NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/10/10

NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/10/10
Feb 10, 2010, 05:19 pm
Updated scouting reports on Kansas' Xavier Henry, Texas' Jordan Hamilton, Colorado's Alec Burks and Texas-Arlington's Marquez Haynes.

Xavier Henry, 6’6, SG/SF, Freshman, Kansas
13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.2 turnovers, 43% FG, 39% 3PT, 77% FT

Joseph Treutlein

After a very hot start to his freshman campaign, Xavier Henry has cooled off quite a bit as conference season has gotten underway. He stills remains among the best freshman in his class, being a steady contributor as a starter for the #1 ranked Jayhawks.

From a physical standpoint, Henry has a very well-built frame, especially mature considering he’s still only 18 years old. Athletically, he is a good but not great athlete, not having outstanding quickness or vertical explosiveness around the basket, but still enough to probably be considered average for a wing at the NBA level, while also possessing great coordination and body control.

Henry started off the season incredibly strong from three-point range, making over 50% of his attempts for a good portion of the season. His shooting accuracy has come down to earth a bit as conference play has begun,though, as he’s made just 13 of his last 49 3-point attempts over his last 10 games.

Shooting the ball, Henry has a high and quick release and is very accurate when spotting up, even with a hand in his face. Pulling up off the dribble, he’s not nearly as effective, however, as he isn’t particularly fluid transitioning from dribble to shot, and this leads to problems when contested in these situations, although he is at least respectable pulling up when given space.

As a scorer, Henry relies heavily on his three-point shot, with nearly half of his overall attempts coming from behind the arc, almost all of the spot-up variety. Henry is limited in what he can contribute in isolation situations, as he has very little in the line of advanced ball-handling skills, appears to have just an adequate first step with the ball, and really doesn’t even show much confidence or initiative pursuing straight-line drives to the basket (something that may very well make his first step appear worse than it is capable of being).

While Henry isn’t a prolific shot creator in isolation situations, he does do an good job creating for others within the flow of the offense, being a very heady and willing passer, frequently making drive-and-dump and drive-and-kick passes off his cuts to the basket, doing a very good job keeping his head up and passing on the move. Henry is a smart and unselfish player in general, and definitely understands playing within the team concept and not forcing the issue much with the weaker areas of his game.

When Henry does get to the basket, he does a decent job finishing in spite of underwhelming vertical explosiveness, showing good body control and touch, though he could do a better job throwing his body around to draw contact. He may have more problems with this area of the game in the pros, however, though the fact that he has somewhat of a floater in his arsenal bodes well for him and is something he should continue working on.

On the defensive end, Henry puts in pretty good effort and shows a solid fundamental stance in perimeter man-to-man defense, but laterally he just doesn’t seem to have the foot speed to stay in front of quicker guards, making it questionable if he can be a shooting guard defensively in the pros. Despite being just a touch undersized for a small forward at 6’6, Henry does do a much better job against slower, bigger opponents, being able to stay in front of them and use his length to contest shots, making it more likely to see him project as a 3 in the pros, which also makes sense given his underdeveloped ball-handling skills.

Looking forward, Henry clearly has two NBA skills in his three-point shooting and passing, while his team-oriented approach will certainly be appealing to teams, but with only a year spent in college and not much to show for it in terms of shot creating abilities, teams will have a tough time gauging his learning curve to see if that’s something he’s likely to develop down the road. Henry’s attitude and approach to the game are definitely reassuring in this regard, but if he only projects as a role playing wing who can’t create his own shot (and there are questions about which position he is best suited to guard), teams may be hesitant to draft earlier than the later portion of the lottery at best, though there are likely many playoff teams who would be happy to see him fall.

Jordan Hamilton, 6-7, Freshman, Small Forward, Texas
9.3 Points, 3.2 Rebounds, 1.6 Assists, 1.2 Turnovers, 40% FG, 37% 3FG, 64% FT

Matthew Williams

One if the top recruits at his position in the country last season, Jordan Hamilton enrolled at Texas billed as a natural scorer with a good jump shot. While he’s certainly shown the ability to light up the scoreboard, his freshman campaign has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride.

After scoring a career high 27 points on 11-16 from the field in merely 19 minutes against Oklahoma State a little over a week ago, Hamilton came up with just 8 points in a 3-15 effort in a loss at Oklahoma a few days later. His play in that stretch was a microcosm of the season he’s had, and while he’s shown some major flaws in his game, Hamilton’s merits as a scorer certainly have the attention of NBA decision-makers.

