Friday, September 28, 2012

Because We Cant Wait for College Basketball Season

I am incredibly antsy for this college basketball season to start. It has been a long offseason that has been  aided by watching old games, but I am ready to see the kind of strides teams and players have made during the summer. I am ready to fill up my DVR to max capacity, watch as many games as possible every night, bombard your twitter feeds with live-tweets, and update this site with brand new content. I just really want to get the ball rolling to where there will be tons of new information each and every week, if not everyday. I am simply unable to contain myself from pouring over the schedule and pinpointing early season matchups that I will be sure to break down. Starting with November 9th, the first day of the season, there are plenty of interesting games. The first night will be no warm up, we will be jumping in head first.

Starting at 5:30, we have Michigan State taking on Connecticut. The main storyline here will be the new face on the sideline, Kevin Ollie, but this is also a chance to see some new faces. Two years ago, I remember watching freshman Jeremy Lamb playing in his first game and hopped on his bandwagon right away. This year it could be one of two freshman shooting guards breaking out - Omar Calhoun of UConn or Gary Harris at Michigan State. Both figure to play key roles in their teams game plans from day one.

It will also be our first chance to see Keith Appling this year. He will be expected to become a playmaker for the Spartans, something he didn't do much of last year. Early returns will be telling for Appling.

In UConn's backcourt, Napier will likely slide over to play more shooting guard this year as Ryan Boatright will be a starter from day one. Napier got off to a good start last year, looking like a draftable player, but faded with the rest of the UConn squad, many believe partly due to his inconsistent play and leadership. Both guards are very talented while having a disadvantage size wise. We will see if Kevin Ollie's knowledge of the point guard position wears off on them.

The final matchup to pinpoint is DeAndre Daniels against Branden Dawson. A battle between two highly touted recruits heading into their sophomore years, Dawson definitely has the physical edge. He could end up dominating if Daniels didn't spend time in the weight room this summer. We will see if Daniels is able to capitalize on Dawson's average lateral quickness and drive to the hoop, I would certainly like to see him more assertive.

Once 7pm strikes, it is time to exercise the remote and make sure your DVR is cleared for another wild season of basketball. Syracuse plays San Diego State, Ohio State faces Marquette, and we get our first looks at both North Carolina and Duke.

San Diego State is lead by star guard Jamaal Franklin, who actually played forward last season for them and with the other 3 starting guards returning, figures to again. It will be interesting to see how the athletically gifted Franklin is able to attack the Cuse 2-3 zone. He's a decent 3-pt shooter, but what I will be looking for is how he facilitates the ball at the top of the key and attacks the zone under control. He has a load of talent and skill to build on if he puts it all together. He has been showing out in open gyms all summer.

For Syracuse, I am really looking forward to seeing Michael Carter-Williams. His passing ability in the few minutes he had last year drew my attention and his size is intriguing. He is a combo guard who needs to find a niche scoring the ball and definitely has the potential to do so. There were questions about him being able to ride the bench all of last year, but he did so without fussing to the media, so now it is his turn to prove he can play.

CJ Fair might have been the most underrated player on last year's team and returns in a bigger role. In the NBA, he is a tweener, but he deserves more recognition at this level. With Joseph moving on, Fair might even get a chance to show off his budding perimeter skills, although a move to full time small forward doesn't appear to be in the cards.

It will be interesting to see how the frontcourt rotation plays out. There may be some small forward minutes available, but for the most part it will be Fair, Sutherland, Coleman, Christmas, and Keita splitting time. Sutherland has proven to be a solid role player deserving of minutes. Christmas was highly touted (although not by me) while under-performing, but it is almost expected he will be handed minutes this year. Keita is solid, but unspectacular - a guy they wouldn't mind keeping on the bench. Coleman is the wildcard who could end up starting on riding the bench most of the year. It depends on what kind of shape he is in. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

In the Marquette and Ohio State game, two of the peskiest defenders in college basketball take the stage in Aaron Craft and Vander Blue. Craft is more of a lockdown guy while Blue uses his athleticism is jump passing lanes and make plays when Marquette goes to the press. Offensively they both need a lot of work, but Craft is much more of a lead guard and leader. Blue will get more of a chance to show some skills with Johnson-Odom gone, but Junior Cadougan should be the main distributor. So far in Blue's career, he hasn't shown the necessary leadership or IQ needed to play the lead guard position.

It will also be interesting to see how Trent Lockett fits into Buzz Williams' system - a system that is night and day to the one Herb Sendek ran at Arizona State.

For Ohio State, there is plenty of NBA talent and simply seeing who gets the minutes will be intriguing. Deshaun Thomas will be the star, but Amir Williams, LaQuinton Ross, and Shannon Scott all have great potential despite hardly playing last season. We will get a good idea of who has stepped up to claim the available minutes left by Sullinger and Buford.

The next wave of games start at 8pm with Georgetown and Florida. Both teams lost its share of talent, but have future first rounders on their hands. Otto Porter is expected to make a big jump from last year and it will be interesting to see how he handles the expectations. He was the perfect role player last year and I like him in that role. This season he will have more pressure on him to score, but it is not what he does best.

For Florida's Patric Young, it is time he earns his reputation and starts dominating inside. His efficiency was good last year, but he remained in the backseat as an offensive player and has yet to be as intimidating as he looks. It is a make or break season for him.

Kenny Boynton had a somewhat make or break year last year and responded positively. Now with the backcourt in his hands again after Beal and Walker left, he needs to show he can continue to be efficient and lead the Gators to a high seed in the NCAA tournament. As a combo guard, he has to go above and beyond to prove himself to NBA scouts.

For the most overlooked game of the day by casual fans, North Texas and Creighton square off at 8:05. At first glance, it is just a battle of two solid mid-majors. But North Texas has projected lottery pick Tony Mitchell and Creighton counters will Doug McDermott, a player of the year candidate. Their games are extremely different - one based on athleticism, the other based on perimeter skills - but they both get it done on the court. A rare high profile game for these two, this game will be packed with NBA scouts and hold more of an impact on a players stock than any other game of the day.

At 8:30, we get to see Kentucky's new team debut as well as the Barclay's Center. They will be facing Maryland, who has Alex Len and a rapidly improving Nick Faust to boast.

It will be UK's freshman first impression on many and Alex Len has a big chance to turn some heads if he can take advantage of Nerlen Noel's lack of fundamentals. Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress are two guys I am looking forward to see playing here more than even Noel or Len. Both have lottery potential.

