Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC Part Four (#16-20)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC Part Four (#16-20)
Oct 28, 2009, 10:29 pm
In our fourth and final preview of this year’s ACC draft prospects we profile UNC’s Deon Thompson, Miami’s Dwayne Collins, Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen, and Wake Forest’s Chas McFarland and David Weaver.

As a reminder, incoming freshmen have been excluded from this series.

-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten Part One (#1-5), Part Two (#6-10), Part Three (#11-15)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 Part One (#1-5), Part Two (#6-10), Part Three (#11-15)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-10 Part One (#1-5), Part Two (#5-10)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC Part One (#1-5), Part Two (#5-10), Part Three (#11-15),
Part Four
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East Part One (#1-5), Part Two (#6-10),—3327
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC Part One (#1-5), Part Two (#6-10),—3330

#16 Deon Thompson, 6’8, Power Forward, Senior, North Carolina

Joey Whelan

At UNC’s media day last week, head coach Roy Williams said that leading up to this season he has been telling senior Deon Thompson he doesn’t have to be Tyler Hansbrough. The veteran coach told his big man he only needs to be himself, only a little bit better, because he has had another year to work at improving his game. Given the storied career that Hansbrough put together during his time in Chapel Hill, it would be unfair to expect that kind of production from Thompson this season. However, there is certainly a heightened sense of anticipation surrounding the fourth-year player, given how well he performed early last year when Hansbrough was out with an injury.

In the first 10 games of the season Thompson averaged more than 15 points per game, while being featured as the go-to scoring option in the frontcourt. Even after he became a secondary option upon the All-American’s return, Thompson still posted career best averages in scoring and rebounding, while increasing his shooting percentages from the season before. The biggest issue for the remaining half of the season, though – as has often been a criticism of his – was the lack of consistency the power forward showed when he wasn’t the main option inside. As a player who will not be a main offensive option at the next level, he must learn to operate without dominating the basketball whenever it comes our way.

Having analyzed Thompson a great deal already, we have certainly seen some improvements to his game since the first time we broke it down in 2007. Though he will always be undersized and lack the type of explosive athleticism you would hope to see to make up for it, the senior certainly does a better job of establishing position and using his length to help himself on the block than he did earlier in his career. He has worked himself into a very able low-post scorer at this level, as he has made nice strides with his touch and footwork, in addition to showing a chiseled frame and to aggressiveness needed to take advantage of it.

Thompson seems to have no problem turning to either shoulder on the block and can hit the turnaround jumper as well with his high release. The most notable area that he still struggles with is against bigger, longer, more physical defenders. While he can certainly finish with contact around the rim, he often has a tendency to fade away with his moves when being bodied up rather than trying to draw contact – this is evidenced by his average FTA per-40 rate last season. That doesn’t seem to stop him from trying, though, often looking like he’s forcing the issue somewhat. This may be one of the reasons Coach Williams has opted to downplay the need for Thompson to assert himself in Hansbrough-like fashion. Projecting as even more of a role player at the next level than he already is in college, Thompson could afford to display better passing ability.

When we last looked at Thompson he was receiving praise for his mid-range shooting and criticism for his ball handling skills. As his junior year progressed he continued to show pretty fluid mechanics for a frontcourt player in his shooting form, demonstrating a high and smooth – albeit slow – release. He doesn’t have the quickness or the handles to create for himself off the dribble, but certainly is a player who can score points off spot-up jumpers. Continuing to improve on this part of his game could go a long ways in convincing NBA scouts that he will be able to translate his scoring production to the NBA, where he will surely not be able to bully opposing players around the way he is often able to at the college level.

Defensively, as we mentioned in the past, Thompson has definitely improved many of the finer points of his game. He holds his position better, gives more effort and does a better job of staying on his feet with his arms up rather than biting on fakes. His lack of lateral quickness continues to be a major hindrance when it comes to stepping away from the paint, particularly on pick and roll situations, something that is vital for him to be able to defend if he wants to make it in the NBA. As of right now, he appears to be more of an undersized center than the type of dynamic power forward that have become more en vogue these days, which could definitely be a concern for some scouts. He does not appear to be a particularly strong rebounder either, averaging just over 8 boards per-40 pace adjusted, which is not going to impress most NBA scouts. Moving that production closer to (or preferably beyond) double-digits would go a long ways in helping his stock.

Thompson has had to wait three years in order to finally get his chance to shine at Carolina, something that goes with the territory of playing for arguably the top program in college basketball. Now as the veteran player in a loaded frontcourt, he will be expected to contribute in a big way. While he isn’t likely to get as many touches as he might on another team given Carolina’s loaded frontcourt, he will be expected to be a leader amongst the group. If he can show an increased ability to score in a variety of ways, without proving to be a black hole, that will go a long way to helping raise his stock. A strong senior year in a conference like the ACC could very well be enough to hear his name called come June.

