Few sophomores can lay claim to winning runner-up honors for the Player of the Year award in a strong league such as the Missouri Valley Conference, and Osiris Eldridge
happens to be one of them. The 6-3 shooting guard could be on the verge of establishing himself as a legit NBA draft prospect in his third season of college basketball, largely due to his combination of productivity and outstanding physical tools.
Eldridge looks the part of an NBA guard, minus a couple of inches presumably. He sports a strong, muscular frame and is an impressive athlete to boot, showing an excellent first step, terrific body control, and nice explosiveness finishing plays around the rim. He finished just a tenth of a point behind Drakes Josh Young as the top scorer in the conference last season, averaging a solid 15.8 points in 31 minutes per game, playing for one of the slowest paced teams in college basketball.
The main source of Eldridges production comes via his jump-shot at the moment48% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc last season. He made a solid 38.5% of them, while shooting a somewhat pedestrian 43% from the field overall. Eldridge has nice mechanics on his jumper, albeit a fairly slow release. He can make tough shots from well beyond the college arc, and is capable of converting off the dribble as well.
Thanks to his strength and overall athleticism, Eldridge is also very much a dangerous threat creating his own shot at getting to the basket as well, where he can finish strong and creatively (sometimes with a powerful dunk), even if he still has significant room to improve on this part of his game.
Eldridge tends to bully his way to the basket rather than utilizing advanced ball-handling moves or an ability to change speeds. He dribbles the ball too high and does not do a great job of changing directions once he begins to make his move. His left-hand is almost non-existent at the moment, both in terms of creating and finishing, and he would be well served working on his mid-range game, as it would benefit him to be able to create separation for himself with his pull-up jumper to avoid the length and athleticism that NBA big men are known for inside the paint. Eldridge gets to the free throw line at a somewhat average rate, and only converts on 73% of his attempts once there.
Standing just 6-3, Eldridge is currently more of a 2/3 than he is a legit combo guard. He sports a negative assist to turnover ratio, and still struggles with his decision making skills at times, looking a little too trigger happy and not always quite knowing his limitations. This isnt a shock considering his sophomore status, but teams will likely want to see him develop his playmaking skills and be able to spend at least a few minutes at the point when needed, as defensively he is already undersized for the shooting guard spot.
On a positive note, he does not seem like a selfish player, as he sees the court at least relatively well and is capable of making some plays for others, even if its clear that his mentality right now is to look first and foremost for his own shot. Watching some film of a player he somewhat resembles in Rodney Stuckey
might benefit him.
One of the best things about Eldridge as a prospect is the toughness and aggressiveness he brings to the floor, not a surprise considering his upbringing on the South Side of Chicago. This comes to play particularly on the glass, where Eldridge stands out as one of the top rebounding shooting guards in college basketball, pulling down just under 8 per game, per-40 minutes pace adjusted. Its not rare to see him elevate well out his area and ferociously pluck a rebound out of the air. The trademark Mohawk he sports is obviously not just for show.
Unfortunately this same scrappiness does not seem to translate itself to the defensive end, at least not in the games we saw at least. His fundamentals appear to be fairly poor here, looking very upright in his stance and seemingly exerting very little effort into staying in front of his man. He gambles excessively for steals and often looked out of position in the possessions we observed, something that will have to change significantly if hes to stand any chance at making the NBA down the road. Considering his lack of size, most teams would likely be able to project him defending both guard spots eventually, while right now he doesnt seem to be able to guard even one.
Illinois State was one of the last teams left out of the NCAA tournament last season, something that they will obviously be looking to change this time around. A somewhat weak out of conference schedule wont help matters much, but the Redbirds will have the chance to earn their spot through the perpetually tough Missouri Valley conference.