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.

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