Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Players to watch in the NCAA Tournament. ...The Shooting Guards
Jimmer Freddette - BYU 6'2" 195 Senior. - Jimmer Fredette is a phenomenal scorer. He is a combo-guard that leads the nation at 28.5 points per game. He can create his own scoring opportunities off the dribble. Right handed. ...He is a tremendously accurate shooter (40% from three and .90% FT). Freddette is coming off a Mountain West Tournament where he had a 52 point game vs. New Mexico. In that game - he hit seven triples. ...Good ball handler. ...He has long arms. ...Fredette has the ability to control his pace. …Not just a three point shooter. …Good with the ball in his hands - and capable of making plays at full speed. He has ability to make crazy, circus shots. ...He will jack some quick attempts but you live with it because he can light up the scoreboard like few ever have. Freddette is so popular - he is featured on CNN's website.
Kawhi Leonard - San Diego St. 6'7" 225 Sophomore. ...I am sold on Kawhi Leonard! I could have listed him as a Small Forward, or Power Forward - but with his unique skill set that is highlighted by a scorer's instinct, ball-handling ability and rebounding prowess - I decided to place in him the Shooting Guard pool. Really - he is just a basketball player. Leonard has big hands and a nose for the ball. He is a SPECIAL talent where rebounding is concerned. There are very few players who have what I call "suction cups" (for hands). Leonard is one of the few. His ability to grab balls sticks out like animation in reality. Imagine a player with guard-like dribbling ability that can get you nearly eleven boards per game and you begin to understand the rare value in Kawhi Leonard. He also finishes in transition, and powers through opponents with an advanced dribble-drive game. ...He has more assists than turnovers. Leonard's weakness to date is his three-point shooting (.240 career). ...If you wonder why San Diego State has been unusually good this season, Kawhi Leonard is the biggest factor.
DeShaun Thomas - Ohio St. 6'7" 221 Freshman - Thomas only plays an average of 14 minutes per game off the bench as a Buckeye freshman but his efficiency and past accomplishments lead us to believe he may be the best Shooting Guard (or Small Forward) prospect in this tournament when we look back at it in five years. ...Thomas was Mr. Basketball 2010 in Indiana where he was a McDonald's All-American. He is an NBA athlete that can score and rebound at a high rate. ...Thomas won two Indiana state high school championships (2008 & 2009).
Mario Little - Kansas 6'6" 218 Senior ...It says something about how deep and good Kansas is when a guy that plays a shade over 14 minutes per game can be a possible NBA player. No else seems to be on Little - but I've seen enough to be convinced he has a shot. Little shoots 50% FG, 77% FT, and 39% 3-Pt. ...As a guard - he helps on the boards, and he has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. ...He may play only a handful of minutes but when he is on the court - there is no drop-off for the Jayhawks. ...Little was arrested in December (2010) on four counts of battery, two counts of criminal damage to property, and one count of criminal trespassing.
Jeremy Lamb - Connecticut 6'5" 185 Freshman - Lamb is an athletic guard with ball-handling skills. He averages ten points, and four rebounds per game as a sidekick to Kemba Walker. Lamb stands out for his leaping ability and speed. He looks like a track athlete. He has a feel for the game - evidenced by his solid 1.19-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He could improve his deep shooting (only .321 from beyond arc). It will interesting to see how Lamb blossoms once Walker moves on to the NBA, and Lamb becomes a bigger part of the offense.
Austin Freeman - Georgetown 6'3" 235 Senior. - Freeman is as steady as they come. The First-Team All Big East selection is a shot-making guard with a wide lower-base that allows him get good position. He scores 18 points per game on a nice 49% FG shooting. He makes his free throws; this season leading the Big East at 87%. ...Freeman is solidly built, and he can withstand contact and still hit a shot. He owns a 1.41:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He also can knock down the three-ball (37% this season). ...He improved his scoring average every year at Georgetown.
C.J. Wilcox - Washington 6'5" 190 Freshman - Wilcox has enjoyed an increased role in recent Washington games and he has emerged as a real prospect. Wilcox is a good shooter that is a threat beyond the arc (.399). He also knocks down his free throws (.828), and has more assists than turnovers. For the season - Wilcox is only averaging eight points per contest but in the last five games he is scoring 13.5 ppg. He was recently named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. ...Wilcox scored 24 points in the second half of a win over UCLA (March 3, 2011).