From a physical standpoint, Hamilton is not the most intriguing physical specimen, as he isn’t a freak athlete, but his blend of size and scoring instincts are pretty impressive. Hamilton is more smooth than explosive, and while he displays good speed in the open floor, his lateral quickness leaves a bit to be desired defensively. At 6’7, and possessing some promising offensive tools, Hamilton’s athleticism will never be his calling card, but will be something to keep an eye on whenever he makes the transition to the next level.

The tools that Hamilton displays offensively at this juncture lie primarily in his ability to hit catch and shoot jumpers with his feet set. Nearly 73% of his shots are jumpers according to Synergy Sports Technology, and while he only makes a mediocre 34.3% of such shots, there are some specific situations where he excels. Hamilton is a tremendously consistent shooter when he’s left open in spot up situations–displaying very sound shooting form in the process. When given time and space, he is lights out.

However, his tendencies to pull up off the dribble and take questionable jumpers with a hand in his face severely limit his ability to be an efficient scorer. He’s prone to making rather selfish decisions with the ball as it stands, and will need to make some major adjustments to his shot selection and overall approach to the game moving forward.

When he isn’t looking for a chance to hoist up a perimeter shot, Hamilton displays an adequate first step and the ability to get to the rim off the bounce periodically. He doesn’t handle the ball that well with his left hand, though, and remains too eager to pull up when he sees space. At the rim, Hamilton is capable due to his creativity getting shots up on the rim, but he’s not spectacular, doesn’t draw contact at a good rate, and will need to either hone his midrange game or improve at the rim to reach his potential moving forward.

Defensively, Hamilton displays a decent activity level, making an effort to close out shooters, displaying active hands, and not backing down from a challenge one-on-one. If Hamilton can improve his fundamentals, put a consistent effort in at all times, and gain experience, he could become a solid defensive player at this level despite his lack of excellent lateral quickness. Whether those adjustments will afford him any type of success in NBA is something that will impact his perception as a prospect whenever he declares.

The roller coaster ride that has been Jordan Hamilton’s season isn’t over yet, and if he can string together some solid games down the stretch, they could go a long way towards improving his stock. He obviously has some NBA caliber tools, but his mentality offensively; coupled with his lack of efficiency and playmaking ability, seem to indicate that Hamilton could use a second season under Rick Barnes at Texas. Whether he opts to stay in school or declares for this year’s draft, Hamilton is a player to keep an eye on, as with a few adjustments, he could become an intriguing pro.

Alec Burks, 6-6, Freshman, Shooting Guard / Small Forward, Colorado
16.8 Points, 4.8 Rebounds, 1.7 Assists, 1.8 Turnovers, 1.2 Steals, 53% FG, 31% 3FG, 79% FT

Matthew Williams

An unheralded recruit from Grandview, Missouri, Alec Burks has been one of the biggest revelations of this season’s freshman class. After signing with Colorado in the November signing period back in 2008, Burks went on to win the Gatorade Player of the Year Award in Missouri, and has parlayed the development he showed that season into an extremely productive rookie campaign for Jeff Bzdelik’s Buffaloes. Not ranked by any of the major high school recruiting services, Burks is amongst the leading freshman scorers in our database and has emerged as a legitimate long-term draft prospect.

From a physical standpoint, there’s a lot to like about what Burks brings to the table. He stands 6’6 with a rangy frame that complements his long strides and solid leaping ability extremely well in the open floor. An exceptionally smooth athlete, Burks definitely needs to add some weight to his still skinny frame to improve his defensive potential, but already shows some promising physical tools that will only improve if he takes the time to develop his explosiveness during the offseason.

Burks’ physical profile and ability to play with pace have helped him make an immediate splash in fast break situations. With nearly 30% of his offense coming in transition according to Synergy Sports Technology, Burks’ combination of length, assertiveness, and ability to side step defenders make him adept at filling the lane in transition, creating an angle, and initiating contact. Burks gets fouled quite a bit in transition, and his willingness to take contact at the rim despite his skinny frameranks him 25th in our database in free throw attempts per-40 minutes pace adjusted.

When he isn’t leaking out to exploit defenders in transition, Burks finds his way to the rim in a variety of other ways. Capable of putting the ball on the floor in one-on-one situations to position himself to jump into his defender and get to the line, Burks needs to shore up his ball-handling ability to better exploit his body control and natural scoring instincts in the lane. He’s good at using subtle changes of pace and direction to create scoring opportunities, but needs to add some things to his game to prepare himself for the next level. A capable one-on-one player, Burks doesn’t work extremely hard moving around the perimeter on a play-by-play basis, but seems to understand spacing, crashes the glass well, and often finds himself in the right place at the right time around the basket.

