|Team: Hapoel Jerusalem|
H: 6' 1"|
W: 200 lbs
(29 Years Old)
|Agent: Happy Walters ||
High School: Del Valle
Hometown: Austin, TX
One of many intriguing storylines we can anticipate developing in the wide-open Big 12 conference is the emergence of Baylor point guard Curtis Jerrells into the national spotlight. Jerrells is the second leading returning scorer in the conference and tops in assists, and is clearly the engine that makes Baylor’s fast-paced offense go. This is a team that likes to run, and Jerrells doesn’t need to be told twice to push the ball up the floor quickly.
Looking at the last time we broke down Jerrells’ game, we see that his numbers remained largely the same between his sophomore and junior seasons. His scoring was up slightly, his field goal percentage down a notch, his assists remained the same, but he managed to cut down significantly on his turnovers, which is an important development. Jerrells is a feast or famine type ‘lead guard’, he’s very ball-dominant, and clearly looks first and foremost to create for himself, before looking to create for others. Part of that is a product of the helter skelter nature in which Baylor plays, and part of that is his own mentality.
Jerrells is a bit undersized for an NBA point guard, but he makes up for that with his excellent quickness, which includes a very nice first step and solid ball-handling skills with either hand. He looks very comfortable running the pick and roll, which is a big staple of Baylor’s half-court offense. He’s a tough player who likes to take the ball strong to the rim and will finish through contact and draw a good amount of fouls. At times he looks spectacular with the moves he makes, like lightning in a bottle, and at times he looks completely out of control, over-penetrating and taking ill-advised shots early in the shot-clock.
Jerrells relies heavily on his 3-point shot as a source of offensive production—43% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, even though he shot just 33% from that range. More than any other player we can recall possibly in recent memory, nearly every shot he takes comes off the dribble—125/145 attempts according to Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified report. He gets great elevation on this shot, but is very streaky due to the degree of difficulty involved in shooting in this manner, as well as due to the fact that his release point is inconsistent—often shooting the ball on the way down. When attempting to shoot a stand-still jumper (on a kickout for example), Jerrells’ poor mechanics get truly exposed, as he brings the ball around the world from right to left with an awkward hitch, and thus takes a long time to get his shot off. Shooting off the dribble he is able to make this hitch much less pronounced, which is probably why he is so much more comfortable getting shots off in that fashion. There are serious question marks about how his shot will extend to NBA range, and whether he’ll be able to get it off at his size.
Defensively, he is not only undersized, but he’s also not all that intense on this side of the floor either, which puts him at a significant disadvantage when being viewed as a potential backup NBA point guard considering his shortcomings in other areas. He gambles a lot and seems to give up on plays too easily, and like a lot of offensive minded young players, it really doesn’t seem like playing defense has ever been a huge priority for him.
Regardless of his very obvious deficiencies, players like Jerrells are definitely capable of making the NBA, as he is very good at creating his own shot, and is a very instinctive scorer in general. He can also make some plays for others, especially on the drive and dish, and there is still room for him to improve on his defense, playmaking and shooting mechanics, which he’ll surely need to. He’s likely going to have to prove himself in settings like the NBA pre-draft camp first, though, unless Baylor has a really spectacular season, which is not out of the question considering their talent level.
After a promising freshman season, 6’1 combo-guard Curtis Jerrells came back strong again for Baylor as a sophomore, leading the guard-heavy team in points and assists, while improving his assist-to-turnover ratio and points per field goal attempted. Jerrells is both skilled, physically gifted and fairly versatile, with the biggest questions surrounding his game being if he can make a full transition to the point, or if he can make it in the NBA as a combo guard.
The left-handed Jerrells can beat the opposition in many ways on the offensive end, being equally skilled taking the ball to the basket and shooting from long range. Jerrells has an excellent combination of strength and quickness when taking the ball to the hole, and complements those attributes well with his good understanding of how to change speed and direction en route to the basket. He has a tight, low-to-the-ground handle, especially with his left hand, a nice array of crossover and spin moves, and he accelerates very well coming around the corner. Jerrells also does a very good job adjusting his shot in the lane, finishing with good touch around the rim, while taking contact well with his strong upper body. Jerrells’ only major flaws with his dribble-drive game are the lack of a strong floater in the lane and a tendency to dribble into trouble at times, sometimes forcing the issue with his own offense.
As for Jerrells’ outside shot, he has good form on his shot, has shown flashes of NBA range, and shot .365 on a high volume of shot attempts. Unlike most shooters, Jerrells actually seems to be more effective on the move, either pulling up for his own shot off the dribble or catching and shooting in transition, as opposed to taking spot-ups on kick-outs in the half-court. He has excellent body control and keeps his form fairly consistent when not shooting from a standstill, not tending to take many off-balanced, ill-advised attempts.
Overall, Jerrells plays a very aggressive style of offense, often looking for his own shot attempts first and foremost, while showing the same aggressiveness attacking the offensive boards, having a great second bounce around the basket.
