Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 6: Prospects #10-14

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 6: Prospects #10-14
Sep 08, 2014, 12:44 pm
We continue our coverage on the top NBA draft prospects in the Pac-12 with part six, players ranked 10-14: Joseph Young, Anthony Brown, Kaleb Tarczewski, Josh Scott, T.J. McConnell.

-Top NBA Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 1
(#1) Stanley Johnson (Scouting Video)

-Top NBA Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 2
(#2) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Scouting Video)

-Top NBA Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 3
(#3) Norman Powell (Scouting Video)

-Top NBA Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 4
(#4) Jabari Bird (Scouting Video)

-Top NBA Prospects in the Pac-12, Part 5
(#5) Delon Wright
(#6) Nigel Williams-Goss
(#7) Brandon Ashley
(#8) Kevon Looney
(#9) Reid Travis

#10, Joseph Young, 6-2, Senior, Shooting Guard, Oregon

Jonathan Givony

The only guard on Oregon's roster with any real experience at the Division I level, Joseph Young will be relied on heavily by Dana Altman and co. to help bring the Ducks back to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

Young was awarded a NCAA waiver to play immediately for Oregon less than two weeks before their opening game, despite transferring from Houston upon learning his father (former NBA first round pick) Michael Young had been reassigned from the coaching staff to a community service role. He took very little time to make his impact felt at Oregon, quickly establishing himself as one of the most versatile scorers in college basketball. He averaged a terrific 24 points per-40 minutes (second best in the Pac-12), on terrific efficiency, with the sixth highest true shooting percentage (63.5%) of any returning college player in our top-100 rankings.

Young sports below average measurables for a NBA shooting guard prospect, being charted at 6-2 in shoes with a 6-4.5 wingspan and a 178 pound frame at the Nike Skills Academy this summer. Only a handful of NBA shooting guards (think Jason Terry, Jannero Pargo, Ian Clark, Ben Gordon) are currently playing in the NBA at that size, and his lack of length and strength certainly don't help matters much. In addition to that, Young will turn 23 just two days after the 2015 NBA Draft, making him the third oldest player currently projected to be picked in our latest mock draft.

Despite all that, there are reasons to believe Young has what it takes to overcome those issues, as he's quite simply one of the most gifted scorers you'll find in college basketball.

Young has to be considered among the best shooters in the NCAA when considering his volume of attempts (5.5 per game) and conversion rate (41.5%). He has tremendous shooting mechanics, always being on-balance and sporting an ultra quick-release and deep, deep range. He's extremely dangerous whether he's spotting up with his feet set, pulling-up off the dribble, operating off dribble-handoffs and pick and rolls, or coming off screens, and can get his shot off even against taller, longer defenders thanks to his quick release and range. He's the type of player a coach can run a million different plays for out of a timeout, and someone defenses simply need to account for at all times as he plays with unwavering confidence in his scoring ability.

Unlike most lights out shooters, Young is also capable of scoring relatively effectively inside the arc as well, hitting an above average 53% of his 2-point attempts and getting to the free throw line over five times per game, where he shoots 88%, #1 in our top-100 prospect rankings. He has a quick first step and solid ball-handling ability, not looking hesitant in putting the ball on the floor if the defense overplays his jump-shot, which allows him to get to the basket at a solid clip. He's especially effective in transition, as the 1.38 points per possession he averaged in the open-court last season ranked second best in all of college basketball.

Additionally, he very rarely turns the ball over—his 7.2% turnover percentage ranks third best among all college players in our Top-100 rankings. He is solid in the pick and roll, having some crafty floaters and runners in his arsenal to overcome his lack of size when he gets all the way inside the paint, and in general is just a really skilled and instinctive scorer with a knack for putting the ball in the basket.

Where Young needs to improve is in becoming more than just a tremendous all-around scorer. He's a little bit one-dimensional in the sense that when he's not putting points on the board, he doesn't contribute much in other areas. He rarely creates much offense for teammates for example, and doesn't offer much in terms of rebounding or defense.

Young not only lacks great physical tools to offer much resistance defensively, but he also doesn't show a great deal of interest in his work on this end of the floor. He frequently gets blown by off the dribble, posted up by relatively mediocre guards, closes out half-heartedly on the perimeter, and gambles unnecessarily in the passing lanes. His fundamentals are fairly poor, as he's often just standing upright in his stance, and he doesn't fight very hard to get over the top of screens.

While it's not the end-all, be all, Young only generated a single block in the past two seasons, which is something very few college players who ended up playing in the NBA can say is part of their resume.

