Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC, Part Four (#16-20)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC, Part Four (#16-20)
Sep 23, 2011, 12:53 pm
We continue our look at the top NBA draft prospects in the ACC with players ranked 16-20. Richard Howell, Travis McKie, Michael Snaer, Xavier Gibson and Carson Desrosiers highlight this batch.

Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA level before we come to any long-term conclusions.

-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, #1-5
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, #6-10
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, #11-15
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, #16-20
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC, Part One (#1-5)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC, Part Two (#6-10)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC, Part Three (#11-15)

#16 Richard Howell, 6-8, Junior, Power Forward, North Carolina State

Jonathan Givony

A 6-8 power forward who took a backseat to departing senior Tracy Smith in the frontcourt of an underachieving N.C. State team, Richard Howell could be on the verge of a breakout junior season after losing a significant amount of weight over the summer.

Howell stands out first and foremost with the gaudy rebounding numbers he produced in his first two seasons in the ACC, leading the entire conference on a per-minute basis last year. He ranked as the 3rd best per-minute offensive rebounder amongst all players in our database and the 8th best total per-minute rebounder, which will bring plenty of attention his way this year if he can maintain a similar pace with increased playing time this season.

Like most great rebounders, Howell has phenomenal hands which allow him to catch virtually every ball even remotely in his area. While not overly explosive vertically, he has the strength and girth to just move opposing players around in the paint, and shows terrific timing with the way he pursues loose balls coming off the rim.

Offensively, Howell gets most of his touches off the ball, diving to the rim and crashing the offensive glass. Not what you'd call a high flyer, he rarely finishes above the rim, which makes it difficult for him to operate in traffic. It will be interesting to see how his weight loss affects his overall athleticism, because he's not an overly explosive guy as is. He does not possess a very diverse post game either, showing average footwork and struggling to finish with his off-hand.

Howell does show some intriguing flashes of skill-level from the perimeter, both as a jump-shooter and attacking his matchup off the dribble. He only took about one jumper per game last season, but made 48% of his attempts according to Synergy Sports Technology. He shows solid mechanics on his jumper, mostly on flat-footed catch and shoot attempts.

This is a part of his game he showed more ability in as a high school player, so it will be interesting to see if he can expand on this as a junior. It would certainly add to his versatility and overall intrigue.

Howell has a solid skill level in other areas as well. He's capable of putting the ball on floor a bit, typically to make his way to the rim in a straight line. He's is a pretty solid passer as well, seeing the floor a little better than you'd expect considering the position he plays. He seems to have a good understanding for how to get teammates involved.

The biggest question marks revolving around Howell's pro potential might be on the defensive end. He looks heavy and slow-footed stepping out on the perimeter, showing average fundamentals and an intensity level that often leaves something to be desired.

While he seems to possess good timing, and has the bulk to be hold his own in the post, his lack of size and athleticism could be a major hindrance moving forward unless he really works to maximize his ability on this end of the floor. As things stand, he looks most comfortable guarding centers, but at 6-8, he probably won't be able to do that in the NBA.

Despite his shortcomings, players in Howell's mold have often been able to carve out important niches in the NBA, as his rebounding production and budding skill-level are coveted traits in big men. The early returns this offseason sound very positive, as he's reportedly dropped over twenty pounds at the urging of incoming head coach Mark Gottfried. With Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and Howell returning, N.C. State has a good amount of talent still intact to help make the transition to the new staff a lot easier, so it will be interesting to see how things play out.

#17 Travis McKie, 6'7, SF/PF, Wake Forest, Sophomore

Kyle Nelson

The only good thing about Wake Forest's horrific 2010-2011 campaign was the development of freshman forward Travis McKie. McKie averaged 13.0 points and 7.7 rebounds, both team highs, on his way to a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team.

McKie is by far Wake Forest's most polished perimeter and post scorer, and therefore will likely continue to straddle power forward and small forward roles as a sophomore. He is undersized for the post, but at 6'7 with a solid 205-pound frame, he has very good size for the wing, which is clearly where his future lies. Furthermore, McKie is just a good athlete, but his toughness, hustle, and versatility allow him to compensate at the collegiate level.

Despite playing for the worst team in the ACC, McKie averaged an efficient 15.9 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted on 50% shooting from the field. He shows a very versatile game for a freshman, with his offense coming from a steady dose of spot-ups, post-ups, cuts, offensive rebounds, and transition opportunities.

To make the full transition to playing on the wing, McKie must improve his outside shooting. His mechanics need work, as he shoots an arc-less two-handed jumper and his motion lacks both fluidity and a consistent release point. He attempted 92 jumpers last season according to Synergy Sports Technology, and converted on 34% of them, so despite showing flashes of ability, he clearly has room to improve on his consistency. He shoots a solid 73.1% from the foul line, however, suggesting that he does show potential to develop further in this area.

