We are a few months from the start of the college basketball season, and the road to the 2014 NBA Draft has become. 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.
Travis McKie, Wake Forest, Forward, 6’7, 220
(2012-13) 13.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.4 spg, 45.0 FG%, 76.0 FT%, 32.0 3FG%
The past few seasons have been rough for McKie, though not from doing. Wake Forest basketball has not had much success, but plenty of bright moments were provided by McKie and the now-graduated CJ Harris. McKie is long and athletic and capable of playing on the perimeter and in the post. He has developed a few go-to post moves and his ballhandling and footwork have both continued to improve over the past few years. McKie goes strong after rebounds on both ends of the floor. Defensively, McKie defends both the perimeter and post well and has no problem playing physical. McKie runs the floor well and is capable of finishing in a variety of ways.
What he needs to show this season: McKie is more comfortable playing around the basket, but he needs to continue to evolve as a perimeter threat. He has shown that he is able to beat bigger defenders off the dribble to the basket, but he really needs to become much more consistent with his perimeter shot. Shot selection from the perimeter can be an issue, but with the lack of scorers other than Harris, McKie has been put in a position to try and make things happen. On the defensive end, McKie will need to continue to learn how to defend small forwards on the perimeter, especially positioning and footwork. There is some talent on this year’s team, but it almost all freshmen and sophomores, so McKie will still need to be the team’s go-to guy while also guiding his young teammates through the rigors of ACC play.
Davante Gardner, Marquette, Forward, 6’8, 290
(2012-13) 11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 58.5 FG%, 83.5 FT%
Gardner, last season’s Big East 6th Man of the Year, should be ready to take on a bigger role in the Golden Eagles’ offense with the loss of Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett and Vander Blue. Gardner is the ultimate space-eater, using his body well to seal off not only room for him to score, but to create lanes for his teammates. He has very good hands, a soft shooting touch around the basket, and smooth footwork for his size. His ability to take up space makes him prone to being fouled, but he does a great job converting his free throw attempts. Gardner is also a very solid mid-range shooter, making his defender come away from the basket to guard him. Gardner uses his body well on the defensive end, and if you are going to post him up, you will need to take the long away around him. His bulk allows him to guard taller players with some success, and he doesn’t shy away from playing physical defense.
What he needs to show this season: Conditioning is always going to be a concern with the near 300 pound Gardner, even though he moves well for his size. He is always going to be more effective in a half-court game, so if the opponents can force a faster tempo, they can force Gardner out of the game for long periods. While effective using his size around the basket, Gardner does have to develop some more variety with his post moves, especially being able to score with both hands around the rim. On the defensive end, quicker post players can face Gardener up and look to drive past him, often getting Gardner to foul as they go by. Developing quicker feet on defense will be important for Gardner at the next level. Also, I would like to see Gardner be more aggressive going after rebounds, especially on the defensive end.
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall, Guard/Forward, 6’6, 215
(2012-13) 16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.3 spg, 44.1 FG%, 67.6 FT%, 41.2 3FG%
Edwin made a name for himself early on in his career as a lockdown defensive player, but last season, he stepped up as a versatile offensive threat. Edwin is capable of guarding multiple positions and uses his length and footwork well to pressure on and off the ball. He has great timing jumping passing lanes and anticipates passes very well. Edwin stepped up as a knockdown 3-point shooter last season
What he needs to show this season: Edwin’s offensive game needs to continue to develop. His ballhandling skills are still shaky and he is prone to being stripped or losing the ball when penetrating into the defense. While Edwin’s spot-shooting has improved greatly, he now needs to take the next step in his shooting development – becoming better shooting off the dribble and using his dribble to create space for him to take his shot. His defense may be near the top in all of basketball, he will not be able to take as many chances as he does at the NBA level, so he needs to learn to pick his spots in going for steals.
Josh Davis, San Diego State, Forward, 6’8, 215
(2012-13, Tulane) 17.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 49.2 FG%, 71.6 FT%
After dominating Conference USA at times last season, Davis graduated from Tulane and is eligible to play immediately for San Diego State for his final season. A long, athletic forward, Davis adds depth, scoring and rebounding to an already quality Aztec frontline. Davis is comfortable playing with his back to the basket in the post or facing up and looking to attack the basket off the dribble. He doesn’t shy away from contact and does an excellent job drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. Davis is active on the offensive boards and uses his long arms well to keep balls alive for himself of to get it to a teammate. Davis is fundamentally solid as a defender, using his size well to disrupt passing lanes and to make shots difficult. He runs the floor well and can be an option finishing in transition.
What he needs to show this season: The physical nature of the Mountain West is going to be a test for him, and while he plays much bigger than his size, he doesn’t have the strength to be dominant post player. It will be important for Davis to become a much better shooter, especially facing up out of the low post or at the elbow on the high post. Without the ability to knock down shots consistently, defenders can lay off Davis. A solid defender, Davis will need to develop his footwork defending on the perimeter and using his body to defend in the post. Steve Fisher’s offense should allow Davis space to operate and the adjustment should not be too big for Davis to handle.
Andre Dawkins, Duke, Guard, 6’5, 215
(2011-12) 8.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 40.0 FG%, 73.9 FT%, 39.2 3FG%
Dawkins is returning after a redshirt season to deal with some personal issues. Dawkins has made his name as a long-range specialist (40% 3FG for his career) but he has a great understanding of the game and his understanding of how to space the floor helps create opportunities for his teammates. Dawkins is a capable ballhandler and can hit the mid-range jumper off the dribble or get to the basket against the right match-up. Dawkins also does a very good job moving without the ball, either getting open for his jumper or cutting towards the rim for an easy basket. Dawkins understands how to play defense well and is capable of containing his man out on the perimeter, though he does need to work on some areas as discussed below.
What he needs to show this season: Dawkins’ long-range shooting is what has gotten him attention, but he needs to show his versatility more for the next level. It may be difficult in the Duke offense where Dawkins ability to spread the defense can be important. On defense, Dawkins needs to be quicker with his feet and making sure to lead his man towards the help defense when needed. It remains to be seen what role Dawkins will have after redshirting last season, but at the least he should provide leadership and another shooter to play opposite Rasheed Sulaimon on the wing.
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
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