Just for comparison, the 2005 lottery had just one player (Rashad McCants) who played the swing positions in college. The 2004 lottery had three (Josh Childress, Andre Iguodala, Luke Jackson) and the 2003 lottery also had three (Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Jarvis Hayes).
We present to you the scouting reports for 6 of the top swingmen currently projected in our 2006 lottery.
Rudy Gay, 6-9, sophomore, small forward, UConn
15.4 ppg, 6.6 rebs, 2.1 assists, 2.5 to, 1.8 stls, 1.7 blocks, 46% FG, 32% 3P, 30 minutes per game
by Jonathan Givony
Best Case: More athletic Scottie Pippen
Worst Case: Travis Outlaw
A stat-stuffer with #1 overall pick upside, Gay is probably the most gifted and naturally talented physical specimen in the NCAA. Its impossible to watch him and not get excited about his potential.
Gay has a prototypical body and frame for a modern NBA small forward, with great size at 6-9 and terrific length. He has the height and wingspan of a power forward, but moves and gets up and down the court like a 6-3 guard.
Most of Gays upside rests in his athleticism. Hes incredibly explosive; possessing an outstanding vertical leap that is both high and extremely quick. He gets in the air and just hangs for what seems like days. His length and explosiveness make him an acrobatic dunker and a regular fixture on highlight reels. Being more than just a dunker when he gets in the lane, Gay is extremely creative finishing around the hoop, whether its with a beautiful pull-up floater in the lane, a nifty scoop shot or a circus shot layup off the glass. He consistently surprises you with how adept he is at finishing around the paint, and has all the tools in the world to get even better in this part of his game.
In transition is where Gay is truly at his best, looking smooth and effortless and without a care in the world. His quickness makes him a terror in the open floor, as hes nearly impossible to stay in front of when he receives the ball with space to operate. His first step is phenomenal in open spaces and this is the part of his game where his length and explosiveness are most easily seen and taken advantage of.
Defensively he has great potential thanks to his height, length and extremely quick feet. His attitude here is not what you would expect from a legit NCAA star, as he has plenty of hustle in him and has no problem getting dirty for the benefit of his team. Gay covers a ton of ground in a very short amount of time, which allows him to recover quickly and be a shot-blocking threat from the weakside. He has very good hands and a good knack for coming up with steals and blocks as well. He shows not only the ability to be a great defender but also the willingness to smother his man, although he can be inconsistent in this area too.
Gay shows flashes of a well-rounded perimeter game, with great footwork, quick spin moves and plenty of willingness to create offense pulling up off the dribble, particularly going right. His shooting mechanics are beautiful; possessing good elevation on his jump-shot and a high release point. When he has a chance to set his feet, Gay has shown the ability to hit the NCAA 3-pointer with ease, or even a step or two beyond. Even though he is not a great shooter when hes forced to put the ball on the floor, he is better from long-range than his numbers would indicate.
Gay is a very good teammate, showing many of the intangibles that lead you to believe he has what it takes to reach his high ceiling. He is extremely unselfish and an excellent passer, using his height to see the floor and a good understanding of how to put his teammates the ball in a position to score, either on the perimeter or inside the paint. He doesnt mind making the extra pass, almost to a fault at times.
Off the court Gay is well-spoken and according to all reports a very hard worker who is committed to becoming an excellent all-around basketball player. On the court he has a very good demeanor and appears to be highly coachable. He plays for one of the top coaches and programs in the country on a team that has become a factory for developing NBA lottery picks.
Gays all-around skill level is still lagging behind his outstanding physical attributes, and he struggles at times to live up to the immense expectations that have been placed on him through the incredible amount of hype hes received since he was in high school.
Despite being an incredible athlete, Gay is not always capable of fully taking advantage of it, especially in half-court sets. His ball-handling is not up to par with his phenomenal first step, and he does not really know how to effectively and consistently create space for himself off the dribble. He relies too much on his athleticism and not enough on the crafty type of moves that all great wing players have in their arsenal to get their man off balance; including head and body fakes and hesitation moves to give himself more room to operate. His size works as a detriment at the collegiate level, as he exposes the ball to his much smaller perimeter rivals by not yet knowing how to use his flexibility to get his body low enough to the floor. His coaches in the NBA will have to work with him on being more fluid and not so upright, to better take advantage of his body control, which is just average at the moment.
Gays in-between game still needs plenty of work. Because he is such a gifted athlete and physical specimen, Gay can get a semi-open shot on the perimeter just by making a short dribble or two and elevating high off the floor. More so in the early part of the season he showed a tendency to abuse this part of his game, settling for too many fadeaway jump-shots outside of the context of the offense. This is not a part of his game where he is extremely polished in yet, which hurts his percentages from both the field and behind the arc. This was a major problem for UConn's offense until he recommitted himself to playing more to his strengths, particularly within 15 feet of the basket.
While his frame is terrific, being long, tall and extremely lanky, he could still stand to add some bulk to it to help him deal with the everyday rigors and physicality of the NBA.
On the other end of the floor, Gay is often asked to guard players that are much smaller than him, since the average college small forward is usually 6-6 or less. He shows problems defending smaller players, again not getting low enough to the floor to take advantage of his lateral movement and therefore struggling to stay in front of his man. He needs to continue to garner experience defending the perimeter, but still has terrific potential on this end of the floor.
Gay will go through long stretches where he coasts and just doesnt ask for ball. When hes in these funks he tends to just camps in the corner and not make his presence felt in half-court sets unless his team is specifically running plays for him. His off-ball movement is not good enough at this point. And like many players his age, his motor can be very inconsistent.