Billy White - San Diego St. 6'8" 235 Senior. - It is probably a stretch to list White as a Shooting Guard (he is a SF on offense) but from a defensive standpoint - White often ends up guarding the opponent's best scorer. And without fail - White has defended well - even when chasing smaller guys that should be quicker. Last season, White led the Mountain West Conference in field goal percentage. He is excellent around the hoop. He's not the scorer that Cedric Ceballos was - but White reminds me of Ceballos with his ability to finish in transition, and work the baseline. White's shooting numbers are solid across the board FG: .567, FT: .750, 3-Pt: .333 (only 8-24 this season).
Travis Leslie - Georgia 6'4" 205 Junior. - Leslie is a supreme athlete. He's the kind of kid with a high ceiling that will likely improve dramatically when his skills catch up with his elite running and jumping gifts (think Shannon Brown). ...Right handed. He is quick and gets steals at a high rate. …Slasher. Gets to the hoop and scores. Has decent vision - and will drop a nifty backdoor assist. …He is great in the open court. …He can knock down a mid-range jump shot. However - from deep, his percentages are low (.317 this season). Leslie's free throw shooting has improved each season and is now over 80%. The upside of Leslie makes him a guy I would pay particularly close attention to.
Sean Kilpatrick - Cincinnati 6'4" 215 Freshman - Kilpatrick was among the best freshman in the Big East this season. He was a heralded recruit that played in the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic high-school all-star game. ...Kilpatrick can shoot it - hitting on 39% of his three-point attempts this season. ...And he can also move without the ball - often finishing off timely cuts. ...Owns a nice hesitation dribble. Right handed. Kilpatrick is 21 years old.
John Jenkins - Vanderbilt 6'4" 215 Sophomore - Jenkins unfortunately is not 100% headed into the NCAA Tournament. He is fighting a toe injury. Jenkins is a shooter/scorer that reminds of a slower Monta Ellis. Jenkins led the SEC in scoring (19.5 ppg) and 3-pointers made (96). ...He can really stroke the ball 46% FG, 89% FT, and 40% 3-pt.
Tre'Von Willis - UNLV 6'4" 195 Senior. - If you are looking for a kid with some swagger - look no further than Willis. The Runnin' Rebel Senior has battled back from knee surgery to be a big-shot maker and team leader. He averaged 14.5 points and 3.8 assists per game in conference play this season. ...Willis will accept a challenge, and he has a variety of skills. He shoots just enough from beyond the arc to keep defenses honest. He owns a good 1.69-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. ...Willis played his freshman season at Memphis, and then sat out a year after transferring to Vegas.
Orlando Johnson - UCSB 6'5" 205 Jr. - If you've not heard of Orlando Johnson - he would be reason enough to watch UCSB in their opening round matchup with Florida. Johnson is a skilled scorer that shoots the ball well, and gets to the free throw line. He ranked 15th in the country this season in points per game at 21.1. ..He has a scorer's mentality - and thus jacks some ill-advised shots but he also has knack for making many off-balance, tough looks. His shooting numbers are solid at 48% FG, 81% FT, 41 % 3-pt.
Khris Middleton - Texas A&M 6'7" 215 Sophomore. - Middleton is the first in what is sure to be a line of players that channel Kevin Durant. He doesn't have Durant's size - but his body movements are similar. He is a scorer that has a quick release on his shot. …He uses a quick jab step and one dribble to get space for an accurate jumper. ...He plays mostly under control. He is an impressive offensive player. Smooth. Right handed. ...Could be a better ball handler.
William Buford - Ohio State. 6'5" 205 Junior. ...Buford is the classic wing, jump shooting, guard that will certainly land in the NBA. If you give him minutes - he's going to produce double-figure scoring. I wish he would mix in more drives to the rim but at the same time - Buford is very good at what he does well; jump shoot you to death. His shooting numbers are impressive at 47%FG, 84% FT, 43% 3-pt. ...He also can handle the ball a bit as indicated by his solid 1.63:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.