NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/15/07-- Part One
Jeff Green, 6-9, Junior, SF/PF, Georgetown
Vs. Marquette: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 9-15 FG, 2-4 3P, 4-5 FT
One of the most efficient players in the country lately, playing for one of the hottest teams in the NCAA--riding an 8-game Big East win streak--Jeff Green and Georgetown have bounced back from a slow start at the perfect time as far as their season goes.
Standing 6-9 with a small forward's frame, he has good size for the 3-spot, but is certainly not a prototype as far as his hypothetical future NBA position goes. Cutting to the basket on back-door plays is another one of Georgetown's specialties, and Green finds a lot of success doing so thanks to his high basketball IQ. Green is very solid getting off his feet, and also possesses outstanding hands, and therefore most lobs thrown his way will see his point guard credited with an easy assist. A decent amount of his offense comes with his back to the basket, where he does an excellent job using his combination of quickness, strength and smarts to spin off his man and either finish craftily or draw fouls. When teams throw a zone at Georgetown, as they often do, Green is the one that moves to the top of the key to force the zone to collapse around him, which gives him plenty of opportunities to show off his excellent decision making skills--either to find the open man or knock down a static mid-range jumper if the defense doesn't react quickly enough.
This area, his perimeter shooting, is precisely where Green has improved the most this season, knocking down 41.5% of his 3-point attempts compared with 31.5% last year. He's only attempting just over 2 and a half attempts per game on the year, though, which is not a high rate at all. For the most part he looks good knocking down shots from college range with his feet set, but his mechanics and accuracy take a hit when forced to shoot on the move or pull up off the dribble. As a ball-handler is where Green has the most work to do if he's to play the small forward position full time, though. He's clearly hesitant to use his dribble and the ball slows him down significantly, making his first step quite methodical, and he has a tendency to expose the ball to his defender, which leads to turnovers. When he does put the ball on the floor, it's usually after using a shot-fake to get his man in the air and then finding an angle to methodically make his way to the basket. Green is a throwback player with an old-man's game--which we mean in the best way possible-- and sometimes you'll see him swooping into the lane and throw up an incredibly old-school sky-hook.
As a rebounder and defender, Green is very solid. He has good physical tools, including strength and length, and is smart and fundamental enough to get the job done. There are some concerns about how he'll do defending athletic small forwards on the perimeter due to the way he's played in college at the power forward position, but he leaves the impression that he should be able to adapt fairly quickly. Generally speaking, Green doesn't wow you on first sight with phenomenal athleticism or upside, but the more you watch him play, the more he grows on you. He isn't the type of player that will fit in every, or even most, NBA systems, but if put in the right niche where he's able to play up to his strengths, he will find success as a versatile role player. Teams like the Utah Jazz or Los Angles Lakers with the offenses they run seem like the best fit. Persistent rumors from the DC area all season long indicate that he is strongly considering entering his name in this year's draft and leaving it in if he's considered a first round pick.
Roy Hibbert, 7-2, Junior, Center, Georgetown
Vs. Marquette: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 7-12 FG, 9-11 FT
These types of numbers would be attention worthy from any player, let alone a 7'2 space eater with the rare skill of Hibbert, let alone an skilled 7'2 space eater improving at the rate that this one is. He has put up 20 or more in four out of his last five games, including averages of 21.5 points and 11 rebounds in last week's key wins over Louisville and Marquette.
Of course, the improvement in Hibbert's game is just as noticeable from watching him play. As a freshman, Hibbert's main on-court value was his sheer size. He was awkward, slow, and largely unskilled, capable of overpowering certain opponents but not producing consistently. Contrast the freshman version of Hibbert with the junior one, appearing quite at ease within the Princeton system and the perfect finisher for all of that near the basket offense it creates.
