Tall, versatile, triple-double threat with unique skills that make him an intriguing draft prospect.
Acker is an athletic 6-5 guard with legitimate PG skills, and that alone will get him some serious looks if history has anything to say about that. While he is more of a swingman at the college level (because that's what his team needs), watching him play its impossible not to think that his natural position at the next level will be at the point.
He has terrific ball-handling skills with either hand, a very good feel for the game, and the natural instincts needed to run the point off the bench for an NBA team. He can run an offense and is generally an unselfish player. His court vision is very good and he has a certain knack for putting his teammates in a position to score that just can't be taught. His passing skills are very good at the moment and he looks just as comfortable making the simple bounce pass to a cutting teammate for an easy layup as he does throwing a pin-point accurate heave from half-court for an alley-oop. There is no doubt that he's an extremely talented player.
On top of that, he is a very solid athlete. He's fluid, very smooth, fairly quick, and has a very good 1st step which makes him a threat to get into the lane at any time when you combine that with his outstanding handle.
His jumper is getting better and better, up to 43% a game from behind the arc on 4.5 attempts per game, a testament to his work ethic. It looks smooth, with nice mechanics, and good elevation. He can make it off the dribble (although not consistently) or off a turnaround jumper.
Acker is a solid rebounder for a guard, thanks to his height, athletic ability and an above average wingspan.
Acker plays a ton of minutes for his team, only sitting for 88 of a total 1240 minutes this season. His conditioning is excellent and he always keeps his body in top shape.
According to anyone around the program, Acker is a class act both on and off the court.
The number one area where you would like to see Acker improve is in his intensity level. He tends to coast for stretches, getting by on his talent and athleticism and not always looking like he is giving 100%. He has a laid back demeanor to his game, but this is not going to cut it at the next level.
This isn't a Chris Taft type deal, as his production is quite good, he just doesn't take advantage of his terrific skills as much as he could.
Where this is most noticeable is on the defensive end of the ball. Acker is a poor defender right now; his lateral movement is poor, and he regularly gets torched on the perimeter by players that are much less skilled and gifted athletically than him. Sometimes it looks like he's actually trying to play defense, but really doesn't know how to, he just kind of bounces around aimlessly and doesn't move his feet well at all.
Acker has a narrow frame and could stand to become a stronger player, but as a PG in the NBA this might not be a huge concern. Where this hurts him most is finishing around the rim right now, as he appears to lack the strength to get to the basket and finish in traffic.
Related to that is the fact that Acker doesn't put the ball on the floor and slash to the basket nearly as much as he should at this level. He shoots a fantastic percentage from the line (86%) but only gets to the line a little over 3 times per game, which is unacceptable considering the conference he plays in, the minutes he gets, and the fact that his team just needs him to do that to win games. Adding a consistent pull-up mid-range jumper to his arsenal would not hurt either.
In general, Acker is not the most polished 22 year old player you'll find. He needs to round out his game, keep improving his range and just get better at all the little things, especially taking more on himself offensively. He appears to be content on being a role player, not demanding the ball when his team needs him the most, and the fact that his team only went 6-8 in the WCC (despite having him and a 20 ppg scoring college beast in Glen McGowan) and has generally underachieved in his 3 years at Pepperdine so far does not bode well for him.
Acker plays in the West Coast Conference, a top-heavy, but strong "mid-major" conference that sent two teams to the NCAA tournament this year (St. Mary's and Gonzaga). His team went 6-8 in this conference, and 17-14 on the year, which is disappointing for them considering the talent they had on their roster.
Acker played well against the better teams on Pepperdine's schedule this year.
Against Wisconsin (who made the Elite Eight), he had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in what was their best win of the season in hindsight.
Against UCLA (NCAA tournament team) he had 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a loss.
Against Gonzaga (NCAA tournament team) he had 13 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds and 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in their two matchups, both losses for Pepperdine.
According to his father, Acker has declared himself eligible for this draft without an agent and is hoping to get invited to the pre-draft camp in Chicago. "One of the main factors is that he's graduating and he's feeling ready," Luther Acker said. "He's ready to come out."
Acker will probably not keep his name in the draft if he's not projected a first round pick. As of right now, that does not look very likely, but a strong showing in Chicago and excellent workouts could change that. He has first round talent, but will probably need to go back for another year of school and round out his game before trying again.
Considering that he has a college degree in hand, the conference he plays in, his age and the fact that he's flying under the radar right now and could use the exposure, this doesn't seem like a bad move if he handles the process correctly. His coach at Pepperdine is former Seattle Supersonics and Phoenix Suns coach, and a former NBA allstar, so he should be able to get the right advice and feedback on his draft stock. Acker is a talented player and will get his chance to make the league sooner or later, the only question is when and how good of a situation he'll put himself in to do that.
"All you need to know about Acker is that (Paul) Westphal never takes him out," said one NBA scout.
Coach Paul Westphal: He's barely scratched the surface of how good he can be. He has such incredible gifts. He's got timing, he's got a great shooting touch, great hands and good body control. He's everything you look for in a player. In my opinion, [though], he still has a ways to go as far as intensity and consistency."
Although he is classified as a junior, Acker has been in college for 4 years. He redshirted his freshman year because of prop 48 (grades weren't good enough to qualify by NCAA standards), and has earned himself an extra year of eligibility by graduating (with an art degree) in 4 years.
His brother Chris plays professional basketball in Portugal.
Named to the WCC's All-Conference team in 2005.
WCC's Freshman of the year as a redshirt freshman in 2003 after leading the league in scoring (13.9), rebounding (5.2) and assists (5.2).