While the Cowboys struggled as a whole last season, senior point guard Byron Eaton made noticeable strides in his play. The former McDonalds All-American posted career bests in scoring, rebounding, steals and saw his turnover numbers drop to the lowest they have ever been. In seeing a little more time off the ball than he had in the past, we got an opportunity to see more of Eatons offensive abilities.
Physically, Eaton doesnt pan out as an NBA prospect; plain and simple. Generously listed at 511, he is severely undersized for the point guard position, and he doesnt possess freakish explosiveness around the rim either. Eaton has struggled with weight problems throughout his career thus far, but has reportedly made strides in this area recently. His plump 243 pound frame allowed him to deal effectively with contact, particularly when attacking the basket, but more often than not he struggled to get a good shot off around the rim because of his small stature and poor elevation. According to Synergy Sports Technologys quantified report (which looked mostly at OSUs games against reasonably strong competition), Eaton shot a very low 41% on field goal attempts around the basket.
From the perimeter, Eaton is a decent outside shooter. Nearly 40% of his field goal attempts come from beyond the arc, where he shot a respectable 36.8% last season on 2.9 attempts per game. Where issues arise though is with his actual shot. Eaton has a very flat footed stroke that is quite slow and takes him a while to get off. While he is able to get away with this at the college level, he will almost undoubtedly have real problems getting his shot off against NBA defenders, unless he can find a way to make it more compact. Even against opponents now, Eaton will often wind up taking shots from well beyond the three-point line where defenders are less likely to actively contest his shots.
Once he puts the ball on the floor, Eaton shows some nice ability, but once again is limited by his size and lack of conditioning. He is a solid ball handler with good speed and quickness. Rarely will he have trouble beating defenders off the dribble if he wants to, but from here problems arise. Eaton struggles with his pull up jumper, showing an inconsistent release point on the move, and often not getting himself square before shooting. When he decides to go to the rim instead, he shows great physical toughness and a knack for drawing fouls (5.4 free throw attempts per game last season). When he isnt bailed out by whistles though, his shot selection is often erratic since he must contend with much bigger defenders.
Eatons assist numbers stayed consistent from his sophomore to junior season at around 3.5 per game, but they need to increase substantially. As previously mentioned, he does a solid job of getting into the lane and drawing additional defenders, but Eaton gets tunnel vision when attacking the rim. Rather than looking for open teammates, he often forces up poor shots.
Defensively, Eaton would likely struggle a lot against NBA talent. While he has very quick hands and feet that allow him to come away with over 2 steals per game, these often fail him against bigger, athletic opponents. Despite staying with his man through an entire offensive series, often times opponents can simply elevate right over the top of him for easy looks at the hoop.
There are certainly things to like about Eatons game: his toughness, his athleticism, and his aggressive mentality. However, his lack of size, his inconsistency as a scorer and his long, slow shot, make him a long shot at best for the NBA. Certainly he is capable of showing further improvement during his senior season as he did last year, and his new svelte frame (reportedly down 28 pounds) may be able to help him substantially, but in all likelihood, Eaton is destined to be a solid player for a team somewhere in Europe rather than an NBA roster.