Ziaire Williams Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Ziaire Williams was the eighth-ranked recruit in the 2020 high school class[1].

After spending his first three years of high school at Notre Dame High School, the six-foot-eight wing transferred to Sierra Canyon for his senior season.

He joined a star-studded squad that featured BJ Boston, Terren Frank, Amari Bailey and the sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and went on to play a demanding schedule with an absurd number of miles traveled for teenagers, featuring more appearances on ESPN’s platforms than the Knicks.

Williams ended the season as the best player on the team on offense. Sierra Canyon played a my turn, your turn (Boston), my turn, your turn, his turn (Bailey, sometimes Frank) approach in the half-court, mostly relying on the brilliance of its wings in isolation, and occasionally in pick-and-roll.

The 18-year-old[2] exceled at creating his offense one-on-one and the sheer volume of talent at Sierra Canyon’s disposal consistently overwhelmed most of the competition it faced in California.

On the other end, he held his own when challenged one-on-one and showed glimpses of being able to defend the point of attack effectively but needs to develop a lot physically to be considered an option to guard the power wings his height suggests he should match up with in the pros.

The Stanford-commit also did not prove to be much of an asset in help defense, which was sort of a disappointment considering his combination of physical profile and athletic ability.

ESPN ranked fifth in its way-too-early 2021 mock draft and Williams enters his freshman year college viewed as one of those prospects could end up the number one pick in the draft one year from now.

ISOLATION OFFENSE

  • Aggressive pull-up shooter
    • At times overaggressive – not shy of taking long-range pull-up bombs early in the shot clock on no-pass possessions
    • Plays with good rhythm stopping on a dime and rises with good balance off the bounce
    • Has shown a knack for getting to his spots around the elbow
    • Creates separation via crossovers, hesitation moves and going between the legs into a step-back – has a pretty good handle for someone his height
  • Has a quick first step, not just off the catch but out of a standstill position as well, and managed to get to the basket in a position of strength constantly in high school
    • Not very quick with the ball and struggles to play through contact but can pivot into a well-coordinated spin move to gain ground when he’s forced out of a straight-line drive
    • Prone to driving into crowds
    • Has shown some comfort going to his left hand around the basket
    • Prone to challenging rim protectors without a plan
    • Not strong enough to finish through contact regularly due to his thin 180-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-eight height
    • Explosive leaper off one foot with a head of steam behind him but tends to act more as a rim-level finisher in traffic
    • Can adjust his body in the air for double-clutch finishes and reverses around rim protectors
  • Has flashed a floater off a jump-stop to finish over length from the in-between area
  • Can make basic reads on kickouts off drawing two to the ball and drop-offs off engaging the last line of defense

PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE

  • Took some smooth two-dribble pull-ups in side pick-and-roll
  • Ran the occasional middle high pick-and-roll off a catch-and-hold
    • Can deliver basic jump-passes to the roll man over the top
    • Hasn’t shown anything particularly impressive in terms of creating for others on more advanced reads
    • Plays with some pace working to create separation for a one-dribble pull-up

TRANSITION OFFENSE

  • Passes ahead to speed up the pace of the game
  • Can grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and take it end-to-end
    • Explosive leaper off one foot with a head of steam behind him to go up with power for windmill dunks
  • Explosive leaper off two feet to play above the rim as a target for lobs filling the lanes

POST OFFENSE

  • Will take a smaller/weaker matchup to the post every once in a while
  • More often looks for basic turnaround fadeaway jumpers, at times off a hiked leg
  • Has shown glimpses of a face-up package, for now most commonly looking for a no-dribble jumper off a jab-step

FLOOR SPACING

  • Has a very fluid catch-and-shoot stroke
    • Catches on the hop
    • Needs a slight dip for rhythm but it’s not that pronounced
    • Fully extends himself for a high release
    • Has great guide-hand discipline on the follow through
    • Shows great weight transfer on spot-ups
  • More of an open-shot shooter at this point of his development, having not yet shown much versatility to his release
  • Has great rhythm and balance shot-faking into a one-dribble pull-up off an escape dribble against flyby closeouts

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

  • Approaches the opponent in more of a hunched down posture rather than bending his knees to get down in a proper stance
  • Has a few lateral slides in him in one direction to stay in front out in space but is unable to contain dribble penetration through contact at this point of development
    • Has shown glimpses of attempting to leverage his length into reaching around for steals or taps
  • Flashed some side-to-side quickness to stay attached to smaller players in isolation
  • Puts in the effort to contest pull-up jumpers and can get a block on occasion
  • Doesn’t do well sliding cleanly around screens but works to go over the pick at the point of attack as well as he can and hustles in pursuit to challenge shots effectively from behind

HELP DEFENSE

  • Hustles back in transition and can pick up the occasional chase-down block
  • Decent position defense clogging driving lanes, not so much to leverage his length into making plays from the side but stunting in an extra step to draw a charge
  • Can jump a passing lane but doesn’t really play with the sort of intensity needed to wreak havoc to create steals and deflections in volume
  • Doesn’t really mix it up on scrums under the rim
    • Not always all that inclined to boxout
    • Pretty soft with his boxouts whenever he does put a body on whoever is close by
  • Does contribute to the rebounding process by crashing the glass, impressing his explosiveness chasing the ball off the rim
  • Extremely uneven with his closeouts
    • At times, impresses with his urgency and his balance running the shooter off the line and subsequently sliding fluidly to defend off the bounce
    • At others, flies by and gets blown by

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: Sep/12/2001

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

Cade Cunningham Scouting Report

CONTEXT

If you are reading this blog, odds are you know plenty enough about Cade Cunningham by now, so you don’t really need a write-up on his background, and I’ll just update you with the latest developments;

  • Despite being the sort of prospect NBA teams plan to tank for years in advance, he ended up the second-ranked recruit in the 2020 high school class[1] because Jalen Green had a killer senior year at Prolific Prep
  • With Cunningham leading the way, Montverde Academy dominated high school basketball in Florida, to the point where it started to become widely speculated as perhaps the greatest high school team ever
  • In one of Montverde’s appearances on ESPN, a graphic showcasing Cunningham’s profile had the line “complete player” in the section under scouting report. I first snarked at the simplicity of the assessment but upon further thought, it is actually about right
  • The NCAA punished Oklahoma State with a postseason ban for this next season and there was trepidation at first that the six-foot-seven point-guard would then opt to leave school and sit out the year or join the G-League but he later announced he intended to fulfill his commitment
    • It is worth keeping in mind that part of why the 18-year-old[2] agreed to spend his pre-NBA year at Oklahoma State is the presence of his older brother in the coaching staff
  • ESPN ranked him first in its way-too-early 2021 mock draft