One of the biggest questions NBA GMs will wonder is whether he has a killer instinct. Early on in the season especially, Gay was extremely inconsistent from game to game and even from half to half. If he starts off the game slowly, he will sometimes start thinking too much and get down on himself.
When hes at his worst, Gay alternates between trying to do too much and not doing anything at all, either forcing the issue as if he wants to prove that the hype hes received his entire career was justified, or not being a factor at all on either side of the floor. His mental toughness has been questioned at times, and there are questions about whether he has what it takes to reach his incredibly high potential and be a go-to guy offensively and a legit superstar. Its obvious that he enjoys playing basketball, but the jury is still out on whether he truly loves the game.
The pressure on him to be a superstar has been immense, and Gay has not always been able to back it up with what hes shown on the court, which in turn puts even more pressure on him. His feel for the game at this point in his career is decent, but not off the charts. The same can be said about his mental toughness, as well as his physical toughness. He could certainly use another year of college to garner more experience and continue to mature and develop his all-around game, but it's highly unlikely that this will happen.
Gay plays in the deepest and toughest conference in college basketball, the Big East, meaning there is rarely a night that he goes up against mediocre competition as far as the NCAA goes. As a freshman he started almost right off the bat for an extremely talented UConn team fresh off a national championship, alongside eventual top 10 pick Charlie Villanueva. Gay played the role of complimentary player very well as a freshman, sharing co-freshman of the year honors with Georgetown forward Jeff Green, and filling up the stat sheet consistently.
Expectations were sky high coming into his sophomore year, as Gay was named both preseason Big East and national player of the year by most publications. It appeared that he would be able to live up the hype and then some early on, after delivering an incredibly explosive 28 point performance in his second game of the season against Arkansas at the Maui Invitational. His team ended up beating Arizona as well as Gonzaga in the finals to win the tournament, but Gay was almost non existent afterwards. His team went on an extended stretch of playing strictly lower level Division one competition and Gay was barely tested before the Big East season kicked off. In his first conference game he was completely outplayed on both ends of the floor by Marquette senior Steve Novak, being one of the players who attempted to guard him on his way to a 41 point performance. Gay was for the most part mediocre in the month of January, but recovered in a huge way in February and once again showed the country why he is considered possibly the most talented player in college basketball. He went back to rebounding the ball with purpose, shot the ball much better from beyond the arc, and generally played like a player expected to compete for being the #1 pick in June.
It will be his performance in March will likely determine where he ends up being drafted, as UConn is considered as strong a contender as anyone to make the Final Four and everything is in place for Gay to lead them there.
Gay shows flashes of brilliance by making plays that are usually reserved only for the truly elite basketball players. His upside is unquestioned, the only doubt is how much of it he will actually be able to realize.
If Gay is focused on playing a role similar to Shawn Marion in Phoenix, the way he has for much of the 2nd half of the NCAA season, he is absolutely terrific. But when he instead tries to pattern his game after Tracy McGrady, which he does not have the skill level to do at the moment, his potential lessens significantly. The team he ends up with and specifically the coach he plays for will largely determine how effective of a player he is in his first few NBA seasons. If he struggles initially, the pressure of being such a high draft pick might be too much for him to overcome mentally down the road.
Despite being fairly inconsistent as a college player so far, hes probably shown scouts enough and his potential is likely too great for him not to be selected in the top 5 of the draft. With a solid showing in the NCAA tournament, Gay could elevate his stock to #1 depending on how the other candidates perform. Players like him usually take the safe route after declaring, so dont expect him to conduct more than a handful of private workouts at most. It will be his performance on the court with UConn that determines how high he ends up being drafted.
Adam Morrison, 6-8, junior, small forward, Gonzaga
28.8 ppg, 5.6 rebs, 1.6 assists, 2.3 to, 1.0 stls, .4 blocks, 51% FG, 44% 3P, 36 minutes per game
by Jonathan Watters
Best Case: Shorter Dirk Nowitzki
Worst Case: Post-prime Glenn Robinson
One word: instincts.
College basketball hasnt seen a player with Adam Morrisons natural feel for the game in a very long time. Obviously Morrison knows how to score the basketball, but his instincts make him much, much more than just that. Mentally, he is just a step ahead of everybody else on the floor.
The first thing that you notice about Morrison is his ability to score. He understands how to create his own shot. Not only does he utilize contact and spacing better than any player in the country, he has also mastered the art of the contested jumpshot. If he is able to get a step going toward the basket, the defense might as well give up. He is going to get a shot off, and whether or not it goes in has little to do with whether or not a hand is in his face.
Morrison nails Nowitzki-style turnaround fadeaways with ease, and is very comfortable throwing up one-handed floaters on the move from 10-15 feet away. These types of shots that the average player would get benched for even attempting are what Morrison has built his legend on, and are the main reason for the controversial Larry Bird comparisons.
Already mentioned was the fact that if Adam Morrison gets a step on the defense he is literally unguardable. Morrisons improved outside jumper is making it even harder for teams to keep him from attacking off the dribble. Where defenses could almost sag off him a season ago (31% from beyond the arc as a Sophomore), Morrison has begun to hit the 3-pointer at a frightening clip in 2006. He recently made 8-13 3-pointers in a 44-point explosion against Loyola Marymount, and is hitting nearly 45% of his long-distance attempts on the season. This percentage is even more impressive considering how much attention Morrison gets, and how often his 3-point attempts are contested, bail out type of looks at the shot clock buzzer.