While those games are digesting, wait until 10pm when Lehigh takes on Baylor. CJ McCollom will have a chance for another big performance against a top team and Isaiah Austin will make his debut. Austin is raw, but talented. He has lottery potential, but we should be able to tell early if he will need another year at Baylor to make a huge impact. McCollom will be going up against a some experienced guards from Baylor, including the ultra-athletic Pierre Jackson so it should be a good test.

To cap off the night into the morning hours, check out UCLA play for the first time at 11pm. If everything goes as planned, it will be Shabazz Muhammad's first game as well. Its a insignificant game against Indiana State, but it will just be interesting to see who is playing and how they all look. What kind of shape is Joshua Smith in?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scouting Report: Mason Plumlee

Height: 6'11.5''
Wingspan: 6'10''
Weight: 240lb
Bday: 3/5/1990

Team: Duke
Class of 2013

Entering his senior season at Duke, Mason Plumlee is very much a known quantity to both NBA scouts and casual college fans alike. He is one of three Plumlee brothers who have played for Duke and believed to be the second most talented of the bunch. Miles Plumlee, perhaps the least skilled, managed to coax himself into a first round selection last June, upping the stakes for his younger brother Mason. Everyone would agree that Mason is the more talented player, but does his game translate to the NBA as well?

Offensively, Mason is best playing to his strengths. He is an explosive athlete with a decent frame, although more slight than his Miles', and can finish at the rim at authority. At times he will struggle to finish through contact, but he really improved his ability to draw fouls in the past year. Plumlee works well rolling off the pick and roll, performing it in a fundamental matter and showing off nice athleticism to the rim. On these plays, he does need to do a better job of gathering himself after he receives the pass (he does have good hands) and avoiding picking up charge fouls. Body control is something he can work on.

In the post, Plumlee lacks footwork or much feel for the players around him. You can tell when he gets the ball down low, he already has a plan in his mind on what he wants to do. Which isn't bad, but he needs to work on counter moves. Right now, he gets by without footwork because he has a nice hook shot that he can shoot from anywhere in the paint and with either hand. This may be his best offensive trait as he really does use both hands well. Besides that, his post game is very mechanical. He also is aided by his toughness inside and he tends to muscle up a lot of shots without regard for how much space he has. A lot of his post scores can be more attributed to determination and toughness than actual skill. He gets away with this in college, but his 6'10'' wingspan will be more profound at the next level.

When facing up, Plumlee almost always chooses to put the ball on the floor. He never settles for the jumpshot, something that was thought to be a part of his game out of high school, but we haven't seen much improvement or confidence from him with his jumper. His 57% free throw shooting can attest to that.

He has shown he can get to the rim from the 3-pt line, although he is inefficient when doing so. He has no control of his advanced moves, more of a vanilla ball handler, and ends up barreling into the lane and racking up charges. His first step is solid, but his driving game is not something that he should feature at the next level. Overall, there is a very awkward appearance towards his face up game. His focus in the gym should be his pick and roll ability and post moves.

When Plumlee gets deep post position, he does have a good enough feel to make a simple counter move at the rim. Nothing special, but it is something. However, Plumlee doesn't get deep post position often enough, working from 10-15 feet out most of the time. Plumlee does do a great job on the offensive glass  as well as in transition where his straight line athleticism really has a chance to shine. Over the years, he has also proven to be a good team player who possesses solid vision for a big man.

Defensively, Plumlee is a bit in between positions. Yes, center and power forwards can be interchangeable a lot of times, but being either a great rim protector or man to man defender is very helpful. Plumlee instead, is OK at both, but great at neither. At center, his weaker upper torso could hurt him and his shot blocking skills aren't special for his athletic ability. He gets a little over two a game, but nobody has ever thought twice about driving on him. In terms of perimeter defending, he shows good effort and knows how to defend pick and rolls, but his hips are stiff and he stands too upright, making his lateral quickness below average. His knowledge of team defense will come in handy, but his skills unfortunately aren't set up in a way to make him a great defender. As a rebounder though, he does a good job and should continue to do so.

With his older brother gone, Plumlee will no longer share time at the power forward and center position, giving him a chance to focus strictly on his inside game. He has a chance to prove he is more of a rim protector and just as good as doing the little things as his older brother. One thing the elder Plumlee had going for him that Mason doesn't is a larger frame, which allowed Miles more room to carve out space with his body in the post. Mason has relied more on his strength and athleticism to get up shots at this point. Duke has a chance to be very good yet again this year and Plumlee will be one of the biggest faces on this team. National recognition will not be needed - everyone already knows his game.

As we saw with his brother, smart big men who can jump are at a premium in this league. With Miles getting picked in the first round, it would make sense that the more talented Mason would get picked ahead of him. That logic is fair, but we also know Miles was picked too high. I think where Miles went in the late first round is more of a fitting landing spot for Mason, although I wouldn't be surprised to see him go higher. If it was me though, I wouldn't touch him before the late 20s. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Scouting Report: Tony Mitchell (North Texas)

Height: 6'8.5''
Wingspan: 7'3''
Weight: 236lbs
Bday: 4/7/1992

Team: North Texas
Class of 2015

Apparently all Tony Mitchells are insane athletes

After being ruled academically ineligible at Missouri, Tony Mitchell was forced to sit out a season and a half before making his debut for North Texas on December 18th. Two days before on December 16th was the first time Mitchell was allowed to practice with his teammates. Needless to say, coming off a year and a half stint where the only organized hoops he played was at the U19 National Championships (where he failed to impress), nobody knew exactly what to expect from Mitchell. Scouts flocked to his games to get a look at this top 15 high school recruit and he ended the year joining Anthony Davis as the only freshman in the country to average a double-double.

Mitchell's game revolves around his elite physical abilities, so let's talk about that first. Mitchell has been measured with a 7'3'' wingspan while standing at 6'8.5'' and 236 pounds. He has a really solid build for a power forward and has a frame to put on more weight if he so chooses. Athletically, Mitchell is a rare species. He probably was the most athletic player in college last year, possessing one of the quickest and highest leaps I have seen at the college level.

At this point, his elite leaping ability is a big part of the player he is. Mitchell logged a majority of his minutes playing center last season and he didn't seem to mind. Although Mitchell shows some perimeter skills, he had no problem defending post player, anchoring the defense, rebounding the ball, setting screens, and making plays on offense with his back to the basket.

