Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC (Part Three: #11-15)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC (Part Three: #11-15)
Sep 23, 2008, 12:35 am
The SEC comes to a close with returning prospects 11 through 15 in the conference. Ole Miss' Chris Warren is followed by Tennessee's Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince, as well as LSU's Garrett Temple and Alabama's Senario Hillman.

-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC: Part One, Part Two
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 10: Part One, Part Two
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

#6 Chris Warren, 5’11, Sophomore, Point Guard, Mississippi

Joseph Treutlein

Not many freshman come into college, and from the instant they step on the court, are relied upon as their team’s go-to player. Chris Warren did that this past season, leading his team in minutes, scoring, and assists, while also leading them to a very strong 13-0 start. Unfortunately the success was short lived, as Ole Miss went a disappointing 7-9 in SEC conference play, but Warren stayed hot most of the season, scoring in double digits in all but four games, and showing very good poise for a freshman floor general.

Warren stands a slight 5’11, 170 pounds, with a frame that doesn’t look like it’s going to support significantly more weight in the future. A good, but not great athlete, Warren excels with quickness and change of direction ability, though he doesn’t have a blazing first step or very good vertical explosiveness.

As a point guard, Warren creates in many different ways, doing a good job keeping his head up while showing very good court vision. He excels most by finding angles and passing lanes for post entry passes, showing great precision and vision on those passes, making things very easy for big man teammate Dwayne Curtis this past season. Warren also does a good job on drive-and-dishes, both on simple one-dribble penetrations for kickouts, or by weaving through the lane and making dumpoffs. One thing he also does very well is not telegraphing his passes, never making it obvious to the defense what he’s planning to do. While Warren shows a lot of great abilities as a point guard, his team’s offense didn’t always have the greatest flow this past season, which at times fell on his shoulders. He can hold on to the ball for too long waiting for things to develop, getting the team’s offense out of rhythm, though as a freshman who had to step in as a starting point guard immediately, it’s not something to be hugely concerned about yet.

As a ball-handler, Warren looks very good the vast majority of the time, showing a controlled dribble low to the ground, being able to handle the ball with both hands, and having a decent array of advanced moves. Since he doesn’t have the greatest first step, he relies a lot on getting his defender off balance or using screens, doing a very good job of mixing in crossovers, hesitation dribbles, and doing a good job changing gears with the ball. Warren’s biggest problem in the ball-handling department is he gets a little sloppy with the ball at times when reacting to pressure defense, letting the ball get away from him or making foolish errors that seem partly a result of getting flustered. It appears this may partly be a mental issue, and is something that should likely improve with time.

As a scorer, Warren is clearly at his best as a shooter, with a very high 58% of his shots coming from behind the arc this season, where he shot a strong 39%. His spot-up shot is very close to textbook form, possessing excellent extension and follow-through, with a high, quick, and consistent release. His foot placement varies from his right foot being barely in front of his left to his right foot being so far ahead that his body’s at a near 45* angle, but this doesn’t seem to affect his shot much at all. He isn’t affected when he has a hand in his face either, showing good poise and rarely altering his shot due to that. As a pull-up shooter, Warren is very good coming out of static and near-static positions, but his form falls off terribly when he’s shooting on the move, with him showing bad tendencies to fade away, get off balance, not get his legs underneath him, and not hold his follow through. The results also fall off significantly in these situations.

Attacking the basket, Warren shows nice ability to adjust in mid-air, being able to switch hands with the ball, contort his body to avoid contact, and use good creativity at the rim. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t enough to get it done in the half-court, where Warren just lacks the size and strength to consistently get it done at the basket. He shows flashes of a right-handed floater that has decent effectiveness, but he really needs to improve it to become a more consistent threat in the lane.

On the defensive end, Warren shows a pretty good stance on the ball and has good lateral quickness, even showing the ability to recover laterally or play tough defense from his man’s side when he loses position, but he can get overpowered or shot over against larger opponents, which is a concern. Where Warren really struggles on defense, though, is getting around screens, often going under and not fighting hard when he goes over, which has a lot to do with his slight build and should be a long-term concern.

Warren will probably get more attention as a sophomore, and with teammate Dwayne Curtis departing, will be relied upon even more as a scorer. This could be a problem if he doesn’t develop a more consistent scoring game in the lane or cut down on the on-the-move jumpers, as his field-goal percentage was already below 40% this year, with his TS% only coming in at 54%. It’s tough to peg Warren’s NBA potential at this stage, as he certainly will need some more time in college, but he definitely appears to have the skills and mentality to have a good chance at making a roster or getting drafted down the road, even despite his size, which will always be working against him.