NBA Draft Picks the last 25 years who generated zero blocked shots in a single college season [min 300 minutes]

Young's combination of poor size, length and strength, along with his poor intensity level will be difficult to overcome at the NBA level, unless he completely changes his mindset. He's the type of player opposing coaches love to target as part of their game-plan already at the college level, leaving no other resort than to put him on the weakest opposing guard to minimize his shortcomings here. Unfortunately his lack of size will make it very difficult for him to guard anything but point guards in the NBA, as he'll be giving up multiple inches and possibly a few dozen pounds on most night operating at the 2.

It will be interesting to see if Young has improved at all in this area as a senior, possibly after getting stronger and getting some NBA feedback on his shortcomings after flirting with testing the draft waters last spring.

In the meantime, Young will be expected to put up big scoring numbers for Oregon as well, trying to guide a very young team which returns just one real contributor from last season besides him in a tough Pac-12 conference. NBA teams will surely be watching closely.

#11, Anthony Brown, 6'7, Shooting Guard, Stanford, Senior

Kyle Nelson

Anthony Brown was a highly regarded recruit out of high school, but spent most of his first two seasons as a solid, but unspectacular role player for the Stanford Cardinal. To make matters worse, his junior season was derailed due to a congenital hip condition that required surgery and forced him to sit out for the entire year. He was all but an afterthought by the time he suited up as a redshirt junior in 2013-2014.

What happened next took everybody by surprise. Brown emerged as a 46% 3-point shooter and was an essential component to Stanford's Sweet 16 run on his way to being named the Pac-12's Most Improved Player. No longer a surprise and finally playing up to his high school potential, scouts will want to see whether Brown's breakout season was something he can build off towards showing he's worthy of a NBA roster spot as a senior.

Physically speaking, Brown possesses ideal size for a NBA wing, standing around 6'7 with a 6'9.5 wingspan and a wiry 215 pound frame. He is a solid athlete, as well, though he is smoother than he is explosive and his first step is just average.

On the offensive end of the floor, Brown averaged a relatively unimposing 14.6 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted, but he emerged as one of the best perimeter shooters in college basketball. A career 35% 3-point shooter as an underclassman, he connected on an outstanding 45.6% of his 3s as a junior–ranking third among all wing prospects in our database– while showing the ability to knock down shots in a variety of different capacities, as he connected on 45% of his catch-and-shoot jumpers, and 43% of his jump shots off the dribble.

On film, he sports a quick release with fluid mechanics and a very high release point, while doing a good job of moving into space. He also looked less hesitant to make plays with the ball in his hands, particularly taking a dribble or two before pulling up from mid-range.

For as good of a shooter as Brown has become, however, he is also a fairly one-dimensional player. 70.8% of his overall shots were jump shots and his shooting efficiency declined significantly in other aspects of his game. For instance, he converted on a mere 45% of his attempts around the basket and less than 49% of his overall 2-pointers. He is neither a particularly creative nor efficient finisher at this stage in his career and struggles to finish through contact, despite doing a much better job of getting to the basket than in the past. His basic ball handling ability, in particular, significantly limits him to little outside of straight line drives to the basket.

Perhaps most intriguing about Brown, however, is that he is a competent defender, capable of guarding both wing positions at the collegiate level. While his lateral quickness is above average at best, Brown does a good job of staying involved and using his length to distract players, even if they have beaten him off the dribble. He also does a good job of closing out on shooters thanks to his long strides and length. That being said, he can get a little bit passive on this end of the floor, similarly to what happens on offense. He doesn't get in the passing lanes all that frequently, and has trouble fighting through screens at times, not only due to his lack of strength, but also because of a relative lack of toughness: too often, he simply gives up once he has run into a screen. Playing with the same type of effort and intensity throughout the game, every game, is something scouts will want to see Brown do as a senior.

Against all odds, however, Brown has come back from hip surgery a far better NBA prospect than he was before and with a clear-cut NBA skill to complement his intriguing physical profile. The fact that he projects as a shooting specialist with above average defensive fundamentals certainly helps, as well. The real concern that scouts should monitor during his senior season, however, is his inconsistency. After all, his breakthrough junior season came in spurts: he averaged 16.1 and 16.6 points per game in November and February and a paltry 9.6 and 8.0 in December and March. Put differently and despite making some important plays throughout, he was too often passive during Stanford's most important stretches of the season. That being said, if he can prove to scouts that he is the Anthony Brown of November and February, then expect his stock to rise significantly during his senior season.