PASSING

  • Acted more as a primary scorer in the most prominent games this past season but it is worth establishing first that his court vision and the versatility of his passing remain the most appealing attributes of his skillset
  • Consistently impresses with the timing, touch, and accuracy of his deliveries in transition
    • Hook passes to the corner
    • Shovel passes to the wing
    • No-look passes with a numbers advantage
    • Lobs on the move with perfect timing
  • Has developed remarkable manipulation skills for someone his age against a set defense in the half-court
    • Passes over the top in side pick-and-roll
    • Crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body in middle pick-and-roll
    • Well-timed pocket passes
    • Lobs off putting the on-ball defender on his back and engaging the help defender to free up the roll man
    • Hammer passes to weakside shooters off deep dribble penetration
  • Showed in his time with the United States at the U19 World Cup a year ago that he doesn’t need to monopolize possession to the ball to impact ball movement, able to act as a connective tissue to create for others against a scrambling defense as well
    • Kickouts and drop-offs off engaging the last line of defense on straight-line drives
    • Extra passes around the horn to keep the offense humming
    • Touch passes off cuts

IN-BETWEEN SCORING

  • Has good feel for using or declining picks at the point of attack to create separation or get into the lane
  • Continued to show remarkable dexterity and impressive versatility to his finishing over length from the in-between area, able to launch floaters in a multitude of ways
    • Runners
    • Teardrops off euro-steps
    • Floaters off a jump-stop
    • Touch-shots off the catch on cuts
    • Push-shots off a shot-fake to get his defender to flyby
  • One-dribble pull-up jumper off the ball-screen has become very smooth
  • Seemed to want to showcase the development of his pull-up package in isolation a little more this past season
    • Impressed with his calmness not getting sped up late in the shot clock
    • Not very sudden or shifty to shake his man out of position all that often but manages to create separation via crafty ball-handling and footwork with in-and-out dribbles, crossovers and step-backs
    • Doesn’t have a high release on his pull-up jumper but gets good elevation and proved capable of getting his shot off over big men on switches

FINISHING

  • Was consistently able to play through contact in high school thanks to his strong 215-pound frame
  • Struggled as a finisher in a more demanding environment at the U19 World but those issues didn’t seem to carry to the high school season
  • Made strides in terms of protecting the ball in traffic some more
  • Mostly an up-and-down rim-level finisher but started to show some versatility to his finishing package dealing with a help-defender parked between him and the basket
    • Showed the flexibility needed to hang or adjust his body in the air for double clutch and finger-roll finishes
    • Seems more capable and more comfortable of going to his left hand
    • Flashed a very impressive wrong foot, wrong hand layup at one point
    • Can go up with power off one foot in space but hasn’t yet shown to be as explosive in traffic

SHOOTING

  • Release off the catch continues to look pretty fluid
    • Catches on the hop
    • Goes through compact mechanics with a low release out in front but manages to get good elevation to be able to shoot over closeouts comfortably more often than not
  • Hasn’t yet developed the trigger and the footwork to take shots on the move regularly but toyed with some quick bombs joining the offense late in transition
  • Hard to say for sure without data but the brutal struggles he dealt with shooting at the U19 World Cup (when he missed 13 of his 14 three-point shots) apparently didn’t carry to the high school season

POST OFFENSE

  • Pretty comfortable posting up smaller guys
    • Not just an empty bullet, seems to look to do so a couple of times a game
  • Has a patient approach operating with his back to the basket
  • Looks to set up basic right-handed hooks over the top but also flashed a turnaround fadeaway jumper with great fluidity

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

  • Continued to defend opposing point guards primarily and continued to prove himself capable of holding up well enough against smaller players full time
  • Works to go over picks at the point of attack
    • Hustle in pursuit to make plays from behind didn’t stand out as much as it had the previous season but Cunningham has plenty of good video showing his commitment to that task that it is clears he remains capable of acting as an impact defender in the pick-and-roll
  • Bends his knees to get down in a stance defending in isolation
    • Has shown to have several lateral slides in him in one direction to stay in out in space
    • Leverages the strength in his 215-pound frame to contain dribble penetration through contact consistently at the high school level
    • Has flashed lateral quickness to stay attached to smaller guards who can shake him side-to-side
    • Puts in the effort to contest pull-ups
    • Can block a shot defending on the ball

HELP DEFENSE

  • Often attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to pick up the roll man
    • Showed glimpses of explosive leaping ability to block shots coming off the weakside on longer rotations
  • Mixes it up on scrums
    • Helps crowd the area near the basket
    • Can block a shot from the side
    • Often looks to boxout whoever is close by
  • Closeouts, which had been better at the U19 World Cup than the previous season, left something to be desired again this past season

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: Sep/25/2001

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

Scottie Barnes Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Scottie Barnes was the fifth-ranked recruit in the 2020 high school class[1].

After spending the previous two years at NSU University School, the six-foot-eight combo forward transferred to powerhouse Montverde Academy for his senior year of high school and exceled as a star role player on a team so dominant that it was widely speculated as perhaps the greatest high school team ever.

He got to show the versatility of his defense, being able to switch and crossmatch onto perimeter players, as well as log some time at center in alternative lineups.

On offense, the soon-to-be 19-year-old[2] also plays a very attractive style as a shot creator for others on the move, even without handling against a set defense.

There are strong rumors that he’d like to convert into a point guard who does that sort of ball handling against a set defense and that Florida State convinced him to spend his pre-NBA year there in part by offering him a real chance to do so but Barnes projects as more of a connective tissue who can aid ball movement and people movement with handoffs, kickouts out of the short roll, quick ball reversals, by posting up to pass and by hitting cutters slipping backdoor off fake handoffs.

His shooting needs to develop but as the NBA rapidly paces towards a world where wings run pick-and-roll, wings space the floor and wings play center, players like Barnes should be in even higher demand.

ESPN ranked him 14th in its way-too-early 2021 mock draft.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

  • Picked up smaller players on switches a fair amount and checked wings on the perimeter from time-to-time
  • Bends his knees to get down in a stance
  • Defends on the ball with a good deal of intensity, capable of heating up opposing ball handlers of all sizes
  • Can stay attached to smaller players on straight-line drives and proved himself a quick off two feet to block shots at the rim defending on the ball
    • Projects as an option to hold up against guards who shake the defender side-to-side but wasn’t truly tested at the high school level and didn’t do as well as expected in these instances at the U19 World Cup one year ago
  • Showed urgency on his closeouts and proved himself quick enough to run the shooter off his shot and balanced enough to defend off the bounce
  • Was asked to extend conventional pick-and-roll coverage far beyond the foul line
    • Approached the pick-and-roll ball handler with urgency while showing at the three-point line
    • Proved capable of stopping the ball, impressing with his coordination and agility sliding laterally to prevent the ball handler from turning the corner right away off the pick