#17 Dwayne Collins, 6’8, Power Forward, Senior, Miami

Joey Whelan

Largely overshadowed by the tremendous exploits of his teammate Jack McClinton, Miami forward Dwayne Collins put together a fine season, finishing second on the team in scoring and tops in rebounding. While his play was generally inconsistent at best, the Miami native did turn some heads with a couple of key performances, including a 16-point, 14-rebound showing on the road against Connecticut, and a 23-point game at home against Virginia Tech. With McClinton graduating, the Hurricanes will likely be leaning more heavily on the returning big man to help establish their offense inside, and that should also result in a jump in playing time as well from the 24 minutes he registered last season.

Physically, Collins definitely fits the mold of the undersized power forward at the NBA level. He stands roughly 6-8 but has a strong frame that carries nearly 240-pounds, a trait that allows him to establish position very well on the block, and appeared to be much more chiseled when we last saw him at the LeBron James Skills Academy this summer. Perhaps the best asset the senior possesses in his tremendous wingspan which allows him to finish over the top of taller post defenders and rebound well outside of his area.

Collins is definitely an above average athlete at the collegiate level, but he isn’t going to blow scouts away. He runs the floor pretty well for a frontcourt player and has decent quickness in the post, but is not overly explosive finishing around the rim.

Collins is very limited in his offensive scope and skill right now, attempting 91 percent of his shots in the post or immediate vicinity of the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology. While he has proven to be a strong finisher thanks to his strength, length and constant hustle, he will need to continue to develop his ability to score in a variety of ways in order to be successful against NBA-caliber defenders. Collins has two somewhat inconsistent moves he relies on right now, the first being a quick drop step to the baseline and the second being a hook shot to the middle of the paint. The touch on his hook waivers from time to time and due to the lack of elevation he gets with this move, it will be tough for him to execute is successfully against taller more athletic big men. The baseline move is solid, but again, a lack of handles often results in him turning the ball over or losing control just long enough to allow the defense to reestablish itself. When neither of these moves is working, Collins had a tendency to just bull his way to the basket –something he will not be able to do with the same level of success in the NBA.

The rest of his game is built almost entirely on sheer hustle. Collins ranks in the top ten in our database in offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted as well as free throws per 40 minutes –a testament to his effort level. The senior is an absolute workhorse inside, hauling in plenty of rebounds that are out of his area thanks to his huge wingspan and tireless work ethic. He also does a tremendous job of creating contact with defenders and then finishing despite that contact, getting to the free throw line at an absolutely fantastic rate. These are the types of numbers and characteristics that will endear Collins to NBA personnel.

Where he needs to make strides now is developing the ability to score away from the basket. He runs the floor well enough in transition, but is not very fluid when it comes to catching the ball and finishing while on the run. He almost never attempts jump shots from outside of five feet, but when he does it becomes very obvious that he needs a great deal of time and space to do so comfortably. While there isn’t a tremendous amount of material to work from in dissecting Collins’ jump shot from, his 58.3 percent free throw shooting rate from last season is a pretty good indication of where his mid-range game stands. For a player who attempts 9.9 free throws per 40 minutes, a bump in his shooting from the charity stripe will do a lot for his scoring numbers.

Defensively, Collins performs exactly as you might expect a player with his physical and offensive makeup to perform – he is at his best close to the basket. His strength allows him to hold his position on the block without getting backed down often and his length allows him to alter more shots than he should given his size. Still, it is clear the forward struggles when he is forced to step away from the paint. Versatile big men can shoot over him from mid-range and while his overall speed isn’t terrible, Collins doesn’t appear to have the lateral quickness to defend the pick and roll consistently at the next level.

This is going to be a big season for Collins now that he has a chance to establish himself as a major factor in the ACC. While increasing his scoring numbers (10.6 points last year) will go a long way towards earning him more notoriety, increasing his versatility as a scorer will be paramount to his chances of being drafted. He will also need to improve his ability to defend quicker players away from the basket as this is something he will be expected to do if he should make an NBA roster. The first few games of the season should give us some indication as to whether or not Collins has started to add these additional nuances to his game, but certainly given his length and hustle the Miami forward stands a shot to hear his name called in June.

#18 David Weaver, 6-11, RS Senior, Center, Wake Forest

Scott Nadler

Despite the limited playing time and the fact that he’s entering his final season at Wake Forest, David Weaver has shown glimpses of potential to earn mention as an NBA draft prospect. After redshirting his freshman season, Weaver has averaged 12.7, 11.7 and 9.8 minutes respectively in his three seasons as a Demon Deacon. Last season, he saw limited action due to Dino Gaudio’s guard oriented fast paced offense, and the solid play of Chas McFarland and Al Fariq Aminu inside. Although those players are returning, Weaver will certainly be a fixture in the rotation as a result of his solid contributions last season and the lack of depth on the frontline. Considering the physical tools he shows and the upside he at times displays, it’s unreasonable to say that Weaver’s best basketball may still be ahead of him.

