Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part Two (#6-10)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part Two (#6-10)
Sep 30, 2010, 01:24 pm
Continuing to evaluate the top returning NBA prospects in the SEC, we take a look at Tennessee's Scotty Hopson, Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney, Vanderbilt, John Jenkins, Florida's Kenny Boynton and Alabama's Tony Mitchell.

Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA circuit before we come to any long-term conclusions.

-Top 20 NBA Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big 12
-Top 10 NBA Prospects in the Pac-10

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part One (#1-5)

#1 Jeff Taylor
#2 Trey Thompkins
#3 Travis Leslie
#4 Chandler Parsons
#5 JaMychal Green

#6 Scotty Hopson, 6'7, SG/SF, Junior, Tennessee
12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 2.1 turnovers, 45% FG, 33% 3PT, 59% FT

Joseph Treutlein

After a hot shooting start last season, Scotty Hopson came back down to earth as the year went on, going on to post similar production and efficiency numbers as he did in his freshman season, not improving noticeably in any statistical area. That said, in watching the tape it's clear that he did take some steps forward in terms of his skill set and role within the team, something he'll look to build upon as a junior.

Offensively, Hopson's game still relies primarily around his jump shot, which he shoots equally as often off the dribble as in catch and shoot situations. Despite this tendency, Hopson's pull-up jumper is still noticeably behind where it needs to be, as he scores a dreadful 0.51 points per shot on jumpers off the dribble, compared to a solid 1.08 points per shot spotting up.

Mechanically, Hopson is extremely sloppy in his shooting motion, something that becomes more pronounced when he's pulling up, as he shows poor balance, jumps into many of his shots excessively, and shows little understanding of the difference between a good and bad shot attempt. On the positive side, Hopson shows good release speed, an incredibly high release, and his upper body motions are generally consistent, while he clearly has a ton of natural ability putting the ball in the hole. Refining his mechanics to become more consistent and working on his shot selection could lead to massive improvements in this area.

In terms of attacking the basket, Hopson is in need of refinement in this area as well, though his handle certainly improved from his freshman to sophomore season, allowing him more opportunities to flash his talent scoring the ball. Hopson's handle currently lacks tightness and he's much less confident with his left hand than his right, while he doesn't possess the greatest command of advanced moves aside from the occasional crossover in space. While Hopson shows both a very good first step and second gear on occasion, his lack of handle prevents him from making his excellent athletic abilities consistently functional, and this is compounded even more by the difficult spacing in the college game, as Hopson really struggles getting through double teams.

On the positive side, when Hopson is able to get himself in isolation, he's already showing flashes of strong ability attacking the basket, as despite his lack of handle, he shows very good footwork in the lane, and with his high level of reactiveness, he can cover a lot of ground utilizing jump stops and other moves in the painted area to gain separation. Showing a nice developing right-handed floater to go along with effortless elevation around the rim, Hopson is already a very good finisher when he can get to within five feet of the basket with the ball, and has the potential to improve even more in this area as he develops the rest of his game.

As for the rest of his offensive game, despite his lack of polish in skills and sometimes erratic shot selection from the perimeter, Hopson does seem to have good instincts and awareness overall, doing a good job of reading what the defense gives him and not showing much in terms of tunnel vision. His passing game certainly has room for improvement, but he does a good job moving without the ball and making simple passes within the flow of the offense.

Defensively, despite his excellent physical tools, Hopson shows considerable problems in man-to-man defense as this level, primarily due to lack of consistent effort moving his feet, but also due to poorly compensating for a high center of gravity, which makes it very awkward for him to handle quick changes of direction. Increasing his effort level in man-to-man defense, doing a better job to contest players from behind when they're riding his hip on drives, and better utilizing his length in the passing lanes are all things Hopson should work on, as he's clearly nowhere near his potential on this end of the floor. To his credit, one area where Hopson does fare quite well on this end is in the pick-and-roll game, where he shows good awareness and does a good job switching and trapping with his size and length.

Looking forward, Hopson's draft stock is currently all over the board, but with his natural talent in combination with excellent physical tools, he has the potential to move up considerably if he matures in his approach to his craft and can finally put all his tools together to develop a more consistent game. As it stands, there probably isn't one thing Hopson consistently does at an above average NBA level, though he shows excellent flashes in all areas of his scoring game and did show somewhat of a learning curve as a sophomore. NBA teams will be watching closely to see if Hopson's game matures as a junior, and he should have every opportunity to show just that.

#7 Renardo Sidney, 6-10, PF/C, Mississippi State

Since Sidney was ineligible for all of last season at Mississippi State, there is very little new information to add to his already fairly comprehensive scouting report. Once Sidney returns to the court this spring we will undoubtedly discuss his draft prospects in great detail.

#8 John Jenkins, 6-4, Sophomore, Shooting Guard, Vanderbilt
11.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 turnovers, 0.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 47.0% FG, 48.3% 3FG, 80.0% FT

Kyle Nelson

Despite assembling its most talented roster in recent memory, Vanderbilt underachieved in the post-season and lost to Murray State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Vanderbilt returns a talented veteran team, however, and, in addition to All-SEC wing Jeff Taylor, shooting guard John Jenkins looks to build on a promising freshman campaign and play a more prominent role.

