As March is upon us and the 2020 conference tournament slate is underway, the PBC scouting team will provide a snapshot of professional prospects to watch for conference tournaments, potentially the NCAA tournament, and the pre-draft process. This conference showdown installment delves into WCC, which has historically been dominated by Gonzaga and St. Mary’s from both collegiate program success and NBA prospect translatability perspective.
While not too many rookies are asked to self-create in isolation right off-the-bat, showing signs of creative handle, pull-up acumen, and space creation out of iso’s is a key aspect of evaluating certain prospects’ potential translatability to the NBA. Especially in the playoffs when defenses are locked in, fully engaged, and can key in on opponent tendencies throughout the course of a series, it’s vital to have multiple effective self-creators on the court.
In our fifth Film Room Friday installment of the 2019-20 scouting season, the PBC scouting team has performed a deep-dive into prospects with potential to translate as effective iso creators.
As March is now upon us and the 2020 conference tournament slate is underway, the PBC scouting team will provide a snapshot of some intriguing professional prospects to watch at the outset of each conference tournament. March 3rd marked the start of conference tournament play for automatic NCAA Tournament bids, with the first wave of conferences including the Atlantic Sun Conference, Big South Conference, Horizon League, and Patriot League. Current NBA players that played collegiately in one of these four conferences include the following:
Though there may be no surefire 2020 draft picks among these conferences, there are certainly a handful of prospects with futures as professional basketball players, whether it be in the NBA, G League, or overseas.
Kamar Baldwin is a 6’1”, 190 lb. combo guard for the Butler Bulldogs. The crafty senior from just outside of Athens, Georgia will likely be on the radar of several NBA front offices entering the 2020 pre-Draft process. Baldwin, one of five finalists for the Jerry West Award honoring college basketball's best shooting guard, is averaging 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists on the season while playing ~31 minutes per contest. Throughout his career, Baldwin has been a staple of the Butler Bulldogs program, starting 119 of 131 possible games; a consistent starter since the midway point of his freshman season. While currently ranked outside the consensus top 100 prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft, Baldwin has a good frame, is ambidextrous, and seems to have the mentality/toughness to warrant considerable workouts and a potential shot at the NBA as an undrafted free agent.
Malik Fitts, a 6'8" hybrid for the Saint Mary's Gaels, is an intriguing under-the-radar 2020 NBA Draft early entrant candidate who has endured a fairly unconventional trajectory en route to college basketball stardom. The Rancho Cucamonga, California native took his talents to prestigious Brewster Academy as a means to propel his collegiate recruiting at a national prep powerhouse. The 3-star recruit committed to South Florida out of high school, but only spent one season in Tampa. He then transferred to Saint Mary’s and, after sitting out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules, he started 33 games for the Gaels as a redshirt sophomore, averaging 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Fitts earned 2018-19 All-WCC Second Team honors, and was a rightful contender for WCC Newcomer of the Year.
Saint Mary’s has leaned heavily on Fitts’ experience and leadership this season, and he has certainly been up to the challenge. leading the Gaels to an impressive 23-6 record to-date. He’s currently second on the team in scoring (17.1 PPG) and leading in rebounding (7.6 RPG), while maintaining efficient 48.9/43.5/80.3% shooting splits. Fitts is a powerful athlete and possesses prototypical size for an NBA hybrid forward. While he could certainly stand to tighten up a few things defensively and show some improvement as a playmaker for others, Fitts' scoring ability, talent, and will make him a dark horse to warrant potential second round consideration in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The 2019-20 and 2018-19 NBA seasons have the fastest-paced seasons since the 1980’s. The average number of possessions per 48 minutes this season and last season have eclipsed the 100 possession threshold, the first such instances in thirty years. Given the increasing emphasis on transition offense, understanding a given collegiate prospect’s effectiveness at creating for themselves and others in up-tempo fast break scenarios is an essential piece of analyzing their potential projectability to the professional level.
In our fourth Film Room Friday installment of the 2019-20 scouting season, the PBC scouting team has performed a deep-dive into prospects with potential to translate as dynamic transition threats. To provide some context, let’s first lay out a few examples of NBA players that excel at pushing the pace to create high percentage looks for themselves and/or their teammates.