Yup, looks like a 7'3'' wingspan to me!

Although his post game is limited, he was such a force at North Texas compared to the rest of the players around him that he would constantly see either double teams or zone defenses. When Mitchell got the ball in the post, he did a good job of recognizing the double team and finding an open teammate. He doesn't hold onto the ball for long when it isn't necessary. Mitchell's passing have a lot of mustard behind them, but he can carelessly fling balls at times. Thanks to his big hands, Mitchell has gotten into a habit of extending the ball away from his body in one hand and doesn't always make his passes accurately. Overall though, Mitchell is a willing passer who has good vision. I'm surprised he only averaged 1.6 assists a game since he was doubled every time, but his team finished dead last in 3-pt% so that could explain it. Making that number even worse is the fact that Mitchell lead the conference shooting at a 44% clip. So yes, Mitchell had no shooters around him to space the floor.

Mitchell looking to pass out of the post. Somewhere the double is coming. Note the chiseled physique.

When Mitchell didn't pass the ball, he showed the ability to both shoot and drive. Mitchell has an insanely quick first step, which allowed him to beat double teams before they even came into fruition at times. He doesn't have good dribbling skills, but is able to drive from behind the 3-pt line all the way to the cup at this level of basketball. He flashed a crossover move and the ability to switch hands while maintaining balance, but I didn't see it enough to say he is much more than a straight line driver. Obviously with Mitchell's athletic gifts, he can get away with being a less than perfect ball handler as he only needs a two dribbles to get to the hole and finish in dramatic fashion. Overall he does a great job getting to the hoop and drawing fouls. He shot 74% from the foul line on 5 attempts per game.

Mitchell also liked to freeze up his defender, giving the basket a long stare before pulling up for a jumpshot. Mitchell's release is slow and from the hip, but he gets good arc and rotation on the ball, making him a good 3-pt shooter. He tends to leave a lot of balls short, clanking off the rim, and also shows inconsistent form. He has shown a solid step back jumper and despite his slower release, has no problem getting shots off. Off the dribble is a different story as Mitchell doesn't show much of an ability to create quality mid-range jump shots. His spot up ability from mid-range is good, but if Mitchell wants to step his offensive game up, his mid-range game would be a nice start. For a big man, he has nice touch so he has plenty of potential in this area.

When double teams came on the perimeter, Mitchell had more trouble dealing with these than in the post. Valuing his perimeter touches since they came few and far between, Mitchell was more hesitant to give up the ball. He tried to make plays, but more times than not he would have the ball poked away from him once he tried to put it on the floor. Mitchell's loose dribble and lack off advanced ball handling skills showed here. His coordination on the wing comes into question if Mitchell is thinking about moving to the small forward position.

'Nuff said.

Also, Mitchell has no post moves away from the basket and rarely gets deep position on the block. Most of his post touches come from 15 feet away. He had some games where he was completely shutout and didn't attack the offense boards as much as he could have. While he led all freshman in defensive rebounding, he was tied for 48th amongst his peers when only looking at his stats on the offensive glass. Mitchell can create more easy buckets for himself if he plays with more intensity.

Speaking of intensity, Mitchell could use some more of it defensively as well. But that may be nitpicking as Mitchell does a lot of things well on this end of the court. He was North Texas's anchor at the center position, blocking any shot within reason and controlling the defensive glass. He was not afraid of contact, held his own position, and did a good job denying entry passes. He also was seen being a vocal leader on defense - communicating to the rest of his teammates. He makes blocks and steals that nobody else can make. He has the ability to make the LeBron James trailing blocks and block shots from the second level. His help side defense is wonderful. Also, Mitchell has great potential as a pick and roll defender in terms of forcing turnovers, but was content to just keep his man in front of him last year. More aggressiveness on defense would be a good thing.

Unfortunately, Mitchell didn't show much urgency getting up and down the court after rebounds, negating some of his athleticism. After each rebound, Mitchell seemed to travel at the same speed each time getting up the court on both ends of the ball. He always jogged back at a steady pace, not picking up the pace even if the ball ends up behind him. This needs to change, but it could be due to his conditioning level (but then again, have you seen his body? Mitchell is shredded.). Since he didn't get to practice up until December 16th, this is a logical explanation. Overall, Mitchell seems to care very much about the game and winning so I expect to see him become a more tenacious all around player this upcoming season.

As a rebounder, Mitchell has the potential to be one of the best in the game at the NBA level. He has huge hands, great timing, explosion, and all the athletic gifts you could ask for. He showed the ability to rebound out of his zone - actually he showed that if the ball was anywhere near him, nobody else was going to come close to touching it. Mitchell can easily get his head above the rim! When Mitchell rebounds, he does a good job finding the outlet, but he will start the break himself at times. Mitchell's court vision is shown yet again in these instances, as he looks more like a wing player in these situations than he does in the halfcourt setting.

Still, I think Mitchell projects more as a power forward and the fact that he has relished that role at North Texas is a good sign. Coach Johnny Jones (now at LSU) says that he is the most humble and unselfish superstar he has ever coached and that includes Gerald Wallace, Shaquille O'Neal, and Stanley Roberts. He raves about his character. The fact that he has handled his transfer to North Texas as well as he has is a great testament in itself. With his first full season of basketball coming up in years, it is scary what Tony Mitchell will be able to accomplish. Tony Benford (Buzz Williams' assistant) is the new head basketball coach and considering the work they've done on combo forward (Lazar Hayward, Jae Crowder, Jimmy Butler) it is exciting to see what he can do with such a pure talent. He is one guy that can up Mitchell's energy level, get him moving in transition, and improve his mid-range game. Benford is just what the doctor ordered.

Looking ahead to the draft, the sky is the limit for Mitchell. He should be a top 10 pick and could easily work his way into the top 5. I am a fan of his game and am looking forward to seeing more of him this season.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rondae Jefferson to Arizona

Less than an hour ago, it was announced that Small Forward Rondae Jefferson had committed to Arizona (credit to @UofAPointGuardU who broke the news). Jefferson is the 14th best player in the Class of 2013 according to ESPN. I've had a chance to see Jefferson at multiple venues, playing at both the Nike Global Challenge and at Peach Jam in South Carolina. Here is what I wrote about him after his Nike Global Challenge performance, my initial viewing:

Jefferson came to play this weekend and brought an intensity that was unrivaled. Loved the way he got after it on defense. He was a real pest on that end, staying up in defenders face, yelling and screaming, and mirroring their every move. His defense reminds me of a guy like Roscoe Smith. His offense is coming along but is mainly based on his athleticism and hustle. He needs to become a better shooter. He does do a good job of handling in the open court and playing unselfish. Nice team guy that can be in the NBA with a bit of work. He definitely has the size and athleticism. 

