Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small Forwards. ...65 players to watch in the NCAA Tournament

The Small Forward - in our opinion - has to be a threat from the deep perimeter. Many players can play SF defensively - but can they stretch a defense when on the offensive end? Let's look at our list of Small Forwards to watch in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

1. Laurence Bowers - Missouri - 6'8" 205. Soph. ...Bowers can run and finish and he is extremely efficient. Check out his dunking ability in this tidy feature by a Columbia TV outlet. His .659 EFR stacks up historically well with successful NBA Small Forwards. …He is the rare SF athlete that has more assists than turnovers and he shoots 56% FG. ...He is a highlight reel dunker that excites fans. ...Bowers, as a sophomore, is Missouri's third-leading scorer (10.2 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (5.6 rpg). ...He will need to become more of a Small Forward quality ball-handler. ...He is known to be a tough kid. ...Right handed. ...Bowers will play in the 2010 NCAA Tournament with a hurt wrist that may require surgery in the post-season. For more on his injury - read this from the Columbia Tribune.

2. Damion James - Texas - 6'8" 224. SR. ...James really benefited from returning to Texas after testing the NBA Draft waters. He is going to immediately help an NBA team with his combo of athleticism, and toughness. This year, James averaged 18 points, and ten rebounds on a Texas team that struggled with their guard play. ...James' face-up shooting, and his ability to rebound at the THREE position are also crucial elements in making him unique. He is not a guy that is going to hit a ton of three point shots. He is more effective from 17 feet and in. ...Tougher than most NBA THREE's. ...James has never missed a game. ...He never shies from contact. He has a nice combination of ruggedness and ability to come off screens and knock down mid-range jump shots. Good athlete with an NBA body. ...Broad shoulders. He rebounds - even outside his area! He runs. He finishes - even in traffic. ...Squares himself nicely when he shoots. ...Quick reactions. ...From a very small town (Nacogdoches, TX.). …His weakness is his free throw shooting at 64% for his career at Texas. He hits a solid 35% from long range for his career.

3. Elias Harris - Gonzaga - 6'7" 215 Frosh. ...One of the best freshman in the NCAA is Elias Harris who is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game. He has toughness and he ATTACKS the rim with the dribble. He shoots 54% FG and he rebounds. …Harris is from Germany and he played in the European Championships before coming to Gonzaga. …He likes to drive and will pass up an open jumper if there is any hint of a chance to take it to the hole. However, he does keep defenses honest with his three-point shooting. His 46% from beyond the arc is very impressive. …Well conditioned and seems to have energy when others are spent. ...Here is a link to a nice feature on Harris from the Mark Few Show.

4. Darrington Hobson - New Mexico - 6'7" 205 Jr. ...Hobson is, in my estimation, a knucklehead with loads of talent. The 2009-10 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year is versatile and can get to the rim with the dribble or he can shoot the long ball. He plays at NBA speed. …He has poor shot selection and could be more efficient but his swagger is also an asset. He has tremendous self-confidence. He is an active on-ball defender and he rebounds in traffic. His offensive rebounding can be impressive. ...At the end of the day - I say "buyer beware" with this kid. I've seen him chew out teammates and talk back to referees. I've seen him get technical fouls that have hurt his team.

5. Gordon Hayward - Butler - 6'8" 180. Soph. ...Among the most polished players is Gordon Hayward, the 2009-10 Horizon League Player of the Year. He is a 6'8" kid that has guard-like skills due to a late growth spurt. As a high school freshman the right-hander stood 5'11". By his Senior season as a prep he was 6'8"! He can dribble, pass, and shoot (with a soft touch), and as his body matures (weight gain) he is catching up to the competition in the physical sense. A smooth wing player that makes smart decisions, Hayward also brings experience in the form of a past USA Basketball U-19 stint. ...Used occasionally to bring the ball up the floor. ...He posted sophomore averages of 16 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. His career Butler shooting numbers of 48% FG, and 82 % FT are rock solid. ...Was also an excellent tennis player in high school.

6. Lazar Hayward - Marquette. 6'6" 225. Jr. ...Among our favorite players in the NCAA is Lazar Hayward. He is tough yet poised and plays like a seasoned veteran. ...He has a wide and strong body - weighing in at 225+ lbs. but he seems to get anywhere he needs to get. He has a quick second jump and he is unselfish. He will sacrifice his body for the team - often taking charges. ...Offensively - he is nice with his back-to-basket game. He has a quick spin move that befuddles defenders. He can hit a three point shot (34%) or bang inside. Mostly - he plays offense from 15' and in. ...He is averaging 18 points, and eight boards per game. …Not a great ball handler or passer but he can put the ball in the hole. …79% FT, for his career. ...He plays under control. ...The kind of kid that accepts a challenge. ...I think Lazar Hayward is good enough all-around to be an NBA player yet I doubt he will be a star.