INTERIOR DEFENSE

  • Logged quite a bit of time at center when Day’ron Sharpe subbed out
    • 210-pound frame at age 19 suggests he’ll be strong enough to handle regular time at the position even as he moves up through the levels
  • Active help defender, stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense and making longer rotations coming off the weakside in help defense
    • Quick leaper off two feet and rumored to have a nine-foot standing reach – can block a shot but didn’t stand out as a regular threat who gets those in volume and puts a lid on the rim
    • Guards with his arms up near the rim, walling up and making it challenging for opponents to finish over him
    • Impressed with his feel for the game making preventive rotations that denied dribble drives space towards driving all the way to the rim
    • Shadows post-ups and intervenes at the last second to block a shot
    • Did not show to be quick enough for multiple effort plays that required him to step up, force a drop-off and turn around quickly to challenge his man at the dunker spot
  • Showed so-so attention to his boxout responsibilities, at times being physical to protect his rebounding area but others missing the task of putting a body on whoever was close by
    • Did not stand out in terms of quickness chasing the ball off the rim

PASSING

  • Can trigger offense on grab-and-go’s off a defensive rebound, not just with basic ball reversals to initiate movement but by running tight pick-and-rolls at the elbow-extended area
    • Turns the corner, looks to engage the big defender, and has the dexterity to deliver quick passes off a live dribble to the roll man diving a step behind him
  • Pretty adept at delivering basic drop-offs and kickouts on the move off drawing two to the ball on straight-line drives
  • Flashed the ability to see the whole floor in one instance where passed crosscourt from one corner to a shooter drifting all the way to the other
  • Montverde didn’t do a lot of work through the elbows, but Barnes proved capable of acting as a hub to facilitate offense from around the same area against zone defenses
  • Posts up to pass and showed really good court vision scanning the floor while operating with his back to the basket
    • Can deliver diagonal passes to the opposite wing
    • Flashed quick touch passes against immediate double teams
  • Reckless passer at times

DRIVING

  • Can take it end-to-end on grab-and-go’s off a defensive rebound
  • Has a decent handle without being pressured and can turn the corner to attack the basket on side pick-and-rolls
    • Not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic but impressed with his coordination euro-stepping his way through the crowd
    • Can launch a floater off a jump-stop but other than that, hasn’t yet developed many resources against rim protectors, most often acting as a basic up-and-down rim-level finisher
  • Doesn’t have a quick first step or much speed with the ball one-on-one
    • Has flashed some shiftiness going side-to-side but most often looked to play through contact on a straight line

FINISHING

  • So-so screener who jogs to screen on pick-and-rolls and hasn’t yet developed advanced techniques
  • Has decent lift of two feet without needing to load up to go up
  • Showed glimpses of very good touch on off-balance non-dunk finishes

SHOOTING

  • Spaced out to the three-point line only on occasion
  • Has a pretty mechanical release at this point of his development
    • Fully extends for a high release but needs time and space to set his feet and load his shot
    • Has no versatility to his release at this point of his development
  • Took a pull-up in an emergency late in the shot clock but doesn’t yet have the dexterity or the touch to act as any sort of a real threat to make jumpers off the bounce for now

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: Jul/31/2001

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

Moses Moody Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Moses Moody was the 45th-ranked recruit in the 2020 high school class[1].

After spending the last two years at powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida, the Little Rock native is joining Arkansas, where he’s expected to replace Isaiah Joe as the team’s top sharpshooter. That seems like a very good fit on the surface, because Eric Musselman ran good sets designed to showcase the versatility of Joe’s release and the hope is that he will manage to do the same for Moody.

The six-foot-five wing primarily spaced the floor via spot-ups at Montverde. He had some opportunities to take shots off light movement (off pindown screens and drifting around the wing) on occasion but in the most critical games, Moody never really had plays that were designed to get him open run for him, which makes it difficult to truly evaluate the versatility of his release at this point of his development.

On the other end, the just-turned 18-year-old[2] most often played off the ball as well, primarily acting as a weakside defender who showed good attention to his responsibilities crowding the area near the basket but not standing out much in terms of flying around to create events.

Given the unique situation at Montverde, where giant point guard Cade Cunningham proved capable of defending the point of attack consistently and Scottie Barnes showed a strong desire for defending on the ball from time-to-time too in order to showcase his versatility on defense, Moody was rarely asked to crossmatch or switch onto smaller ball handlers.

He ranked 29th on ESPN’s way-too-early 2021 mock draft but should be expected to rise into lottery status with a good season, given the nature of his size and skill-set, which are in high demand in the NBA right now.

SHOOTING

  • Shoots an easy ball
  • Very fluid mechanics, quick trigger, needs only a slight dip for rhythm when he catches a pass out of his shooting pocket, fully extends himself for a high release, has proven himself capable of elevating in rhythm out of 1-2 footwork and catching it on the hop
  • Took most of his three-pointers on spot-ups but has shown flashes of being able to launch quick bombs on the move here and there – drifting around the wing and coming off a pindown screen

FINISHING

  • Did not have any sort of shot creation responsibility on the ball
  • Got to the rim only on occasion, via attacking closeouts and filling the lanes in transition
    • Smooth putting the ball on the floor out of triple threat position and coordinated attacking on a straight line but has a loose handle at this point of his development and is prone to having the ball stripped of him in traffic
    • Hasn’t yet shown to be an explosive leaper off one-foot in traffic but has flashed glimpses of versatility as a rim-level finisher by mixing in finger-rolls, over-extended righty finishes and shot-fakes to get the rim protector out of the way

DEFENSE

  • Hunches more than he bends his knees getting down in a stance
  • Has a chiseled 185-pound frame for someone his age but hasn’t yet developed enough strength to project as an ace defender against big wings
  • Has a few lateral slides in him to stay attached and shows side-to-side quickness as well but doesn’t often contain dribble penetration through contact
  • Has found himself defending the point of attack on occasion, works to go over picks and hustles in pursuit in these instance, showing enough quickness to suggest he could be a viable option to switch or crossmatch onto smaller players more regularly
  • Has found himself crossmatched onto big men after a breakdown and impressed with his tenacity attempting to front the post
  • Stays active off the ball and hustles his way around pindown screens
  • Shows urgency in his closeouts, quickness to run the shooter off his shot and balance to defend off the bounce, though he gets beat by quicker wings after a few slides
  • Rotates in to pick up the roll man aggressively and helps crowd the area near the basket consistently – unable to make plays on the ball and act as a threat to block shots regularly but has proven himself willing to draw charges
  • Hasn’t really stood out in his contributions to the rebounding process

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 5/31/2002

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

Uros Trifunovic Scouting Report

Pretty interesting idea of a player, Uros Trifunovic.

Listed at six-foot-six by Partizan[1], the wing ran point for the Serbian National Team at the 2019 U19 World Cup, where he averaged 17.2 points per 40 minutes on 56.3% true shooting[2]. Though mostly responsible for triggering an offense that focused more heavily on posting up Filip Petrusev and Marko Pecarski, he had some opportunities to get downhill or turn the corner in pick-and-roll on occasion.

The 19-year-old[3] had essentially the same role with Mega Bemax, where he logged his first 65 minutes of the past season before transferring back to Partizan for the remainder 262 minutes.

With the Serbian giant, Trifunovic was asked to play more like a common wing, running some basic side pick-and-rolls to keep the offense moving but primarily spacing the floor, which he didn’t excel at.

