Prince Ibeh was largely invisible for most of this season, which is a major red flag for a four year NCAA prospect. But he seems to be turning the corner over the past five games, averaging 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 27 minutes. For a player who stands 6'11, with a 7'4 wingspan, an incredible frame and ideal athleticism for a modern day NBA center, that is always going to raise some eyebrows considering how difficult it is to find big men in his mold.
Consistency has always been Ibeh's biggest issue throughout his career, both on and off the floor, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the added attention his strong play recently will garner. Can he continue to play with the type of energy and intensity he has lately, or will he go back to the underachieving ways we saw his first three and a half years in college?
From an NBA scouting perspective, one of the most intriguing games Texas will play all season came against Kansas ten days ago at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Ibeh put all of his strengths and weaknesses on full display there, scoring 7 points (3/4 2P, 1/4 FT) to go along with 7 rebounds, 7 blocks and 3 turnovers in 35 minutes.
Via Mike Schmitz, here's an eight minute video breakdown of some of the more notable things NBA scouts were able to see from Ibeh in that game, both good and bad, on either end of the floor.
Top NBA Prospects in the Big 12, Part Five: Prospects #5-9
September 21, 2015
Born in London to parents who emigrated from Nigeria, Prince Ibeh moved to Texas when he was five years old. The #63 recruit in his high school class, Ibeh's career at Texas hasn't really taken off going into his senior year, partially due to the frontcourt depth Texas has sported in the last few years. His own lack of development has something to do with this as well of course, as did possibly the general dysfunction of the basketball program under head coach Rick Barnes, which led to him being replaced by VCU's Shaka Smart this past summer.
Ibeh saw the same amount of playing time as a junior as he did as a freshman, and posted very similar numbers on a per-minute basis. He once again scored around 8 points per-40, a miniscule number that ranks as the fourth lowest offensive output among collegiate draft prospects, while hitting just 37.5% of his free throw attempts, the same rate he did as a freshman. Ibeh's rebounding hasn't improved either, as he's yet to crack the 10 rebound per-40 mark in his college career, which is almost shocking considering how limited his role when he's on the floor. And he's still just as foul prone as he was when coming into college, average more fouls per-minute as a junior (7.7) than he did as a freshman (7.1).
On the plus side, Ibeh was one of the most impactful defenders in college basketball in his small minutes on the floor, being one of only two players to post over 1 steal and 5 blocks per-40 minutes in the NCAA last year.
Ibeh's physical attributes have a lot to do with that, as he shows ideal tools for what many NBA teams look for in a center these days. Measured at 6-11 in high school, yet listed at 6-10 by Texas last year, Ibeh has an incredible 7-4 wingspan that makes whatever number his height comes out at as fairly inconsequential. He also sports an amazing frame, being absolutely chiseled at 260 pounds, but is nevertheless incredibly mobile despite carrying that much weight, and also very explosive at that.
Ibeh runs the floor extremely well when motivated, and is capable of covering quite a bit of ground in the half-court as well. He gets off his feet quickly and can play above the rim with relative ease, which helped him create an impressive highlight reel last season relative to his lack of offensive production.
Ibeh has solid hands, catching mostly everything thrown his way. He shows potential as a pick and roll finisher, as he can get out in a hurry to the 3-point line to set a screen and then roll quickly back to the lane to complete a lob play with authority, sometimes from extreme vantage points. Ibeh is mostly a non-factor offensively, but he did finish 67% of his field goal attempts “around the basket” last season according to Synergy Sports Technology, thanks to his outstanding length and mobility, although he rarely was able to take advantage of that on a team with very poor ball-movement.
Beyond that, Ibeh is a very limited player offensively, showing little ability to score outside of five feet, as indicated by his career 44% free throw percentage thus far. Watching his offensive possessions on film involves seeing quite a few moving screens, charges, and traveling violations. He has poor footwork and awareness with the ball in his hands, as it's not rare to see him throwing the ball away or directly into an opposing defender's hands. Ibeh has dished out just 12 assists in his 1100+ minutes at Texas, posting an incredibly low 2% career assist percentage, while turning the ball over on over 20% of his possessions.
Defensively is where Ibeh shows tremendous potential as an NBA player, as evidenced by the 5 blocks per-40 minutes he's averaged over his career at Texas, which would have ranked first among all players drafted last year. Most players with his combination of height, mobility, length and shot-blocking prowess are generally on the thin side, but Ibeh is absolutely ripped, which gives him a chance to be a solid low-post defender in addition to being a rim-protector. He's simply too strong for most big men to try and back down, and too long for almost anyone to try and shoot over.
While Texas played a very conservative defensive scheme last year, Ibeh at times showed the ability to step out on to the perimeter and stay in front of players much smaller than him. He's just as fast and agile as most guards, and even if he gets beat initially, usually has no problem recovering back to the paint and making a play at the rim. His ability to cover ground makes him a massive presence rotating from the weakside, something that gives him huge potential as he continues to gain experience from seeing real playing time, and get better coaching than he's received up until now.
