As a low-post scorer, Gomes already has NBA-caliber footwork on the low block, enabling him to make up for a lack of height among the trees. And when he's clearly outsized, he possesses the ability to back out and hit the tough bank shot or the midrange jumper. He's much like Wayne Simien of Kansas in that regard. Gomes' low-post positioning is second to none among forwards in the college game. Aggressive on the boards, it is his footwork and positioning that gives him the edge boxing out bigger foes. This ability to find where the ball is going gives him better angles down low. This, in turn, allows him to get offensive rebounds, which he did at better than a three-per-game clip this season. Gomes is an even better defensive rebounder, and is extremely consistent for a guy listed at 6'7, averaging over six a game.
Gomes has great touch on both the midrange jumper and the bank off the glass. His range, while not to NBA-three range yet, is improving. He hit 33% of his threes this season (29 total) after hitting none his sophomore year.
Finally, NBA scouts no doubt notice that Gomes lives at the free throw line. This year, he hit 87% of his free throws, knocking down a whopping 134, more than double the number made by any of his Providence teammates. For good measure, Gomes also led his team in scoring, rebounding and steals.
While some draft prospects might have better natural athleticism, few will outwork Gomes on the low block. He's a hard worker who makes defenses stay on task the whole game.
Gomes has worked hard to fix any flaws in his game, most notably improving his range, adding a three point shot to keep defenses from lagging off him. Since he is not the kind of athlete that jumps out of the gym, Gomes has to use a lot of angles and moves in the paint to free himself.
On defense, Gomes is a competent matchup, but is not a shot-blocking presence at all, tallying only four all year long, despite normally being within ten feet of the basket. Instead, Gomes plays tough defense and positions himself for the defensive carom rather than cheat a little and try to block the shot.
Given that he was the focus of every team's defense, Gomes has only been required to be a functional passer, and that shows in his turnovers. This season, he averaged less than one assist per turnover. It should be noted, however, that no one else on the Providence team averaged over 11 points a game. Would you pass the ball?
Simply put, in the college game, Gomes has played, and played well, against the best competition possible. He dropped 26 points and 12 boards on eventual national champion Connecticut, prompting perhaps the year's best coach going ballistic tirade, courtesy of UCONN coach Jim Calhoun who has been repeatedly criticized for not recruiting Gomes out of Wilby High in Waterbury. Toss in Pittsburgh, Syracuse and the rest of the Big East, add a dash of non-conference foes Alabama (17 & 7) and Illinois (24 & 12), eventual Sweet 16 participants both, and you have among the toughest competition night in and night out in the college game. That Gomes finished a First Team AP All-American tells you how he stacked up against this opposing talent.
Even though Gomes' production tailed last three weeks of the season and in the NCAA tournament, he more than showed he was capable of dominating his opponents. As a junior, Gomes hasn't appeared yet at any draft camps. He could try the Chicago camp in June, but as a top NCAA player is more likely to test his worth on name recognition alone.
The senior-to-be Gomes has another year of college eligibility if he so chooses. To date he has remained coy as to his plans, saying only that he'd wait and see. Like many other college underclassmen, he will likely not hire and agent, so as to keep his options open. This year's NBA draft is relatively slim on small forwards, with only high-schoolers Josh Smith and JR Smith and Duke freshman Luol Deng generally listed as domestic prospects with higher upside.
But players like Gomes are tough to judge. Gomes does not possess eye-catching athleticism or the big rubber stamp of potential. But his game is far more developed than that of the young guns. He could probably help a playoff team from the bench far more than he could provide a Carmelo-like spark to an also-ran.
For that reason, Gomes is a likely late first round pick at this point. Good performances at private workouts plus some buzz could of course change that, but with so many unknown draft entries (both high school and foreign prospects), Gomes would be wise to wait and see what the waters look like before he tests them.
Gomes is a great college player. As a senior, he could scarcely gain more accolades than he did as a junior, short of winning the Wooden and Naismith awards. However, his Providence Friars team was upset by Pacific in the first round of the NCAA tournament, leaving a sour taste in Gomes' mouth. He'll have to decide if the lure of the NBA is greater than that of one more year as the BMOC in Providence.
As a pro prospect, Gomes has an excellent future. But it's hard to know if another year of college would improve his chances (a la Josh Childress) or do nothing for them (a la Brian Cook, Josh Howard). The best guess here is that with an influx of hyper-athletic high school kids and obscure 7-foot beanpoles from former soviet states, Gomes will find a logjam in this year's draft. Next year's high school class, however, is nearly devoid of the sort of top-flight talent the 2004 class has in droves. Another year of making Jim Calhoun look like a recruiting amateur would probably guarantee Gomes a first-round pick, even late in the round, while a jump this year might mean slipping into the second.
Gomes finished his junior season as a First Team AP All-American, a First Team Wooden All-American, a First Team Sporting News All-American and a Big East First Teamer. Ryan's nickname is G.