We are closing in on the start of the college basketball season, practice starts this week, and the road to the 2014 NBA Draft has begun. To kick things off, I am going to spend the next couple of weeks looking at this year’s senior class and some brief notes on areas where they need to show improvement to maximize their value at the next level.
These are not meant to replace scouting reports, which will come out during the season. These are not all-inclusive and just meant as a brief primer for those who want to track draft prospects throughout the season. These are also not in any particular order other than who I choose to write about each post.
Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee, Forward, 6’8, 260
(2011-12, Redshirt 2012-13) 12.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 55.8 FG%, 65.8 FT%
Maymon is coming back of a knee injury which cost him last season, but reports are that he is ready to go this year. Combined with Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee may have the toughest frontline in the SEC. Stokes’ body is his biggest strength, allowing him to play physical on both offense and defense. Maymon is a skilled offensive player, able to finish around the basket with either hand, and able to knock down the open mid-range jumper. He has also shown the ability to attack the basket off the dribble from the mid-range area, and can catch people off guard with his quickness for his size. Maymon is also capable of scoring as the roll man in pick-and-roll situations, though he really hasn’t played with a guard who is effective that way. On defense, Maymon can be a physical post defender, and he uses his wide body well to box out and get rebounds, even though he isn’t that quick to the ball.
What he needs to show this season: Obviously, the most important thing will be to see that his knee is 100%, though to be honest, he wasn’t the most explosive player to begin with. Maymon is an okay shooter out to 15 feet, but he needs to become more consistent and expand his range a bit. Maymon is very good at drawing contact around the basket, but he needs to also become a more consistent free throw shooter. On defense, Maymon needs to show the same agility he does on offense, while also continuing to work on his perimeter defense, and defending pick-and-roll situations. Maymon needs to work on becoming a better weak-side help defender and getting to the spot quicker.
Pendarvis Williams, Norfolk State, Guard, 6’6, 190
(2012-13) 13.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 41.5 FG%, 74.9 FT%, 32.0 3FG%, 1.4:1 A/TO
Not many outside of the MEAC conference know of Williams, but he is certainly an intriguing prospect. At 6’6, he plays both guard spots for Norfolk State, and though likely not a potential NBA point guard, having these skills will allow coaches flexibility in how he is used. Long and athletic, Williams is a versatile scorer, able to knock down spot-up jumpers and using long strides to get to the rim. Also, his size allows him to take smaller defenders around the post area. Williams will need to work on getting stronger to finish better around the basket, as well as doing a better job drawing contact. A good free throw shooter, Williams should look to attack the basket more often. On defense, Williams’ length allows him to disrupt passing lanes, and he does a good job with his positioning, balance, and lateral movement when on the ball. Off the ball, Williams has good defensive awareness and anticipates movements and passes well.
What he needs to show this season: While Williams has shown some consistency as a spot-up shooter from the perimeter, he needs to watch his shot when he takes it off the dribble. He has a tendency to fade in the direction he is moving, forcing his shot to be off. Also, Williams has to do a better job moving without the ball, especially coming off screens and being ready to shoot. Williams is a decent ballhandler for his size, though he needs to watch a tendency to overdribble at times waiting for something to open up. On defense, Williams has to watch overplaying too much on the perimeter, and working on getting through screens cleaner. Williams will have a few games this year against upper Division 1 teams and he will need to make sure he shows what he can do against better opponents.
Rhamel Brown, Manhattan, Forward, 6’7, 230
(2012-13) 11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 54.7 FG%, 40.5 FT%
The two-time defending MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, Brown plays much bigger than his 6’7 body. Brown defends the post exactly as you would teach a player – uses his lower body well to anchor his position, stays balanced and moves his feet well. His physical nature allows him to guard much bigger players, at least for a short period of time. Brown has very good defensive awareness and is a strong help side defender, moving into position quickly and challenging shots. One of the best shot-blockers in the country, Brown makes up for his lack of size with great anticipation and technique. He is quick off the ground and extends straight up to challenge the shot. On offense, Brown is still raw, but has promise. As on defense, he uses his body well to establish position in the post, and he uses his strength well to back down his man. He has shown he can face-up out of the post and attack the basket, as well as doing the same from the high post. Brown is a good screener on the perimeter, but needs to work on opening up when rolling to the basket. He is also tough to stop on the offensive glass, having a good nose for the ball and getting good position.