Of course, Morrison will still have an off shooting night from time to time. It is in those moments that one gains another level of appreciation for his game.
Despite a herky-jerky running style and an almost frail appearance at first glance, Morrison will aggressively attack the basket when his shot stops falling. Whether it is slashing into the lane before defenses can react, posting up smaller defenders for midrange hook shots, relentlessly running the floor, or simply scrapping for offensive rebounds, Adam Morrison always gets his 25 points.
Of course, it all comes back to instincts. Morrison has two and often three defenders thrown at him for entire games, and he still manages to find a way to score. Not only does he have all these offensive tools, but Morrison exhibits a nearly machine-like ability to recognize defenses and take advantage of whatever he is being given. Take away his dribble drive, and he will spot up. Play him tight, and he will take the ball to the basket all night. Put a big guy on him, and he will get the step. Defend him with a smaller guard, and he will go to work in the post.
Sticking with the instincts theme, Morrison has also nearly mastered his ability to utilize screens. Many see Reggie Miller or Rip Hamilton in the way that he never stops attacking off the ball, and always manages to exploit the pick to the fullest. Morrison consistently makes perfectly timed backdoor cuts and will pick up a freebie around the rim the instant a defense loses a bit of focus.
Adam Morrison ability to read and exploit defenses in the blink of an eye, combined with his formidable natural shot creating tools, allows him to be one of the most feared clutch scorers in the country. Morrison has earned his reputation as a guy that always hits the big shot (see games against Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Stanford), and relishes the pressure that comes with that go-to role.
Morrisons clutch plays dont always show up in the scoring column, either. While he averages less than 2 assists per game, he finds his teammates at crucial moments on a regular basis. Sometimes it is just a steal or a rebound, but Morrison can almost always will Gonzaga to victory.
That will to win is just one more thing that sets Morrison apart. While he sometimes takes his scrappy, fiery demeanor a bit too far, Morrison is always the most competitive player on the court. He will do anything to win, and his emotional on-court displays electrify his team and the crowd.
While Morrisons dominance at the college level cant be questioned, many still doubt how his game will translate to the next level. Morrison has a certain amount of deceptive quickness to his game, but is he a good enough athlete to be a star in the NBA?
With how hard Morrison has to work to get shots at the college level, can he create offense against the Ron Artests and Bruce Bowens of the NBA? While the caliber of defender guarding Morrison has made little difference during his time at Gonzaga, it remains to be seen whether he has the footspeed or overall athleticism to succeed as an all-around scorer at the next level.
The other hole in Adam Morrisons game can be easily observed on the defensive end. Morrison clearly reserves most of his energy for his scoring expoits, and tends to coast on defense most of the time. Gonzaga will often switch into zone defenses so teams cant exploit him on that end.
While Morrison has solid defensive instincts when he is focused, it is generally perceived that the lack of footspeed will really hurt in one-on-one defensive situations. Morrison may very well be able to create his own shot in the NBA, but it is hard to see him being able to stay in front of the freak athletes occupying the wing position in the NBA. It is likely that whichever team ends up drafting Morrison will have to come up with a defensive gameplan that allows for Morrisons shortcomings on that end.
The only other issue to discuss here is Morrisons diabetes. It is hard to see the condition being the deciding factor on whether to draft him, as he has proven that he can continue to play at a high level with very little rest in the most grueling of situations. Nonetheless, you can bet that NBA teams will do their homework on what the implications of the disease could be.
Adam Morrison plays in the WCC, certainly a Mid-Major caliber conference. While he certainly doesnt face the top competition in January or February, Gonzaga always plays a tough non-conference schedule, and Morrisons star always shines its brightest against the toughest teams.
Morrison surprised many by averaging over 11 points per game as a freshman, on a loaded, upperclassmen-laden Gonzaga squad.
He really broke out as a sophomore, taking over the role of go-to scorer very early in the season. He scored 26 in consecutive against Illinois and Washington, and put up 24 in a nationally televised game against then-highly regarded Georgia Tech. Morrison gave everybody a preview of what was to come in March of 2005, averaging nearly 27 ppg in four games during the WCC and NCAA Tournaments. On the season, Morrison averaged 19.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 2.8 apg. He shot 49.8% from the floor, 75.8 % from the line, and 31.1% from beyond the arc.
Morrison became a national sensation nearly overnight after leading Gonzaga to a thrilling 3-OT victory over Michigan State in the 2nd round of the 2005 Maui Classic. Gonzaga needed every single one of his 43 points to get the win, though Morrison has been doing his best to top that performance ever since. Whether it was his second 43-point outing of the year in a loss at Washington, his banked-in buzzer beating 3-pointer against Oklahoma State, the way he took over down the stretch against Stanford, or his 37-point second half outburst against Loyola Marymount, Morrison has an entire nation of college basketball fans wondering what he will manage to do next.
On the season (as of February 24), Morrison is averaging 29.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, and 1.1 spg. He is shooting 51.7% from the floor, 77.9% from the line, and 44.9% from beyond the arc.
One way that Morrison can silence the critics about the competition level he faces is to lead Gonzaga on a deep NCAA Tournament run. The Zags have received high seeds the last two seasons, and have gone home early both years. It appears that Mark Fews team is in line for a top 3 seeding once again.
Adam Morrison is undoubtedly a top 5 pick, and could go as high as number one depending on which team is selecting there. Morrison isnt a lock to be a star, but will be a very successful NBA player in the right system. There is little up in the air when it comes to Morrisons skill level and feel for the game, but there are questions about his physical abilities on the next level. Does he have the footspeed and overall athleticism to create his own shot in the NBA? To put up a fight on defense? Opinions on Morrison probably vary greatly depending on which person is making the decisions, so his final draft position will probably be decided when draft order is. If the GM with the top selection believes he has what it takes to be a go-to scorer, it is hard to imagine Adam Morrison being passed on.