The Belgrade native took 48.5% of his live-ball attempts from beyond the arc and averaged 6.6 three-point shots per 40 minutes among the pros this past season but missed three-quarters of his 54 such attempts.

That said, there is more evidence of him being a better shooter than that, as Trifunovic nailed 11 of 29 three-point shots at the U19 World Cup, 10 of 19 at the 2018 U18 European Championships, and 38.1% of his 126 such attempts in the season in between, mostly spent with Mladost Admiral Zemun in the Serbian KLS.

His release looked a tad mechanical at times at the U19 World Cup but seemed more fluid during the club season. He gets little elevation off the ground but fully extends himself for a high release and tends to get a good spin on the ball, at least on open shots. His 77.5% foul shooting on 98 free throws across the past two seasons also offers some cause for optimism.

But what draws some intrigue regarding Trifunovic is his potential as a ball-handler. He is probably more likely to develop into a caretaker point guard than a volume shot creator, though, considering his athletic limitations.

At the U19 World Cup, Trifunovic flashed a good feel for using or declining picks at the point of attack and a knack for getting to his spots in mid-range while using spins, hesitation moves and step-backs to create separation. As a point guard within his age group, he was able to use his height advantage to shoot over the top of most defenders and looked like a decent shot maker when able to pull-up in rhythm.

Trifunovic can make basic reads and deliver over the top in pick-and-roll but other than the occasional jump-pass to the opposite corner when he’s facing that way, he didn’t show anything particularly impressive in terms of court vision on the move and through traffic – assisting on 14.8% of Serbia’s scores when he was on the floor at the U19 World Cup and just 7.9% of Mega Bemax’s/Partizan’s scores in his 327 minutes this past season, mostly spent operating out of triple threat or off the occasional dribble-handoff.

He is not a threat to attack the rim in volume at this point of his development, lacking an explosive first step, side-to-side quickness and/or dribble moves to get by his man in isolation, as well as strength to play through contact. His 194-pound frame is pretty thin in the context of his height.

His handle is underdeveloped as well, as he is prone to having the ball stripped of him in traffic.

When he made it all the way to the rim, Trifunovic unleashed an euro-step at one point to deal with a rim protector parked between him and the basket but tends to attack as a basic up-and-down finisher looking for a speed layup. He is not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic, hasn’t shown much flexibility to hang or adjust his body in the air, can’t finish through contact regularly and hasn’t yet developed much dexterity over-extending or using his left hand as an option.

Trifunovic has flashed a runner and a floater off a jump-stop here and there but generally struggled when forced to take a two-pointer of any kind in the pros – shooting just 44.8% on 58 two-point shots this past season.

On the other end, I’d say he’s about as promising but as uneven.

Trifunovic hunches more than he bends his knees getting down in a stance and has his moments where he seems lackadaisical going over picks at the point of attack and doesn’t hustle in pursuit to leverage his size making plays from behind.

But when locked in, especially seen during Serbia’s defeat to Lithuania in the quarterfinals of the U19 World Cup, Trifunovic works to go over screens in pick-and-roll and when paired with a big who can prevent the ball handler from turning the corner right away off the pick, he is able to get back in front with fairly impressive quickness, even if it was still rare to see him block or effectively contest a shot from behind.

Within his age group, Trifunovic showed a good deal of lateral quickness, not just sliding in one direction to stay attached but working side-to-side to envelope smaller guys as well, though it was not common to see him containing dribble penetration through contact or reaching around for pokes and strips, as he picked up just three steals in 228 minutes at the World Cup.

Given his frame and the fact he’s not a fit to defend more physically developed wings who are a threat to create one-on-one for now, Trifunovic operated more regularly as an off-ball defender in the pros and didn’t stand out in terms of making plays in the passing lanes either – picking up just four steals in 327 minutes with Mega Bemax and Partizan.

His work hustling to navigate through multiple screens chasing shooters around the floor, running the shooter off his shot on hard closeouts and staying balanced to defend off the bounce was a little more impressive, as was his toughness.

Trifunovic was at times asked to switch onto big men within his age group and showed a lot of tenacity playing post defense. In the pros, it was common to see him mixing it up on scrums and showing attention to his responsibility boxing out whoever was close by, though he is not athletic enough to continue contributing to the rebounding process by going after the ball himself – collecting just 10% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor this past season.

The case is the same in help defense as well, where Trifunovic is active helping at the basket, in terms of helping crowd the area near the rim and proving himself willing to draw charges, but is not a threat to block a shot off a rotation.


[1] According to Partizan’s official listing

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 12/5/2000

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

Mason Jones Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Mason Jones was not one of the 558 players that 247Sports ranked in the 2017 high school class.

After spending one year at Connors State, where he averaged 15.5 points per game on 51.5% shooting[1] and led the school to an Elite Eight appearance at the NJCAA Tournament, the six-foot-five wing transferred to Arkansas.

Arkansas didn’t do a lot of winning over these last two years, losing 21 of its 36 games in the SEC, but Jones stood out as a shot-maker – averaging 22.4 points per 40 minutes on 27% usage-rate across two seasons against Division I competition[2].

The soon-to-be 22-year-old[3] exceled on the open floor off grab-and-go’s – leading the country in scoring per game in transition this past season[4] – but flashed more interesting features as a shot creator in the half-court, where proved himself capable of creating separation to pull-up in isolation and out of the pick-and-roll on a consistent basis, while also living at the foul line in his second year.

His efficiency away from the basket leaves something to be desired, in part due to his questionable shot selection, but his average of 26.1 points per 40 minutes last season, a top 10 mark among players ranked on ESPN’s top 100, is nonetheless noteworthy, especially considering it was attained on 53.3% effective shooting.

He is a decent passer on the move but hasn’t yet developed advanced court vision in the pick-and-roll, besides being turnover prone operating in traffic, therefore profiling as not good enough to be a team’s top option at lead ball handler in the near future.

Away from the ball, Jones can make a shot on spot-ups but is more of a capable open shot shooter at this point of his development.

On the other end, he can execute the scheme and hold his own one-on-one against less threatening similar-sized players but isn’t athletic enough or especially lengthy to fly around and create events. Jones has, however, flashed some promise switching and crossmatching onto bigger players on occasion and could maybe add some positive value by offering versatility and optionality.

Despite the volume scoring, he is not viewed as a high-end prospect in this year’s class – currently ranked 77th on ESPN’s top 100, at the time of writing. His combination of size and style of play is very appealing but there’s skepticism regarding his ability to handle as much in the pros. His jumper, while decent in terms of unassisted makes from three-point range and a form that looks translatable, is not considered particularly special. His athletic ability, despite strong statistical indicators as an interior scorer, does not pop on video.

PICK&ROLL

The DeSoto, Texas native hasn’t yet developed a tight handle but looks comfortable operating in middle pick-and-roll, proving himself capable of playing with pace to wait for slower rolls to develop, as well as putting his man in jail.

He can attack either side of the pick and showed good body control while attempting to turn the corner.

