Top NBA Prospects in the ACC, Part 8: Prospects #12-16
October 23, 2014
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 scorer—which 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. [Read Full Article]
Top NBA Prospects in the AAC, Part Four: (#11-15)
October 25, 2013
Spending all but the final 15 games of his freshman year out of action while rehabbing a shoulder injury, Wayne Blackshear emerged as a key roleplayer for Louisville as a sophomore, contributing 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per-game as the eventual National Champions' starting small forward. A former top-25 recruit and McDonald's All-American, the Illinois-native will face a unique challenge this season as he'll need to continue growing as a player while helping fill the void left by the indefinite suspension of Chane Behanan.
Standing 6'5 with a 6'10 wingspan, Blackshear has solid size for a wing prospect, buts it is his athleticism and 230-pound frame that make him a prime candidate to slide over to the power forward spot at times in Behanan's absence. On the heavy side for a wing, his combination of strength, explosiveness, and perimeter skills should make him a mismatch threat when Louisville goes small.
Though Louisville's prolific guards will once again be the engine that drives Rick Pitino's offense, Blackshear should see more opportunities to make his presence felt on the offensive end than he did last season, when he used just 7.6 possessions per-game according to Synergy Sports Technology. Playing a role predicated on his ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot and use his athleticism in transition and as a finisher in the half court, Blackshear scored an impressive 1.003 points per-possession, but was seldom asked to create offense on his own as evidenced by his 1.2 turnovers and assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted.
Looking ahead, it will be Blackshear's ability to earn and make the most of opportunities to create his own offense that will play a key role in his long-term development. Last season, Blackshear averaged just 14.9 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted, ranking outside the top-50 small forward prospects in our database. He is a good, not great shooter, both off the catch and off the bounce in limited opportunities, though he still has room to improve his consistency. With 77% of his shot attempts in the half court coming from the perimeter, Blackshear doesn't create many opportunities around the rim, but his ability to take contact and finish inside the paint helped him shoot a terrific 65% in close last season.
With Russ Smith still around and Chris Jones entering the fold, it seems somewhat unlikely that Blackshear will be the Cardinals' first option at any point in the coming seasons, but if he can show improvement in his ball-handling ability and add overall polish to his offensive repertoire, he can still boost his stock in a complementary role. Blackshear's willingness to play within himself and fill a role for the betterment of his team will make it interesting to monitor where he stands within Louisville's scoring hierarchy in the coming years.
Blackshear showed improvement as a defender as a sophomore, looking more comfortable in Louisville's pressure-heavy man and zone schemes. Staying active, getting a good stance, and possessing good lateral quickness, Blackshear struggles to get over screens and stay in front of smaller players at times, but his effort and focus help him more than hold his own at the college level as well as make an impact crashing the boards. Blackshear is often too aggressive on this end of the floor, ranking second among small forwards in fouls per-40 minutes pace adjusted. He'll need to do a better job staying out of foul trouble so he'll be able to fill the more prominent role he'll be asked to fill as a junior.
Though Blackshear has yet to make the same splash some of his highly touted peers in the high school class of 2011 have, his efficient play has made him a valuable cog on one of the nation's best teams. Whether he gets the opportunity to play a significantly bigger role in the program's success in the coming two seasons remains to be seen. There's little questioning that he has the tools to play at the next level should he become a more polished player over that period, and it will be worth keeping a close eye on how his role evolved for the defending National Champions as a junior. [Read Full Article]
McDonald's All American Game Interviews/Practice Highlights, Part Two
One of the top seniors playing at this event, Wayne Blackshear (#12 Scout, #32 Rivals, #18 ESPN) did not disappoint, coming back admirably from multiple injuries to lead his team to victory over a highly touted Garfield high school team.
A physically impressive wing player standing 6-5 with long arms and an absolutely chiseled frame, Blackshear is a very good athlete who also shows a nice skill-set and seemingly superb intangibles.
Offensively, Blackshear is not the most polished player you'll find, but is still able to put points on the board efficiently with his ability to score in transition and polished jump-shot.
In the open court, Blackshear is effective thanks to his terrific combination of strength and explosiveness, looking more than capable of overpowering defenders on his way to the rim and finishing impressively once there.
In the half-court, he has a very nice jump-shot that he's capable of converting both with his feet set and off the dribble. He's not a great shot-creator at this point, looking somewhat limited with his advanced ball-handling skills, but is a very unselfish player who is both willing and able to find the open man.
Defensively is where Blackshear will likely be able to make his mark the fastest at the college level. He not only has great tools to work with his excellent frame and lateral quickness, but is also a highly competitive player who shows no qualms whatsoever about sticking his nose into get the job done.
Even when battling a very painful knee injury he suffered early in the game we took in, Blackshear was still looking to slide into the paint and attempt to draw an offensive foul, something you rarely see from such a highly touted prospect at this level. He does good work for all these same reasons on the glass on both ends of the floor, picking up his team plenty of extra possessions along the way.
Blackshear is exactly the type of player college coaches dream of adding to their roster, as he's not just a winner but is extremely talented on top of that. There's little doubt that he'll come into Louisville and be able to contribute right away, even if he needs to continue to mature, gain experience, and improve his feel for the game and all-around polish, like all young players do.
Initial High School Player Scouting Reports, Part Two
August 22, 2009
It was tough to tell too much about this very highly touted young wing player in the AAU setting, as his team plays way too fast for their own good, and Blackshear (#12 Scout, #18 Rivals, #17 ESPN) looked pretty comfortable taking a backseat to some of his older teammates.
Blackshear has prototypical physical tools for a wing player, which is where most of the intrigue around him likely stems from. He’s extremely smooth in the open court, showing nice ability to change speeds and get to the basket, where he can absolutely explode and throw down some monster dunks. Combine that with his good size and a frame that will put on weight, and you have a pretty interesting prospect.
Offensively he shows a very nice stroke from the mid-range area, pulling up smoothly off the dribble, and creating great separation from his defender. He loses accuracy when he steps outside the 3-point line, though, and will settle for bad shots from time to time. He made some very nice passes in the games we saw, but have been a little too passive at times, looking far too comfortable blending in, and showing a distinct lack of aggressiveness. He made some extremely impressive plays from time to time, but then disappeared for long stretches.
Defensively, Blackshear has all the tools to be very effective, and should be able to develop into a very good defender at the collegiate level, as long as he’s willing to put the effort in, which wasn’t always the case when we saw him.