After seeing him again at Peach Jam, I was able to expand my scouting report on him:

In this one look, Rondae Jefferson did more than enough to land solidly on my radar. I liked his defense and intensity at the Nike Global Challenge, but getting to see him in a team setting like this was special. He led Team Final to a 66-60 win against Boo, who most would agree has more talent. It was especially tough for Team Final when Cat Barber decided he would shut down Jaren Sina the entire game.

After that, it was up to Jefferson to take over. Sina couldn't get it over the halfcourt line thanks to Cat's defense, so Jefferson took over ball handling duties. While he plays with two top 100 guards in Davon Reed and Jaren Sina, Jefferson appeared to be the best point guard on the team. This rang true the entire event as Jefferson finished the weekend tied for fourth in assists. The only guys he was behind? Tyus Jones, Joel Berry, and Wesley Clark.

Jefferson is an unselfish player who has uses his size to see over the defense to make passes. He is a good driver that combines a solid skillset with a good firststep. He can drive and dish as well as make tougher passes to 3rd read guys. His 3-pt shot has a long way to go, but he knows this and chooses to avoid taking long range jumpers. He prefers to catch the ball around the foul line extended area and go to work from there. He is a solid free throw shooter and does a great job getting to the line. He can finish with contact - finishing is a big strength of his.

Fortunately, I was able to see his man to man defense in Alexandria because Team Final didn't dare "d" up Cat Barber with man to man defense. You could still see Jefferson's intensity out there and he managed to get a block and two steals, but it would have been hard to tell just how much he brings it on that end of the court. He is a very well-rounded player. It is great that he gives equal energy on both ends of the hardwood.

Obviously, I am a fan of Jefferson and he is a guy who could stick around at Arizona for a few seasons. He gives the Wildcats a good perimeter player on a team that is already set in the painted area. Here is their projected 2013-14 roster as it stands currently:

PG - TJ McConnell/Jordin Mayes
SG - Nick Johnson/Gabe York
SF - Rondae Jefferson/Elliott Pitts
PF - Grant Jerrett/Brandon Ashley/Matt Korchek
C - Kaleb Tarczewski/Angelo Chol

The Wilcats roster is shaping up to be a very good one, even if it is a little heavy inside. McConnell is the only pure point, but pairing any of the 4 guards together in the backcourt can work. They should be fine there. At small forward, Jefferson will see a lot of minutes. He will fit in well with a group of guards who like to score, as he can act as a distributor. Pitts likely won't play, allowing Jerrett/Ashley to get more minutes playing at the three. They can also steal some minutes backing up the center position, although I do like Angelo Chol.

Overall, the 2013-14 team very well could be a National Championship contender. The Wildcats are back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DSP/MDHoopsNet Fall Showcase Top Performers

Article I put together with Edgar Walker (Edgar_Walker) of after attending the DSP/MDHoopsNet Showcase for high school players. Some Division 1 prospects were in attendance and many other guys who will find themselves playing at a higher D2 and D3 level. 
Throughout the DSP/ Fall Showcase on Saturday,’s staff was evaluating the talent and identifying standouts and top performers in each of the three sessions.
Today we look at our invitational group–Group 3–which was made up of many of the area’s top 10th, 11th and 12th graders:
to read up on the Session MVP, First Team All-Session, and other notable players click here:

Semi Ojeleye Joins Matt Jones in Duke's 2013 Class

Semi Ojeleye recently committed to Duke, a player I saw and wrote about down at the Peach Jam. At the time I saw him as a perfect fit in Durham.

Semi Ojeleye struggled from the field shooting 2-9 in the first game I saw him in. In the other game I saw him play, against the Wings, he had a more efficient day. In both matchups, Ojeleye had no problem getting to the line. Ojeleye hasa college ready body, perfect size for a SF and good mass. When he gets the ball, he squares up his defender and looks to attack. He uses a jab step and operates from triple threat mode, although he is best when driving. Driving to the hoop, Ojeleye has a solid first step, but he is especially good at drawing contact. He uses that strong frame to help him finish inside. He is a good athlete, but not an elite athlete on the level of some other small forwards there. He plays under control and plays within his team's game plan. He is obviously a well-coached player and its obvious to see why Coach K is after him. He looks like a Duke player. He is a good all-around player and gets after it on defense. I think in college he is capable of playing a variety of roles, from lead man to a super role player. He will be a core member of whatever high major he chooses, should he go that route, and definitely has the ability to play in the NBA in the future with hard work and production. Ojeleye is a winner.

 He joins Matt Jones in Duke's class of 2013 haul, another play I have had the opportunity to see and write about.

With Matt Jones, you get a very smart player who is lethal from three (11-26 at Peach Jam) and has the length and fluidity to play great defense. He plays team basketball and fits the Duke image to the tee. He has no problem being a role player and has played second fiddle all summer next to Randle. He can be an Arron Aflalo type player in the league. He can handle the ball a bit and rarely turns it over. While he is great at catching and shooting, Jones separates himself from other shooters because he can put the ball on the floor and create his own 3-pt shot. He showed this multiple times in the game against CIA Bounce, where he avenged his measly 4 point performance from his earlier game against Howard Pulley.

Even after seeing Jones have a quiet game in my first ever look at him, I wasn't down on him. He just didn't really impose his force on the game. In the night cap and one of the most anticipated games of the event though, Jones shined. Randle was struggling so Jones knew he had to step up. And he did. He showed his competitive side and motor by defending Wiggins while dropping 26 points (and zero turnovers!!!).

Matt Jones won't post ridiculous numbers at Duke, but I'd take him on a NBA team anyday of the week when he eventually comes out. He has all the tools to be a great role player. He is one of those guys that goes mid-late first round and has no problem carving out a niche.