Jerrells’ aggressiveness doesn’t always mesh well with his running of his team, though, as he doesn’t seem to have the greatest feel for managing an offense. Baylor had four lead guards seeing considerable time this season, oftentimes all on the floor at once, so this didn’t require Jerrells to play as a pure point guard, with him often being able to attack from the wing. Still, most of Jerrells’ assists came from finding open shooters in the flow of the offense, or making late dump-offs on drives in the lane, as opposed to looking to consistently create offense for teammates. Jerrells tends to hold onto the ball a lot and predominantly look for his own shot, which works well in Baylor’s situation, but doesn’t allow scouts to see what he’s fully capable of as a floor general.
Defensively, Jerrells doesn’t put in near the effort he does on the offensive end, and has a lot of room to improve. He doesn’t read pick-and-rolls especially well, and rarely fights hard through screens, which is also an issue when chasing his man without the ball. Overall, Jerrells isn’t very aggressive staying with his man without the ball, and sometimes drifts too far away, leaving his man open on the perimeter for a kick-out. His lateral quickness is also questionable, but it’s tough to tell if he is lacking in ability or effort there. Jerrells does show dynamic flashes as a weak-side defender, though, using his athleticism and length to disrupt opposing players.
There’s a possibility Jerrells could test the draft waters this season, with him having nothing to lose by playing his card as a Junior, and he could definitely make a splash at the pre-draft camps, which are very important for combo-guard with questionable point guard abilities. Jerrells is no sure thing to be drafted whenever he declares, but he is a very talented and physically gifted player who has potential as either a sparkplug scorer or a point guard in the NBA. Showing the same aggressive on defense that he shows on offense, and working on his point guard game, should be among his main priorities this season.
One of the biggest surprises in the country last season, Baylor soph Curtis Jerrells will team with fellow lead guards Aaron Bruce, Henry Dugat, and Tweety Carter to form one of the more explosive backcourts in the country this winter. Having a point guard presence like Bruce next to him clearly helped Jerrells' adjustment to the NCAA level, and he never really went through any growing pains. The only thing that will stop the sophomore lefty from emerging as a true Big XII superstar is the presence of his equally talented teammates.
There is no doubting that Jerrells is a bit undersized for an NBA point guard, but it looks like he does enough in other areas to make up for it. Jerrells plays very strong with the ball in his hands, and is a constant threat to attack off the dribble. He has very quick hands, which he puts to good use on both ends of the floor. Even when his explosive first step doesn't get him by a defender, a quick change of direction or pump fake almost always will. Jerrells does a great job of just getting his shoulder past an opponent, and being a lefty helps him get his shot off under duress.
The encouraging thing here is that while Jerrells is already overmatching Big XII opponents with his physicality and explosiveness, this has almost everything to do with his mentality and little to do with physical maturity. If he puts the work in, Jerrells can add a significant amount of power to his already impressive slashing forays into the lane.
Jerrells isn't quite there as a point guard, but did a great job in sharing the playmaking duties with Aaron Bruce. Generally speaking, Bruce will pass the ball up the court in fast break situations, while the more athletic Jerrells takes over when teams are able to set up a fullcourt press. Jerrells would rather create his own than create for others at this point, but that is fine considering Baylor's roster. The only gripe here is that he will get himself into trouble sometimes by hanging onto the ball too long, but it is rare to find a freshman PG that this beef doesn't apply to at some level. He does a decent job of seeing the court, and his quick hands/reflexes definitely help him as a floor general. Not even the best defenders in the conference were able to pressure Jerrells to much effect a season ago.
One more weapon in Jerrells' arsenal is a potent outside shot. He isn't required to carry his team offensively, but he is more than capable of doing such for stretches. Jerrells loves to spot up behind the arc on the break and gets tons of nice looks from Bruce. He really isn't bothered by a hand in his face, as he is very comfortable shooting from a variety of angles once he elevates. When he gets hot, Jerrells is definitely somebody that the defense has to pay attention to.
Jerrells can work on being more aggressive defensively, but his true on-ball defensive ability has yet to fully display itself. Baylor played a lot of zone last year, and the guards tended play more passively even when Drew employed an occasional halfcourt trap. Opposing offensive players still had to be constantly aware of Jerrells' presence on the court, or turnovers would ensue. With more depth and talent this season, it will be interesting to see if Drew utilizes Jerrells' natural strengths a bit more on the defensive end.
Jerrells is by no means a sure thing at this point, but the early returns are quite encouraging. The sophomore does a great job of playing under control at very high speeds, and the diversity to his offensive game is quite impressive. Jerrells also appears to play in a system that will allow him to play to his strengths, and grow as a prospect. There are other players in the Big XII that bear closer scrutiny this season, but expect Jerrells to be a big part of a major Baylor turnaround over the next three seasons. Don't be surprised if he ends up playing in the NBA someday.