As one of the most consistent players in Conference USA over his four year career, earning all conference team honors the past two seasons, Ben Uzoh
is having another solid season for Tulsa. With the lack of exposure the Golden Hurricanes receive however and failing to make the NCAA tournament, with this year not looking like an exception, Uzohs fallen under the radar a bit until now. His name is finally beginning to garner some attention amongst NBA circles, though, and hell surely get looks from teams throughout the draft process.
The biggest question mark for Uzoh is his lack of a defined position an area of concern for most NBA personnel. At 63, hes not a true point guard but more of an athletic combo guard with scoring instincts. This season, hes made a concerted effort to be more of a playmaker and hes certainly improved in that department, sporting a solid 1.9 assist to turnover ratio averaging more assists and less turnovers then a season ago.
With that being said, he hasnt quite developed his overall skills as a lead guard. He has a tendency in the half court to be a ball stopper at times, appearing indecisive, pounding the rock and slowing the flow of the offense as a result. His court vision is average and he isnt the most creative guy youll find with most of assists coming by way of post entries, ball reversals, or hitting a teammate in transition. In the open court, hes certainly more comfortable and is willing and able to advance the ball off the bounce at any opportunity.
This added attention to becoming a pure point guard hasnt affected his scoring, increasing his average of 14.0 from last season to 15.6 this year and hes shooting a higher percentage from inside and outside the arc. More of a self-made player than an incredibly skilled or naturally talented scorer, Uzoh doesnt seem to have great touch offensively, appearing a little mechanical at times. His shot is fairly inconsistent, both with his feet set and off the dribble, as the arc on his release can vary with each attempt. He does have decent mechanics though and with his ability to elevate its not out of the question to see him improve in this area.
As a penetrator, Uzoh is a talented shot-creator who can create off the dribble thanks to his solid first step and aggressive mentality. With his excellent size and strength for a point guard and the athleticism to boot, its reasonable to say that Uzoh should be getting to the free throw line a bit more. His ball-handling skills clearly could use some work, and he seems to have a tendency to pull-up for floaters rather than take the ball all the way to the basket and draw contact at the rim. For someone that shoots nearly 80% from the stripe, it would serve him very well.
On the defensive end, Uzoh has the versatility to play both guard spots but is a better defender off the ball then he is on it. He has good not great lateral speed and can struggle against quick slashing players and gets hung up too often on high ball screens, leaving him out of position. On the positive side, he has good size, nice strength, a long wingspan and does a good job at using it to contest outside shots. He fights through off ball screens well and is effective at closing out on shooters. He also uses his frame to his advantage, handling his own against bigger guards who try to post him or take it to the rim on him.
There are a few question marks surrounding Uzoh that will need to be answered before hes considered a lock to be drafted. A postseason run (making the NCAA tournament, or more likely the NIT) will be a good start for him to further demonstrate what he can do. Just as important would be a solid outing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which would give him a chance to show off what he brings to the table in front of all 30 NBA teams at once. With steady production for four years and intriguing physical attributes, Uzoh is a prospect that will likely be making the rounds at private workouts come June.