Morrison was a Gonzaga ballboy growing up, and much has been made of the fact that Gonzaga was the only team to offer him a scholarship. While this may be true, it should be mentioned that Morrison was a late bloomer, and committed to the Zags in the spring of his junior year. By the time Morrison had finished his high school career he was nearly cracking national Top 100 lists, and certainly would have garnered other offers had he not made the early verbal. Keep in mind that Morrison was only 65 at the time.
Morrison is currently averaging 29.3 ppg. If he was capable of topping the 30 ppg barrier, he would be the first player to accomplish the feat since 1997. The last time a nationally known player averaged 30 ppg was in 1994, when Glenn Robinson did it for Gene Keady and Purdue.
Brandon Roy, 6-6, senior, shooting guard, Washington
19.6 ppg, 5.8 rebs, 4.1 assists, 2.3 to, 1.3 stls, .8 blocks, 51% FG, 38.5% 3P, 31 minutes per game
Best Case: Manu Ginobili
Worst Case: Marquis Daniels
There is a lot to talk about here. While Brandon Roy has always been talented, it wasnt until his senior season that he put everything together and became a legitimate star. 2006 has been a truly breakout season for Roy, and he has become one of the most well-rounded (perhaps the most well-rounded) and versatile players in the country.
Roys main weapon, and the aspect of his game that has kept scouts intrigued over the years, is his ability to create off the dribble. His smooth, patient manner of breaking defenses down is nearly impossible to deal with on the college level. He has a nice first step and usually has no trouble getting a shoulder past his defender. Once he gets that step, defenses are in trouble. Roy can slash all the way to the basket or find his teammates as well as any player in the country.
Roy has a beautiful midrange pull-up jumper. He is able to nail the traditional, jumpstop 15 footer with ease. As he gets closer to the basket, that textbook shot becomes more of a one-handed floater that is almost impossible to block. At the rim, Roy finishes creatively, and in a variety of ways. He is very aware of where the shot blockers are and will hang in the air, switch hands, or reverse angles to get a shot off.
Of course, what makes Roy really dangerous is the fact that he almost never forces these slashing moves. He is patient enough that when he sees help defense closing in, he immediately looks to find the open man - even if hes already in the air or his teammate isnt within his peripheral vision. For this reason, he is averaging over 4 assists per game on the season, and has a sparkling 1.8-1 Ast/TO ratio.
There is even some question as to whether Roy might be able to play a bit of PG on the next level. His court vision is first rate, and he has a calm, collected presence with the ball in his hands. Roy rarely commits turnovers or makes mistakes in creating situations.
The silky smooth way in which he picks apart defenses is undeniably effective.
The old knock on Brandon Roy was his suspect outside shot. He has always been able to make a difference closer to the basket, but what NBA team wants a shooting guard that whose effectiveness is limited to within 15 feet of the hoop?
Roy is a much better shooter this season, adding range well past the college 3-point line (35% on 20 attempts last season, 39% on 78 attempts so far this season). This has really opened up his game. Where he was once a very nice complementary player, he is now a feared go-to scoring force. Roy will always get the ball in clutch situations for the Huskies and has come through with big plays on numerous occasions, whether it is a contested outside jumper or a beautiful look to a teammate.
Another aspect of Roys offensive game that has to be discussed is his ability to post up. He is very comfortable taking smaller guards into the paint and backing them down. Once again, we see Roys excellent court awareness come into play. If help approaches, he will locate the open man and deliver the ball. If allowed to continue backing down his man, he is more than capable of turning and elevating for a turnaround J.
On offense, we see a player that can do almost everything. Whether it is handling the ball, creating for teammates, creating his own shot, or hitting the perimeter J, Roy is capable.
On defense, we see this same versatility. Roy has guarded four positions very effectively throughout his career, and is just as comfortable checking a point guard as he is a wing. His most notable defensive exploit this season was probably locking up UCLA PG Jordan Farmar, forcing the sophomore into one of his worst games of the season (2-13 shooting, 7 TOs).
In the end, Brandon Roy is such an effective player because there really arent any weaknesses in his game. While he is certainly the go-to scorer for Lorenzo Romar this season, he is just as comfortable blending in and getting his teammates open looks. Roy hasnt taken 20 shots in a game since December, and has only passed that mark twice all season. Roy is a physical rebounder (nearly 6 per game), an on-court leader, and an efficient shooter (50% from the floor, 80% from the line).
While it has taken him four seasons to get here, the question now must be asked: whats not to like about Brandon Roy?
If we have to pinpoint a weakness in Roys game, it might be the lack of a standout trait that he can bank on at the next level. While Roy is certainly spectacular off the dribble, he doesnt have that blow-by explosiveness or dunk contest leaping ability of a star NBA wing. He has the ability to handle the ball and create for his teammates, but he probably wont be playing full-time PG in the NBA.
For this reason, Roy may project as a consummate roleplayer type at the next level, as opposed to a full out star.
While Roys range has improved, he can still work on making his 3-point shot a more consistent part of his repertoire. Roy still doesnt look to shoot the longball very often, and that will likely have to change at the next level.
