Flying under the radar somewhat despite a productive freshman season exhibiting intriguing flashes of talent, Tarik Black
will look to establish himself on the national radar as a sophomore and build his credentials as a NBA draft prospect.
A bit undersized at 6-8, Black sports a NBA ready frame as a 19 year old to go along with very good mobility. He runs the floor well, plays above the rim regularly and is a fluid and agile big man, giving him plenty of room to grow into as a prospect.
Black has the bulk to establish deep post position and did so a pretty regular basis last season, despite not having the personnel needed to get him the ball in a position to score on a consistent basis. He does not possess a wide array of post moves at this stage, but isn't afraid to battle inside the paint and works extremely hard to carve out superior position, where his big, strong hands, improving footwork and propensity for finishing above the rim through contact can often do the rest.
He got to the free throw line at a pretty solid rate last year, even if he only converted 59% of his attempts once there.
In addition to his post presence, Black also crashes the offensive glass pretty well, pulling in a solid 4.6 offensive rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted. His agility, combined with his thick frame and quick bounce serves him well in this area, as he's explosive enough to follow teammates' misses with a put-back dunk without having to gather himself.
On the negative side, Black didn't show any type of face-up game as a freshman, being more of an undersized center than a true power forward as his height would indicate. He doesn't show anything in the way of ball-handling skills or a jump-shot, things he'll need to develop down the road if he's to become a more versatile offensive threat.
Defensively, Black shows good tools, but has plenty of room for improvement. On one hand he shows the combination of length, strength and mobility NBA teams covet at the power forward position, as he's agile enough to bend his knees and step out onto the perimeter, doing a pretty nice job hedging screens and staying with smaller players already as a freshman. Combine that with his thick frame and excellent motor and you've got the makings of a solid defender at the power forward position. Additionally he displays good timing as a weak-side shotblocker, posting a solid 2.7 blocks per-40 minutes last year.
On the other hand, Black clearly lacks experience and doesn't show the best awareness, often getting caught out of position and biting on pump fakes. He needs to do a better job using his body and being more physical and aggressive inside the paint, as he frequently gave up deep position inside to opposing post players last season, giving up high percentage looks and getting himself in foul trouble in turn.
Additionally, Black is a surprisingly mediocre defensive rebounder, grabbing more offensive rebounds than defensive, something that is pretty rare. His awareness for boxing out and pursuing loose balls doesn't appear to be the greatest, something he'll definitely need to improve on.
Like many freshmen, Black was very inconsistent from game to game last season, especially in Memphis' biggest games, where he typically struggled. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in that area this year.
All in all, Black is a player scouts will likely be keeping close tabs on this season. Players with his physical tools and intensity level are valued commodities in NBA frontcourts, particularly if he can continue to improve his skill-level and prowess on the defensive glass.