What he needs to show this season: Brown is very solid on the defensive end, though he needs to do a better job guarding away from the basket. He needs to work on defending pick-and-roll situations, especially not dropping off the ball-handler too quickly and giving him space. Also, he needs to work on his perimeter on-ball defense, including lateral movement and positioning. While a strong shot-blocker, he is quick off the ground and falls for ball-fakes often, leading to foul issues. On offense, shooting is his biggest problem. He has little touch around the basket, has problems finishing against length or in traffic, and he needs to work on being able to hit the mid-range jumper. Along with that, his free throw shooting is atrocious, which is worse because he does a decent job drawing fouls. Brown’s future will rely on him being able to expand his game away from the basket area on both ends.
Geron Johnson, Memphis, Guard, 6’3, 197
(2012-13) 10.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.8 spg, 44.4 FG%, 70.8 FT%, 35.0 3FG%, 1.2:1 A/TO
Johnson has an inconsistent, but overall successful first year at Memphis after leaving the JUCO ranks. Johnson’s greatest strength is his defensive ability. He is effective on and off the ball, and can defend either guard position. Johnson moves well laterally, keeps good balance and position, and doesn’t take many risks going for steals. However, that doesn’t keep him from pressuring the ball well and creating turnovers. Off the ball, Johnson does a good job jumping passing lanes, keeping strong position and navigating through screens, sometimes multiple in a possession. On offense, Johnson is at his best in transition, capable of running the wings or pushing the ball himself, and able to use his speed and athletic ability to finish at the rim. Johnson is an above-average, though sloppy at times, ballhandler, and capable of taking defenders off the dribble. He has also shown that he can knock down perimeter jumpers from both mid and long-range, both off the catch and dribble.
What he needs to show this season: Johnson’s offense still needs work before he gets to the next level. Capable of using his left hand, he still likes to force his moves to the right side, help defense or not. Also, he needs to have a better read on where the help defense is coming from and look to find open teammates. He can have tunnel-vision on his way into the lane. While he can finish creatively, he needs to not shy from contact and look to get to the free throw line. Overall, he can stand to be more aggressive on the offensive end in looking to get to the basket. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with new teammate Michael Dixon, who also will take perimeter touches away from him.
Jason Brickman, Long Island, Guard, 6’0, 165
(2012-13) 9.5 ppg, 8.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 45.4 FG%, 79.8 FT%, 46.2 3FG%, 2.2:1 A/TO
Brickman, the NCAA’s leader in assists last season, is back for one more go-round in LIU’s fast-paced offense. A strong ballhandler with very good vision, Brickman is at his best in the open floor, where his speed and skill open up the floor for the Blackbirds. He does an excellent job drawing defenders to him and finds creative ways to get his teammates the ball. While he focuses on distributing the ball, he is capable of knocking down open jumpers, forcing teams to defend him. Brickman uses his speed well on the defensive end, jumping passing lanes and forcing bad passes. He has also shown he can be a strong help defender by getting to position quickly to make a play.
What he needs to show this season: For any point guard in a system such as LIU’s, control and decision-making are very important, and these are areas where Brickman has some problems. He is much more comfortable playing at a fast pace, and when forced into half-court situations, he can have a hard time making proper reads. Also, sometimes the speed at which he plays gets the best of him. It’s great to average over 8 assists a game, but it doesn’t look as good when you also average over 4 turnovers per game. He needs to show he can be more comfortable running the offense in half-court sets, an issue former Iona guard Scott Machado had a few years back. On defense, Brickman has to work on the fundamentals more and not rely so much on his speed. He gets good position on the ball, but he doesn’t move laterally that well, ending up chasing his man often, and he needs to find a way to effectively get through screens.
See Part 1 here – McDermott, Bachynski, Fair, Joe Jackson, Payne
See Part 2 here – Craft, Sheehey, Burton, Alec Brown, Patric Young
See Part 3 here – Russ Smith, Kendall Williams, Sykes, Moser, Kilpatrick
See Part 4 here – Cory Jefferson, Saddler, Dwight Powell, Napier, Early
See Part 5 here- CJ Wilcox, Releford, Melvin, Josh Smith, De’mon Brooks
See Part 6 here – McKie, Josh Davis, Davante Gardner, Edwin, Andre Dawkins
See Part 7 here – Javon McCrea, Tarik Black, DeAndre Kane, Roberto Nelson, Armand
See Part 8 here – Joe Harris, Jordan McRae, Omar Oraby, Benimon, Cotton
See Part 9 here – Juvonte Reddic, Appling, Ejim, Devon Collier, Chris Udofia
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