With a stellar recruiting class coming in this season, Bruce Pearls Tennessee Volunteers look to be the toast of the SEC. The veterans are not half bad either, led by lottery hopeful Tyler Smith
, point forward J.P. Prince
, 610 center Brian Williams, and perhaps most importantly, junior power forward Wayne Chism
. Chism made notable strides last season in terms of diversifying his offensive game and, with more consistency this coming year, could emerge as one of the better big men in the SEC. Whether or not he is an NBA prospect at this point is unclear, but with more spotlight in Knoxville this year, he will have all of the opportunities in the world to prove himself as one.
Standing at what looks to be a legitimate 69 with a good frame, Chism certainly looks the collegiate part. In terms of the NBA, he is an inch or two shorter than the prototypical power forward and it looks as though he could spend some time in the weight room before taking the next step. While he has decent quickness for the post, however, he is a fairly underwhelming leaper . By no means a bad athlete, it regardless wont be his natural physical tools that force NBA scouts to give him a second look.
Offensively, there is a lot to like about Chism and a lot to dislike. Having made his reputation as a face-up power forward, his percentages leave much to be desired, as last year he regressed to shooting just 32.2% from the beyond the arc on 2.5 attempts per game. Chism has a very quick release and usually shows a high release point that allows him to get his shot off against most post defenders at the collegiate level. The problem, however, are his mechanics, which can be described as erratic at best. Watching his shots bounce off of the rim or off of the backboard, it is clear he needs to work on releasing the ball the same way every time, making sure that his form is consistent, not rushing his attempts, cleaning up his footwork, as well as working on going up straight while shooting instead of jumping into his shot. According to Synergy, jump-shots account for 35% of his offense, so it is absolutely essential that he showcases a more consistent jumper next season.
While most collegiate jump-shooting post men are allergic to the post, one of the nicer aspects to Chisms offensive arsenal is that he has shown some promise in this area. He has good hands and his touch around the basket is rapidly improving, which despite his shoddy percentages (i.e. 47% FG) allow him to do a decent amount of damage in the post. His quickness and developing footwork make his back to the basket game quite moderately effective at this level, as he relies on turnaround jumpers, jump-hooks, and the occasional offensive rebound and put back for a majority of his post scoring.
There is some concern about how this part of his game might translate to the next level, though, as he is not very strong, nor particularly explosive or tough around the basket, which may hinder him competing against NBA caliber big men. He struggles to finish around the basket already at this level on occasion, blowing more shots around the rim than youd hope for considering his size.
The other problems that face Chism offensively, though, are very clear. For one, he shoots an abysmal 56% from the foul line, which is certainly problematic considering his reputation as a shooter. He also rarely puts the ball on the floor to beat his defender off the dribble, which is a very strong indictment of his lack of ball-handling abilities. Considering that he is not going to wow NBA scouts in any other specific category, it is up to Chism to put in the work to developing the complete offensive arsenal of a face-up power forward. If he can show flashes of such skills this year, he should get some attention from scouts.
Defensively, Chism has a lot of work to do. For one, he is quite foul prone, averaging 3.0 fouls per game in just 22.4 minutes per game. He gets a majority of these fouls because of his habit of gambling on passes and then overly compensating in the aftermath. His lack of awareness certainly plays a role in his defensive woes as he does his inability to guard men in the post with his body rather than his hands. He shows a lot of potential due to his above average lateral quickness and his size, but he will have to improve next season if he wants to get onto the NBA radar.
It is important to remember that Chism did not even average 10 points per game and he did so on less than 50% shooting from the field. He is very much a developing prospect and in the next year it is essential that he show that he is still improving and diversifying his offensive game and overall feel. Chism has some talent and potential, but he has a long way to go before maximizing his abilities. Next year, however, has to be a step in the right direction if he wants a shot at getting drafted.