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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.