While Burks has found instant success scoring at the rim, as evidenced by his 27 and 21-point efforts against Missourri and Texas respectively, he lacks the outside shooting ability that would make him a truly dynamic offensive threat. Capable of hitting shots when he can string together a few rhythm dribbles in place, Burks lacks fluidity in his long, slow release, doesn’t elevate well on all of his attempts, and subsequently isn’t a major threat to attempt or make many three pointers, hitting just 31%. Though he does show a high release point and compensates with a decent floater, which he often turns to in favor of stop-and-pop jumpers from the midrange, his ability to improve his shooting form will be key to future success.

Defensively, Burks is able to help his team on the glass and in the passing lanes with his big wingspan and pesky hands, but is very much still learning the game. Clearly not well versed in the aggressive type of defense Jeff Bzdelik wants from his players, Burks doesn’t get low on the defensive end, fails to make crisp rotations, and lacks the physical strength to keep his man away from the basket consistently. Burks definitely has his moments defending the ball one-on-one, flashing some lateral quickness on occasion, his fundamentals limit his ability to make the impact that he’s capable of having on the defensive end.

Displaying excellent body language on the court for a true freshman, Alec Burks has come a long way from the days when he was struggling to garner high major attention as a prep. If his improvement in the last year and a half is any indication of the trajectory of his career, there’s no question that he’ll improve his outside shooting and defensive intensity. If Burks can shore up his scoring from the midrange and perimeter, he’ll have the chance to climb up draft boards. Considering that he’s a true freshman, he’ll have all the time in the world to take those steps, making him a player worth keeping an eye on for the future.

Marquez Haynes, 6-3, Senior, PG/SG, Texas Arlington
24.7 points, 3.8 assists, 3.8 turnovers, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 50% FG, 44% 3P, 75% FT

Jonathan Givony

A bit role player and defensive specialist in his two years at Boston College, Marquez Haynes has blossomed into one of the leading scorers in his fifth and final season of college basketball after transfering to Texas-Arlington, doing so on impressive efficiency numbers along the way.

Haynes physical profile is solid, as he sports good size for the point guard position at 6-2 or 6-3 to go along with long arms and a chiseled frame. He’s not a great athlete, but is certainly above average at the college level, as its pretty clear that it wasn’t his physical tools that held him back from making his mark in the ACC.

Seeing minutes both on and off the ball , Haynes’ best attribute as a prospect clearly revovles around his terrific perimeter stroke. The 44% he shoots from beyond the arc on five attempts per game clearly isn’t a fluke when you look at his incredibly natural shooting mechancis. He creates excellent separation from his defender with the terrific elevation he gets and is capable of making tough shots in a variety of ways, being absolutely deadly with his feet set in particular. His percentages fall off quite a bit (49% to 30%) when shooting off the dribble, but its pretty clear that he can pull up effectively and get his shot off even against bigger defenders.

As a shot-creator Haynes is effective, being capable of going left or right and getting to the free throw line at a very high rate. His strength makes him a strong finisher around the basket at the level of competition he plays at, even if he’s not a terribly explosive guy. He shoots over 50% from inside the arc, making him one of the more efficient guards you’ll find when taking his 3-point percentages and free throw rate into consideration.

Haynes playmaking skills are a bit difficult to evaluate as his team plays at an extremely fast pace and play a very loose and somewhat wild style that often involves forcing plenty of bad shots. Playing alongside a number of shot-happy guards who tend to overestimate themselves quite a bit, Haynes gets caught up in this AAU style quite a bit of himself, leading to some questionable possessions.

Not a selfish player, and clearly capable of making the extra pass, Haynes regardless struggles to make a strong case as a true point guard from the film we evaluated. He tends to dribble with his head down, plays the pick and roll looking strictly to shoot, and averages more turnovers than assists. NBA teams may have a difficult time projecting him into a role in the NBA based on what we saw from him at the Sun Belt level, although a strong showing at Portsmouth could change things quite a bit.

Defensively, Haynes has good potential, as his excellent size, length and strength make him very effective when he’s dialed in and even may allow him to see some minutes guarding some smaller shooting guards. He gets in the passing lanes at a nice rate and comes up with some very impressive possessions from time to time. Unfortunately he doesn’t display the same intensity level at all times and tends to gamble excessively for steals, things that can be improved on in time but currently hurt his team at the college level.

All in all, Haynes is a good player who shows nice potential as a shooter and defender and should warrant strong consideration for an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he could increase his stock dramatically with a good showing.

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