In addition, while Roys ability to blend in to his teams offense is definitely a positive, sometimes his play borders on passive. Washington has relied on Roy as a go-to scorer all season, but there are times when he is too willing to let other players dominate the ball. This is far from a major gripe, as he likely will be playing a complimentary role in the NBA, but he certainly could take over a bit more often at the NCAA level.
The biggest issue for Roy has to do with his bad knee, which has bothered him for quite some time now. It really hampered him early last season, and a couple of surgeries may have robbed him of a bit of explosiveness. While Roy probably isnt in the same category of a Kennedy Winston, you can bet that his knee will get lots of attention from NBA teams.
Brandon Roy plays in the Pac-10, a league long-regarded as one of the nations finest, but one that has been considered down over the past several seasons. With Washingtons eight game win streak to end the season and Roys impressive individual numbers, expect him to take home the Pac-10 Player of the Year honors.
Roys career as a Husky got a late start, after academic issues and amateurism questions by the NCAA held him out well into January of his freshman season (2003). He still managed to play a significant role, and showed flashes of stardom down the stretch. Averaged 6.1 ppg and 2.9 rpg, while 50% from the floor in 17.2 mpg.
2004 saw the Huskies return to the NCAA Tournament, on the backs of a 4 guard lineup consisting of Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Roy, and Bobby Jones. Roy once again showed flashes, but it was Robinson that emerged as a go-to presence down the stretch. On the season, Roy averaged 12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, and shot 48% from the floor in 30.3 mpg.
After averaging 24 ppg in his first two games as a junior, Roy tore the meniscus in his left knee. He missed 9 games in total, and never fully regained his starting role. Despite players like Robinson and Tre Simmons emerging as the go-to scorers, Roy managed to remain productive. He shot 56.5% from the field, and averaged 12.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 2.2 apg in just 24.2 mpg. Roy averaged 15.3 ppg in three NCAA Tournament games.
With scorers Robinson and Simmons and playmaker Conroy gone, Roy has emerged as Washingtons do-everything star in 2006. He began Pac-10 play with a bang, scoring 35 points in back to back games against the Arizona schools. His clutch efforts against Arizona ended up coming in defeat, but his overall performance should be recognized as one of the top individual showings of the season.
Roy has improved his 3-point shooting (38.5%) significantly, and has come through in the clutch time after time. The Huskies are currently the Pac-10s hottest team, winners of eight in a row, and now project to earn a top 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Roy is a likely First Team All-American, and is currently averaging 19.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, and 1.3 spg while shooting 50.5% from the floor in 31.2 mpg.
Nobody has improved their draft stock more than Brandon Roy in 2006. Where injuries and talent around him have held him back in the past, Roy has now emerged as one of the top all-around players in the country. There is very little he doesnt do, whether it is creating his own shot, finding his teammates for open looks, defending just about any position, and showing up in the clutch when his team needs him most. His smooth, calm style of play makes him both effective and efficient. While Roy will need to prove that his knee is fully healed, he looks like one of the top wing prospects in the draft. He might not have the star potential that many younger prospects do, but Brandon Roy is a proven commodity and is perfectly suited to be a complementary type of starter at the NBA level. A selection in the mid to late lottery is very possible, as long as the knee checks out.
Roy very easily could have ended up somewhere other than Washington, after the coach that recruited him, Bob Bender, was fired. He originally picked the Huskies over Arizona and Gonzaga. He ended up declaring for the NBA Draft, taking advantage of a new rule that gave high schoolers the option to withdraw from the draft.
Roy ended up doing just that, and then decided to stick with new coach Lorenzo Romar at Washington. He then had academic and eligibility hurdles to overcome, but finally suited up for the Huskies on January 19.
J.J. Redick, 6-4, senior, shooting guard, Duke
27.8 ppg, 2 rebs, 2.7 assists, 2.5 to, 1.5 stls, .1 blocks, 48% FG, 42% 3P, 37 minutes per game
Best Case: Michael Redd
Worst Case: Voshon Lenard
One of the most dangerous offensive threats the college game has seen in quite some time, J.J. Redick has mastered the art of putting the ball in the basket and has been rewarded by shattering countless team, conference and NCAA records in his four years of college.
Redick became known on the national scene first and foremost for his perimeter stroke, despite the fact that there is now more to his game than just that. He is legitimately one of the best shooters the college game has ever seen. Redicks mechanics are perfect, and absolutely identical every time; starting with his outstanding footwork, the way he squares his shoulders and balances himself instantaneously, the lift he gets on his jump shot, the incredible quickness of his release, and the beautiful follow through he puts on his shot every single time. There is absolutely no way to become the type of shooter he has developed into without putting countless hours of hard work based on pure repetition and understanding the physics of what effective 3-point shooting is based on. This will translate into well over 450 3-pointers made by the time Redick is done at Duke, tops in NCAA history. Redick is not only a volume shooter, hes also deadly accurate, shooting around 41% from behind the arc for his career at Duke despite being one of the most closely guarded players in the country for much of that time. His range extends well beyond the 3-point line without losing much of its accuracy, showing the ability to nail some incredibly contested shots from 28 feet or more without changing his mechanics one bit.