At 6'4, Jenkins has decent size for the shooting guard position, but he must continue to get stronger and add muscle to his frame. He is just an average athlete, as well, not particularly explosive around the basket or unbelievably quick on the perimeter.

While Jenkins does not stand out physically, he is without a doubt an outstanding shooter. Despite being just a freshman last season, he was according to all metrics the best perimeter shooter in our database, rankings first in both 3-pointers made per-40 and in accuracy, shooting a blistering 48.4% from beyond the arc.

Though his mechanics are unconventional, and at times inconsistent, Jenkins has a very quick release and has range out to the NBA three-point line. He showed prowess shooting from a standstill and with a hand in his face, where he created space with crafty moves off of the dribble or by fading away. Jenkins also moves very well without the ball and utilizes screens well to find space and openings along the three-point line. He converted a ridiculous 55% of his catch and shoot jumpers last season according to the data at our disposal, and is all in all one of the most efficient players in all of college basketball. 64% of his field goal attempts come from beyond the arc, which in his case, is a very good thing.

Jenkins is less impressive inside of the arc, where he shot a sub-par 44.7% and attempted just 3.2 free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Jenkins rarely journeyed into the lane last season, but he had trouble finishing around the basket when he did, largely due to his lack of ideal strength and explosiveness.

He did show flashes of potential from mid-range last season, however, with an arsenal of step-back and pull-up jumpers. His above-average ball handling abilities helped him create space and, if he can become more confident in his abilities, it looks as though he should continue to improve in the future.

Jenkins struggled on the defensive end as a freshman largely due to his below-average lateral quickness. While his awareness is decent, quicker guards were able to blow by him on the perimeter.

John Jenkins is by no means a complete player at this point, but he proved himself to be a dependable, albeit one-dimensional, offensive contributor. That one dimension is an incredibly valuable one, though, and could easily earn him a role in the NBA if he's able to at least be respectable on the defensive side of the ball. This coming season, he must continue to score efficiently and take care of the basketball as a sophomore while shouldering a greater load of Vanderbilt's offense. Though it is still early, Jenkins established himself as an NBA prospect last season and scouts will be watching to see how he adjusts in an expanded role.

#9 Kenny Boynton, 6'2, Sophomore, Shooting Guard, Florida
14.0 Points, 2.7 Assists, 2.6 Rebounds, 2.0 Turnovers, 1.1 Steals, 38% FG, 29% 3FG, 75% FT

Matt Williams

Kenny Boynton's freshman season proved to be a rollercoaster ride, highlighted by a 20 point, 7 assist performance against Syracuse and mired by streaky shooting that rendered him extremely inefficient for long stretches. A consensus top ten recruit coming out of high school, the Pompano native played heavy minutes for the Gators, and while his scoring output was certainly impressive for a freshman, his sub-40% shooting was an indicator of how much room the young guard has for improvement. Florida returns most of his key players from last season, but Boynton is going to be the team's X-factor and could take the Gators to the next level and improve his NBA draft stock in the process.

Boynton's development on the court will be integral to his NBA future because of his lack of tremendous physical tools for the shooting guard spot. Despite having a mature frame for his age and great body control, Boynton is severely undersized for a NBA shooting guard and doesn't compensate with a big wingspan, which raises questions about his defensive potential. He proves to be a good athlete otherwise, possessing an impressive first step, good but not great leaping ability, and lateral speed that would make him an intriguing prospect physically at the point guard spot.

Unfortunately, Boynton would need to make some drastic changes to his game to become a viable point guard prospect and is programmed with a scorer's mentality that may be difficult for him to shake. He manages to be an effective passer at times, proving much more effective when giving up the ball in pick and roll situations than scoring it himself, but regardless of the situation, he is first and foremost looking to score the ball. That mentality has been both a blessing and a curse for Boynton over the last few years, garnering him numerous accolades as a high school player, but playing a big role in his inefficient freshman season.

Known as one of the top scorers on the AAU circuit, Kenny Boynton has always played with the swagger or demeanor of a Ray Allen or Dwyane Wade, never letting any adversity of string of misses change his approach to the game. While that made him a highly-sought recruit, it put him in a tough position when he fell into a season-long shooting slump as a freshman, as he continued to attempt difficult shots from the perimeter even when he couldn't get anything to fall.

There were two notable factors that limited Boynton's shooting success as a freshman. First, his tendency to attempt jump shots when defended hurt him considerably. Clearly taking advantage of the fact that he was given the green light by Billy Donovan, nearly 60% of Boynton's catch and shoot jump shots came in situations where he had a hand in his face according to Synergy Sports Technology. Boynton knocked down just 23.9% of those shots, but managed a much more respectable 42.6% mark when left open. Considering the he attempted as many three pointers per-40 minutes pace adjusted as almost any player in the country, and that 56% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc (despite converting under 30% of them) it is easy to see why his production was volatile.

Second, Boynton tends to be a little too quick with his release for his own good. His jump shooting mechanics are solid, and he gets good results when he takes his time and stays in rhythm, but on some possessions, he appears to be in a hurry to get his shot off, quickening his release and altering the trajectory of his jumpers. This is especially apparent at times off the dribble.

While Boynton could be a bit more discerning with his shot selection and work to become more consistent with his mechanics, he does have some promising offensive tools that will make any gains he makes in those areas that much more clear. Though most of his shots from the perimeter are catch and shoot attempts, he is adept at creating separation with his dribble, even if he isn't making the shots he's creating at a great rate. His quickness and strength give him the ability to get off a shot in a pinch, and if he improves his shooting percentages in the coming seasons, his perimeter arsenal will certainly pique the interest of NBA scouts.

At the basket, Boynton fares pretty well, showing excellent body control and doing a nice job using his body to shield the ball when he has a chance to gather himself and measure up his defender. He struggles when he's forced to make a play in a crowd or has to make a split second decision with the ball in the mid-post. Showing the ability to get inside off the bounce, he showed flashes of good things attacking off the dribble as a freshman, but will need to become more adept with his repertoire and touch from inside 8-feet to emerge as a more dynamic finisher since his lack of outstanding size and leaping ability limits him around the glass. Boynton attempted some floaters last season, but they weren't a reliable weapon for him. He also didn't get to the free throw line very much, which is something he will need to work on.

Defensively, there are plenty of question marks regarding whether Boynton will be able to defend his position (shooting guard) at the NBA level. Lacking great size and length, the rising sophomore struggles to contest shots when closing out, but he puts in a great effort and has solid lateral quickness. Though he still needs to learn the nuances of defending the pick and roll and be a bit more discerning in how he gives his man space both in one-on-one situations and when running around screens, most of Boynton's defensive weaknesses are correctable. Unfortunately, his size will limit his success on the next level. As it stands, he'd need to be paired with a taller point guard to accommodate him offensively without forcing him into an undesirable situation defensively.

Though Boynton plays with intensity and has a pro-type swagger to his game offensive, he has a ton of work to do to legitimize his NBA draft stock. Boynton will inevitably get a shot at the NBA –scorers of his caliber inevitably do, especially considering his pedigree. However, his ability to become more efficient will factor heavily into his ability to gain the attention of NBA decision-makers, hear his name called when he declares, and make a smooth transition to the next level. If he develops as a play-maker or improves his efficiency, he could quickly become a prospect on the rise, and it will definitely be worth keeping a close eye on his development during his second year in Gainesville.

#10 Tony Mitchell, 6-6, Sophomore, Small Forward, Alabama
23.3 minutes, 9.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, .6 assists, .7 turnovers, 1.3 steals, .7 blocks, 49% FG, 59% FT, 26% 3P

Jonathan Givony

Tony Mitchell failed to qualify academically for Alabama as a member of the 2008 high school class, but was able to get his grades in order at prep school and had a successful 2009-2010 season, being named to the SEC's all-freshman team.

The now-21-year old sophomore has intriguing physical tools as a 6-6 small forward, showing a nice frame, long arms and very nice athleticism, but still has work to do in terms of rounding out his skill-set and becoming a complete player.

Mitchell's role as a freshman was a pretty limited one, mostly being asked to operate without the ball, run the floor in transition, crash the glass and provide his team with energy—something he did a good job of in that limited scope. He scored the ball at a solid rate (16.1 points per-40p), was pretty efficient from the field (56% 2P), and proved to be an excellent rebounder at over 10 boards per-40p.

With that said, his limitations are pretty obvious at the same time. Mitchell is a below average ball-handler who struggles trying to create his own shot, as he lacks the ability to change directions with the ball and doesn't have much of a left hand. He didn't get to the free throw line very much last season, generated only a few assists, and rarely committed any turnovers because of how little he was asked to do with the ball.

Unless he improves his shot-creating ability dramatically, Mitchell will need to be a much more effective long-range shooter if he's to be able to emerge as a legit NBA prospect down the road. He made just 15 of 57 3-point attempts last season, or 26%, and only converted 59% of his free throw attempts.

Mitchell's shooting mechanics aren't bad, even if he does have a bit of a low release point, but he needs plenty of work on his consistency and touch. He's not a reliable threat at this point even when open with his feet set, and he similarly struggles shooting the ball off the dribble.

Defensively, Mitchell has good tools to work with, including his frame, length and athleticism, and was able to make his presence felt fairly well for a freshman at the SEC level. He ranked amongst the conference leaders in steals on a per-minute basis and blocked fair number of shots, also averaging over 10 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted. His fundamentals and awareness on this end can leave something to be desired at times, as he clearly lacks experience, but he has all the tools needed to develop into an excellent defender down the road, particularly in terms of the toughness and effort he brings to the table.

Already 21 years old, Mitchell will need to show improvement on the offensive end if he's to hold NBA decision makers' attention span by the time he's ready to enter the draft. With Alabama's primary ball-handler Mikhail Torrance graduating last spring, Mitchell will have a chance to take on more offensive responsibility alongside JaMychal Green in his sophomore season.

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