#7 Wayne Chism, 6-9, Junior, Power Forward, Tennessee

Kyle Nelson

With a stellar recruiting class coming in this season, Bruce Pearl’s Tennessee Volunteers look to be the toast of the SEC. The veterans are not half bad either, led by lottery hopeful Tyler Smith, point forward J.P. Prince, 6’10 center Brian Williams, and perhaps most importantly, junior power forward Wayne Chism. Chism made notable strides last season in terms of diversifying his offensive game and, with more consistency this coming year, could emerge as one of the better big men in the SEC. Whether or not he is an NBA prospect at this point is unclear, but with more spotlight in Knoxville this year, he will have all of the opportunities in the world to prove himself as one.

Standing at what looks to be a legitimate 6’9 with a good frame, Chism certainly looks the collegiate part. In terms of the NBA, he is an inch or two shorter than the prototypical power forward and it looks as though he could spend some time in the weight room before taking the next step. While he has decent quickness for the post, however, he is a fairly underwhelming leaper . By no means a bad athlete, it regardless won’t be his natural physical tools that force NBA scouts to give him a second look.

Offensively, there is a lot to like about Chism and a lot to dislike. Having made his reputation as a face-up power forward, his percentages leave much to be desired, as last year he regressed to shooting just 32.2% from the beyond the arc on 2.5 attempts per game. Chism has a very quick release and usually shows a high release point that allows him to get his shot off against most post defenders at the collegiate level. The problem, however, are his mechanics, which can be described as erratic at best. Watching his shots bounce off of the rim or off of the backboard, it is clear he needs to work on releasing the ball the same way every time, making sure that his form is consistent, not rushing his attempts, cleaning up his footwork, as well as working on going up straight while shooting instead of jumping into his shot. According to Synergy, jump-shots account for 35% of his offense, so it is absolutely essential that he showcases a more consistent jumper next season.

While most collegiate jump-shooting post men are allergic to the post, one of the nicer aspects to Chism’s offensive arsenal is that he has shown some promise in this area. He has good hands and his touch around the basket is rapidly improving, which despite his shoddy percentages (i.e. 47% FG) allow him to do a decent amount of damage in the post. His quickness and developing footwork make his back to the basket game quite moderately effective at this level, as he relies on turnaround jumpers, jump-hooks, and the occasional offensive rebound and put back for a majority of his post scoring.

There is some concern about how this part of his game might translate to the next level, though, as he is not very strong, nor particularly explosive or tough around the basket, which may hinder him competing against NBA caliber big men. He struggles to finish around the basket already at this level on occasion, blowing more shots around the rim than you’d hope for considering his size.

The other problems that face Chism offensively, though, are very clear. For one, he shoots an abysmal 56% from the foul line, which is certainly problematic considering his reputation as a shooter. He also rarely puts the ball on the floor to beat his defender off the dribble, which is a very strong indictment of his lack of ball-handling abilities. Considering that he is not going to wow NBA scouts in any other specific category, it is up to Chism to put in the work to developing the complete offensive arsenal of a face-up power forward. If he can show flashes of such skills this year, he should get some attention from scouts.

Defensively, Chism has a lot of work to do. For one, he is quite foul prone, averaging 3.0 fouls per game in just 22.4 minutes per game. He gets a majority of these fouls because of his habit of gambling on passes and then overly compensating in the aftermath. His lack of awareness certainly plays a role in his defensive woes as he does his inability to guard men in the post with his body rather than his hands. He shows a lot of potential due to his above average lateral quickness and his size, but he will have to improve next season if he wants to get onto the NBA radar.

It is important to remember that Chism did not even average 10 points per game and he did so on less than 50% shooting from the field. He is very much a developing prospect and in the next year it is essential that he show that he is still improving and diversifying his offensive game and overall feel. Chism has some talent and potential, but he has a long way to go before maximizing his abilities. Next year, however, has to be a step in the right direction if he wants a shot at getting drafted.