Its not just his mechanics and range that make him so dangerous, but also the effort he puts in to utilize them that has made him so prolific in his NCAA career. Redicks off the ball movement is a thing of beauty. He is one of the tougher players to guard in the NCAA not just because of his outstanding skill level, but also because of how hard he makes his defenders work to defend him. Hes constantly in motion moving off the ball, working the entire 25 foot radius around his basket from sideline to sideline which constitutes the shooting range in which he is virtually automatic with his feet set and an inch of space. He has worked extremely hard on his conditioning level, and is now able to run endlessly around the floor for 37 minutes per game on average without tiring. He uses screens incredibly well (much like Reggie Miller or Rip Hamilton) and understands the right angles to take, the sharp cuts he needs to make and having the perfect timing to execute the plays run for him to perfection to free himself up. His specialty is coming off a screen on the baseline, catching the ball from behind the left part of the 3-point line, leaping in the air and turning towards the basket simultaneously while releasing and swishing his shot in one fluid motion. Redick is just an extremely intelligent player who understands the game and has figured out how to maximize his time within it.
Beyond just being a threat from behind the 3-point line, Redick has also mastered the art of the mid-range shot which compliments his outside shooting proficiency so well. Because it takes him such little space and time to get his deadly shot off, hes guarded about as closely as anyone in the NCAA, usually being the focal point of the opposing teams defense. What Redick will do to counter that is use an impressive arsenal of head, shot and body fakes (which obviously have a ton of credibility) to get his man off-balance and drive right by him. He then is able to stop on a dime, elevate quickly while fading away left, right, backwards, forwards or straight up to knock down the mid-range jumper from anywhere inside the arc. This part of his game has become a deadly part of his arsenal in his senior year, to the point that he has to rely on his outside shot only for about half of his field goal attempts, as opposed to nearly 2/3rds of the time as a freshman or sophomore. His ball-handling has improved enough he can make his way to the basket effectively without much trouble, either to finish himself with a nifty layup off the glass or find the open man on the drive and dish if the paint is too crowded for his liking. In his senior year Redick is shooting an outstanding 50% from the field and 43.4% of his outside shots at the time of this report.
To back up just how much more versatile Redicks offense has become, he gets to the free throw line almost 8 times per game, compared with just 3.3 times as a freshman and 4.0 as a sophomore. For comparisons sake, uber-athlete Rodney Carney goes to the line 3.5 times per game, Brandon Rush is there 2.25 times, and similarly sized Randy Foye is there 5 times per.
Once he gets to the free throw line, Redick is about as close to automatic as you can get. He will likely finish as the all-time best free throw shooter in NCAA history if he continues at his current pace. At the time of this report (March 1) he was still on track to break Gary Buchanans record of 91.3%, with Redick sporting a 92% average himself. His effectiveness from the line has dropped a bit this season as the minutes and attempts have piled up, but at 88% hes still world-class.
Redick is a pretty good passer, generally being an unselfish player who knows his limitations and understands his teammates strengths enough to not abuse his offense. He doesnt make many mistakes and has shown the willingness and ability to make the extra pass and coexist within a highly structured offense. You will rarely see him take a bad shot, or at least one that he is not capable of making more often than not.
In terms of intangibles, you know what you are going to get every night with Redick, and that is maximum effort and consistency. Hes scored 18 or more points a game in all but two games this season so far, and has put up 30 or more in half of his games, hitting 40+ three times on the way. He has an outstanding work ethic and by all accounts appears to be an excellent teammate both on and off the floor. His leadership skills look very strong, leading by example with the impressive way he carries himself, but also not being afraid to get on his younger teammates when they dont execute. Redick is a clutch player who wants the ball in his hands at the end of games, and his shown absolutely no fear of taking the last shot with the clock running down.
He shows some veteran savvy that will work well for him once his credibility is established with NBA refs, already using the Reggie Miller trademarked scissor kick leg action to draw fouls when hes being heavily contested. He is usually the most intense player on the floor, playing the game with a ton of passion, but not letting this allow him to get out of control and lose his focus for getting the win. No player in the NCAA has been more abused in his career both by opposing fans and players who try to get under his skin with insults and cheap shots, but Redick has the mental toughness to not let any of this phase him.
He plays for who many consider to be the best coach in the NCAA in Mike Krzyzewski, at one of the top programs in the country at Duke. During his four years in college hes garnered as much experience winning games and playing in pressure situations as a player conceivably can in an NCAA career.
Most of Redicks weaknesses revolve around the characteristics that are usually expected from prototypical shooting guards in the NBA, and the fact that players in his mold have seen limited success in the NBA over the past 10 years or more.
First would be his size. At 6-4, Redick is below average for an NBA shooting guard. In todays NBA we find very few starting caliber 2-guards at his height, and even those are usually players with superior athleticism compared with what Redick displays at the moment. His wingspan does not make up for his lack of height either.
Second would be his athletic ability. Despite not being a poor athlete, Redick does not fit your typical mold of extremely quick and explosive shooting guards who are able to blow by their man at will and get up and dunk in the face of 7-footers with authority. His footspeed is just average, as is his leaping ability, and therefore there will be questions he will have to answer about his ability to translate his incredible scoring ability to the NBA where defenders are generally bigger, stronger, longer and quite a bit more athletic than the players he usually goes up against in the NCAA. Redick is not a player who needs much space, if any, to get his shot off effectively. Still, there will be people along the road who look at his average physical attributes, skin color and the lack of similar players with his characteristics and doubt how successful he will be at what he does once he reaches the NBA level.
Being a good, but not a great ball-handler, Redick is not a player who can create his own shot at will without some help from his teammates and a smart coachs game plan, and therefore might not be able to fit seamlessly into any NBA system. The team that drafts him will need to take advantage of his strengths and be prepared to do what it takes to mask his weaknesses, which means calling plays for him to make sure he gets involved, ideally as a 2nd or 3rd option offensively. A stubborn coach who does not realize what a weapon he has on his hands and is foolish enough to not make the proper adjustments to utilize them would be a clear recipe for disaster both for him and his team. Redick would be greatly aided by playing with either an excellent point guard who can penetrate the lane, force the defense to collapse and kick the ball out to him in a position to use his outstanding stroke and/or a back to the basket big man who draws double-teams and is able to pass out of them to find the open man after the defense shifts.