#12, Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-0, Center, Junior, Arizona

Matt Williams

Arizona sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski put together a solid, albeit not spectacular, sophomore campaign, helping Sean Miller's Wildcats win 33 games before they fell to Wisconsin in overtime in the Elite Eight. Ranked among the nation's top high school players coming out of St. Mark (MA) in 2012, Tarczewski started all but one game for one of the nation's best programs averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per-game while improving his numbers across the board from his freshman year.

Tarczewski's resume for the next level starts with his tremendous size. Standing a shade under 7-0 in shoes with a chiseled frame, the New Hampshire native certainly looks the part of NBA center. The main knock against the big man's physical profile is that he doesn't have prototypical length, sporting an underwhelming 6'11 wingspan.

Tarczewski's size and strength remains a critical part of his ability to contribute offensively, as his skill level and touch remain a work in progress. The St. Mark's (MA) product is at his best in simple catch and finish situations, whether he was sealing his man on the high side in the post or crashing to the rim from the weakside when his defender rotates, Tarczewski was very effective last season, shooting 65% in finishing situations in the half court according to Synergy Sports Technology.

More of a complementary option on a Arizona squad that was still quite balanced and NBA-talent heavy even after Brandon Ashley was lost for the year, the majority of Tarczewski's possessions a year came on the block, where he looked to have developed a better understanding of how to use his physical tools more effectively. Shooting a very solid 47.7% with his back to the basket, Tarczewski doesn't have great hands, overly polished footwork, or one truly refined post-move, but his ability to carve out position and bully his way to easy scoring angles allowed him to contribute one-on-one inside. Though he possesses nice touch on his right handed-baby hook, he looks very mechanical at times in the post, lacking the feel, fluidity, and midrange ability that would give him obvious upside as more than a finisher at the next level offensively.

With Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson making the jump to the NBA, Arizona will be looking to replace their top-2 scorers from a year ago, and while Tarczewski may seem like a prime candidate to assume a feature role, he'll face plenty of competition from a healthy Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and a deep, talented group of freshman. Among the least prolific per-minute pace-adjusted scorers in our top-100, at just 14.4 per-40, this season will be a significant one for the 21 year old big man in terms of his perception among NBA scouts. If he can make strides as an offensive player by improving his touch and feel in the post, he could solidify himself as one of the Wildcat's primary weapons, but if he can't, he could once again get lost in an increasingly deep and talented cast of high-level recruits.

Given that Tarczewski is still developing as a scorer, his regression as a rebounder a year ago was a bit concerning. After averaging 11 rebounds per-40 minutes pace-adjusted as a freshman, he pulled down just 8.9 as a sophomore. Some of that drop-off can be attributed to the presence of Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson, and he does a very good job keeping his man off the glass when boxing out, but given Tarczewski's size, he seems to lack the instincts to be the rebounder his physical tools give him the opportunity to be, as he doesn't corral caroms outside of his area often or pull down the ball at the highest point. It will be worth watching how much of a presence he can provide this season, as his lack of length and average feel for the game are already concerns among NBA decision makers, and an inability to rebound at a high rate on either end of the floor only makes those weaknesses all the more glaring.

Defensively, Tarczewski plays with terrific intensity, and though he'll bite on some fakes inside, he showed more discipline a year ago defending the rim, helping him stay out of foul trouble. Showing the ability to step out and defend the midrange and use his strength in the post, Tarczewski's lack of length limits his presence as a weakside shot-blocker, but he is among the better individual post defenders in the college game.

Looking ahead, last season was a year of incremental growth for the highly-touted Tarczewski, and his ability to continue or accelerate along his learning curve will be something scouts keep a close eye on from the jump this season. The same age as most college seniors, turning 22 in February, there are some concerns about how much upside Tarczewski still has to grow into, which is why scouts will want to see improvement from him in different areas. He isn't the first big man who didn't blossom as anticipated early on in his college career and certainly won't be the last, but there's plenty of things he does well, which coupled with his size, make him an obvious prospect of interest whenever he declares.

#13, Josh Scott, 6'10, Center, Colorado, Junior

Kyle Nelson

When Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a torn ACL last seasonin mid-January, Colorado was ranked 15th in the country and looking to advance to their first Sweet 16 in 50 years. Yet even without Dinwiddie, the Buffaloes managed to secure their third straight NCAA Tournament bid, logging a 23-12 record and finishing third in the Pac-12. Colorado's run to the NCAA Tournament would not have been possible if not for the efforts of Josh Scott. The now-junior big man rose to the challenge, emerging as Colorado's best overall player and earning a spot on the All-Pac 12 First Team, alongside five players who heard their names called on NBA draft night.

