Pure Shooter, Stretch Big

Cole Huff Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Creighton’s Cole Huff is not a particularly special player.

But he is an above average three-point shooter who also happens to be fairly tall with a well-built frame and guys like him will always draw some sort of interest.

As an example, Brooklyn paid Beau Beech some guaranteed money so he’d go to training camp with them and they could be sure to have him in their D-League team. Beech can pass some but for the most part he’s just a sick shooter who happens to be tall and can’t do much of anything else. Steve Novak, for instance, is still in the NBA and Matt Bonner just now retired.

Huff could very well end up following a similar path if things break his way or perhaps even a more lucrative one elsewhere.

He’s certainly a long shot, though. Draft Express only ranks him 32nd among seniors.

SHOOTING

The six-foot-eight gunner is not the sort of dynamic moving threat who can sprint around staggered screens, plant his feet and let it fly in a split second.

But he’s not a mere weak-side open-shot shooter either.

The stretch four has proven able to make shots out of the pick-and-pop and Creighton has him involved in quite a few double screens in concert with Justin Patton. He has a bit of a long release but sets his base quickly, gets good elevation and launches before the scrambling defender can run him off the line or contest his shot effectively.

Huff has nailed 48.3% of his 60 three-point shots this season, while averaging seven attempts per 40 minutes – according to basketball-reference. In his three-and-a-half collegiate career, split between Nevada and Creighton, he’s hit 38.3% out of 412 such looks – which account for more than half of his live ball attempts.

Huff’s shot also makes him a credible threat from the post.

Given he’s a volume jump-shooter, opponents might feel comfortable switching against him, especially considering he hasn’t shown much of a post game or as an offensive rebounder[1] to prevent them from doing it regularly.

But when he turns and faces his defender, Huff can shoot over just about any wing at the college level due to the high point in his release. He’s hit just 38.1% of his two-point jumpers this season but made those shots at a 51.4% clip last season – according to hoop-math.

OFF THE DRIBBLE

But ultimately the limitations in Huff’s athleticism and skill level are likely to be obstacles for him to ever make it to the NBA.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old (March birthday) doesn’t have a lot of fluidity attacking closeouts and struggles mightily at the basket. He doesn’t have enough explosiveness elevating out of one foot in traffic and can’t hang or adjust his body in the air to finish against rim protectors.

Huff has made just half of his shots at the rim this season, after converting a similarly poor 54.3% of them last season.

He showed some ability to create separation and make tough stop-and-pop mid-range jumpers in isolation and out of the pick-and-roll a year ago, aside from earning a half-decent 4.2 foul shots per 40 minutes. So, he’s not hopeless if in need to get a shot off in emergency situations.

But on this year’s team, Huff doesn’t have any shot creation responsibility anymore, posting a 16.9% usage rate. And he’s never shown anything in terms of creating for others, whether that’s on the move off driving against a closeout or helping facilitate offense from the elbows – assisting on less than five percent of his teams’ scores when he’s been on the floor throughout his college career.

DEFENSE

He gets on a stance in individual defense, works to shuffle his feet against face-up big men, puts in the effort to contest the shots on closeouts and is attentive with his boxout responsibilities.

Huff can be someone who could be hidden in a healthy defensive ecosystem, make his rotations and not screw up.

But he can’t make plays that truly make a difference and doesn’t offer any sort of positional versatility.

Huff doesn’t have enough lateral quickness to stay in front of perimeter players on switches, speed to run shooters off the three-point line regularly, hops to block shot near the basket, motor to collect defensive rebounds at an above average rate or anticipation skills to force some turnovers.

Among rotation players, Huff has the third worst defensive rating on Creighton.

[1] Huff has collected an amazing 1.8% of Creighton’s misses when he’s been on the floor this season. His role as a floor-spacer must be taken into consideration but you’d assume a six-foot-eight player would be able to luck into more than just five offensive rebounds over 342 minutes.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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