|Team: NON-NBA College Team:
H: 6' 3"|
W: 190 lbs
(29 Years Old)
|Agent: SELF ||
High School: Horsham College
Hometown: Horsham, Australia
|Year||Source||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat||No Step Vert||Max Vert|
|2008||Portsmouth||6' 1.75"||6' 2.5"||182||6' 4"||NA||NA||NA||NA|
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NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/30/07-- Part One|
January 31, 2007
After a phenomenal freshman season (18.2 points, 3.8 assists per game, 47% FG) and a less impressive injury riddled sophomore season (13.2 points, 3.1 assists, 37% FG), Aaron Bruce has again been streaky this year. Though he is adapting to a different role playing next to two fellow combo guards with fairly questionable decision making skills, in an offense that has little rhyme, rhythm or balance to it, he finally displayed many of the skills that make him an NBA draft prospect against Texas on Saturday. He will have to show plenty more before the end of the season on a much more consistent basis, but Bruce has a lot of assets to work with, and always seems to display different wrinkles to his game every time we watch him play.
Against Texas, Bruce started out the game by setting the pace for Baylor. He hit a couple early three pointers, and also made a nice layup in transition where he used the left side of the rim on a reverse to shield the ball intelligently from a defender. Bruce continued to score well throughout the first half, and finished near the hoop after using ball fakes to get his defender off balance. Baylor had a 6 point lead at halftime, and it was largely due to Bruce’s contribution. In the second half, he continued to shoot the three-pointers with confidence. He also displayed his ability to be smart with the ball around the rim. Despite Bruce’s 25 points, Baylor couldn’t hold Texas and Kevin Durant from coming away with the home win.
Bruce has a few things working for him when it comes to the NBA. He has good size for a point guard, and very good court vision as well. His passing ability sometimes goes unnoticed because of his role within the team, but it’s very clear that he has no problem finding the open man either in traffic or the half-court. Bruce also has the ability to knock down 3-pointers at a good clip, and shoots the mid-range shot well, especially when moving to the left. He can use ball-fakes to compensate for his lack of explosiveness and get to the rim, and has the ability to fool defenders by changing speeds in traffic.
The main weakness for Aaron Bruce at this point is his body and lack of athleticism. The lack of foot speed was obvious on Saturday, when Bruce would be alone in transition, and the defender managed to catch up to him before he reached the other end of the floor. The lack of lateral quickness hurts him as well, though his fundamentals on this side of the ball are solid. Bruce also lacks a great first step, and usually settles for jump shots anyway. This is highlighted by the lack of free throw attempts he has this season.
Baylor is overloaded with dominant ball-handlers who like to make things happen off the bounce this year, and Bruce doesn’t have the chance to be a full time point guard at this point in time. He is clearly better with the ball in his hands, but has started playing better recently thanks to the reemergence of his outside shooting touch. As a 22-year old junior, Bruce is free to test his draft stock this April. He has a chance to be a second round pick if NBA teams like his passing ability enough, but will also have considerable opportunities to play overseas for a lucrative contract thanks to his skill-set, basketball IQ and high-level experience in international basketball. He’s probably better than he’s able to show right now playing for Baylor, but unless he decides to get up and do something about that, we’ll probably never know for sure.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 (Part Two: #6-#10)
October 30, 2006
As a sophomore, Bruce wasn't able to build on a brilliant 04-05 freshman season in which he emerged as the unquestioned focal point for a program still reeling from the Patrick Dennehy scandal. The youthful Bears were dealt a serious blow when the NCAA barred the team from non-conference play. Bruce started slowly, and by the time he finally caught up he was suffering from numerous nagging injuries. Despite having significantly more talent surrounding him, Bruce's field goal accuracy plummeted nearly 10 points, and his scoring average fell from 18.2 to 13.1. A simple look at the statistics would tell you that Bruce took a major step backward as a sophomore.
But delving into the matter a bit more closely leads to several interesting conclusions. First of all, Bruce's sophomore campaign was really the tale of two very distinct halves. Over the first 10 games of the season, the Aussie was terrible. He shot a very un-Bruce like 29% from the floor, averaged just 10.8 ppg, and could manage just 0.96 assists for every turnover. But Bruce would eventually get healthy, and it showed over his final seven Big XII games. The field goal percentage spiked to 47%, including nearly 44% from beyond the arc. He increased his scoring to 16.4 per game, his rebounding to 4.4 per game, and his ast/to ratio bounced back to a very respectable 1.59/1. Compare these numbers with Bruce's freshman line of 18.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, a 1.25/1 ast/to ratio, and 47% shooting. Is it any coincidence that Baylor was much more competitive over the stretch run?