#8 J.P. Prince, 6-7, Junior, PG/SG/SF, Tennessee

Joey Whelan

What a long, twisting road it has been for J.P. Prince. As a senior in high school, Prince was Tennessee’s Gatorade Player of the Year, a Parade All-American and the fourth highest rated point guard in the country according to both Scout and After accepting a scholarship to attend the University of Arizona, he saw action and quality minutes in 28 games. That spring though during a routine procedure to remove his wisdom teeth, Prince developed an infection that required him to be placed in an induced coma for several weeks. He would play in three games as a sophomore for Arizona before ultimately deciding to transfer to Tennessee, where he has since become a rotational member of the Vol’s backcourt, playing 18 minutes per game last season, after sitting out the first 9 games of the year.

At 6’7” and possessing great length (much like his cousin Tayshaun Prince), Prince has the size to play all three positions on the perimeter. He could stand to develop some more upper body strength as he often has his shots altered drastically by contact from defenders, but shows solid enough body control that he is still able to serve up some impressive finishes. Prince is a pretty explosive leaper, able to elevate off one or two feet and without much of a running start. Additionally, he shows good quickness for the college level, though he is slowed on the offensive end by his improvable ball-handling skills.

At this point in his career, Prince is most certainly a shoot first player. His adjusted stats have him attempting over 13 shots per game while doling out just 3.9 assists over a 40 minute span. While his field goal shooting percentage that hovers around 50% is a big plus, closer examination shows that a huge percentage of these shots come from within five feet of the basket. Prince does his damage when he is attacking the rim, and according to stats calculated by Synergy Sports Technology, only 16% of his shots come off jumpers. His first step is very strong, as he’s a crafty player who gets to the rim using a combination of hesitation and spin-moves, and does a great job of getting to the free throw line.

Too often though he will force the issue, though, attempting a tough shot or picking up an offensive foul, rather than distributing to teammates who have better shot opportunities; Prince is guilty of this most often when in transition. In all, he was only able to muster a 1.09 assist to turnover ratio, due to his tunnel vision like approach when he has the ball on the break, focusing too much on getting to the basket rather than looking to distribute. For a player billed to be a straight point guard coming out of high school, he is awfully loose with the ball and shows extremely questionable decision making skills.

As far as being a perimeter shooting threat, Prince leaves plenty to be desired. His three-point shot attempts per game have decreased each of his three seasons in college, and last year he bottomed out at a paltry 2-of-13 on the year. The lefty has an awkward form that too often looks rushed and inconsistent. Things don’t really improve as he moves in either. When he does choose to pull up and fire, Prince rarely is squared or balanced when attempting his shots. His 55.7% shooting percentage from the line only further exemplifies his struggles connecting from outside the paint.

Defensively, Prince shows a lot of promise. His lateral quickness is good and combined with his size and length, he proves to be a pesky on ball defender to say the least. He is very tough for smaller guards to shoot over, something that could certainly translate to the next level if he maintains the same intensity he did last year in increased minutes.

Prince’s rebound numbers are good at an adjusted pace, especially for a player who spends so much time on the perimeter. His biggest area for improvement is when he finds himself getting screened. Rather than trying to fight his way above or below the screen, Prince often loses his man by trying to follow through the screen, leaving him vulnerable to get beat off the dribble. He does tend to recover nicely though when opponents opt to attempt perimeter shots.

This season is really going to stand as the litmus test for Prince. With Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith having graduated, he stands as Tennessee’s top returning perimeter player. His frame has NBA guard written all over it, but the rest of his game needs to catch up. He appears to have a very intriguing upside, as he’s got great size, length and athleticism to go along with some raw point guard skills, but has clearly not made his mark on college basketball yet after all the turmoil he suffered in his first three years out of high school. It’s likely that the best is still to come, which makes this season all the more intriguing for Prince and Vols fans.

We won’t be seeing Prince jump ship any time soon unless he shows major improvements in his overall game. What is more likely is the junior putting in two more years of work and development, ultimately leaving him as a potential draft pick thanks to his size for his position and his blossoming instincts.

#9 Garrett Temple, 6-6, Senior, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, LSU

Rodger Bohn

Temple enters his senior season looking to improve his status as an NBA prospect after showing some solid ability over the last few seasons, mixed in with long stretches of disappointing play. The versatility that he brings to the table immediately offers a certain amount of intrigue, yet his limited productivity makes you ponder his value.

There is very little not to like about Temple in terms of natural physical gifts. He has outstanding size for a guard coupled with an enormous wingspan. He also has fairly smooth (although not freakish) athleticism, although his frame and overall bulk leave a lot to be desired.