One part of his game where his weaknesses will almost surely be exposed is on the defensive end. Redick is just an average defender at the NCAA level already, and this is an area where things can only get worse in the NBA. His lack of height likely means that many 6-7 shooting guards will be able to just elevate over the top of him to get their shot off, while his lack of lateral quickness could make it tough for him to stay in front of his man. In the fairly rare occasion that a taller and stronger player decides to post him up on the block, Redicks relative lack of bulk can be taken advantage of.
Fantasy basketball lovers beware, Redick is not a stat stuffer, averaging just 2 rebounds, a decent 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals. Its his scoring that makes him the prospect he is.
Redick plays in the ACC, widely considered one of the best conferences in America throughout his 4 years of play here. He was a starter from day one at Duke, averaging 15 points as a freshman in 30 minutes per game next to current NBA players Chris Duhon and Dahntay Jones. His team made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament that year, but Redick came up flat in their loss to eventual finalists Kansas with a 2-16 shooting performance. As a sophomore his team made the Final Four before losing to eventual champions UConn (led by Emeka Okafor), with Redick averaging 16 points per game in 31 minutes per game that season. In his junior year Redick became a national star, averaging 22 points per game, being named a first team All-American but again coming up short in the NCAA tournament with a loss in the Sweet 16 to eventual final four participants Michigan State. Redick was clearly gassed from the long season and had a very poor tournament by his standards, shooting 10/38 from the field and 6-24 from behind the arc in three games. As a senior, Redick has upped his scoring averages considerably to an impressive 28 points per game at the time of this report on 50% shooting from the field, putting him neck and neck all season long for the NCAA scoring crown with Adam Morrison. His team is widely considered strong candidates to make the Final Four once again after only losing one game so far this season.
As a high school player, Redick was highly regarded, winning Virginias Mr. Basketball award and being named to the McDonalds All-American game, where he won MVP honors.
Redick has done everything humanly possible to position himself to be selected in the lottery of the 2006 NBA draft. A strong showing in March (hes come up short in the past here) will likely confirm his place as one of the top shooting guard prospects in the draft, possibly even the top one. Private workouts is not a place where Redick stands a lot to gain considering the emphasis that is put on one-on-one play, defense and athletic testing, so expect him to pick and choose which ones to show up for and who to go up against.
Played for the US national team as a junior in the 2003 Men's Junior World Championship team in Greece. In 2005, Redick was invited to the USA Men's U21 World Championship Team in Argentina. Neither the US or Redick fared very well in either tournament, especially finishing in fourth in Argentina despite sending a team of legit college superstars.
Brandon Rush, 6-6 1/2, freshman, SG/SF, Kansas
14.1 ppg, 6 rebs, 2.2 assists, 2.6 to, 1 stl, .8 blocks, 49.5% FG, 51% 3P, 31 minutes per game
by Jonathan Givony
Best Case: Paul Pierce
Worst Case: Stephen Jackson
Rush is a smooth and effortless swingman with outstanding size, length, athleticism and offensive instincts.
He made a name for himself early in his high school career mostly with his physical attributes. Rush has good quickness, a nice first step and an explosive vertical leap. He turns the corner on handoff screens like a half-back, exploding towards the basket and using his outstanding leaping ability and instincts to finish creatively around the hoop. Hes effortless in his movements and extremely fluid; Rush gets in the air with purpose from impressive distances and absolutely loves to throw down emphatic alley-oops in transition, where he is at his best. Measured at 6-6 ½ in Chicago, Rush has a wingspan and standing reach that are comparable to some NBA power forwards at 6-11 ¼ and 8-8 1/2. His frame is NBA caliber and he already possesses excellent strength for a 20 year old.
Offensively, Rush shows the ability to score from almost anywhere on the court. He has terrific instincts to put the ball inside the basket, and its always been clear that basketball comes very easy (maybe too easy ) for him, particularly when it comes to scoring. Hes one of the most accurate outside shooters in the NCAA, shooting 51% from behind the arc this season on about three attempts per game. His mechanics are not pretty or particularly conventional, particularly with his ability to utilize his athleticism and get better lift on his jump-shot, but it goes in for him at a good enough clip that there probably isnt any reason to worry or change it besides improving the quickness of his release.
Rush picks and chooses his spots inside the arc as well, shooting a very efficient 50% from the field. He doesnt put the ball on the floor well enough at this point in his career, but when he does he often has a lot of options he can go to. At times he will tease you with some terrific head and body fakes or a nice hesitation move to get his man off-balance and create space for himself, He has great vision passing off the dribble, and shows raw, but promising ability to pull-up from mid-range for a silky smooth jump shot. His athleticism allows him to take the ball strong all the way to the basket as well (although again, it doesnt happen nearly enough) and this is where his offensive instincts come out the most in the way he finishes creatively around the hoop; whether with a beautiful floater, a crafty kiss off the glass or just with an explosive dunk to get the crowd off its feet. In the open floor is where Rush is truly at his best.
Whats probably most surprising about the collegiate player Rush has turned out to be is just how good of a teammate he is. Hes incredibly unselfish, certainly to a fault at times, but has shown terrific passing ability and an innate understanding of his teammates and where they like the ball. He refuses to force the issue even one bit as evidenced by his outstanding percentages from the field,
Rush has become a much more complete all-around basketball player at KU, showing significant improvement in his ball-handling, defensive effort and ability. A year in college has served him extremely well, and will make him a much better player down the road.