Duke's Current Projected 2013-14 Lineup

PG - Quinn Cook/Tyler Thornton
SG - Rasheed Sulaimon/Andre Dawkins/Matt Jones
SF - Rodney Hood/Semi Ojeleye
PF - Amile Jefferson/Josh Hairston
C - Marshall Plumlee

It looks like Duke will have a crowded backcourt during their Jones' and Ojeleye's freshman year. Jones had a potential role as a shooter, but with Dawkins redshirting this season and coming back with a clear mind, he will be stuck behind him. Tyler Thornton may be the weak link and Sulaimon and Jones both can play some point, but Thornton will be a senior and I don't see Coach K relegating him to the bench. Sulaimon, Jefferson, and Plumlee all are possible candidates to entering the draft, but none are probable.

Duke should add at least one more notable player to next year's class. A big man is needed and they are legit contenders for Julius Randle and Austin Nichols. Randle just spent a whole day with Coach K and Jeff Capel during an in home visit. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Scouting Report: Ricky Ledo

Height: 6'6''
Wingspan: 6'7''
Weight: 193lb
Bday: 9/10/1992
NBA Comparison: Rudy Fernandez

Team: Providence
Class of 2017 (This season will be a redshirt year)

With news that Ricky Ledo will be ineligible to play basketball for Providence this season, I decided it was time to look at Ledo's NBA prospects as he could end up declaring after the end of this season without any college game experience. His ban from playing this year wasn't much of a surprise and it seemed as though Coach Ed Cooley was just happy to hear he would be eligible to practice all year with the team. The ability to practice has convinced Ledo to stay at school for the time being, although with Ledo, you never know where he will end up. Ledo went to 4 different high schools in 5 years, raising red flags along the way. He could explore options in both the D-League and overseas if he is serious about entering the upcoming draft.

As a college basketball fan, it is a disappointment that Ledo won't be playing this season. Ledo is an exciting scoring guard who can put up points with ease. At 6'7'', Ledo has great size for the position and the offensive repertoire one romanticizes about upon hearing of a top notch shooting guard prospect. Ledo is a great shooter, showing deep range on his jumpers and plenty of range. He can get his shots off at anytime, thanks to a combination of his shooter's lean, craftiness, and fluidity with the ball.

Ledo also moves well without the basketball and his team made it a point to feature him on a lot of curls off the ball. He worked hard to get open and proved he can play without the ball. Some think Ledo is more of a combo guard or even a point guard down the line, but I see him strictly as a 2 guard who can handle it. His movement off the ball is a big reason why.

With the ball, Ledo is extremely creative. He doesn't possess a lethal first step but his craftiness is more than enough for him to drive by defenders with ease. He has a slew of advanced ball handling moves and changes directions and speeds well. He is a very smooth looking scorer and has incorporated the Euro-step into his game. Ledo also likes to use a spin move at the time of the catch to make up for his lack of super explosive first step and he also uses one closer to the hoop - sometimes adding one step too many.

Ledo wasn't asked to play point guard as much last season as in previous years, but he is capable of bringing the ball up. Still to me, he seemed like he could get rattled by the press and make some terrible passes and have trouble slowing up at the top of the key and initiating the halfcourt offense. Ledo appears much more comfortable when he can catch the ball in the halfcourt and have a chance to size up the defense before making a move. When he brings the ball up the court, Ledo doesn't have a chance to do that.

Settled into the halfcourt offense, Ledo is very much a triple threat. Although he can make some terrible passes, Ledo also flashes impressive vision on drives and sets up his teammates for easy buckets. He is fairly unselfish, despite having the skillset of a one on one player. At times, Ledo will overextend himself with too many dribbles and make plays harder than they should be. There is a concern with his efficiency at higher levels. It would have been nice to see how he would have shot in a college season. If I had to guess, I would imagine around a 42% field goal shooting to go along with 38% from 3 and 80% at the line would be realistic.

The thing about his efficiency is the kind of shots he takes. He is a high volume shooter who can get up shots from anywhere. When he you can shoot from anywhere, you tend to end up taking some bad shots. Ledo needs to be careful and make sure he doesn't end up taking a lot of low percentage long 2-pt shots. He also needs to finish better at the rim. As I said, Ledo does a great job penetrating the lane, but blows too many lay-ups. Lack of concentration could be one of the culprits, as he is creative around the rim and gets a lot of hangtime. Ledo isn't a top level explosive athlete around the rim, but he can be on the receiving end of impressive dunks. He also can finish with both hands. His struggle to finish may also have to involve him trying to be too "cute" at the rim instead of going for the easy finish.

Where Ledo has to make the most improvements is his defense. In some of the games I saw Ledo, he made zero effort in that end of the floor. Ledo would gamble for steals and never venture inside of the 3-pt arc, choosing to cherry pick for easy buckets instead. Ledo has been cited on multiple occasions for bad body language and his lack of effort on defense doesn't help. To his defense, Ledo's prep school team was on the right end of a lot of blowouts and defense wasn't always necessary. In closer games, Ledo would focus more on defense, but his lack of experience playing real defense shows. He can't stay in front of his defenders and has to rely on his ability to play passing lanes. Ledo also rarely plays a role on the glass, staying out of the lane for the most part. For Ledo to get minutes in the NBA, this will have to change.

Moving forward, Ledo still has a lot of questions to his game and without a season to answer them, he may end up actually playing a season for Providence. The offensive upside Ledo offers however, dwarfs many of the current shooting guards projected to be drafted. He will get drafted alone just based on his offense even if he can't defend, has character red flags, and hasn't played above prep school. If he does answer some of those question though, then Ledo is a first round pick with potential to go in the lottery. Shooting guards with complete offensive games are a rare breed nowadays. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Correlation Between 2-pt% and Assist to Turnover Ratio

As I have broken down numerous college point guards this year, the same strengths and weaknesses keep coming up. One of the big things is how a guy runs the pick and roll offense. You have two ends of the spectrum here - guys who change speeds and play under control and guys who go full speed and rely on their athleticism. All of the guys are able to score in the mid-range area and pass the ball to open teammates. There isn't a guy difference there. The biggest difference comes from being able to put yourself in situations to get good shots, to get teammates open, and make smart decisions. The pick and roll game exemplifies the point guard's ability because it puts him in a situation where he can shoot, pass, drive, and also work an in-between game. You literally have countless options out of the pick and roll and its up to the offense player to be able to take advantage of them.

The problem with some guys is they don't know how to play in these sets. When they have an on ball screen, they feel the need to quickly accelerate around the corner and try to force their way into the lane. Trying to get around defenders with pure speed puts them in bad situations where they are often out of control and are forced to throw up an off-balanced shot or unpremeditated pass. I study the games of point guards who shot the ball exceptionally well from 3-pt range and had great athleticism inside, yet found that they had terrible efficiency inside the arc. Why? It all comes down to changing speeds.