The bulk of Temple's scoring comes via transition, largely in part because he is so unassertive in half-court sets. He runs the pick and roll awfully well for a big guard, making good decisions and coming off of screens close in order to exert maximum effort out of the defense. Passing is an area that he certainly excels in, producing a nice assist to turnover ratio and assist numbers fairly uncommon for someone standing 6'6.

While there are many traits that may draw you to Temple, there are equally as many traits that he could use work on. Most glaring is the fact that he is an incredibly limited offensive player, producing the second worst scoring rate of any player in our NCAA database.

It’s extremely rare to see a player average 34 minutes per game and score just 6 points in that span, shooting under 40% from the field, 30% from beyond the arc, and barely getting to the free throw line in the process. Most teams at any level of basketball just cannot afford to have a player on the court that simply is not a threat to score, and until Temple shows otherwise, that’s the only way he can currently be labeled.

Beyond being extremely passive, Temple is also incredibly left hand dominant, driving left 90 percent of the time. This is completely evident when performing advanced scouting, and makes him quite predictable to guard. His shooting mechanics are very inconsistent on top of that, releasing the ball from above his head and rarely getting a consistent release point in the process. In the rare occasion that he does get to the rim, he often lacks the strength to finish around the rim due to his poor frame.

Temple is a stud on the defensive end, however. His enormous wingspan and solid quickness allow him to get out in the passing lanes and create a ton of deflections. Able to stay in front of his man laterally, his length enables him to block a substantial number of shots for a player playing the guard position. Defensive potential is without a doubt one of the main selling points of Temple as a prospect.

Only time will tell how Trent Johnson's new system will cater towards Temple's talents. One thing for certain is that Temple will be relied upon as a catalyst for the LSU offense, needed to distribute the ball to fellow prospects Marcus Thornton and Chris Johnson. Temple may have an opportunity to show his stuff at Portsmouth after a strong senior season, but will have to show some semblance of an offensive game if he’s to draw any serious looks at the professional level.

Senario Hillman, 6-1, Sophomore, SG, Alabama

Jonathan Givony

Averaging 4 points in 14 minutes definitely means you obviously aren’t ready to be considered a NBA prospect, but considering the physical tools and upside that Hillman displays, this rising sophomore might not be the worst player to glance at, at the very end of this list.

To say that Hillman is athletic is a bit of an understatement, as the good folks on YouTube can tell you. Hillman is a highlight reel waiting to happen when he enters the lane, possessing incredible explosiveness and being extremely quick off his feet on top of that. How many 6-1 guards in college basketball have a set play in their team’s half-court offense to throw them an alley-oop lob off a backdoor cut? Not many. Besides being an amazing leaper, Hillman is also extremely fast in the open floor—just a superb all-around athlete in general.

Offensively, most of Hillman’s points come either in transition or spot-up jumpers, typically from mid-range. He has decent form on his left-handed jumper, and is able to create separation from his defender quite nicely, elevating off the floor and being capable of making shots at a decent rate from about 16-18 feet. Anything past that is probably not a good shot, though, as evidenced by the 6-41 (15%) Hillman shot from beyond the college arc last season, not to mention the 50% he shot from the free throw line. Hillman is probably a slightly better shooter than those horrendous numbers indicate, but not by much at this point. He has a substantial amount of work to do on his touch and range, as well as his shot-selection, which looks quite poor at times.

Despite being an uber-athlete, Hillman is not all that effective at getting to the basket, mostly due to his poor ball-handling skills. He cannot really drive using his off-hand (right) and is not all that good with his left either at this point, having only gone to the free throw line 34 times in 32 games last year. His decision making is not good and he shows very little resembling a point guard’s mentality at this stage of his development, which is not very good considering that he’s just 6-1. Clearly he has a ton of work to do in this area.

Leaving some room for optimism is the fact that Hillman is an outstanding defender-- tough, pesky, and capable of absolutely smothering opponents with his length. His recovery speed and lateral quickness are exceptional, even if his body still needs to fill out to reach his maximum potential.

Hillman has all the makings of a three or four year college player at this point, unless he makes a Russell Westbrook-type jump in ability this upcoming season, which looks unlikely. He would be wise to be patient and fully round out his skill-set and also gain as much experience as he can before he begins to think about the NBA.

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