Jones is not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic and has flashed only mild flexibility on a double clutch finish on occasion but can finish through contact and go to his left hand to score over rim protectors, usually on a lefty push shot. He also mixes in a shot fake off a jump-stop to get the rim protector out of position before going to a right-handed finger-roll finish somewhat regularly.

Jones has employed more impressive wrong foot, wrong half layups and step-through finishes in transition but it wasn’t as common to see him go to those as much in the half-court.

Jones took 30.2% of his live-ball attempts at the rim this past season and converted those 127 shots at a 75.6% clip, with three-thirds of them unassisted[5]. He also earned 10.8 foul shots per 40 minutes – ranking fourth among players on ESPN’s top 100.

Jones has proven himself a willing passer hitting the roll man over the top or on basic kickouts and handoffs off drawing two to the ball – assisting on 22.9% of Arkansas’s scores when he was on the floor this past season. He didn’t show many impressive reads in terms of hook passes to the opposite corner and tossing up lobs on the move, though, other than being able to make a well-timed skip pass back to the three-point line in wing-wing pick-and-rolls with Isaiah Joe.

Jones is somewhat overconfident in his handle, looking to split double teams at the point of attack and slash through traffic without being able to keep the ball in a string well enough to justify his decision making weaving his way through the crowd – averaging 3.8 turnovers per 40 minutes, offsetting some of the value of his shot creation for others to the tune of a 1.07 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Though he touches the paint a fair amount, Jones shows more of a strong preference for creating separation to pull-up, looking for step-in three-pointers against the on-ball defender going under the screen or elbow pull-ups against drop-back coverage.

Overall, he was quite inefficient, missing two-thirds of his 294 shots away from the basket, in large part due to shooting just 27% on his 100 two-point jumpers.

Jones did, however, recoup some of that value as a more capable pull-up shooter from long range, nailing 36 unassisted three-point makes in 31 appearances, at a pace of 1.37 such makes per 40 minutes. Among NCAA prospects, only two players on ESPN’s top 100 had a higher average (Markus Howard and Anthony Edwards).

ISOLATION

He looked for those shots operating in isolation as well, creating separation in these instances on side-steps, crossing over into step-backs and off a nifty half-spin move before fading away the other way.

Against defenders who managed to press up on him a little more, Jones struggled off the bounce. He can crossover into a quick first step and blow by bigger players on switches but did not impress in terms of shiftiness, dribble moves or quickness on a straight line against similar-sized players.

On a surprising note for someone with his 207-pound frame, Jones didn’t do well as a wrecking ball driver either, struggling to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact somewhat regularly.

FLOOR SPACING

He is a decent floor-spacer, proving himself capable of nailing open shots, launching them with fluid mechanics and a high release. His trigger is not particularly quick but not particularly slow either.

Jones is not a dead-eye shooter at this point of his development, though, with an approach not yet solid enough for him not to hesitate against strong closeouts, as well as struggling to get good shots off on more ambitious attempts off handoffs when his feet aren’t set.

Jones nailed 35.8% of his 402 three-points shots in his two years at Arkansas, at a pace of 7.9 such attempts per 40 minutes, after hitting 42.9% of his 168 three-point shots, at a pace of 4.8 such attempts per game, in his time at Connors State.

DEFENSE

The DeSoto High School product was primarily a weak-side defender this past season and showed to be fairly reliable executing the scheme, somewhat consistently attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to help crowd the area near the basket and cutting off the roll man from diving all the way to the goal.

He is not an asset to make plays on the ball at the rim, though, picking up just 11 blocks in 2,044 minutes at Arkansas, while also not standing out in terms of making plays in the passing lanes, averaging just 1.6 steals per 40 minutes in 65 NCAA appearances.

Jones shows great urgency on his closeouts sprinting back to the three-point but isn’t quick enough to run the shooter off his shot regularly and isn’t particularly effective in his contests either, though at least he doesn’t get blown by off a shot fake all the time like Isaiah Joe.

He is active joining scrums under the rim but not to mix it up with bigger players on boxouts, rather focusing on chasing the ball off the rim, which he’s good but not great at – collecting 16.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor this past season.

On the ball, he bends his knees to get down in a soft stance, has a couple of lateral slides one way in him to stay attached and puts in the effort to contest pull-ups but didn’t leverage his 207-pound frame into containing dribble penetration through contact all that often, thus not profiling as a fit to check power wings.

Jones also struggled to navigate over picks at the point of attack cleanly and didn’t impress with his hustle in pursuit, thus also not profiling as a fit to execute conventional pick-and-roll defense when matched up against ball handlers.

Arkansas then had him switching against average big men in these instances, as well as crossmatching onto them when they went small, and his tenacity did look promising, as he fought to front the post and boxed out these types.


[1] According to Connors State’s official listing

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 7/21/1998

[4] According to Synery Sports

[5] According to hoop-math

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

Leaky Black Scouting Report

CONTEXT

North Carolina was not going to make the NCAA Tournament, had we gone on to have one. Roy Williams’ team struggled badly with injuries all year, missing over 100 games by scholarship players.

Those absences negatively impacted the team’s competitiveness but created opportunities for those who stayed healthy to stretch themselves a little more than was expected of them prior to the year.

Rechon Black was one of those players.

The 51st-ranked prospect in the 2018 high school class[1] was only a lower-level rotation player in his first year at North Carolina, logging just 237 minutes in his 23 appearances as a freshman, but was relied on to average 29.8 minutes per game in his 32 appearances as a sophomore.

Struggling with his touch and the poor ecosystem to succeed in North Carolina’s half-court offense, he shot poorly from every spot on the floor – finishing the season with a remarkably lousy .425 true shooting percentage[2].

But the six-foot-eight wing still managed to stand out due to his ball skills and the glimpses of court vision creating for others on the move he has been able to show.

Considering how North Carolina has developed players like Theo Pinson and JP Tokoto in the past, there is a chance Black, who played point guard at Cox Mill High School, will have a chance to run offense at some point in the next year or two.

On the other end, the 20-year-old[3] also caught one’s attention with his proactivity executing the scheme and his hustle flying around to create events. He doesn’t seem like an ace defender on the ball but profiles as the sort of rangy wing who could switch up and down when his body develops, though it’s not yet clear if he does have the footspeed and the toughness for such tasks on the regular.

Black did not make the cut on ESPN’s way-too-early 2021 top 60 and there’s a chance he will go back to being hidden in a smaller role next season, as two of the five top 100 prospects North Carolina landed in the 2020 recruiting class were point guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis but considering the program’s recent track record in developing wings who can handle, it’s also possible he becomes a more prominent prospect over the next couple of years.

HELP DEFENSE

Black proved himself attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme, in terms of stunting in to help clog driving lanes, helping crowd the area near the basket and rotating in to pick up the roll man.

Besides just positioning himself to help generate traffic in the lane, he also contributed by leveraging his quick leaping ability off two feet and his rumored six-foot-nine wingspan[4] to make plays on the ball from the side, stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense and jumping passing lanes.