Hibbert now displays phenomenal footwork in the paint and is doing a much better job of using his size to gain position. He gets the ball in the air very quickly upon receiving a lob or draw and kick, even if he still needs a bit of refinement when it comes to the touch on his traditional back the basket post moves. Hibbert will never be an ideal fit in a fast-paced offense, but has improved significantly as an athlete. His overall activity level has improved by leaps and bounds, and he is now much more of a factor on the offensive glass and as an intimidator on the defensive end. Hibbert now has his way with nearly every Big East-level post defender, and his frame should allow him to add even more bulk.
This isn't to say that Hibbert is a can't miss center prospect just yet. He still plays the game in somewhat of a mechanical manner, and will probably never be mistaken for Hakeem Olajuwon with his back to the basket or running the floor. Nonetheless, it is hard not to be impressed by the steady improvement of a prospect this big. Hibbert may still be getting by some of the time on size alone, but he is big enough to do the same thing in the NBA eventually.
Furthermore, Hibbert's dramatic rise in production has taken place right along with Georgetown's ascension up the Big East standings. Most of the NBA attention has been focused on Pittsburgh's Aaron Gray, but it is becoming obvious that Hibbert is at least Gray's equal as a pro prospect, and is perhaps now leaving the pre-season conference player of the year in the dust in that regard. Roy Hibbert is producing like a lottery pick and his Hoyas suddenly look like a legit Final Four contender. Of course, Hibbert and his team will get to prove both claims next Saturday, when Pitt and Gray are in town for a game that could very well decide both the Big East title and Big East player of the year. Don't miss this one, folks.
Tyrese Rice, 6-1, Sophomore, Point Guard, Boston College
17.5 points, 6.3 assists, 2.9 turnovers per game in ACC Play
With 4 games left in the conference regular season, Boston College sits tied atop the ACC. Many people expected the Eagles to struggle after Sean Williams was kicked off the team, but instead they sit with a 9-3 record in the ACC. Jared Dudley has been getting much of the publicity for this run by Boston College, and rightfully so, but point guard Tyrese Rice has played a major role in keeping BC afloat in the ACC race.
In addition, Rice also has a very polished mid-range game for a college point guard. He can shoot floaters and jumpers off the dribble, and has no problem getting his shot off over larger players in this area. He creates separation in the mid-range largely due to a lightning quick cross-over dribble, and shoots it very well moving back to his left side.
As a distributor, Rice can be seen at his best when he penetrates into the lane off the dribble. He keeps his head up on dribble-drives, and usually finds the open man if he draws a double team. Rice will never be a pass-first point guard, and isnt the ideal playmaker to run a deliberate offense in the half court. He will generally make something good happen if given the chance to create, however, and does a great job of getting the ball ahead to the open man in transition. Rice has shown very precise passing ability at times, but he sometimes tries to force it too much in tight areas. Regardless, he is leading the ACC in assists at 5.8 per game, and has posted a respectable 1.67/1 assist to turnover ratio.
A few areas of focus will be important to Rice in order for him to help his draft stock. He lacks any sort of lift on his three point shot, and has very awkward shooting mechanics as well. This season, he still has been able to shoot around 31% from the three point line, but his three point shooting is hot and cold at this point. Rice can shoot much more consistently when he gets an open look and has time to set up his shot, but he often struggles with defenders close to him.
Rice will also need to improve his right hand. As a lefty, he can drive and finish much better when moving left. He sometimes loses control of the ball when driving right to the hoop, and usually crosses back over to his left hand for the mid-range jumper instead of taking it all the way in.
In terms of size, Rice lacks the height you ideally want in your point guard, and is generously listed at 61. He has a good build, though, and handles contact inside well enough to compensate for lack of height. The lack of size does cause some trouble for him on the defensive end, where its particularly hard for him to fight through screens and disrupt the shots of larger players.
In his sophomore season, Tyrese Rice has done a great deal to boost his draft stock. He has assisted Jared Dudley in leading Boston College to a surprising 8-3 record in a very tough ACC Conference. Though he lacks the size for an ideal NBA point guard, and isnt quite a true playmaker, Rice has given scouts a lot of things to like when looking at his game. If he can carry his strong play through to next season, he could very well be in a good position to test his stock for the 2008 NBA draft.