After an solid showing in the NIT last season, Illinois State power forward Jackie Carmichael was offered the opportunity to compete with some of college basketball's top prospects at the LeBron James Skills Academy. He did not disappoint, emerging as one of the camp's top performers and generating buzz from = https://twitter.com/franfraschilla/statuses/222219022035456000]national sportswriters and scouts alike. Now with increased expectations, NBA scouts will be watching to see if he can take the next step in his development and boost his draft stock.
Part of what makes Carmichael such an interesting prospect is his physical profile. He has just average size for a power forward, as he stands somewhere between 6'8 and 6'9, but he compensates with his 7'0 wingspan and an excellent frame. Furthermore, he is an above average athlete who runs the floor hard, is aggressive, and can play above the rim.
In addition to his solid physical profile, he had an impressive junior season to the tune of a career high 19.5 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted while shooting 53.3% from the field. He also possesses a true back-to-the-basket power forward's game, as Synergy reveals that nearly 90% of his shots come around the basket.
Though he plays primarily with his back to the basket, what makes his game intriguing from an NBA perspective is how naturally he scores, showing terrific instincts and feel from the low and mid-post alike. 37% of his offensive possessions come in post-up play types and he shows soft hands, solid footwork, a nifty jump hook with his right hand and a fade away jump shot with very nice touch.
Not just a bruiser who gets his points through sheer force backing down weaker opponents, Carmichael also shows nice finesse facing up opponents and beating them off the dribble with impressive patience and skill, creating high percentage shots for himself and getting to the free throw line at a high rate. The problem is that he struggles to go left and either looks to pass immediately or panics when forced to his weak side. His still developing post instincts are to blame for many of his 3.1 turnovers per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which ranks him in the top half of turnover prone power forwards in our database.
Carmichael also possesses the ability to score out of the pick-and-roll, where he sets good screens and rolls hard to the basket with excellent timing. He is a terrific finisher at the college level due to his soft hands, long arms and solid explosiveness, being capable of taking a hit and still finishing plays, drawing a good amount of fouls in the process. Given the popularity of the pick-and-roll in the NBA, his proficiency in this area will certainly be of interest to scouts.
Another intriguing aspect of his offensive game is his jump shot. While he only made 11 of 38 jump shots and attempted only three shots from beyond the arc, he nevertheless showed the ability to face his man up and quickly get his shot off. He has a high arcing shot that, if he can consistently knock it down, could be a weapon down the road given his average size at the next level. While his range extends out to around the college three-point line, he looked far more comfortable from mid-range where he made 31% of his attempts versus 26% inside of 17-feet. Nevertheless, scouts will be watching to see if he can improve into a more prolific and efficient catch-and-shoot option as a senior.
He is a solid defender at the collegiate level, even though he mainly guards opposing centers. His lateral quickness is only about average for his size, but he does a good job of staying involved in plays even after he gets beaten. He has also maintained his reputation as a solid shot blocker, rejecting two shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted. While he is a factor in the post and on the perimeter, from the weak side and while trailing, he sometimes finds himself out of position in his pursuit of shots.
He is, however, an outstanding rebounder, particularly on the defensive boards where he averages 10.4 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. This ranks him in a tie with Delaware's Jamelle Hagins as the second best returning defensive rebounder among all prospects in our database
. His combination of length, strength, energy, athleticism and timing allow him to excel on the boards and, despite some of the question marks that accompany him on offense and defense, translate as an attractive skill when projecting his role at the next level.
Following a solid post season and outstanding summer, expectations are clearly higher for Jackie Carmichael now than they were one year ago. While he struggled against elite competition as a junior, he will be expected to produce against Louisville, in a late-season BracketBusters match up and against in-conference rivals Creighton and Witchita State. He is also older than many in his class, as he turns 23 this January, and if he fails to improve substantially on his weaknesses, then he will have to answer the question of how much room he still has to grow.
Despite these question marks, Illinois State returns most of their 2011-2012 roster and Carmichael will be expected to lead Redbirds into the NCAA Tournament while continuing to showcase his skills in front of scouts on a nightly basis. While opportunities to shine against NBA-caliber talent may be limited due, scouts should still have plenty of opportunities to evaluate him throughout the season, in the post-season and most likely in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. No longer flying under the radar, Jackie Carmichael will have every opportunity to put himself into the position of hearing his name called on draft night.