(First posted at Upside & Motor.)
Berkeley’s Tyrone Wallace is one of those classic cases that illustrate the risk of returning to college once you already established yourself as a pro prospect of some sort.
He entered the season rated as an early second round pick by Draft Express but currently ranks 56th in their latest mock and will probably end up undrafted, since teams prefer taking European prospects in the bottom third of the second round. That’s because of most of them are often under contract in Europe and are unlikely to sign the one-year qualifying offer teams are required to tender second round picks in order to retain their draft rights.
The decline in Wallace’s stock is partly a result of Berkeley having an underwhelming season so far, despite the fact it has one of the most talented teams in college basketball. Wallace is now considered a point guard unable to elevate the level of play of those around him, though I’d argue this is mostly on Cuonzo Martin failing to implement a system that fits the roster he has built.
But the decline in Wallace’s status is also on Wallace. He has not shown enough improvement in one specific area that will be essential for his ability to earn a living playing ball given his limitations in athletic ability: his shooting.
Wallace will for sure have a cup of coffee in the league, though, via summer league and preseason – enough of a chance to see if he can stick. He is, after all, a lead ball-handler who stands at six-foot-six with a six-foot-nine wingspan. Some team will be enticed by the flexibility he can potentially provide on both ends and try to take a look at whether its development coaches can fix his shooting.
The most appealing aspect of Wallace’s profile is his size for his position. At six-foot-six, he has real ball-handling skills and can initiate offense. He is a legit point guard.
Wallace has the handles to go side-to-side to create separation in isolation and snake dribble to change speeds out of the pick-and-roll. His height helps him see over the top of most point guards he’s been matched up with at the college level and has proven to be an asset passing out of dribble penetration in traffic.
Wallace is not one of those pass-first point guards who anticipate passing lanes a second ahead of everybody else on the floor and is a bit turnover prone but has shown good feel for taking advantage of a collapsing defense, assisting on 28% of Berkeley’s scores when he has been on the floor this season – according to basketball-reference.
His size could also be an asset for him to take smaller players into the post. His 205-pound frame offers him an edge to try bullying most point guards in the low block and by simply dribbling his way into a quick post-up, Wallace can inverse the offense and force the defense to scramble and reset in a way they are not used to guarding or overreact to his size advantage and collapse. This could be a real weapon for a team with enough shooting at the other positions, which is unfortunately not the case at Berkeley.
Defensively, Wallace’s size offers switching flexibility. His 205-pound frame isn’t ideal for him to pick up true big men and try holding his ground on the post or boxing them out. But he has enough length for a coach to feel comfortable with him exchanging assignment with any other perimeter player or check a big with a less physical style of play.
Wallace can also pitch in on the defensive glass. He collected 20.3% of opponents’ misses last season, a terrific rate for any position let alone a point guard. That percentage is down to 13.2% this season due to the presences of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb but that’s still an above average contribution for someone his position.
LACK OF QUICKNESS
Wallace’s size comes at the expense of his quickness, though, and that costs him in individual defense. He is too big to navigate over ball-screens and recover quickly to his man attacking downhill, leaving his big men exposed to dribble drivers penetrating the lane from a position of strength.
His length should be an asset to help him contest or block shots and deflect passes as a trailer but Wallace often doesn’t recover to his man fast enough to make these plays. He has only 131 steals and 54 blocks in 118 appearances.
Wallace has also struggled chasing shooters around baseline screens, often needing to shoot the gap to catch up to his man and risking losing track of him completely as he navigates traffic.
On offense, Wallace’s lack of quickness translates in his inability to blow by his man in isolation and turning the corner out of the pick-and-roll. Aside from this, he is also a part of an offense that is unable to space the defense adequately in the half-court. As a result, Wallace is averaging 5.1 two-point jump-shots (almost always off the bounce) per 40 minutes, according to hoop-data.
SHOOTING & FINISHING
He has been improving year-to-year; from hitting just 29.9% of his two-point jumpers as a freshman through 34.6% as a sophomore and 37.4% as a junior to 40.3% as a senior. Such consistent development is encouraging but yet not enough for him to command respect from the defense. Opponents still sag off Wallace consistently and dear him to beat them from the outside.
That’s also an issue when he is off the ball and attempts spotting up on the weak-side. Wallace has missed 71.2% of his 368 three-point shots over his 3,730 minutes in college, carrying absolutely no gravitational pull.
And of significant concern is the fact that he has also been a poor foul shooter this whole time, converting just 60.5% of his 474 free throws. Such struggles in dead-ball, standing-still, set shooting make it tough to envision Wallace developing into a passable shot maker in the near future.
His inability to make outside shots were always going to hold Wallace back but if he was able to hit his free throws more decently and make his true shooting percentage more palatable, Wallace would generate more interest because he has proven able to get to the basket consistently despite his lack of quickness.
He has taken 41% of his shots at the rim due to his ability to maintain his balance and keep his momentum through contact. Wallace can’t attack help at the rim with explosiveness to finish with power but has shown decent touch on non-dunk finishes in traffic and a tear-drop to shoot over length, scoring on 64% of his shots at the basket this season. He is also earning 6.5 foul shots per 40 minutes, which would be great.
But because he’s such a poor free throw shooter, he fails to fully maximize the one above average aspect he brings to the table. Adding it all up, Wallace is a guy who can’t score at the foul line, can’t score when kept away from the lane and can’t score from three-point range. The result is a player with a career true shooting percentage of 45.6%, which is obviously not awesome.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara