around his man from behind and deflect the ball free.

More reasons for optimism are left when watching just how hard he works on this end, as Sene is anything but a lazy player and has no problem mixing things up and getting dirty in the paint. It’s not rare to see him hit the deck for a loose ball. Effort never seems to be an issue with him.

Much of what makes Sene so intriguing as a shot-blocking presence is also what impresses with his rebounding potential. Sene’s size, length and athleticism are always on full display in this part of his game, as is the tenacity in which he works the glass. He fights for every rebound and enjoys a lot of success here almost solely off his physical attributes, bouncing off the ground repeatedly in the post trying to get his hands on loose balls, going after long rebounds with his tremendous reach and being fairly effective on the offensive end as well to get 2nd opportunities or easy baskets for his team.

In terms of his upside, there is absolutely no doubt that Sene’s ceiling is just about as high as anyone in this draft due to his incredible physical attributes. Consistent reports from people that have worked with him, including his coaching staff at Belgium, say that his work ethic and personality are terrific and that he’s very hungry and motivated to become the best basketball player that he can possibly become. Seeing the way he works out on the court, it’s hard to dispute that. Sene has improved quite over the past few years according to unbiased professionals in the basketball world who have followed him, coached him and watched him in person, and should continue to improve over the next few years.

Sene is probably one of the more raw first round prospects we’ve evaluated in the past few years. Playing for a middle of the road team in the semi-underrated Belgian league, his numbers are unimpressive at best. His minutes were extremely inconsistent and the only part of his stat-sheet that really jumps out at you are his rebounding numbers, with 5 rebounds in just 12 minutes per game. There is little doubt that he is a long-term project who will demand plenty of work and patience from whichever coaching staff that ends up landing him.

Offensively, Sene is extremely limited, as most of his damage comes within five feet of the basket. His footwork is virtually non-existent and he lacks any type of go-to move he can use to score in one on one situations. Most of his points come off drive and dish situations, in transition or through his work on the offensive glass. When attempting to do more, Sene displays poor touch as he tries to just throw the ball in the basket rather than use a polished move to caress it in. When he gets to the free throw line, his mechanics here look very poor, with a bad hitch at the very end of his shot, and it’s not rare at all to see him miss both attempts. He shot just 14-38 from the free throw line this past season, or 36%.

As you would expect from someone who has only been playing the game for a few years, Sene’s fundamentals are well below average for a player his age. He sets poor screens for example, and does not do a good job boxing out for rebounds.

From a physical standpoint, Sene has plenty of work to do as well beyond the raw explosiveness he shows. He is fairly awkward making short, quick movements, and lacks the coordination at this point to fully take advantage of his rare tools. It’s not rare for example to see him get in the way of one of his teammates as they go up for a rebound or slash to the basket, as his feel for the game just isn’t there at this stage in his development. He lacks great balance and it’s not unusual to see him knocked to the ground or being out of position. Sene still has work to do on his lower body strength, as he struggles both establishing position in the post (regardless of whether he has the skills to do something after doing so) as well as holding his spot on the block.

The most noticeable thing that comes from watching him is the fact that the game just moves too fast for him right now. More often than not, you’ll see the ball bobbled or bounced off his hands when trying to catch a rebound or catch a post-entry pass. Sometimes he’ll be able to come away with it after the first catch attempt, but this is one of the reasons that his teammates are often hesitant to throw him the ball even when he looks to be in great position to make a play. He will have to improve his hand-eye coordination considerably to be able to make the impact that his potential says he should in the NBA.

Something that we don’t have a great handle on at all and will be strictly up to the teams to attempt to evaluate is his age. Birth certificates are not kept in Senegal and there really is no way to estimate just how old he might be since he’s only been on the radar for a few years. There really isn’t anything concrete to go off of in this case besides the fact that almost all African prospects in the past were suspected to be older than their listed age, but this is something that could legitimately affect how much upside he is perceived to have if deemed an issue for concern.

Sene has reportedly only been playing basketball for slightly over two years. In February of 2004, his current Senegalese/French agent Bouna N’Diyae traveled back to his native country of Senegal with one of his scouts to sign the player they hoped would pan out as a worthy investment after 3-4 years. He was placed at the SEED academy in Thies, Senegal, founded by Dallas Mavericks Director of Scouting and African basketball expert Amadou Fall.

From there he was sent to work out for NBA scouts in June of 2004 at the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, and according to reports was laughed at for how raw and uncoordinated he was. He then went to play in the 2nd Division of Belgium, and put up excellent numbers there. Thinking that he was at least 3-4 years away, Sene signed a 4 year contract in May of 2005 with Belgian Charleoi, who currently play in the ULEB Cup. Sene was then loaned to Verviers Pepinster for the current season, where he has struggled to get minutes for one reason or another. In two of the four occasions that he received over 17 minutes in a single game, Sene twice notched double-doubles (10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 points, 14 rebounds in 17 and 20 minutes respectively). On the season, Sene averaged 4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1 block in 12 minutes per game. His coming out party in the States was in the week leading up to the Nike Hoop Summit in Memphis as well as the actual game itself, where he captivated scouts during the practices and had an excellent game against some top high schoolers with 15 points (6-8 FG), 6 rebounds, and 9 blocks in 27 minutes.

Sene reportedly has 3 years left on his contract, but has a clear buyout sum of $425,000 this year or $375,000 next year should he decide to stay another season in Europe. He will almost certainly stay in the draft and is considered a likely first round pick with a more than decent chance of slipping into the top 20. Teams like Phoenix, Utah and Sacramento reportedly have the most interest in him.

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