Antonio Blakeney was Ben Simmons' running mate at the AAU level with Each 1 Teach 1, emerging as one of the top volume scorers in the Nike EYBL, while also winning Florida's Mr. Basketball award and being named a McDonald's All-American. He had a solid, albeit inconsistent freshman season as part of a disappointing LSU team that fizzled out under Simmons, and didn't find much interest when he decided to test the NBA Draft waters last spring. Things went from bad to worse after returned to LSU for his sophomore season, where he played almost entirely off the national radar on a team that went 2-16 in SEC play.
Blakeney saw his statistical production rise to 20.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per 40 minutes thanks to a higher usage rate, but his efficiency numbers left a lot to be desired with a negative assist to turnover ratio and a 55% TS%.
With head coach Johnny Jones replaced by Will Wade, Blakeney made the decision to forego his final two years of eligibility and move on to the next phase of his basketball career. The #14 ranked RSCI recruit in 2015, Blakeney still has clear-cut NBA potential with his athleticism and scoring prowess, but will need to repair his stock in the eyes of scouts after two underwhelming seasons in college.
Measured at 6'4 with a 6'7.5 wingspan, Blakeney is slightly undersized a NBA shooting guard, and will have to fill out his 197 pound frame to handle the physicality of the pro game. Although he lacks elite size and length, he has a high level of athleticism which is the starting point for his potential. He has tremendous explosiveness, good speed with the ball in the open court, and excels in transition, where he scored 1.3 points per possession per Synergy Sports Technology, a mark that ranks an impressive 6th out of 101 players with at least four transition possessions per game.
Blakeney looks like a combo guard physically, and has some ability to operate both on and off the ball, but hasn't yet shown enough development with his feel for the game to indicate he can make the transition from the wing full time. On the ball, he has shown potential as a scorer as he can use his quick first step to get into space, but he has struggled to create efficient looks for himself with his 56% true shooting percentage ranking sixth worst among shooting guards in our top 100. He was erratic with his decisions once he got into the lane by driving into traffic, picking up his dribble too early or leaving the ground without a clear passing lane, putting himself in tough spots with no exit plan.
Scouts will like that he has experience in a ball screen offense with such possessions accounting for 36.5% of his total derived offense according to Synergy Sports Technology, but he will have to make substantial improvements in his basketball IQ to show he can have success at the NBA level. He forces his way into traffic too often and while he has demonstrated that he is more than a straight line driver, when he gets going at a top speed his handle gets too loose and he will lose the ball in traffic. He also wasn't much of a creator for his teammates, accounting for just 1.7 assists per 40 minutes, while his -2.60 pure point rating was lowest among all shooting guards in our top 100. He plays a selfish brand of basketball, looking much more comfortable seeking out his own offense than trying to make teammates better. Blakeney's court vision and decision making need a lot of work, leaving scouts with questions about his role at the next level considering his struggles to score efficiently at the college level.
Blakeney has long shown a propensity for contested jump shots off the dribble, which factored into his poor efficiency. Even still, he converted 41% of his 146 jump shots off the dribble as logged by Synergy Sports Technology, a strong mark at that volume. He is a streaky shooter who can get hot in spurts, but will also force up some bad shots outside of the rhythm of the offense when he gets overconfident.
Gunners in Blakeney's mold have some value in today's NBA, but he will have to become a more consistent three point shooter to validate this style of play, as he is a career 31% three point shooter in nearly 500 attempts in games we have logged in our extensive database. While he has impressive shot-making prowess, getting tremendous rise and creating separation from defenders, he often releases his jumper just after the apex of his jump, and he has a tendency to sway sideways, both of which impact his percentages, along with his poor shot-selection.
Defensively, the tools are there for Blakeney to be a solid on-ball defender, but he is far from a stopper. He has solid length to contest jump shots and the lateral quickness to stay in front of the ball which could allow him to be a pest when he is locked in. He helped his team rebound by crashing the glass for 4.6 defensive rebounds which he loves to turn into transition opportunities with his speed.
LSU had one of the worst defenses in the nation last season and this can partly be attributed to Blakeney's poor energy and awareness, which affected his level of impact. His effort level has waned at times as he doesn't always work hard to defend and fight through screens. He also doesn't always see action off the ball and is a step slow to rotate over or chase his man off cuts, so he'll have to improve his awareness to defend the complex schemes of NBA offenses. There are also questions about his ability to add strength as his frame hasn't changed that much in two years and is holding him back from become a more versatile defender, as he can get bullied by bigger guards.
After a forgettable collegiate career, Blakeney will look to put that behind him and impress scouts with the hopes of landing a NBA roster spot next season, likely in the form of a two-way contract. He will have to demonstrate to teams that he is capable of playing winning basketball, and will likely need at least a few years of seasoning in the D-League. If he doesn't get drafted, teams will certainly continue to monitor his development because of his athleticism and scoring instincts, and if Blakeney can improve his shot-selection, decision making and defense, he could get an opportunity to play himself onto a roster down the line.