|Team: Robert Morris|
H: 6' 5"|
W: 210 lbs
(30 Years Old)
|Agent: Andre Buck ||
High School: Hubbard
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Last time we checked in on Jeffers, he was fresh off a break-out showing at the 2009 D-League Showcase. The Chicago native didn't earn a call up to cap his tremendously productive rookie year, but after a brief stint in Italy and a successful sophomore campaign on a stacked Iowa Energy team, Jeffers saw action in 14 games for the Utah Jazz near the end of last season. Solidifying himself as one of the top call-up candidates once again this season, Jeffers impressed once more with his athleticism, toughness, and defensive intensity.
Many of the observations we made about Jeffers's offensive skill-set in our last report remain true at this point. He's a marginally improved catch and shoot threat, and has made some strides in his ability to shoot off the dribble, but he still has a lot of work to do on his ball-handling and perimeter scoring arsenal to make it a viable NBA tool, and didn't attempt many jumpers in the games we watched in South Padre.
At this juncture, most of Jeffers's points are the byproduct of his relentless hustle, quick first step, and physicality around the basket. He runs the floor with purpose in transition, isn't selfish with the when he sees an open teammate, and seeks out contact at the rim. Getting to the line 8.5 times per-game and pulling down 2.5 offensive boards, Jeffers epitomizes the bulldog mentality and team first attitude that coaches love.
That mentality is pivotal to Jeffers's success on the defensive end. Extremely active and capable of shutting down some of the NBADL's best wings in one-on-one situations, Jeffers is the type of player that clearly takes his responsibilities on the defensive end personally. A great rebounder and team defender, it is easy to understand why NBA teams take an interest in a player like Jeffers.
Standing just 6'5, Jeffers has made some strides towards becoming a full time wing, but he's still converting just 37.5% of his jump shots this season according to Synergy Sports Technology. Seeing a few extra spot-up possessions per-game, it will be important for Jeffers to continue honing that part of his game to give himself the opportunity to exploit all his other talents at a higher level. Regardless of his development as a true small forward, Jeffers will be a potential call-up candidate year-in and year-out because of the intensity he brings to both ends of the floor.
Going into this Showcase, we had Jeffers pegged as one of the players we needed to take a closer look at due to the fact that he is ranked #1 in the D-League in PER. Once again it was proven to us that John Hollinger definitely knows what he’s doing, because Jeffers really was a revelation here in Orem.
Standing 6-5, with a great build, an outstanding wingspan, and phenomenal athleticism, Jeffers clearly has NBA-level tools. He is extremely fast getting up and down the floor, is very explosive around the rim, and possesses an outstanding first step. He’s clearly still making the transition to playing on the wing full-time from his natural position of power forward, but definitely has the physical attributes to do so.
Jeffers is very aggressive looking to get to the basket, particularly in transition, where he really excels. He likes to face up from the elbow, where he can explode past his man with one dribble and finish tenaciously at the rim. He goes both left and right, showing good, though improvable ball-handling skills, but knows his limitations and does not turn the ball over. He picks his spots very efficiently—the main reason he’s shooting a ridiculous 61% from the field, and gets to the free throw line at a fantastic clip—8.5 times per-40 minutes. He’s extremely competitive, and certainly stood out as one of the hungrier players we saw, but is also a team-first type who did not get caught up in the selfish play that often plagues this league—often showing nice passing skills.
Jeffers’ biggest strength (besides his athleticism) clearly lies in his defense. He is incredibly tough and can absolutely smother opponents on the perimeter with his terrific combination of strength and length, taking great pride on this end of the floor. He gets in the passing lanes at an excellent rate, and is lightning quick getting out in transition. This activity level certainly translates to his work on the glass, where he is arguably the best rebounding wing player in the D-League, at nearly 10-boards per-40. He is especially impressive on the offensive glass, which is one of the main reasons he is so efficient from the field.
The part of his game that needs to improve the most is clearly his jump-shot. He’s currently not a threat at all to make shots from the perimeter, showing inconsistent shooting mechanics, with a release point way above his head, and very streaky range outside of 15 feet, both with his feet set and especially off the dribble. To really take his game to the next level, Jeffers must become at least a decent perimeter shooter, as he won't be able to get to the rim in the NBA or high-level Europe nearly as effectively as he does in the D-League.
Jeffers is a great example of why the D-League exists—a place to harbor under the radar prospects who for one reason or another fall off the radar. We had a chance to sit down with him and hear his startling story—which was chronicled in great depth in a piece by Marlen Garcia of USA today earlier this year. Jeffers played at Los Angeles Southwest Community College, at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and at NAIA-based Robert Morris, landing there after being shot in the thigh for trying to protect his sister from her abusive boyfriend.
To play in the NBA, Jeffers will have to significantly polish his skill-set and become a full-time 2/3. It’s not out of the question that someone falls in love with his outstanding toughness, athleticism and tenacity, but he needs to show that he will not be a liability offensively playing exclusively on the wing. There is no doubt that he put himself firmly on the radar screens of many franchises with his play, though, and is certainly someone to keep an eye on in the future.