7. Tim Abromaitis - Notre Dame - 6'8" 235 Jr. ... One of the game's deadliest shooters is Tim Abromaitis. This season he hit 81 three point shots at 44%. He may not be able to guard Small Forwards in the NBA. Foot speed is a concern. That said, Abromaitis is a kid that understands basketball (his father played at UConn and brother Jason played at Yale). …Abromaitis moves well without the ball and he is an excellent shooter with super deep range. This season he averaged 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in Big East Conference games. …51% FG shooter, and 89% FT.

8. Kevin Jones - West Virginia 6'8" 250 Soph. ...Kevin Jones is everywhere! He is one of those players that has a nose for action. His coach Bob Huggins says he is a great kid that he does not have to worry about. He is never late and he knows all the plays. …He is strong and at this stage of his career he is more of a Power Forward really. He finishes well in transition. He might remind you of a Corey Maggette (but not as athletic at same age). ...At the next level, Jones will likely find himself playing Small Forward. …He does have ability to score from both inside and outside. As a sophomore - his averages are ten points, and six rebounds per game. ...He is an athletic right handed player but his speed is not great. He also needs to become a better ball handler as we've seen him struggle to handle intense ball pressure.

9. Kyle Singler - Duke - 6'8" 220. Jr. ...Singler is a scrappy Small Forward that never ceases to amaze with his smarts, boundless energy, and relentless hustle. He was the 2010 ACC Tournament MVP after averaging 21.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while leading Duke to its ninth ACC Championship in the last 12 seasons. He shoots the three well, and he is a great free throw shooter. He rebounds, he scores. ...Named a finalist for the 2010 Wooden Award. ...Singler seems to be mentally a step ahead of other players. He reads offensive situations and then makes the proper cut at the precise time to help his team. He is unselfish. …Limited in taking players off the dribble but he does possess a great shot fake that he uses to get free. ...He has range out to the three point line which helps spread any defense. …Focused. ...High hoops I.Q. …Singler is Duke's most well rounded player.

10. Quincy Pondexter - Washington 6'7" 220 SR. ... Pondexter is a player I like. He has superior energy and always seems to give an honest effort. He was named first team All-Pac-10 this season. ...Pondexter is an alert swingman/scorer that I think will be more of a TWO than a THREE in the NBA. He set a Pac-10 record with five 'player of the week' honors this season. He scored 19.8 ppg (second in Pac 10). .…He is said to be a hard worker - winning the team's "hardest worker" award two years in a row from 2007-08 through 2008-09 (both seasons included Jon Brockman as a teammate). …Pondexter is feisty. …Quick jumper. ...A good but not GREAT athlete. ...Good defender. A 2006 graduate of San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, CA where he played with the Lopez twins. His father, Roscoe, played college basketball for Lute Olson at Long Beach State before being drafted in the third round of the 1974 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, the 53rd pick overall ... Roscoe played 10 years of professional basketball overseas.

11. Jimmy Butler - Marquette 6'6" 215 Jr. ... His coach (Buzz Williams) calls him the hardest working kid he's ever coached. …Jimmy Butler is a late bloomer that has improved by leaps and bounds since starting his collegiate career at a Junior College. …He rarely takes a bad shot - which is reflected in his career 53% FG shooting. ...He is smart - with a nearly two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. ...He is a good athlete with hang-time in his jumping ability. ...This season Butler averages 15 points and six rebounds per game. His three-point shooting ability is a key part of his evolving game. He doesn't shoot a high volume of threes but he makes a great percentage of the long ball shots he throws up. He is 16-32 beyond the arc for an even 50% this season.

12. Joseph Fulce - Marquette 6'7" 205 Jr. ...An under the radar legitimate player is Marquette bench guy Joseph Fulce. He barely plays but when he does - he contributes 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in just 11.6 minutes. …A tremendous rebounder that can also step out and make a three point shot, Fulce is a guy to keep an eye on. He is right handed. He dunks anything he has a chance to dunk. ...He is foul prone. ...Former junior college player that ranked #2 in the nation in rebounding in 2007-08. ...As a senior at Plano (TX.) High School (2005-06), he helped guide the team to the state title. Joseph's cousin is Jimmy King, 1991 Mr. Basketball in Texas at Plano East and a member of Michigan's Fab 5.

13. Jamar Samuels - Kansas St. 6'7" 215 Soph. ...Samuels is another guy that is really playing Power Forward but will most likely need to transition to SF if he makes it to the NBA. ...He has a big NBA body with long arms. ...Averaging 12 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes per game this season. ...Right handed. …He can hit a three point shot but does not attempt many (19-46 41% this season). ...Was redshirt as a freshman. ...Played on the AAU circuit with the DC Assault alongside Michael Beasley. ...You can follow Jamar on Twitter.

Two more worth watching : De'Sean Butler - West Virginia, Damion Johnson - Minnesota.

65 Players to watch: Point Guards / Shooting Guards / Power Forwards / Centers

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