A highly touted prep player, Dexter Strickland
had a decent freshman season, showing some of the unique talents that made him a tremendous high school player, but making the mistakes one would expect from a young guard as well. He struggled to play efficient basketball at times, but made it clear that he can already make an impact with his tremendous speed in the open floor. Strickland has a lot of improving to do, and faces stiff competition for minutes in UNC's young, but talented backcourt. His ability to improve in practice and take that adversity as a challenge will play a big role in his performance this season and his perception as a NBA prospect.
Despite struggling with his decision-making and not scoring with ideal efficiency, Strickland showed the ability to spark the fast break and push the ball up the floor in a hurry. Showing the same excellent speed and quickness we saw from him on the high school level, he was able to change the pace of the game with his aggressiveness, for better or worse. Lacking great size for a shooting guard, but flashing potential as a passer and great athletic tools, Strickland will need to refine his floor-game, improve his decision-making, and develop his outside shooting to become a more complete guard and define his position at the next level.
Stuck in-between the one and the two, Strickland is primarily a shoot-first player at this point, though his ability to get into gap and draw additional defensive attention allows him to make an occasional play for his teammates. Unfortunately, for every solid pass Strickland throws, he makes a few questionable decisions. Frequently driving into the teeth of the defense and often looking a bit out of control playing at the frenetic pace at which he likes to operate at, Strickland needs to find a balance between the speed he plays at and his decision-making. He didn't get to run the pick-and-roll much last season, and it will be interesting to see where he fits this coming season with an outstanding pure point-guard in Kendall Marshall
coming into the fold this coming season.
Whether Strickland winds up playing on or off the ball, he's going to make his mark in transition. The key for him moving forward will be improving his skill set to become more versatile and effective when the game slows down. Last season he struggled to convert jump shots and finishing opportunities in half court settings, shooting just 31% from the field in half court situations as opposed to 63% in transition according to Synergy Sports Technology. An excellent leaper, Strickland still needs to add some strength and could definitely stand to be a bit less fancy when he attempts to score at the basket.
In the same regard, Strickland will need to hone his jump shooting ability to improve his efficiency. Prone to taking some questionable shots early in the shot clock, he looks uncomfortable knocking down catch and shoot jumpers from the perimeter. He tends to short-arming his release, even when he has space, and takes some tough shots with a hand in his face. His ability to become a capable shooter will open up his floor game considerably. He showed that he could get the rim in isolation situations when he put his mind to it, but could be a force if defenders had to respect his range.
Defensively, Strickland already has the tools to be a highly effective stopper. His outstanding speed allows him to effectively defend the point guard position as well as shorter shooting guards, but he still needs to add weight and improve his focus to ease his transition to the next level. Prone to over--committing in help side and looking a bit lost at times, Strickland's quickness allows him to make an impact in the passing lanes, and with added weight and more experience he could become a tremendous defensively prospect.
Even if Strickland improves his frame, at the end of the day, his ability to define his position at the next level with have more to do with his draft stock than anything else. Just a sophomore, Strickland has plenty of time to improve and tons of tools to work with. Though he may need to change his mentality offensively, which is a difficult thing for any young guard to do, Strickland will be a player to keep an eye on as he tries to earn minutes on a talented UNC roster.