If you watch Phil Pressey of Missouri and compare him to an average college point guard, you can really see a difference. Pressey understands the conceptions I am talking about. He uses hesitations, changes in direction, changes in speed, and other moves to keep the defense honest. When he gets a screen, he can dance around it, teasing the defense with his 3-pt ability while still being in attack mode. He doesn't feel the need to force things. Pressey can slip in between the two pick and roll defenders or he can slowly attack the defense while remaining under control. When Pressey gets inside the arc, it doesn't mean a shot or a pass is coming within seconds. That is because he enters the lane under complete control and with numerous options in mind. Instead of barreling into the lane and have to make quick decisions, Pressey is able to toy with the defense while sizing them up. Being able to take his time, he can make much more efficient passes to his teammates, while also getting them more open since he holds onto the ball longer. He also is able to get much more efficient shots himself since he isn't going in at full speed. Some guys have the size that they could keep bad habits and just run into the lane and fire up floaters, but Pressey has learned from an early age that he must work to find good shots.

What am I getting at?

Well first, the pick and roll is obviously incredibly important and becomes an even bigger factor in the NBA. In the NBA, you absolutely have to know how to change speeds because every player is an excellent athlete. The guys in college who rely on athleticism are going to have big adjustments to make.

So the pick and roll is valuable and what makes you a good pick and roll player is the ability to change speeds. At least, it plays a big factor. And the pick and roll effects all parts of your game. It effects your passing and efficiency.

Look at the two top assists to turnover players from last year - Kendall Marshall and Scott Machado. It is no surprise that they were great passers and smart decision makers, but did you know they were also amongst the top players in 2-pt%?

Using DraftExpress's stat page, I took a look at the 16 point guards who made their top 100 draft prospect list from this past draft. Of those 16 guys, Machado, Marshall, and Dion Waiters were in the top 4 in both 2-pt% and assist to turnover ratio. Now Waiters is a great finisher so his 2-pt% is no surprise, but Machado and Marshall have always been regarded as average finishers at best.

It all comes down to the pick and roll game and changing speeds for them. Both of them play very under control and rarely have to put of forced shots. When they go into the lane, they have multiple options inside their head. It goes along with the idea of being a triple threat and a lot of guys don't present that ability off the dribble in the lane. So Marshall and Machado both are efficient inside scorers despite not being very explosive or even particularly good shooters.

It is no surprise they are also the two best passers. It is all about leaving their options open. 2-pt% and assists to turnover ratio go hand in hand for point guards.

There are a lot of variable that explains why the numbers don't always back this up, things like how Tyshawn Taylor is such a good 2-pt shooter while having a bad assist to turnover ratio. This can be explained by the athleticism and size thing. Even without great understanding of changing speeds, some ultra talented guys like Taylor can get by in the college game with elite size and athleticism. The opposite can be used to explain why my example, Phil Pressey, is only an average 2-pt shooter. He really isn't a very good finisher in traffic at all, but if he didn't understand how to get good looks and keep the defense on their heels, his 2-pt% would be at the bottom of the league.

Dez Wells Taking His Talents to College Park

Earlier this morning, Dezmine Well's tour of America ended with the announcement that he the University of Maryland will be his next stop. Wells is a great get for the Terps and should be a valuable player as soon as he becomes eligible. According to sources, it is unlikely Wells will be granted eligibility this year so his impact won't be seen until the 2013-14 season. With Wells joining the Terps, they now only have one scholarship remaining for next year's recruiting class - the class that features the Harrison twins.

Don't be mistaken though, I am confident that Turgeon signed Wells with a plan already in place where he can still get the twins. I can't see Turgeon throwing away his hand when he was in line for getting possibly the best package deal in the history of college basketball. Turgeon can work his way around this problem by releasing another player from scholarship - Seth Allen or Sam Cassell Jr would be my guess. The Harrison twins are set to announce in late October so we should find out what happens sooner rather than later. Either way, with Wells on board plus the other moves Maryland has made, the Terps are officially on the road back to a legitimate contender.

EDIT: Maryland should still have two available scholarships available next year. I didn't realize Connor Lipinski was taking up a scholarship this season. Testudo Times posted a helpful chart.

Dezmine Wells will be a big part of that. As a freshman at Xavier, Wells had to share the ball with two ball dominant players in Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway so he didn't get a chance to consistently show what he can do. He did learn how to play without the ball and contribute in other ways to his team. While Wells dismissal from Xavier seems like it could be a big red flag on his character, numerous recruiting analysts who know Wells have spoken on how great of a kid he is. He showed great class handling his move from Xavier. And watching him play, his unselfishness and effort on the court speaks to the type of basketball player he is. Dez Wells with be nothing but a positive influence on his teammates.

Now that we have that out of the way, lets focus on his game. Wells made his biggest impact defensively last year. Standing at 6'5'', Wells has the height of a shooting guard, but with his build, long arms, and outstanding athleticism he fits in great as a small forward. His long arms constantly flashing in the defenders face makes it difficult for players to drive and when they do, they do so without much success. Wells is light on his feet and moves well laterally, while his length is able to keep the small guards who do manage to get on his hip pocket cautious. He does a great job of contesting all shots and closing in on shooters. For a player of his caliber athletically, it is somewhat surprising that he only managed one combined block and steal per game. That is about the only negative thing I can say about his defense, he could stand to make a few more plays. Overall, Wells has great intensity and showed that he can be a lockdown defender in his freshman year - a rare treat.

Offensively, Wells managed to shoot over 50% from the field his freshman season. Thanks to his athleticism and strength, Wells is very explosive around the rim and can fly in from 10 feet out. He looks to dunk on people. He does a lot of damage in transition. In the halfcourt, Wells is an unselfish passer but when he looks to score, he is aggressive going to the rim. He has a great first step and long subsequent strides. He struggles to get all the way to the rim as his ball handling makes him pretty much a straight line driver and he can be shaky under ball pressure, but his athleticism makes it so he doesn't have to get all the way to the cup on the bounce. He doesn't show any fancy dribbling moves and rarely creates his own jumpshot off the bounce, choosing to try to get to the rim once he puts it on the floor, but his first step doesn't require him to get too fancy. He can blow by defenders.