McKie shows potential as a shot creator as well, even if this part of his game is still a work in progress. He's extremely aggressive attacking the rim, using his strong frame to overpower opponents, and getting to the free throw line at a nice rate in turn. At this stage he still lacks much in terms of advanced ball-handling skills, being most effective as a straight-line slasher and getting himself in a bit of trouble if he tries to mix it up too much.

McKie's scrappiness manifests itself on defense, particularly on the boards. Despite his lack of size, he averaged 9.4 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which ranks in the top-10 amongst returning small forward prospects..

Though Wake Forest played incredibly bad team defense last season, McKie actually looked solid for stretches. Though he lacks elite lateral quickness, he does work hard to stay in front of his man on the perimeter, as well as closing out on three-point shooters from the post. His overall awareness, instincts, and fundamentals could certainly stand to improve, but he showed very nice potential as a freshman. In the post, he works very hard to stay in front of his man, even if the effort is often futile against the ACC's surplus of NBA caliber big men.

Despite playing out of position on a severely overmatched team in the ACC, McKie's toughness and versatility make him an interesting prospect, especially considering how young he is for his class, still only 18 years old. He rapidly expanded his offensive game throughout his freshman season, and shows the potential to develop into a reliable two-way player down the road. He must continue to improve shooting, ball-handling and perimeter defense, and although it won't come easy playing on the ACC's most depleted team, there is no doubt his stock will rise if he can emerge as the impact player Wake Forest so badly needs.

#18 Michael Snaer, 6-4, Junior, Shooting Guard, Florida State

Joseph Treutlein

Coming off a solid but unspectacular freshman season, Michael Snaer basically replicated his production as a sophomore, not showing significant progress in any one area, and even regressing in some, namely his 2-point percentages and free throw rate. With teammates and leading scorers Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen both no longer on campus, however, the former McDonald's All-American will have every opportunity to step up and show he can do more.

Looking at Snaer's offensive game, he's still raw in most areas, though he has shown some slight progress with his jump shot. Snaer saw slight upticks in his free-throw shooting (77% up from 66%) and his three-point shooting (37% up from 35%) as a sophomore, while also increasing his three-point attempts from 2.1 to 3.4 per game.

Snaer has very nice mechanics when spotting up in space, having a high and quick release along with excellent elevation, while he also does a good job of moving off the ball to get open. Snaer is very reliable when he's left open, hitting an impressive 1.25 points per shot on catch-and-shoot jumpers according to Synergy. Things tend to break down when he operates off the dribble, however, as his pull-up jumper is very erratic, where he struggles staying balanced and getting his feet under him consistently.

Snaer's jumper is the most reliable and consistent aspect of his offensive game, as his ball-handling is still extremely raw, with him showing little in terms of advanced ball-handling or change of direction ability in the halfcourt. He has a very nice first step and is capable of making very rangy strides on straight line, open space opportunities, but this doesn't convert to more difficult situations because his shaky ball-handling doesn't allow him to operate at full speed.

Snaer has a decent floater in his arsenal, and shows flashes of ability to finish around the rim in the halfcourt setting, but really struggles to consistently create good shot attempts off the dribble both in the lane and on the perimeter. This is clearly the biggest area where Snaer can improve, and may be necessary for him to succeed at the next level given his size, as there aren't many undersized shooting guards in the NBA who don't possess reliable shot creating ability or elite perimeter shooting.

The other area Snaer makes some strong contributions on the offensive end is getting out in transition, an area where his excellent athletic tools overshadow his limited ball-handling. Snaer is very aggressive in getting out in transition and either going hard to the basket or setting up for open jumpers, showing good awareness and hustle.

While Snaer's offensive game is still a work in progress, the same can't be said about his work on the other end of the floor, where his tenacious, high energy style was a key component of what made Florida State the #1 ranked defense in the nation last season according to

Snaer shows a great fundamental base and lateral quickness for sticking with his man on the perimeter, doing a good job dealing with multiple changes of direction and contesting shots. He also does a very good job sticking with his man off the ball, showing good awareness and positioning along with the ability to chase through screens.

Looking forward, Snaer's athletic tools combined with his defensive prowess give him a nice foundation to build upon, but he still has a ways to go with his offensive polish. Snaer's production has been underwhelming thus far in his college career, but will have every chance to improve upon that this season, which should be interesting to watch. It also wouldn't be smart to discount Snaer's high motor and overall intangibles, something that will certainly be attractive qualities to coaches.

#19 Xavier Gibson, 6-11, PF/C, Senior, Florida State

Jeff Rush

As we noted in our last report, Xavier Gibson possesses the physical tools and upside to keep scouts interested when they make the trip to Tallahassee, but he has yet to come close to putting all the pieces together to produce at a high level. His excellent size, long arms, strong frame, good, but not great, athleticism, and budding inside-outside skill set piqued our interest early on in his career, but needs to rebound from an injury plagued year and have a productive senior season to show that he's worthy of being considered an NBA prospect.