Coming off a standout sophomore season and already an RSCI top-50 player out of high school, scouts are well aware of his potential and now must decide just how high his ceiling is at the next level.

Scott remains an interesting prospect from a physical perspective. At 6'10 and 245-pounds with solid length and mobility, Scott can play either power forward or center at the collegiate level with relative ease. Yet, he is not a particularly explosive athlete and, though he is more agile than one would expect, his first step and overall quickness are only above average. Perhaps most important is that he continue to get stronger, however, though it looks like he could definitely add weight to his frame.

On the offensive end, Scott took a step forward in his development to the tune of 17.6 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted with improved percentages and efficiency metrics across the board. Though he saw 78.3% of his shot attempts around the basket, he proved himself to be a more versatile scorer as a sophomore, adding a consistent mid-range jump shot and increased ability to operate in the pick-and-roll to his offensive repertoire.

As a sophomore, Scott continued to find a majority of his possessions in the post and he improved his efficiency scoring out of post ups (48% FG) and around the basket (59% FG). Though he struggles to carve out and maintain deep post-position, and often looks very deliberate and predictable with his moves, Scott is able to exploit his length, mobility, soft hands and shooting touch to his advantage in a series of runners, scoops, and jump hooks across the lane. Furthermore, he did a great job of drawing contact around the basket and his 6.2 free throw attempts per game ranked eighth among centers in our database.

Yet, outside of variations on a spin move, Scott's footwork appears average and he likely lacks the requisite skill-level and athleticism to be a formidable post scorer against higher level competition than what he normally faces in the Pac-12. Ultimately and while showed intriguing flashes of skill in the post, getting quicker and developing his left hand would bolster his back-to-the-basket game significantly.

While Scott does not have a particularly intimidating back-to-the-basket game, he did make significant strides as a face-up scorer. In the post, Scott looked very comfortable grabbing passes and facing up his man, looking proficient both pulling up for a short jumper and taking man off of the dribble. He can also face-up from the perimeter, nothing fancy or creative at this point, but he is quick enough to be a significant match-up problem at the collegiate level against slower big men who aren't used to being challenged off the dribble.

He also improved somewhat as a jump shooter, making 36% of his 47 attempts and showing the ability to stick a mid-range jumper when left open. His mechanics become significantly less fluid and more forced the farther that he is from the basket, however, so he will have to continue working on his range if he hopes to develop into an inside-outside threat in the future. His sophomore improvement alongside of his 81% FT suggests that this is within the realm of possibility.

On defense, Scott's lack of strength and explosiveness continued to do him few favors in the post. Though his height and length work are assets in terms of disrupting shots, he simply cannot prevent his man from establishing deep post position and getting to the basket. On the perimeter, Scott usually finds mixed results. He has average lateral quickness and struggles to stay in front perimeter oriented big men. He has a difficult time closing out on shooters, and he shows the tendency to fall for fakes when he does manage to make it out in time. Furthermore, he is simply not as aggressive or focused guarding the pick-and-roll as one would like to see from a player with his physical tools.

Scott's lack of rim-protection ability—he blocked just 40 shots in over 1100 minutes—continues to make him somewhat of a tweener at the NBA level. He likely doesn't have the size or athleticism to continue to operate at the center position like he did in college, but isn't particularly skilled and may be a little too rigid to guard power forwards full time.

Scott made some much-needed improvement on the defensive boards as a sophomore, averaging 6.9 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which situated him in the middle of the pack among NCAA centers in our database. While it does not seem as though Scott will ever be an elite rebounder or defender due to his average toughness and explosiveness, he can and should continue to improve in both of these areas moving forward by playing with more energy.

Overall, Scott remains a prospect NBA teams need to continue to track, if no other reason than the fact that he is 6-10 and relatively productive in a strong college conference. He did quite well after being thrust into a featured role as a sophomore and should continue to improve as the focal point of Colorado's offense as a junior. His defense presents a significant question mark, particularly due to the fact that he is very much stuck between positions and nowhere near good enough at either. Getting stronger and becoming more fluid and explosive could go a long way in masking his weaknesses in this area, however, even if he projects as above average at best at the next level.