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Filip Petrušev made his way to Montverde Academy to conclude his high school career. From there the 6'11" skilled big man committed to Gonzaga and likely was not expecting to get too much run as a freshman with an already crowded, experienced Bulldog front-court featuring Brandon Clarke, Rui Hachimura, and Killian Tillie. Nagging injuries to Tillie thrust Petrušev into an 11-12 minute per game 6th/7th man role. Petrušev took advantage of this opportunity and was one of the most efficient rotations bigs in the country. In his 366 minutes played, Petrušev ranked in the as a 95th percentile half-court scorer and a 94th percentile post-up threat, showing early on that he may very well be able to carve out a future role as a rotation big in the NBA or at the highest levels in Europe.
Petrušev also has a nice sample of international experience, leading Serbia to gold medals at the 2017 & 2018 FIBA U-18 European Championships. He was absolutely dominant in 2018, averaging 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.
Petrušev, who briefly tested the 2019 NBA Draft waters, has put forth a strong sophomore campaign in Spokane by averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds, helping propel Gonzaga to a 26-1 record while ranking consistently as a top three team in the country. He has positioned himself as a Naismith Player of the Year candidate and an intriguing potential 2020 early entrant prospect.
In 2017, a high school sophomore from Greenwood, Indiana exploded onto the national basketball recruiting scene. Two years later, Trayce Jackson-Davis was named Indiana Mr. Basketball and a McDonald's All-American. Nine of the past twelve Indiana Mr. Basketball nominees have gone on to be drafted (seven first rounders). The number 26 RSCI recruit in his class committed to the Hoosiers, giving them back-to-back in-state Mr. Basketball recipients for the first time in 21 years. Jackson-Davis is an ultra-athletic, 6'9" 245 lb. power forward who excels around the basket on both ends of the floor; he projects as a smooth/fluid athlete, a reliable interior scorer with potential to eventually extend his range, and an impactful defender with rim-protection acumen and the potential to viably switch in spurts.
Basketball runs in his blood, but TJD has made his game his own. Jackson-Davis ranks in the 98th percentile as a half-court scorer, putting up 20+ points per 40 minutes on 64+ TS%. Although he doesn’t take many shots from the outside in his role at IU, he’s flashed excellent touch on limited spot-up attempts (96th percentile) to go along with strong cutting instincts and rebounding acumen. Though he hasn't generated a ton of mainstream 2020 NBA Draft buzz to-date, Jackson-Davis will be an intriguing early entrant candidate with a chance to stick in the NBA for a long time.
Derrick Alston Jr. is a wiry, slashing wing prospect with NBA bloodlines and an enticing plethora of skills. He’s improved tremendously year-to-year during his time at Boise State and his stock as an NBA prospect is rising, accordingly. Though not necessarily near the top of this draft class at one particular specialized skill, he's shown proven quite good at a wide array of skills, particularly offensively, that could translate to the next level. Alston can score from all three levels, create for his teammates, and has the tools to be a versatile defender one day. If his trajectory of consistent growth and improvement continues through the latter half of the 2019-20 season, the talented former walk-on could establish himself as one of the more intriguing offensive prospects outside of the first round.
Naji Marshall, a four-star recruit out of Hargrave Military Academy (57th RSCI) in 2017, has blossomed into a strong two-way player for the Musketeers. Marshall tested the 2019 NBA Draft waters under the representation of Nathan Conley (PROSPORT Management) and ultimately decided to return for his junior season. Halfway through his junior campaign, Marshall has appeared to take significant steps forward. On a slight uptick in usage, Marshall has increased his scoring output and AST% while taking better care of the ball and showing tangible improvement on the defensive end. At 6’7”, 220 pounds with a ~7'0" wingspan, Marshall possesses ideal size for a hybrid forward at the next level, with appealing secondary playmaking upside and defensive tools to boot. Though his shooting has been a bit inconsistent, Marshall's physical profile and versatile skill set on both ends of the floor will be enticing to NBA decision-makers and may very well thrust him into 2020 Draft early entrant consideration.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.