Just after Christmas of last year, Gibson suffered an injury to his left knee and left hand against Butler in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii which caused him to miss 10 games. Up to that point Gibson had started every game for the Seminoles and was posting career highs averages of 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per-game.

Prior to his injury, Gibson was a key cog for Florida State which they made very clear by consistently running plays on their opening possessions to get him opportunities in the post. It seemed as if Florida State realized that they needed to get Gibson involved early and that getting him the ball early would keep him engaged and energized for the whole game.

Upon his return to floor in February, those touches had evaporated, and Gibson did not look like the same player when he did get the ball down low. He averaged just 2.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per-game in the 12 games that he played post-injury, and never played more than 14 minutes in any of those games. Only in Florida State's loss in the NCAA tournament to VCU did Gibson seem to return to form.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Gibson's game in past years was his ability to step out and knock down jumpers with some range. As a sophomore, he shot 40% from beyond the arc, albeit on only 15 attempts, and showed enough confidence that it seemed he had the potential to develop into a very effective pick and pop player. As a junior, he shot just 4-24 (16.7%) on his jumpers according to Synergy Sports Technology and made less than 8% of a similarly small sample of 3's. Although he always seem confident when letting the ball go, his release is a little bit low, especially for someone of his size, but he looks smooth and comfortable as he steps into a long jump shot.

Apart from his jump shot, Gibson does a few other things fairly well offensively. Despite his struggles, he still seems to have potential on the pick and pop, and shows good hands rolling to the basket when he doesn't step out to the perimeter. On the offensive glass Gibson is very active, but often struggles to finish and never uses his left hand, often going to extreme lengths to try to lay the ball in with his right.

Despite that tendency, Gibson continues to show that he can be effective in the post. He mixes a smooth jump shot when he turns over his right shoulder with a fairly consistent hook over his left shoulder to give himself a good 1-2 punch down low. Though he has some flashes down low, he does not always finish the shots he creates for himself.

Defensively, Gibson has intriguing physical tools with his size, length and frame. He showed some prowess as a shot-blocker early on in his career, but has not developed into the consistent intimidating threat that some hoped he would. His wingspan coupled with his mobility allows him to make some excellent plays from time to time, but his average fundamentals and awareness are still an issue at this stage.

Gibson's status as a draft prospect will depend largely on whether or not he comes back completely healthy and regains his athleticism, since that will be a key step if he is to put things together during his senior season. He will turn 23 before the first game of the season so he will be considered very old by NBA draft standards, but even if he doesn't have a huge season it is not hard to picture Gibson raising some eyebrows in NBA workouts and causing someone to roll the dice on him in the 2nd round or training camp. Players of his nature don't exactly grow on trees, and he could very well have upside still left to tap into.

#20 Carson Desrosiers, 6-11, Center, Sophomore, Wake Forest

Walker Beeken

If Wake Forest is going to improve upon its 1-15 ACC record in 2010-2011, they'll need to see some development from sophomore big man Carson Desrosiers, who showed flashes of potential as a freshman.

Although he was largely unproductive last season, averaging 4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, there is reason for optimism. Desrosiers was rated the 66th best high recruit in the country in the class of 2010, according to RSCI rankings, and has an intriguing combination of skill and mobility for a player almost 7-feet tall.

Desrosiers had a bit of a rough adjustment to the college game, as his lack of bulk and aggressiveness limited his effectiveness on both ends of the floor. As he continues to add strength, though, he has quite a bit of upside and should be able to better utilize his talents. While not an overly explosive athlete, he runs the floor well and moves fluidly for a guy his size and also seems comfortable operating on the perimeter and in the post on the offensive end.

Desrosiers shot an abysmal 39% from the field as a freshman, struggling with his jump shot and finishing in the basket area. He looks to be a much better shooter than that though. He has range out to the 3-point line and shot 71% from the free throw line, which gives some hope that his numbers from the field will improve as he gets more comfortable and improves his shot selection.

In the post, Desrosiers displayed a high skill level with a soft touch and nice footwork, but he was too often muscled around and pushed out of position, causing him to fade away and settle for lower percentage shots.

Defensively, Desrosiers has potential to improve, as he has solid agility for the center position and is a good shotblocker (he averaged 3.3 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted as a freshman), but his lack of strength and aggressiveness must improve to be able to compete on this end.

The area in which Desrosiers may need the most work is on the glass. His 6.3 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted was worse than any center in our database last season, further demonstrating his lack of strength and toughness on the interior.

It's too early to come to many conclusions right now about Desrosiers and his NBA potential. As is often the case with young big men, he will likely take some time to develop as he gets stronger and learns how to adjust to the physicality of college basketball. He is clearly a work-in-progress at this stage, but his size, agility, and versatile skill set make him an intriguing prospects for scouts to monitor over the course of his career at Wake Forest.

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