Black averaged 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per 40 minutes this past season, while also making an impact in the hidden areas of the game with deflections, strips, and challenges via verticality.

He was active mixing it up on scrums under the rim, flashing noteworthy hustle boxing out bigger players and contributing to the rebounding process that way, since North Carolina’s other stellar rebounders held him to collecting just 13.4% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor this past season.

The most uneven aspect of his help defense was his recovery back to his man, as Black flashed some explosiveness blocking a three-point shot on occasion but getting blown by on flyby closeouts from time-to-time too.

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

He is inconsistent with his stance, at times properly bending his knees to get low but at others hunching down and getting spaced out.

When he plays with sound technique, Black has several lateral slides in him in one direction to stay attached, puts in the effort to contest shots and can even block a shot defending on the ball, flashing some impressive explosiveness elevating off two feet off lateral movement, which you don’t see from wings that often.

It is rare to see him chesting up to contain dribble penetration through contact, though, which is somewhat disappointing for someone who is listed at 195 pounds[5]. He is also quite prone to biting on shot fakes.

Something else Black struggled with while defending similar-sized players was chasing shooters through screens, as he struggled to negotiate staggered screens cleanly, even if his hustle in pursuit was pleasing.

Black picked up smaller players on switches on occasion, usually due to a breakdown elsewhere, and moved his feet reasonably well to stay attached. He struggles to go over picks at the point of attack, though, suggesting he is not an option to crossmatch onto these guys regularly.

North Carolina had him playing a few minutes as a big man towards the end of the year and Black showed he can execute some decent hedges against the pick-and-roll, as well as box out bigger players, but it’s unclear how good an option he really is to steal minutes in that role.

SLASHING

Black stands out as having a good handle for someone his height, able to grab-and-go off a defensive rebound or break the press and trigger offense in the half-court.

He most often attacked out of ball reversals or kickouts but had a few opportunities here and there to run not just a side pick-and-roll to keep the offense moving but also a middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense. It didn’t happen often, especially considering how North Carolina almost always played with two centers on the floor, but in these few instances, Black flashed a nifty lefty in-and-out dribble to manipulate his defender and a patient approach operating off a ball screen, seeming to have a good feel for opportunities to slash downhill or turn the corner. His body control not to crash into the help and his dexterity unleashing euro-steps to maneuver his way through traffic also impressed.

There was a ton of traffic, though. He got all the way to the rim on just one quarter of his live-ball attempts[6], earned just 1.9 foul shots per 40 minutes and averaged 2.3 turnovers per 40 minutes, which is quite high for someone with his 15% usage rate.

When he forced the issue, Black showed he is not yet an explosive leaper off foot in traffic and though he showed glimpses of being able to hang in the air, he struggled with his touch on floaters and around the basket – converting just 54.4% of his 57 attempts at the rim this past season.

As is, his best resource off dribble penetration at this point of his development is his passing. Black didn’t get the chance to make impressive reads in pick-and-roll but proved himself a willing passer off drawing two to the ball on kickouts and drop-offs, as well as showing glimpses of his court vision facilitating from the foul line inside the opponent’s zone and tossing up well-placed lobs off facing the defense out of a standstill position – assisting on 15.6% of North Carolina’s scores when he was on the floor.

SHOOTING

Black could not be relied on to space the floor in his second year, which had already been the case in his first year.

His shooting stroke does not look specially broken and the fact that he hit 16 of his 40 shots away from the basket as a freshman, plus his 71.7% foul shooting on 53 free throws across his two years at North Carolina, offers hope that at least the touch and the follow through are in place for him to develop into a more capable shooter soon enough but for now, the reality is that Black shot just 29.5% on 166 shots away from the basket this past season while consistently looking hesitant and passing up open catch-and-shoot three-pointers for contested one-dribble pull-ups without the efficiency to back up such questionable decision making.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to RealGM

[3] DOB: 6/14/1999

[4] According to the Charlote Observer

[5] According to North Carolina’s official listing

[6] According to hoop-math

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

Dwayne Sutton Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Dwayne Sutton was the 333rd prospect in the 2015 high school class[1].

After averaging 15.7 points per 40 minutes on just 20.3% usage rate in his first year at North Carolina Ashville, in large part thanks to a very impressive 68.7% free throw rate[2], the six-foot-five wing scored a transfer to Louisville, where he was a rotation player these last three years.

Sutton primarily spaced the floor on offense, taking 46.9% of his live-ball attempts from three-point range and logging just 15.2% usage rate in his time at Louisville. He hasn’t yet developed any sort of versatility to his release, taking almost all of his long-range bombs on set spot-ups, and the volume of attempts isn’t particularly impressive either, but the average hit percentage has been consistent.

When forced to put the ball on the floor, the 23-year-old[3] has impressed with his fluidity and his finishing ability on a straight line. He has also proven himself an asset as a smart cutter and threat to hammer home the occasional putback.

Sutton surprisingly struggles to play through contact, though, and has an underdeveloped in-between game at this point of his development – both in terms of scoring and creating for others on the move.

On the other end, he has impressed with his versatility switching onto smaller or bigger players a fair amount and even logging some time at center. Sutton is not really a great one-on-one stopper or a particularly sick athlete flying around to create events in volume in help defense but his ability to guard whoever is needed and do a reasonably decent job at it should be more valued.

He is currently unranked on ESPN’s top 100, in large part because of his age and the fact that his statistical profile does not stand out in any way. But Sutton strikes me as one of those guys who will earn money playing basketball somewhere, given the fact guys who can credibly guard different sizes and make a shot are not that simple to find.

INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE

The Louisville, Kentucky native bends his knees to get down in a stance, has a good deal of lateral agility to stay in front of similar-sized wings and leverages his 220-pound frame to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact. Though he doesn’t figure to be strong enough to match up against the most special jumbo shot creators in the pros, Sutton plays with active hands trying to make plays on the ball and contests pull-ups effectively.

Louisville had him switching and crossmatching onto smaller players at times and though is unable to go over picks at the point of attack, struggling to navigate them cleanly and lacking the quickness to make plays from behind, he’s shown enough to prove he can hold his own out an island.

Sutton doesn’t seem suited to pick up elite guards in terms of quickness, but he flashed some side-to-side quickness not to get blown by more average types, the coordination to stay attached on a straight line and the quickness elevating off two feet to block a shot defending on the ball.

Louisville also had him switching onto bigger players and logging some time at center quite a bit. He is tenacious trying to use his length in an attempt to deny easy post entries and proved capable of playing stout post defense against big men who aren’t adept at overwhelming their competition with their size advantage.

Sutton also hustled to box out these bigger types regularly and proved himself quick enough to beat them to the ball off the rim reasonably well – collecting 19.9% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor this past season.

HELP DEFENSE

He is attentive to his responsibilities rotating in to pick up the roll man and stunting in an extra step in to help crowd the area near the basket, and can block a shot coming across the lane off the weakside but isn’t explosive enough to make plays at the rim in volume – accumulating 67 blocks in his 135 NCAA appearances, at a pace of just 0.7 blocks per 40 minutes.