So just what does Bruce bring to the table as an NBA point guard prospect? It all depends on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for an efficient, steady floor general capable of getting the ball to the right people in the halfcourt and keeping the mistakes to a minimum, Bruce probably isn't your guy. He just isn't where he needs to be physically, earning low marks in athleticism and body composition. There is certainly potential for significant physical improvement, but little noticeable improvement took place between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Bruce has more than enough craft to get his shot off in the lane on dribble penetrations, but doesn't have the physical strength to power his way through defenders and finish at the rim. For this reason, he rarely gets all the way to the basket even at the NCAA level. He is an opportunistic defender, but doesn't like to get physical and would much rather gamble from the weak side than get physical and slide his feet. His defensive liability can be marginalized in certain systems, but is a definitely issue when games are played more in the halfcourt. Bruce also has a tendency to attempt difficult, complicated passes, which can lead to periods of poor decision making when things shouldn’t be complicated.
Where Bruce really excels is in the open court. His ability to create fast break opportunities for his teammates by passing the ball from the backcourt is nearly unparalleled at the NCAA level. His creative forays are nearly always set up well before the defense realizes what is happening, usually with a well-timed jab step, dribble drive, look off, pump fake, or body contortion. He sees holes in the defense on the fly, and does a great job of identifying ideal scoring situations for specific teammates. Bruce is the type of point guard that is a constant threat to burn a defense with the ball in his hands, and really forces the opposing help defenders to keep one eye open as far as heading over at moment's notice.
Bruce isn't your prototypical half-court lead guard, but he does enough things well to make up for it. Where Bruce tends to create opportunities for fellow lead guard CJ Jerrells in the open court, the roles reverse once transition opportunities have passed. Jerrells, a hard-nosed penetrator and electric scorer, can draw defenders off the bounce and find Bruce for perimeter looks. Bruce has gorgeous form on jumper, and gets his shot off so quickly it sometimes looks like he is beginning his motion before the ball arrives. His range extends to well beyond the 3-point line, and defenders drawn by the penetration of Baylor's other quick guards almost always pay when the result of the play is a kick out to Bruce.
Bruce's lack of strength is mentioned above, but once he gets defenders to overplay his shot, he is capable of getting to the basket for floaters, runners, and midrange jumpers. He gets nice elevation when shooting off the jumpstop, and looks very comfortable pulling up on the move. Sometimes Bruce get a bit too smart for his own good and get stuck in the air when underestimating a more athletic help defender's reaction ability, but he generally does a good job of picking his moments to slash. Give him space and license to attack, and there are very few NCAA teams capable of containing him, especially when he is burning up the net from the outside. That "quick strike" anticipatory offensive ability many lead guards use to make up for athleticism issues is definitely a tool in Aaron Bruce's arsenal.
While Bruce's sophomore season did not live up to expectations, it is easy to see Scott Drew's floor general bouncing back quickly. Drew has been forced to play at a slower pace due to a thin and generally talent-lacking roster, but that changes in 06-07. With six new coaches in the conference, several traditional Big XII powers are now in the same situation Baylor has been in since Drew arrived. But Drew has amassed a roster heavy on athleticism, depth, and guard play. Joining Bruce in the backcourt will be three other combo guards, the aforementioned Jerrells, sophomore shooter Henry Dugat, and McDonald's All-American recruit Tweety Carter. After playing at a laborious pace over the past two seasons, Drew now has an undersized, athletic backcourt rotation that will always be more comfortable in the open court.
Look for Baylor to run early and often, and look for Aaron Bruce to have an outstanding junior season. He will need to work on his body before he is ready for the NBA, but Travis Diener is a success story from the same mold, and the former Marquette standout was at least as physically overmatched entering his junior year. It isn't clear whether Bruce's future lies at at the highest level or whether he will become a prized commodity overseas, but Baylor's dynamic floor leader is certainly a prospect to keep an eye on.
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