As we noted during our last write-up, Wayne Blackshear came to Louisville a highly touted recruit, ranking 21st in his class in the RSCI rankings during his senior season, and a McDonald's All-American. While Blackshear was a solid contributor on the 2013 NCAA Championship squad, he has yet to rise to the level individually that many expected.
For the most part, that continued to be true during his junior season as well. Blackshear actually saw his minutes drop slightly last season, from 20.1 minutes during his sophomore season to 19.6 during his junior year. He remained an important contributor on another deep, talented, and successful Louisville team, but remained a role player.
Blackshear saw a very modest uptick in his per-minute scoring, now up to 16.1 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted, from 14.9 during his sophomore season. Still, having used only 17.5% of Louisville's possessions while he was on the court last season, Blackshear remains one of the lower usage wing prospects.
Offensively, Blackshear's largest contribution remains as a set shooter, and he showed significant improvement in his consistency in this regard. Blackshear shot 39.5% from three point range on 3.2 attempts per game, which makes up over 50% of his overall field goal attempts. Blackshear does a good job with his footwork and positioning before the catch, and has a nice, compact shooting stroke that looks far more consistently repeatable than it was in years past.
Blackshear's other contributions remain largely off the ball, with a combination of cuts to the basket, transition opportunities, and offensive rebounds. On the break, Blackshear is able to either fill the lanes or act as a trailer on the fast break. He's able to finish around the hoop, and is a strong offensive rebounder for somebody who plays about half of his minutes at small forward, playing alongside big men Stephan Van Treese and Harrell. He's able to convert well around the hoop due to his quick jump off of two feet along with his well-developed upper body, and he's able to absorb and finish through contact well for somebody who projects as a wing player at the next level.
Blackshear still remains fairly unrefined as a shot creator. He is able to get into the lane at times, including the use of a good pump fake to get by his initial man, and he has shown some signs of a step back jumper, but overall his ball handling remains fairly basic. While his role with Louisville has largely not demanded that he create frequently for either himself or his teammates, showing the ability to do so this season would help decision makers determine his ultimate upside.
On the defensive side of the court, Blackshear continues to use his physical attributes to his advantage. He has a well-defined upper body with a 6'10.5 wingspan, which should allow him to defend small forwards at the next level, despite measuring in at only 6'5 in shoes. He's done a much better job of being consistently engaged on the defensive side of the court, and maintains a good stance with a low center of gravity, using his length to pester ball handlers on the perimeter. He also looks to be doing a better job of understanding team defensive concepts, doing a much better job of picking the right times to help off the ball. He still continues to pick up fouls too frequently, as he committed 4.6 fouls per 40 minutes pace adjusted, and must do a better job controlling his aggressive defense so he can stay on the court for longer periods of time.
Louisville has had very deep teams over the past few seasons, ranking in the top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency each of the last two seasons. While Blackshear's willingness to play the role Louisville needs, and his ability to improve in the facets of the game necessary to be effective in that role, are positive traits when talking about his work ethic and team-first mentality, this makes it relatively difficult to evaluate Blackshear's ultimate upside. With the departure of Russ Smith, there will be more shot creation opportunities in the Louisville offense. We know that Wayne Blackshear can play the role of spot-up shooter, defender, and transition scorerwhich is the type of player NBA teams are increasingly fond of--but it would be interesting to see how well he has advanced as a shot creator as well.