On the defensive end, Rush has never been known as a great half-court man to man defender, but has shown the willingness and ability to get better during the course of his freshman year. He has great potential here thanks to his terrific length, quickness and frame; and has used this numerous times already to come up with some very nice blocked shots both on the perimeter and recovering from the weak-side inside the paint, or even to step in once in a while and take a charge. His rebounding has been very good this year for Kansas, elevating high off the ground, not being afraid to mix it up boxing out and showing great hands rebounding out of his area.
As a player that freely admits to never really being coached before being thrown straight into the fire for a very young Kansas team, Rush is lacking a lot of experience and savvy at this point in his career.
His slashing ability is probably the area that raises the most concern. Never known as a great ball-handler, Rush has problems taking advantage of his athletic gifts to get himself easy shots around the basket, particularly in half-court sets. Being used to just overpowering high school players with his strength and athleticism, hes missing a lot of the crafty moves that most NBA wing players have in their repertoire to create space and free themselves up on the perimeter. Rush is averaging just over 2 free throw attempts per game at the time of this report, which is an alarmingly low number for a player with his physical gifts. Beyond his average ball-skills, he just does not take the ball strong enough to the hoop. Many will wonder whether he is tough enough to capitalize on his athleticism until he proves them wrong.
His extremely efficient shooting numbers tell you about the player he is in more than one way. Playing for such a young team, Kansas has needed Rush to step-up as a go-to guy and create offense when things bog down for them. Rush hasnt always been up to the task, being either unwilling or unable to take his team on his back at times when they needed him the most.
Rush doesnt always look 100% focused on what is going on around him on the court, making freshman mistakes, with careless turnovers and mental lapses on the defensive end.
When things dont exactly go his way early in the games, Rush will show poor body language at times by failing to assert himself and getting too down on himself, being extremely passive and not being able to switch on the elusive switch that determines the type of player we will see that night. This is not the first or last time well see that in a freshman, but there are legitimate concerns regarding whether he is willing and able to capitalize on his immense potential and become a star rather than just a very solid role player. Rush is so talented that he coasts sometimes, possibly thinking subconsciously that he only needs to fully turn it on occasionally when his team really needs him to.
Defensively, Rush is again lacking experience defending high caliber players on the perimeter. He was always the unquestioned star of his AAU and prep school team, and therefore wasnt expected to participate in the little defense they played on the court anyway. As mentioned already, he has excellent potential in this part of his game, but isnt always 100% focused on staying in front of his man. Good coaching, more practice against better offensive players and especially adding some strength to his excellent frame will help him here, particularly in the lower body. He appears to be more of a small forward than a shooting guard anyway, so bulking up will be a priority for him to guard the bigger and stronger players we usually find at the 3 spot in the NBA.
Already being 20 years old (turning 21 in July), Rush is not your typical 18 or 19 year old college freshman. Some may question his upside because of that, but considering the huge strides hes made in his game over the past 10 months, and the fact that hes only getting better by the game, it would be foolish to say that hes reached anywhere near his peak as a basketball player.
Before college, Rush bounced around between four different high schools, eventually settling in at Mount Zion Academy, Tracy McGradys alma matter. Mount Zions reputation in the recruiting world may have been a factor in Rush not being invited to the McDonalds All American game, where on talent alone he surely was deserving of a spot.
Rush plays at the University of Kansas, one of the most tradition-rich and pressure packed environments in the NCAA historically.
His team, one of the youngest in the country, was thrown right into the fire to start off the season at the Maui Invitational tournament, where they went 1-2 to start off the year (their only win came against the hosts, Chaminade of Division II). Rush played fairly well considering that these were the first games of his college career (see links: Maui Stock watch). After losing 4 of their first 7 games to start off the year, it looked like Kansas and Rush were in for a very long and disheartening season under Coach Bill Self. They managed to win their next 7 straight games, though; with the most impressive of them coming at home on national television where they blew out Kentucky by nearly 30 points. Rush had what might have been the best game of his young career, scoring 24 points (9-15) with 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks (see links: Top Weekly Performers). Two odd losses in a span of three days to archrivals Kansas State and Missouri followed almost immediately, with Rush having his typical 12 or 14 point performances. Kansas responded with 10 straight conference wins, many of them being impressive blowouts, which solidified their spot at the top of the Big 12 with a great shot at getting a high seed in the NCAA tournament. Rush was terrific in many of those games. A 25 point loss at Texas broke that streak, and Rush had his worse game of the season with only 3 points on 1-8 shooting. Kansas will still finish 2nd in the Big 12, far exceeding all expectations besides those of the most optimistic Jayhawks fans. A good showing in the Big 12 and NCAA tournament will likely solidify his spot in the top 20 of this draft.
No one knows for sure whether Rush will end up declaring for the draft in late April or not. Media reports as well as sources around him have indicated that while he is personally interested in at least testing the waters, both his mother and older brother Kareem would like to see him stay another year.
Barring a mediocre performance in March, Rush appears to have shown enough in his freshman year of college to warrant at least a spot in the 1st round should he declare this year, and probably in the top-20.
Younger brother of Kareem Rush, shooting guard for the Charlotte Bobcats, and JaRon Rush, a former UCLA standout who declared for the draft after being declared eligible by the NCAA for allegedly taking cash advances from an agent in his sophomore year, and subsequently went undrafted.
Fully updated Scouting Report coming soon