While he is not as intriguing as past Colorado players such as Alec Burks and Spencer Dinwiddie in terms of his NBA prospects, it is difficult to rule him out this early in his college career. With a better impression of his strengths and weaknesses on both ends of the floor, scouts are expecting big things from Josh Scott as a junior and will have plenty of opportunities to determine just how much he can continue to improve in the future.

#14, T.J. McConnell, 6-1, Senior, Point Guard, Arizona

Josh Riddell

After starting his collegiate career at Duquesne for two years, T.J. McConnell transferred to Arizona, where he played his first season with the Wildcats in 2013-14 after sitting out the 2012-2013 campaign. He jumped right into the team as the starting point guard on a squad that would eventually end up as a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Elite Eight before falling to Wisconsin. McConnell returns for his senior season to lead another loaded Wildcat team that again looks poised to make a deep NCAA tournament run.

McConnell was one of the best point guards in the nation last season, which helped land him on the Cousy Award finalist list. His 6.8 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranks him among the top passers in the country among returning players while his pure point ratio of 5.41 ranks fifth among all returning PGs. McConnell is steady with the ball in his hands and initiates the offense well by making the proper pass while not over dribbling. He doesn't try to force the issue and his decision making helped him average only 2.3 turnovers per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season. He does an excellent job of making the right decision and delivering the ball to his teammates in the right position to allow them to shoot or create immediately. His ability to run a team will get him noticed by NBA scouts, but he will have to show he can provide more to a team to be a serious draft prospect.

Nothing about McConnell's physical tools are terribly exciting, as he measured 6'1.5” and 194 pounds at the 2014 Nike Skills Academy, with just a 6'0” wingspan. He has good strength for his size, which prevents him from getting pushed around by bigger players. However, he isn't exceptionally explosive or quick with the ball, and will likely be at a disadvantage physically in the NBA.

McConnell wasn't relied on to score all that frequently by Arizona last season, as he attempted only 9.4 field goal attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season. His 16% usage rate would rank dead last among returning point guards, as it would among any college player drafted last season.

The majority of McConnell's scoring in the half-court comes off his jump-shot, which he finds somewhat mixed results with. With his feet set, McConnell is fairly effective, making 41% of his attempts last season, and 40% of his career 3-pointers in his three seasons of college basketball overall. He doesn't have the most conventional shooting mechanics, including a low release, a somewhat off balance stance and a propensity to shoot a flat shot off the dribble due to the lack of lift he gets creating separation from opponents, but he's able to punish opponents when given time and space, which happens a decent amount as he sees a good amount of his offense playing off the ball.

A very pass-first oriented point guard, McConnell doesn't look for his own shot all that often, being much more focused more on running the offense and creating for his teammates in the halfcourt.

Playing in a fairly deliberate offense that tends a bit stagnant at times, McConnell was asked to operate on the pick and roll a decent amount last season. He showed the ability to attack the rim at times, which created offense for his team, but his combination of an average first step, and a lack of a consistent pull-up jumper, allowed defenses to clog the lane, especially with as many non-shooters as Arizona usually fielded at the same time. McConnell only got to the free throw line 50 times in total last season in 38 games, as he simply isn't all that prolific of a threat to create his own offense, something that wasn't too different in his time at Duquesne (55 free throw attempts in 30 games). While it's unlikely that he'll ever develop into a dynamic one on one player, having a quicker and more consistent pull-up jumper in his arsenal will force defenses to respect him more on the perimeter, which will open up lanes for him to create for his teammates.

On the defensive side, while McConnell can be at a disadvantage physically, he is able to contribute defensively by knowing his assignments, playing with excellent intensity, and being in the right position on the floor to slow down his opponent. McConnell had 2.2 steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season, a product of his ability to read the floor and anticipate, combined with his quick, active hands. While he should be adapt to the complex defensive systems of the NBA due to his experience playing under Miller, and his willingness to compete certainly helps his chances, he may have trouble matching up with some of the bigger and more explosive point guards he'll run into at times in the NBA, as he at times gets beat off the dribble by quicker guards.

As the oldest and most experienced player on Arizona's roster, McConnell will be counted on to run Sean Miller's offense efficiently, play solid defense, and possibly carry a slightly larger offensive load this season, after seeing the team's top two scorers move on to the NBA. McConnell is already 22 years old due to sitting out a year and will be 23 by the 2015 NBA Draft. His ceiling is certainly limited by his age and average physical tools, but NBA teams are always on the lookout for solid, steady, competitive players to fill out their roster and up the level of their practices, and McConnell could certainly improve his chances of finding a roster spot if he leads Arizona on another deep tournament run.

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