The old basketball axiom that you can’t teach size is one of the main reasons as to why we’re discussing David Weaver. With an NBA ready body at 6-11 and 250 pounds and the athleticism to go with it, he has an intriguing base to work off. His 7-3 wingspan and 9-1 standing reach is worth mentioning, and are characteristics that partly explain his standout play on the defensive end.

His length is surely a big factor on defense, but his intangibles are also noticeable. He plays with a high level of energy, is bouncy, has good timing, and is aggressive almost to a fault. Unfortunately this does not seem to translate to the rebounding category, where he averages an extremely mediocre 7 boards per-40 minutes pace adjusted. He does appear to have a decent feel for the game, though, sporting a near one to one assist to turnover ratio. This is a likely indication that he understands his role on the team and is not forcing the issue excessively.

Weaver has solid lateral quickness and showed his quickness on those occasions when he was switched onto a guard. He does have a tendency to over extend himself on his pick and roll coverage causing him to be late on rotations – which is a big reason for why he averaged a robust 4.5 fouls per 40 pace adjusted. Another reason for his over aggressiveness could be his lack of playing time and his desire to show his worthiness to the team.

As an offensive player, Weaver hasn’t had that many opportunities to show what he can do, but the little we’ve seen tells us he may be able to develop this part of his game further down the road in his career. He finishes well around the basket, converting on 56.5% of his shots in that area as he rarely brings the ball down on the catch and can score with authority. He’s also just as active on offense as he is on defense, always moving around to get open or sprinting to set high ball screens.

With that said, Weaver’s skill-level is clearly a work in progress, as you can likely guess by his mediocre offensive production (even on a per-minute basis). He’s shown signs of decent footwork, but with few opportunities we’ll have to hold off on our evaluation of that facet of his game. Moreover, it’s unclear at this point where he is in his post game development, as he appears to very raw with his back to the basket with no real indication of a go-to move. He also took a couple jump shots which extended out to around 15 feet that didn’t look too bad, but once again we won’t make any strong judgments with the small sample size we’re forming our analysis from. Hopefully with added minutes this season, we’ll have a chance to further evaluate the offensive package that Weaver can offer.

Don’t expect Weaver to become a household name anytime soon, but he should have more of a role then he’s had in years past. His high intensity coupled with solid physical attributes makes him a valuable rotation player for a relatively young Wake Forest team. Weaver is somewhat of a diamond in the rough, and if he can show the ability to run, rebound and defend, he may be able to earn himself some extra looks during the pre-draft process and down the road if he continues to add polish to his all-around game.

#19 Jeff Allen, 6’7, Junior, Power Forward, Virginia Tech

Kyle Nelson

Virginia Tech’s 6’7 power forward Jeff Allen improved upon his solid freshman season with a sophomore campaign that opened more than a few eyes from players, coaches, and scouts alike. There were some moments where Allen looked like one of the top big men in the ACC, such as 22 points and 11 rebounds against Xavier and 17 points and 17 rebounds against Seton Hall. Then, he was suspended for making an inappropriate gesture to the crowd, which was a prelude to a late-season slump. Allen is an interesting player with the potential to, at the very least, play at a high-level overseas, but there quite a few question marks and obstacles blocking his way.

Standing at just 6’7, Allen lacks ideal size for an NBA power forward. After shedding around 30 pounds during the summer before his sophomore season, however, Allen’s frame is much improved, allowing him to move quicker and better utilize his athleticism. Though he runs the floor very well and shows solid quickness for a big man, he is only a decent athlete and lacks the explosiveness of your typical undersized big men. This, combined with his lack of size, limits his potential at the next level.

Offensively, Allen has an intriguing repertoire, but lacked the consistency and focus to dominate on a nightly basis last season. His most significant impediments are his footwork and ball handling abilities, though he has improved in these areas. At this point, he has a tendency to take too many steps in the post, allowing the defense to collapse on him before he has the chance to put up a shot. His awareness is not great in the post at times, either, as he will put his head down and attack the basket, sometimes without knowing where he is on the floor. As evidenced in his poor assist-turnover ratio, he does not pass out of double and triple teams, either, instead choosing to push through defenders to mixed results. His lack of ball handling stifles him in this area, as well, because he is not able to utilize his quickness in the post because he cannot move quickly with the ball in his hands. That being said, Allen’s strength, quickness, and diverse skill set can make him a tough mark in the post when he is focused and playing to his potential. Similarly, the flashes he showed of incorporating turnaround jump shots and baseline jump shots into his post-offense are intriguing and he should look to incorporate them into his offensive repertoire more often this season.