At times, he can be even too quick for himself and lose the ball. He is able to get to the foul line area whenever he wants so a good floater would be a nice addition to his game. Right now, Wells has a tendency to get inside the paint and pick up his dribble once he is swarmed. He doesn't panic once he picks up the ball, showing solid passing skills, but being able to go all the way to the rim regularly is something he needs to work on. He only got to the line 2.4 times a game last year despite the fact that the majority of his shots came inside the 3-pt line.

As a jump shooter, Wells has shown well in small volume. He shot 38% from behind the line, showing a smooth but slightly slow release. He only took 1.7 3s a game as he much prefers to play aggressive. His jumper needs some work, but it isn't a negative. His free throw shooting was a bit disappointing, as he shot 67.5% from the line.

Off the ball, Wells has the perfect build to make cuts inside towards the basket. He demonstrated this ability on multiple occasions through the season and should continue to take advantage of his good awareness level and understanding of moving without the basketball.

Overall, Wells was in line for a breakout year at Xavier with Holloway and Lyons gone, but instead will likely have to sit out a year before suiting up at Maryland. I expect the next time you will see him Wells will play with even more hunger. He should be a much improved player and may end up as the best NBA prospect on the current Maryland team. Wells has a lot of work to do, but he has the talent needed to be a first round pick down the line.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Five Low-Major NBA Prospects I Guarantee You've Never Heard Of

(and probably will never hear from again after this article).

These guys aren't on the level of other low-major guys like Nate Wolters, CJ McCollom, CJ Aiken, Robert Covington, or even Zeke Marshall. But I digress. These five guys had intriguing enough statistics that I wanted to evaluate their games to find out what they are all about. These aren't the five best low-major players, just five guys that have virtually no attention and hype in the draft world. Maybe there is a reason for that or maybe they are hidden gems. Either way, I decided to see from myself. I didn't expect to find a legitimate future first rounder. A second round selection even could be far-fetched for most of these guys. Last year Scott Machado went from a good passer whose inefficiency all but dismissed him as a NBA player to a guy who entered the draft conversation and should find a spot on a NBA roster.

6'4'' 170lb Senior SG George Beamon (Manhattan) - 19ppg 2ast 5.6reb 48FG% 42.7% 3-pt 80FT% 0.5blks 1.5stls 2.7tos

Beamon is heading into his senior year and is a much more complete prospect compared to some of the younger guys I will cover. Beamon is a young senior at 21 and has shown an immense amount of improvement during his time as a Jasper. His freshman year he saw the floor sparingly, but parlayed the experience to a sophomore season where he averaged 16.3 points per contest. A 19 year old prolific scorer is something to take note of, especially with the kind of jump he made, but his junior season is what makes him so intriguing. He scored 16 points per game his sophomore year with no 3-pt shot to speak of, but his junior season he turned his jumper into a huge strength, making nearly 2 threes a game at a 42.7% clip. Since December 4th, Beamon shot an incredible 53-103 from deep. This tells us a two things about him: 1) He is a very hard worker. 2) He can at a good rate even without a 3-pt shot.

Even weirder then his jump from shooting 6-40 from 3 the year before to his current 42% rate now, is the form he uses to be so successful. Beamon's jumper is ugly. His upper body flails around, his legs move in a scissor motion, yet he releases the ball high and quickly. The fact of the matter is it goes in. When I first saw it, I doubted he could shoot that way off the dribble, but somehow he was able to in a somewhat fluid matter. His free throw shooting also jumped from 73% to 80%. This kid is obviously a gym rat who loves the game. The question is what will he add to his game for an encore his senior year?

One thing he could add, is some more strength. At 170lbs, Beamon tries to fill the lane for his team and act as a forward, but he gets pushed around easily. Its obvious he hasn't hit the weight room at all, but then again, thats because he must spend his entire day shooting jumpers. Weight is definitely needed even to play his projected pro position - shooting guard.

Before he had the jumper, Beamon could still score. He is actually the 2nd leading scorer (34ppg) in Nassau County high school basketball history behind longtime NBA vet Wally Szczerbiak.  He is a capable driver who chooses his spots well. He looks to get the ball into the post a lot for some inside-outside plays, but when he has a screener set up when he has the ball, he will exercise his ability to drive. Beamon is quick for a low-major player, likes to go right, and has a long crossover move that is hit or miss. He can lose control of it or cause the defender to lose control of his footing. His ball handling is OK. He does a good job not overdribbling and can get to the rim, but his handle can be loose. As a finisher, his frail frame really hinders him. He also lacks a reliable left hand or the kind of explosiveness that is looked for in NBA wings. He does have nice touch on his floater and the funny thing is some of his inside shots can look just as awkward as his jumper. 

Defensively, Manhattan ran a lot of zone with Beamon playing down low, which in inadvertently puts him in a tough spot. Still, Beamon had plenty of chances to show off his good footwork and his commitment to that end of the floor. With Beamon, you are getting an unselfish guy who does a lot of little things, it just so happens he can score. Beamon is one of the most pro ready players I will touch on, but even he is a long shot to hear his name called by David Stern or Adam Silver next year. That is unless he makes another unfathomable leap in skill.

6'4'' 185lb Junior PG Frantz Massenat (Drexel) - 13.7ppg 4.8ast 3.1reb 43FG% 45% 3-pt 78FT% 0.4blks 0.9stls 2.1tos 35.8mpg

It wasn't uncommon to see Massenat in this position last year while on offense. Lack of conditioning or lack of heart?

Massenat got my attention with his great combination of size and shooting as the point guard for arguably the best team in the CAA last year. And that was already his sophomore year, but he has been starting at the point position since he walked on campus. Looking a little deeper, I saw that Massenat is apparently a great student and I figured that his smarts and work ethic carried over to the basketball court.

From a physical standpoint, he met expectations. He has great size even for a NBA point guard, a good build, and good quickness. He has a nice and long first step, moves well laterally, and is what I would call a rangy athlete.

From a basketball perspective, he has a lot of learning to do. He is not much of a passer, off the dribble Massenat is much more of a scorer. Even standing still, Massenat really doesn't pass too well - throwing way too many lackadaisical passes. As a scorer, Massenat is able to utilize his quick first step to get by defenders and uses his size to shoot floaters and off balanced mid-range shots over defenders with ease. He can get those shots at any time, but usually enters the lane out of control and doesn't leave himself any option but to force up a shot. As I said before, he doesn't pass on these drives and does a bad job of changing up his speeds to allow him to expand his game. In terms of his ball handling, Massenat is very left hand dominant. His dribble is too loose, although he does have some very nifty and quick moves. With his offense, his ability to improve all centers around him learning to change speeds.

