Jaylen Hands was the 20th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class.
In his first year at UCLA, the 19-year-old accumulated 781 minutes of college basketball experience. Other than that, he has 210 minutes at the 2015 and 2016 adidas Nations and 77 minutes at the 2016 adidas Eurocamp under his belt.
Most recently, the six-foot-two lead guard averaged 15.7 points per 40 minutes on 49% effective shooting and compiled a 14.7 PER in 31 appearances last season.
Hands was one of the triggermen of UCLA’s motion offense, often creating off the dribble on pick-and-rolls on the side of the floor and out of ball reversals, though there were still plenty of instances where he ran middle high pick-and-roll late in the shot clock. UCLA offered pretty good spacing on most of those, at least for a college team, so the limitations he showed in terms of getting to and finishing at the rim feel particularly more relevant to him than some of the other lead guard prospects.
As he shared most of his minutes with Aaron Holiday, part of his role was to space the floor as well.
On the other end, the odds are against him due to his measurements. He is unable to contain dribble penetration due to his 179-pound frame and contest shots effectively due to his eight-foot-two standing reach. But Hands proved he can execute the scheme and is instinctual enough to create some events making plays in the passing lanes and contributing in the defensive glass.
For a small player, he doesn’t have particularly impressive burst but proved to be very resourceful getting by his man one-on-one or maneuvering him into the pick-and-roll. Hands keeps the ball in a string, is able to stop-and-start in a split-second, has a hesitation move and can shake his man side-to-side with shiftiness.
The results were mixed in terms of getting all the way to the rim. He is a powerful leaper off one or two feet with some space to load up in transition but lacks the same explosiveness to go up strong in traffic – taking just 23.4% of his shots at the rim and averaging just 4.1 foul shots per 40 minutes.
When he did get all the way to the basket, Hands showed he can hang and adjust his body in the air and managed to finish through contact every once in a while but lacks strength to finish on his way down and length to complete reverses or up-and-under’s – converting just 59.3% of his 59 shots at the rim.
Given his body composition, Hands is probably best suited to try making a living from the in-between area as a scoring threat off dribble penetration but he struggled with his efficiency from mid-range as well – hitting just 30.8% of his 78 two-point shots away from the basket.
Hands has decent touch on his running floater but didn’t do well on stop-and-pop pull-ups. He can create decent separation crossing over into his pull-up, even proving capable of hitting some long bombs from deep range, but has a low release out in front when he brings the ball up off the dribble and doesn’t always get a good arc.
That’s odd when you consider that his catch-and-shoot release is lot more textbook. Hands releases the ball from the top and, together with his good elevation, manages to shoot over closeouts comfortably – nailing a respectable 37.4% of his 115 three-point shots last season, at a pace of 5.9 such attempts per 40 minutes, though it’s fair to point out only a little more than half of his makes were assisted, so his pull-up stroke working or not might just be a matter of how much space the defender gives him.
Hands is an adept passer off dribble penetration on kick-outs and drop-offs and flashed some advanced work in terms of being able to engage the help defense by going up and then deliver wraparound passes.
But he is not the sort of passer who anticipates passing lanes before they come open and didn’t do anything particularly impressive in the pick-and-roll – assisting on just 18.7% of UCLA’s scores when he was on the floor and posting a lousy 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.
As a consequence of his low efficiency and average of 2.9 turnovers per 40 minutes (displeasing for someone with a low 21.8% usage rate), Hands had the worst offensive rating on the team among rotation players.
He has no strength to contain dribble penetration in isolation defense, can’t contest shots effectively due to his short standing reach and can’t put up much of a fight when the opponent posts him up.
But Hands checks all the boxes that are possible for him to, at least in terms of trying, if not necessarily being able to make a real positive impact.
He gets skinny navigating over picks at the point of attack and hustles back to try bothering or challenging the ball handler from behind.
As a weak-side defender, Hands can run a spot-up shooter off his shot and stay in front as the puts the ball on the floor, rotates off the weak-side to help crowd the area near the basket and will even go up to try “protecting the rim” via verticality in instances where he finds himself stepping up to the front of the goal as the last line of defense. He is also instinctual getting into passing lanes, though his six-foot-five wingspan prevents him from being a real difference maker getting steals and deflections.
More impressive of all, though, are his contributions on the glass. Taking advantage of excellent boxout work by Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman, Hands showed a knack for chasing the ball off the rim and collected 14.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season – a great mark for a lead guard.
 DOB: 2/12/1999
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