With that said, Ibeh is still a long ways away from reaching his full potential on the defensive end. He's not very fundamentally sound here, relying too heavily on his physical tools and not always appearing to operate at maximum intensity. It's not rare to see him jogging the floor lackadaisically, and he tends to lose his focus very easily, biting on pump-fakes, reaching unnecessarily, and generally showing poor awareness. Ibeh is also extremely foul prone, something that hasn't really improved much between his freshman (7.6 fouls per-40) and junior (7.4) seasons. On top of that, he's a very underwhelming presence on the defensive glass, as he almost never boxes out opponents and doesn't show great instincts or intensity for pursuing loose balls.
While it's difficult to project a junior who averaged just 2.1 points per game as a NBA draft pick, it would be foolish to rule out a prospect like Ibeh out. There simply aren't many human beings on the planet with the kind of physical attributes he possesses, and we've seen players like Joel Anthony, Bismack Biyombo, Ian Mahinmi, Dewayne Dedmon and others carve out careers in the NBA despite not having any real ability to put the ball in the basket, simply due to their ability to protect the rim.
Furthermore, not turning 22 until June, Ibeh is one of the youngest prospects in our senior rankings, and didn't even start playing basketball until his freshman year of high school, giving him significant upside to continue to improve.
It will be very interesting to see what new head coach Shaka Smart can do with Ibeh, since he could seemingly be quite a weapon in the style of play he's trying to implement at Texas. Unfortunately, Smart also likes to play small quite a bit, and Texas does have three other big men in Cameron Ridley, Connor Lammert and 265-pound Shaquille Cleare who all need minutes, which may make it difficult for him to see a huge bump in playing time.
Nevertheless, Ibeh's physical tools are so coveted there will undoubtedly be quite a few NBA teams lining up to give him a look in the pre-draft process. If he can have a few signature performances like the game he played at Kansas last season, he'll have a chance to show he's worthy of investing time and resources in hopes he's able to take the next step in his progression as his pro career unfolds. [Read Full Article]
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part 4 (#6-10)
September 27, 2013
A freshman on a dysfunctional Texas team that went 7-11 in Big 12 play and subsequently imploded over the offseason (losing five underclassmen to the NBA, Europe and transfers), Prince Ibeh only played 10 minutes per game last season but showed flashes of intriguing long-term potential.
Measured 6-11 in shoes, with a 7-4 wingspan and now listed by Texas at 250 pounds, Ibeh has rare physical attributes that give him ample size and length for a NBA center. He's a relatively mobile big man on top of that, capable of running the court well and getting off his feet nicely to make plays around the basket.
Featuring a very strong frame, Ibeh is capable of carving out some space inside the paint, and has good hands and the ability to finish impressively thanks to his length and mobility. He had a couple of notable two-handed dunks last season jumping from outside the restricted area from a standstill, even if he struggled to contribute much offensively beyond that.
Scoring just 2.2 points per game, Ibeh was essentially a non-factor for Texas even in his limited minutes on the floor. His skill-level is extremely low, as evidenced by the 38% he shot from the free throw line, and he doesn't really know his limitations very well either, contributing just one assist all season in 355 minutes to counter his 18 turnovers.
To become more of a presence inside besides simple catch and finish plays, Ibeh will need to improve his footwork and touch around the basket, as well as his balance and coordination.
Defensively, Ibeh is a major presence inside the paint with his gigantic wingspan and impressive mobility, even if he has very little idea of how to use his tools effectively at the moment. He is not physical enough denying his man deep position around the basket, letting opposing post players catch the ball with one or two feet inside the paint thinking he'll simply be able to rise up and swat the shot away, which he sometimes is able to.
Ibeh blocked 4.4 shots per-40 minutes last season, which ranked him in the top-20 in all of college basketballs. He shows good timing to go along with his excellent length and mobility, often contesting and altering shots impressively inside and outside the paint even without actually registering a block. He's extremely difficult to shoot over when he's in position to make a play, forcing a number of airballs last season, but struggles at times biting on pump-fakes and does not have great awareness or understanding of team concepts, looking like a bit of a fish out of water at times.
While he posted very good offensive rebounding numbers (4.2 per-40), his work on the defensive glass was not quite as impressive (5.3 per-40), as he rarely boxes out and is often out of position when the ball comes off the glass after attempting to chase a block.
Moving forward, Ibeh clearly has rare physical tools and some traits that are highly coveted by the NBA, namely his shot-blocking ability. Likely still a few years away from garnering legitimate consideration as a draft prospect, it will be interesting to see what kind of strides Ibeh can make in his sophomore season and beyond. Unfortunately for him, Texas' other best pro prospect (Cameron Ridley) plays the same position as him, and it's difficult to see how many minutes the two can play together at the same time. Nevertheless, scouts will continue to monitor Ibeh's improvement to see how his skill-level and basketball IQ is progressing. [Read Full Article]