Sutton has also not yet developed a knack for making preventive rotations that cut off penetration and discourage the driver from making it all the way to the basket.

Though he can jump a passing lane, the duPont Manual High School alum doesn’t play with particularly special speed flying around to create deflections and turnovers in volume – manufacturing just 85 steals in his 2,593 minutes at Louisville, at a pace of 1.3 steals per 40 minutes.

SHOOTING

Sutton nailed 35.1% of his 268 three-point shots these last three seasons, at a pace of 4.1 such attempts per 40 minutes, though his 67.6% foul shooting on 413 free throws across all four of his NCAA seasons raises some skepticism regarding his touch, even if the overall approach looks fluid.

He catches it on the hop, has a very quick dip for rhythm and fully extends himself for a high release, tending to get a great-looking arc on his shot.

Sutton has some highlights nailing catch-and-shoot bombs with a hand in his face but profiles as more of an open-shot shooter at this point of his development, usually missing to the side when he is more well contested.

OFF TRIPLE THREAT

He is very smooth putting the ball on the floor off a kickout, a ball reversal and even curling off a pindown screen on occasion.

Sutton has a quick first step and loves to weave into a well-coordinated spin move to get around his man if he can stay in front. He has shown great body control not to crash into a help defender stepping up in his way and great balance maneuvering his way through tight spaces.

Sutton can go up strong with power off one foot if left unchallenged but is not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic, showing more of a preference for galloping into a two-foot leap when a help defender steps up between him and the goal.

He is an up-and-down leaper who hasn’t shown much flexibility to hang or adjust his body in the air but has proven capable of finishing with either hand around the basket – converting 71.6% of his 81 shots at the rim this past season[4].

Sutton is a smart cutter who can go up quickly off two feet on the catch and can also threaten the rim crashing the glass for second chance opportunities, but almost half of his makes at the basket were unassisted and not putbacks, averaging out to 1.02 such makes per 40 minutes, which is a mark that shows solid capability for someone whose role is to attack scrambling defenses.

Louisville got him some catches in the high post for quick isolations against outmatched defenders, but Sutton doesn’t project as a shot creator, even in emergency situations. Whenever he matched up against similar-sized defenders, he surprisingly struggled to maintain his balance through contact and didn’t show much of anything in terms of court vision – assisting on just 10% of Louisville’s scores when he was on the floor, at a 1.74 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Though he flashed a step-back pull-up in isolation on one instance, Sutton had just one unassisted three-point make in 975 minutes and missed two thirds of his two-point shots away from the basket this past season, rarely showing a combination of handle and side-to-side shake to look projectable as an isolation scorer.


[1] According to 247Sports

[2] According to sports-reference

[3] DOB: 2/26/1997

[4] According to hoop-math

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

Tomas Woldetensae Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Transferred from Indian Hills to Virginia last summer;
    • Scored 785 points in 615 minutes across two seasons at the JUCO level, which average out to a jaw-dropping 51 points per 40 minutes on 36.6 attempts per 40 minutes[1];
  • 38th-ranked prospect coming off the JUCO ranks in 2019[2];
  • Bologna, Italy native;
  • Six-foot-five lefty sniper, entirely a wing floor-spacer in his first year at Virginia (16.7% usage rate[3]) but not just on spot-ups, as the Cavaliers leveraged the quickness of his release to move him around the floor and get him looks off creative sets;
    • Took more than three quarters of his live-ball attempts from three-point range this past season;
    • Nailed his long-range bombs at an average clip but considering the difficulty of some of the shots he took on the move, his average accuracy should be valued more highly than his 1.0 point-per-shot average and .497 true shooting percentage suggest at first glance;
  • Not an indifferent defender, active one-on-one and fairly attentive trying to execute the scheme, but lacks the agility and/or the strength (listed at 195 pounds) to be a stopper on the ball and the quickness and/or the instincts to fly around and create events in volume away from it;
    • Showed some potential as a defender at the point of attack, which maybe opens up the possibility of him offering versatility as a wing who can steal minutes defending smaller guards for stretches;
  • Currently unranked on ESPN’s top 105;

SHOOTING

  • Took 77% of his live-ball attempts from three-point range, not just on spot-ups but by taking quite a few shots on the run, as Virginia designed stuff to get him open and then played variations off his movement as well;
    • Catches on the hop, fully extends himself for a high release and pulls the trigger quickly;
    • Besides set spot-ups, took a lot of shots on the move too; sprinting around staggered screens, coming off pindown screens, snaking his way around multiple screens, off elevator doors sets, relocating off offensive rebounds, and drifting to the corner;
    • Nailed 36.1% of his 144 three-point shots, at a pace of 7.3 three-point shots per 40 minutes this past season;
    • Nailed 44.4% of his 347 three-point shots in his time at Indian Hills, at a pace of 22.5 three-point shots per 40 minutes.

DRIVING

  • Showed decent feel for working the second side, in terms of mixing in some curls off pindown screens and running some side pick-and-rolls to keep the offense moving;
    • Has a pretty decent handle for someone with his role, proving capable of withstanding pressure from defenders who were able to get physical him as he turned the corner;
    • Only turned the ball over on 13.6% of his possessions;
  • When he managed to get to the middle and even touch the paint on occasion, consistently looked to pass off dribble penetration;
    • Decent feel for engaging the last line of defense and drawing two to the ball to deliver well timed kickouts, drop-offs and even flashed a wraparound pass at one point;
    • Can hit the roll man over the top in side pick-and-roll;
    • Assisted on 9.8% of Virginia’s scores when he was on the floor this past season, at a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio;
  • Can’t attack the basket with any sort of explosiveness and has no resources (quick first step, side-to-side shake, strength, dribble moves) if needed to create separation one-on-one in emergency situations, other than a crafty move where he fakes one way and turns around the other way for a fadeaway jumper;
    • Took just 11 shots at the rim in 785 minutes and converted just four of them this past season[4];
    • Earned just nine free throws;
    • Missed 21 of the 32 two-point shots he took away from the basket.

DEFENSE

  • Tries to stay active one-on-one and can slide laterally a few times in one direction to stay attached but lacks the strength to contain dribble penetration through contact by similarly sized players, though he put in the effort to contest at the rim as well as he could when bulkier opponents just bullied through him;
  • Crossmatched onto smaller players a fair amount his past year and showed some potential as a point of attack defender;
    • Can go over a screen and direct the ball handler to the side the defense wants to shade him towards decently well, though he’s not athletic enough to make plays from behind while hustling in pursuit;
    • Can chest up to contain smaller players one-on-one on straight line drives, though he doesn’t seem quick enough to stay in front of truly shifty guards who can shake him side-to-side out on an island;
  • Stayed engaged away from the ball and tried to execute the scheme as well as he could but isn’t athletic, lengthy or instinctual enough to fly around and create events in the passing lanes or at the rim and tough or strong enough to mix it up on scrums;
    • Rotates in to pick up the roll man and stunts in to clog driving lanes;
    • Averaged just 1.2 steals per 40 minutes;
    • Had just eight blocks in 29 appearances;
    • Collected just 8.9% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor;
  • Puts in the effort to closeout hard to the three-point line but not fast enough covering ground to be expected to run the shooter off his shot regularly.

