2014 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day TwoApril 18, 2014
Markel Starks – 6-2, Point Guard, Georgetown
16 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 6-12 FGs (0-1 3FGs)
Starks shined as one of the PIT's best guards on day two, getting into the lane at will and creating for his teammates while defending his position extremely well. The 6' 2” shifty guard used his advanced handle, quickness and ability to change speeds to get into the lane and finish with an array of floaters and pull-up jumpers. The former Georgetown Hoya is very adept at breaking his man down in one-on-one situations, evident by his isolation numbers as a senior (1.14 PPP on 84 possessions). Because of his size and stature Starks isn't a great finisher and doesn't do a great job getting all the way to the rim, but his ability to drop in floaters in the lane (0.84 PPP) certainly helps his cause. He's very crafty inside the paint and can stop on a dime as his defender flies by him.
Although not the most pure point guard around, Starks did a solid job running the show and making plays for his teammates. He can be a bit erratic at times, but he's very quick with the ball in transition and possesses solid court vision both in the open floor and in the half court.
While he does a great job getting in the lane, Starks has his inconsistencies as an outside shooter. He shows promise with solid mechanics (87.0 FT%) and a good mid-range game (0.86 PPP off the dribble) but needs to increase his range to be consistently effective from the international or NBA 3-point line. Starks did shoot 41.7% from 3 his junior season at Georgetown before dipping to 32.6% as a senior, so there's certainly something to work with there.
On the defensive end Starks is very engaged and active both on and off the ball. He does an excellent job pressuring the ball and using his body to contain penetration despite his slight build. Starks is very quick laterally and showed a willingness to defend with energy and intensity. In addition to his on ball defense, Starks did a lot of little things off the ball that a lot of guards don't regularly do, stunting (or bluffing) at shooters and clogging or digging off of his man and recovering on the pass.
Overall Starks is an intriguing prospect because of his athleticism, ability to create in one-on-one situations, play the pick and roll, make shots, and defend both on and off the ball. He'll need to continue to improve his decision-making and shooting consistency, but he should be in consideration for a summer league and vet camp invite with potential to make an NBA roster either this summer or down the road.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East, Part Five (#11-15) October 11, 2013
After winning a starting role at the beginning sophomore season (2011-2012), Markel Starks struggled in the second half of the season and eventually lost his starting position to future lottery pick Otto Porter, then a freshman.
Starks returned to Georgetown for his junior season once again with a starting job in hand. This time, he was able to maintain his effectiveness throughout the season and hold onto his starting job and becoming one of Georgetown's key players.
Starks' game has grown considerable over his three seasons at Georgetown, a steady progress of refinement and development. After playing under 10 minutes his freshman season, Starks saw that climb to over 24 per game his sophomore season, and finally to over 34 minutes per game this past year, where he started every game for the first time in his college career. With that increase in playing time came an increase in role, and Starks' scoring output climbed from a minuscule 6.5 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted to 15.7 this past season.
Starks has turned himself into a deadly catch and shoot player. This has always been a strength of his, but he took it to another level this past season. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Starks shot 41.6% on catch and shoot opportunities, generating 1.248 points per possession, better than 87% of collegiate players and an improvement over the already formidable 1.048 points per possession he achieved as a sophomore. He is especially deadly on the rare chances he gets an unguarded look, shooting nearly 47% and generating over 1.4 points per possession. Starks has outstanding form on his catch and shoot jump shots, starting with his excellent footwork and balance. Doing an abundance of work before receiving the pass, Starks is able to rise up quickly, with an incredibly short, repeatable stroke featuring excellent follow through and elevation.
Besides further refining himself as a catch and shoot threat, Starks also went to considerable length to diversify himself as a scorer. This best manifested itself in the pick and roll game. Starks appears much more comfortable shooting off the dribble than he has in year's past, which combined with his NBA three point range presents a tough challenge to defend off the pick and roll. He has a tight, low dribble that he's able to change direction with relative ease and solid quickness, and he is able to use the attention defenses give him off the pick and roll to get into the paint. Once there, Starks has decent body control and touch, but at 6'2" and without great explosiveness around the hoop, he struggles to finish through length down low. He does, however, combat this somewhat through a series of floaters and runners in the lane, which he has good touch on.
Another area where Starks could show some potential down the line is coming off screens. While his effectiveness off of screens was not as high as you may have expected considering his otherwise excellent shooting ability – Synergy has him at 0.757 points per possession, which is less efficient than nearly two-thirds of college players – his form does not appear to be an issue. Overall, he doesn't run off of screens all that much, and with more repetition, this may be an area where he could improve in.
Georgetown's methodical Princeton style offense and abundance of ball-handlers certainly played a role in Starks' pedestrian assist totals, which at 3.7 assists per 40 pace adjusted and a -0.15 pure passer rating both rank below average compared with other point guard prospects. While Starks doesn't appear to possess incredible court vision, he has grown as a passer, particularly out of pick and roll sets, something that should lend itself well as he continues to make that a larger part of his game outside of Georgetown's rigid system.
Defensively is where Starks' biggest question marks come into play. Standing a shade under 6'2", with a relatively small wingspan and a slight build, it's hard to find a position where Starks can adequately defend, especially if you don't have faith in his ability to run an offense improving greatly from here on out. He doesn't have the size to compete at the shooting guard position at the next level, and would struggle against many of the quicker point guards in the league. He also tends to struggle fighting through pick and rolls, something he will have to improve at.
Starks has shown marked improvement each year he's been at Georgetown, and with Otto Porter Jr. lost to the NBA draft, he will have to continue to grow for Georgetown. Starks has improved his skill set considerably during his time in college, and if he can show additional development in his point guard skills, he should garner some looks from NBA teams.
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