Massachusettss shot blocking menace Stephane Lasme
had another dominant performance in Tuesdays first round NIT match up with Alabama. The nations leading shot blocker nearly doubled his 5.4 blocks per game average, turning away 9 Crimson Tide shots. Had Lasme recorded one more block, it would have been the fifth time this season the athletic power forward reached double digits in blocks.
All season long Lasme has been wreaking havoc on opponents offenses inside the paint. His long reach and good leaping ability allow him to alter most shots that occur in his area. Add in his fantastic timing and it becomes clear why he has blossomed into one of the nations most feared interior defenders. Lasme also has above average lateral quickness for a post player which allows him to cut opponents off as the drive to the basket.
Offensively, Lasme had one of his best performances of the year against the Tide; he averages 13.5 points per game for the year. Like most super strong, raw post players, Lasme picks up a good percentage of his point off hitting the offensive glass. He is extremely tenacious on the boards, especially on the offensive end where he pulls down nearly 4 offensive rebounds a night. Lasme has such a strong, broad upper body, and explodes so well off the floor, that he simply overpowers most opponents in his ability to score off of rebounds.
Though he still relies mainly on his brute force in the post, Lasme is beginning to develop some basic touch around the basket. His go to move down low is his hook shot, but hes becoming better at using his pivot foot to get position when the first option is taken away. If forced off the block, he can knock down the occasional mid-range jump shot, or fall back on his pretty good first step and drive to the basket. No matter how he takes it to the basket, one thing is for sure, Lasme is a pretty efficient guy, as the power forward is shooting a stellar 62% from the field this year.
Some doubts start to creep in when referencing Lasmes size. At 6-8 and with his leaping ability, he just barely has the height to play power forward at the next level, but might be considered slightly undersized if he doesnt measure out exactly that tall. Offensively, he can be extremely mechanical at times when forced to do anything beyond the very basics, for example putting the ball on the floor once or shooting the ball when not completely set. He hasnt been playing basketball for that long, and you can definitely tell that in his lack of polish, particularly in his mediocre passing skills. Whats odd is that Lasme is already 24 years old, so some scouts might wonder just how much room he has left to continue to improve. The level of competition he faced in the A-10 this year wasnt exactly stellar, and Lasme has not dominated the conference except on the defensive end.
Despite this, Lasme shouldnt be counted out from being a pro player somewhere. Stellar defense is always a good way to get yourself noticed by pro scouts and he is one of the nations best defenders inside the paint. NBA coaches are usually looking for something very specific to bring off their bench in terms of skills, and Lasme has that with his hustle, defense and rebounding ability, as well as his attitude. Lasme certainly has the drive and the aggressiveness to wind up as a second round pick this summer, but he will to play well against better competition in Portsmouth and the pre-draft camp first.