[1] According to njcaa.org

[2] According to 247Sports

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to hoop-math

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

Joel Ayayi Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Second-ranked prospect with European ties, among those born in 2000[1];
  • Listed by Gonzaga at six-foot-five but last measured at six-foot-two without shoes at the 2016 Eurocamp[2];
  • Was a minutes-eater in his first year in the NCAA, logging just 128 minutes in 23 appearances as a redshirt freshman, and a caretaker point guard this past season, logging just 17.1% usage rate and 16.6% assist rate in 970 minutes across 33 appearances[3];
  • Has accumulated 545 minutes of FIBA experience with the French National Team at the youth level;
    • Earned All-Tournament honors at the 2019 U19 World Cup, off leading France to a third-place finish;
    • Averaged 31.7 points per 40 minutes on 57.9% true shooting and assisted on 26.4% of France’s scores when he was on the floor in that event;
  • Gonzaga had him triggering the offense and spacing the floor but didn’t rely on him too much in high leverage situations, with the system responsible for getting Corey Kispert open or dumping the ball to the post late in the shot clock;
    • Shot OK: took almost half of his live-ball attempts from three-point range and nailed them at an average clip but hasn’t yet developed a whole lot of versatility to his release;
    • Had some opportunities to create in pick-and-roll on occasion and impressed with his patient approach in traffic, especially considering he just turned 20 last month[4];
  • Has been more effective defending smaller players, with his thin 180-pound frame standing in the way of him projecting as a multi-position defender in the pros, at least for the near future;
    • Engaged and proactive off the ball, contributing some in the hidden areas of the game, but merely average in terms of flying around to create events;
  • Currently unranked on ESPN’s top 105.

SMART OFFENSE

  • Has shown a knack for passing ahead to speed up the pace of the game;
    • Averaged 29.4 minutes per game for a team that ranked second in the country in percentage of initial field goal attempts coming in transition[5] and ranked in the top 50 in possessions per game[6];
  • Doesn’t have a quick first step, particularly impressive speed with the ball or much side-to-side quickness but managed to touch the paint a fair amount operating in pick-and-roll, as he plays with pace and has shown a patient approach waiting for slower-developing driving lanes to materialize;
    • Was often successful in his attempts to turn the corner, capable of playing through contact against smaller guards too when necessary, and took 39% of his live-ball attempts at the rim[7];
    • Not an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic and was mostly a basic rim level up-and-down finisher for the most part but proved capable of unleashing an euro-step to maneuver his way around a rim protector stepping up in his path and finishing with his left hand as well – converting two thirds of his attempts within close range;
    • Protected the ball well in traffic – turned the ball over on just 14.7% of his possessions;
    • Averse to contact – averaged just 2.6 foul shots per 40 minutes;
  • Has shown glimpses of being enough of a threat to score when bottled up in the in-between the area;
    • Showed pretty good touch in his runner and converted 43.2% of his 44 two-point shots away from the basket;
    • Generally didn’t show a lot of dexterity pulling up from mid-range in rhythm but flashed a nifty step-back pull-up off going between the legs from time-to-time;
  • Though these opportunities were few and far between, as his low assist rate for a point guard attests (due to his role as an off guard), the Bordeaux native exhibited good court vision in pick-and-roll and flashed a little bit of versatility to his passing as well;
    • Can deliver well timed pocket passes to the roll man and hit spot-up shooters with crosscourt passes over the top to the opposite wing or the opposite corner;
    • Posted a 2.08 assist-to-turnover ratio, better than the marks recorded by Killian Hayes, Nico Mannion, RJ Hampton and Ashton Hagans, though it’s fair to point out those guys had a higher burden of shot creation responsibility.

SHOOTING

  • Took 44.6% of his live-ball attempts from three-point range and proved a capable open shot shooter;
    • Does pretty good shot preparation catching on the hop;
    • Gets little elevation off the ground but rises in pretty good balance with his feet set;
    • Has a low release out in front but compact mechanics led to a quick trigger and he managed to get his shot off prior to closeouts consistently well at the collegiate level;
    • Got a good arc on his shot more often than not;
    • Nailed 34.5% of his 119 three-point shots this past season, at a pace of 4.9 such attempts per 40 minutes;
    • Has hit 54 of his 70 foul shots (77.1%) in his 56 NCAA appearances and 46 of his 65 (70.8%) in his 21 FIBA appearances;
  • Hasn’t yet developed the dexterity to get three-pointers off sprinting to the ball for dribble-handoffs;
  • Can hit a pull-up three-pointer if the on-ball defender decides to go under or gets stuck on the pick;
    • Hit 12 unassisted three-pointers this past season, which is an interesting amount for someone with his off guard role.

DEFENSE

  • Hustles in transition defense in a way that stands out;
  • Was mostly tasked with checking smaller guards on the ball and did reasonably well for the most part;
    • Bends his knees to get down in a stance, has good lateral quickness to be expected to stay in front if shook side-to-side, flashed some toughness to stone these smaller guys at times and even when he didn’t contain dribble penetration, guarded with his arms up to overwhelm or discourage potential shot attempts around him;
    • Only so-so at getting skinny through a screen at the point of attack cleanly but puts in the effort to hustle in pursuit, though the athleticism to make plays from behind isn’t there, at least yet;
    • A bit disappointing that he wasn’t seen using his six-foot-six wingspan to reach around for steals enveloping these smaller types more often;
  • Picked up bigger players on switches at times and despite his constant strength disadvantages in these matchups, showed enough fight and tenacity boxing out these guys and fronting the post to suggest he might offer versatility for these types of tasks more regularly if his body develops;
  • For now, still projects as more capable of making a difference as a point of attack defender, since his thin frame makes it tough to foresee him holding his ground against truly threatening wings in the pros;
  • Engaged and proactive off the ball, flashing some awareness to step up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense whenever he finds himself near the baseline and able to go up quickly off two feet to challenge a shot via verticality but not really an asset to act as a regular threat to block a shot when he rotates;
    • Can jump a passing lane, averaging 1.7 steals per 40 minutes last season, but nothing that stands out much;
  • Only so-so with his closeouts: effective when he manages to run the shooter off his shot while well balanced but at times sells out on a flyby and opens up the gate to the lane behind him;
  • Huge asset on the glass: mixes it up on scrums and quick reacting to the ball off the rim;
    • Collected 17.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor this past season, with only LaMelo Ball posting a better defensive rebounding percentage among the players ranked on ESPN’s top 100.

[1] According to Eurospects

[2] According to Eurospects

[3] According to RealGM

[4] DOB: 3/5/2000

[5] According to hoop-math

[6] According to Team Rankings

[7] According to hoop-math

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