Moving away from the basket, Allen continues to intrigue. He improved considerably as a shooter, hitting 50% of his two point field goals and 40.5% of his perimeter jump shots. Though his mechanics are inconsistent at this stage, he has a quick release and solid range. He does not get a tremendous amount of elevation when he shoots, however, which combined with excess motion and a tendency to push the ball, will not help him get his shot off at the next level. That being said, with continued improvement and better shot selection, Allen could develop into a very good spot-up shooter, which would add an NBA ready skill to his repertoire and greatly help his chances at the next level. For a big man, it is also interesting that he has some semblances of a mid-range game and it is not surprising to see him pull up off of the dribble and shoot from inside the three point line. That said, he hardly ever squares his body to the basket and rarely connects on his attempts, often appearing to force the issue and prove his value as a small forward.

On the defensive end, Allen averaged 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted, but he is not a particularly effective defender. He has solid length, but his lack of awareness and the fact that he often finds himself out of position or overmatched limits his effectiveness. His perimeter defense suffers because he gives his man too much space and in the post, he has trouble staying in front of the quicker, more athletic, and more skilled big men in the ACC. He is a good on the defensive glass, as well, but at this point, he does not grab many boards outside of his immediate position. His defensive deficiencies could be one of the bigger issues holding him back as an NBA prospect, as he surely would struggle if asked to convert to the small forward position.

Jeff Allen has a lot to prove before he is considered to be a legitimate draft prospect. Much improvement is expected from him this season on both side of the ball, as scouts will look to see whether or not he can take another big step forward. In addition, scouts will be watching to see if he can maintain his intensity while not falling victim to his emotions, which have resulted in two unfortunate suspensions thus far in his short career in Blacksburg. The fact that the rising junior will turn 23 this upcoming June is not a feather in his cap either. Even if it is hard to believe that he would be ranked this low if he were a few inches taller, Jeff Allen has the opportunity to prove himself in a string of marquee match ups against the nation’s top big men.

#20Chas McFarland, 7-0, Senior, Center, Wake Forest

Jonathan Givony

Yet another solid cog in what might be the deepest frontcourt rotation in college basketball, Chas McFarland will be fighting to continue to see minutes and in the process establish himself as a legit NBA prospect.

McFarland’s main intrigue lies in his physical attributes, starting with his excellent 7'0 height and well proportioned and developed frame. McFarland has solid length and above average athleticism for a college center, even if he probably would not be considered a standout at the NBA level. The big man runs the floor well and is reasonably mobile for a player his size, but is not particularly explosive around the basket, which limits his potential somewhat.

Offensively, McFarland is a traditional, inside oriented 7-foot center, which is somewhat of a rarity these days. He’s not afraid to throw his big body around inside, as he’s a fairly active player who can make good things happen for his team when he’s dialed in and managing to keep mistakes to a minimum. McFarland is not what you would call an overly skilled player with his back to the basket, but he’s regardless a nice target to have as a finisher on pick and roll plays and simple cuts to the rim, as he’s got a wide body, good hands and possesses reasonably soft touch. He draws fouls at a very nice rate, converts his free throws on solid (72%) percentages, and shows some signs of a spot-up 15-footer or a turnaround jumper in the post, although neither can be relied on consistently just yet.

On the downside, McFarland is not a good decision maker, being very turnover prone and showing very little in the ways of passing skills when double-teamed in the post. He garners three turnovers for every one assist he dishes out, and generally does not have a very good feel for the game. His back to the basket repertoire is underdeveloped and he struggles to finish around the rim in traffic at times due to his average leaping ability. Facing the basket, he is very limited as you might expect.

Defensively, McFarland can be a presence at the college level with his excellent size and high motor, but is likely to be considered a liability on this end of the floor when stacked up against most NBA prospects. His fundamentals here are not ideal, as he tends to lose his focus easily after falling asleep on plays and give his man deep position in the post. On top of that, he doesn’t show great explosiveness contesting shots around the basket and lacks the lateral quickness to be effective stepping away from the paint. He’s fairly foul prone in turn, which tends to limit his minutes in certain contests. On the plus side, he is a solid rebounder on a per-minute basis due to the energy with which he plays with.

McFarland is not in an ideal situation going into his college season, playing on a very fast-paced guard oriented team that is absolutely stacked at his position. Regardless, he should have the opportunity to show what he can do over the course of the college schedule thanks to the amount of exposure he’ll receive playing in the super-competitive ACC. Unless he’s made some huge strides with his game over the course of his summer he’s unlikely to be considered a great NBA prospect come draft time, but at the very least should get some looks from teams and will surely be able to make a solid paycheck overseas.

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