While he has some work to do from a skills perspective, Massenat's body language was the biggest turnoff when looking towards his future. Coming into the evaluate, I expected to see a kid who was mature beyond his years and lead by example. Instead I saw a guy who took plays off, didn't hustle down the court, reacted negatively towards teammates, and was easily frustrated. There was no leadership. This effected his defense where he actually does have the tools to succeed. Instead of being a factor on that end, opposing teams went after him. He is highly susceptible to on-ball screens, making absolutely zero effort to fight through them. He either goes under them or more commonly, walks right into the screener and acts as if the guy is an unmovable force. Running the pick and roll against Massenat is easy offense.

Ultimately, Massenat is the opposite of what I was hoping to see. With low-major prospects, you need them to have good intangibles. They can't afford to cost and expect to get by on just talent. Luckily Massenat has two more years to mature, but the early returns don't look good.

6'7'' 227lb Junior Forward De'Mon Brooks (Davidson) - 15.7ppg 0.8ast 6.2reb 53FG% 37% 3-pt 72FT% 0.5blk 1stl 1.7to 22.8min

De'Mon Brooks was the 5th leading per minute scorer in the NCAA last year while only being 19 years old, playing for a NCAA tournament team, and winning SoCON's player of the year award. Yet his name is largely unknown and even his own coach refused to give him the minutes his numbers said he warranted. I took to the film to discover exactly why Brooks didn't even get enough respect last year on his own team.

First thing is first, Davidson does use a lot of players. Eight guys get at least 16 minutes a game so that helps answer the question of Brooks lack of playing time. That was about the only answer I found become Brooks really is a good player. When a guy puts up big number yet fails to get minutes, you usually are dealing with a selfish player or someone who is a defensive reliability, but neither are true for De'Mon Brooks. Brooks is undersized as a 6'7'' big man, but plays physical and with a good motor.

He has really good length, although it is still in his best interest to learn to play the wing, and moves his feet well on defense. He keeps his hands up at all times, hedges really well on pick and rolls, and brings double teams instinctively when the situation calls for it. He gives a great effort on defense. When in man to man, he doesn't get a chance to cover perimeter guys, but Davidson likes to run a 1-3-1 zone as well that features Brooks on the wing. There he doesn't look completely out of place, but he isn't notably good either.

Offensively, Brooks benefits from mismatches. He can get open looks from behind the arc when centers hesitate to vacate the painted area in coverage. Brooks is a good shooter from outside the arc, shooting a respectable 37%. That number definitely overstates his shooting ability though, as he doesn't take too many threes and the ones he does shoot are often without a defender in his face. His jumpshot is slow with a lot of bending action at the knees.

Brooks can also size up the outside shot and choose to instead blow by mid-major big men with a solid first step. He gets a lot of these looks by setting screens for the ball handler and then popping out behind the line. With the defender closing in, Brooks has no problem getting into the lane, but does have trouble taking the ball all the way to the rim. He likes to cut his loses from around 10-15 feet, where he will use a spin move to set up a contested shot. Brooks also attacks the offensive glass hard - 2.4 of his 6.2 rebounds come on the offensive end. Brooks doesn't do anything great on offense, but his versatility and opportunistic play enable him to put up points at an alarming rate.

Brooks just turned 20 in May and still has two years of college left. He should begin to get some national attention during that time as Davidson looks to be a good team over that stage and Brooks will be a big part of it. Ideally for Brooks draft hopes, he will transition to a SF during that time, but he appears to be more valuable at the mid-major level taking advantage of mismatches. Anyway, a transition to a fulltime wing looks like a stretch for Brooks. What Brooks needs to do is to get his rebounding numbers up to a dominating level. With his nose for the ball and toughness inside, he has the ability to do it. The NBA takes notice of rebounders and it could propel Brooks to some draft buzz. Of the 5 guys I am looking at for this piece, Brooks seems to be the best long term draft prospect with a shot at the second round after his senior year.

6'11'' 234lb Senior Center Mike Muscala (Bucknell) - 17ppg 1.8ast 9.1reb 50FG% 35%3-pt 85FT% 1.7blk 0.5stl 2.1to 29.9min

Seven footers are a rare breed and even though the NBA has been steering away more and more, they still hold a special power that at least warrants a look from NBA scouts. Jeff Foote is a recent example of a seven footer who isn't a great athlete, came from a small school, and didn't put up huge numbers but managed to work his way into NBA games. Based on Muscala's numbers, I felt he could have a chance to do the same thing.

The first thing to notice about Muscala is how skilled he is - even more skilled then Foote in fact. Muscala shot 85% from the free throw line and that carries over to a nice mid-range game that stretches out to 18 feet. He did shoot 35% from three, but on limited attempts. His jumpshot looks more like a guards, as he puts some bend in his knees and actually jumps. He also will put the ball on the floor like a guard and can even make some passes off the dribble. In general, Muscala has a nice feel for the game. Despite his skills, Muscala doesn't get great position down low and dominate the post. He only shot 50% from the field due to the lack of shots at the rim. He doesn't have great strength and he is an average leaper at best. For a guy like Foote, he is successful offensively because he is a high efficiency player who hangs around the rim and can finish with contact. Muscala is more finesse and thus, does not necessarily translate as well at the next level.

Muscala does mix it up inside, not shying away from contact, but you can tell it isn't a strong suit of his. He is a willing banger, but is much more comfortable playing away from the hoop. Muscala plays hard, runs the court well, and gets to the free throw line at a good rate as he can dribble and outhustle defenders to spots on the court.

Athletically, Muscala doesn't have good lateral quickness from side to side, although he is light on his feet and runs the court fairly well. He won't be able to cover power forwards at the next level and as a center, he doesn't present much of a shotblocking threat at the rim. He also needs to put on more weight, yet that will restrict his movement even more.

Muscala looks like a fringe prospect without much upside at this moment. A seven footer that can shoot free throws is somewhat interesting and at 85% from the line, Muscala led all big men in free throw shooting last year. In the past ten years, he is in a class with Paul Davis, Goran Suton, Kevin Pittsnogle, and Nick Fazekas in terms of top free throw shooting bigs. Still, none of those guys have had success at the NBA level and I'd be hesitant to say Muscala is on the same level as a Paul Davis.