Nike Academy Scouting Reports: College Small Forward Prospects

Nike Academy Scouting Reports: College Small Forward Prospects
Jul 03, 2015, 06:45 am
Scouting reports on six of the most intriguing college small forward prospects seen at the Nike Academy in Santa Monica this past weekend, including Justin Jackson, Troy Williams, Taurean Prince, James Webb III, Paris Bass and Isaac Copeland.
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Justin Jackson, Small Forward, 6' 8.5”, 6' 10” wingspan, 205 lbs

Mike Schmitz

Over the course of the camp, the 6' 8.5” North Carolina wing proved to be the most offensively polished small forward out of a very talented group of wings. Jackson has excellent natural scoring instincts and is capable of getting buckets from all over the floor.

He showed his high basketball IQ with his passing ability (3.3 assists per 40 pace adjusted as a freshman), fluidity with the basketball driving in a straight line and attacking closeouts, and lethal mid-range pull up/floater game off the dribble.

Jackson played with the ball quite a bit and looked comfortable putting it on the deck going both right and left. Although he doesn't always get all the way to the rim, he uses his size to rise up over his defender and knock down contested pull up jumpers with relative ease. Jackson shows an excellent feel for the game as he rarely plays outside of himself and forces up bad shots or tries to make plays that aren't there.

While the Houston, TX native impressed with his smooth scoring ability, he didn't answer many of the questions surrounding his shooting range. Jackson is deadly as a jump shooter inside the arc but really lacks consistency when he stretches it out to the 3-point line. Jackson's mechanics get a bit stiff as he incorporates a somewhat violent dip of the ball and doesn't quite the rotation you would hope for from a player with such soft touch inside the arc. Becoming a more consistent threat from behind the arc will be an important part of Jackson's development.

On the defensive end, Jackson has some room to develop as well. Although he has solid length for his position (6' 10” wingspan), Jackson has a thin, hunched frame that limits his ability to guard stronger forwards. Jackson is also a bit hunched in his stance and struggles to consistently contain penetration versus quicker wings.

Jackson moves well enough to eventually develop into an adequate defender, especially given his 6' 10' wingspan, but it will be interesting to see how the 20-year-old's body develops as it will play a big role in his ability to defend stronger wings and finish through contact offensively. With all of that said, Jackson's size, scoring instincts and feel for the game make him an attractive option as a draft prospect, possibly as early as this upcoming year.

Troy Williams, Small Forward, 6' 7.5”, 6' 7.5” wingspan, 210 lbs

Mike Schmitz

As has been the case over the course of his first two years at Indiana, Troy Williams was wildly inconsistent at Nike Academy, but showed flashes of why he's considered an intriguing draft prospect.

The do-it-all small forward made plays all over the floor, highlighted by his impressive bounce and passing ability. Williams was relentless filling the lanes in transition and put home multiple tip-dunks in the half court. The 20-year-old soon-to-be junior springs off the floor off of either leg and displayed an ability to finish above the rim and through contact with ease.

What was even more impressive than Williams' already-heralded athleticism was his passing ability in the half court. The Hampton, VA native is comfortable handling the ball in pick and roll situations and made a handful impressive passes to the roll man, as well as shooters along the perimeter.

But while Williams is a very capable passer, his true colors as a questionable decision maker started to show as the camp went on. Williams doesn't have a great feel for the game and isn't a very high IQ player overall, which started to come to light as he forced passes into crowds and drove into traffic without much of a plan.

Williams is a unique and versatile talent, but he'll have to find a way to hone in some of his wild mistakes to be trusted with the ball at the NBA level. Despite some of his mistakes, Williams did show some potential as a shooter. Having taken only 42 threes (28.6%) in 1,571 career minutes, any sign of promise as a shooter is encouraging for Williams.

As is the case with his game, his mechanics are a little wild as he has quite a lengthy windup before getting to his shooting motion and holds onto the ball a little too long at the top of his release. But with that said, the ball comes out of Williams' hand fairly nicely as he gets solid rotation and was able to knock down a few pull up threes in transition. Williams actually seems more comfortable pulling up off the bounce than shooting off the catch, an area he'll have to improve if he wants to bolster his stock as a 3 and D prospect who can make plays with the ball.

Defensively, Williams showed his versatility and quickness despite his lack of elite length. While Williams can improve his overall awareness off the ball, he has the athleticism to contain penetration and the quickness to recover and make a play on the ball if he gets beat. Although his lack of length isn't ideal, Williams has the size, athleticism and frame to develop into a two-way player in time. Williams is a bit rough around the edges as a prospect but there's no denying his explosiveness and overall talent, making him an intriguing prospect if he's able to turn in a productive junior season at Indiana.

Taurean Prince, Small Forward, 6' 7.5”, 6' 11” wingspan, 215 lbs

Mike Schmitz

General managers and NBA scouts alike travel the world looking for long, athletic wings who can shoot and defend. The value of the “3 and D” wing has skyrocketed in recent years, and although he may not be a knockdown shooter or an elite NBA athlete, Taurean Prince most certainly has the tools to fill that role. The Baylor small forward passed the eye test at Nike Academy, measuring 6' 7.5” with a 6' 11” wingspan and a frame that can easily carry at least 10-15 more pounds. His physical profile is ideal for an NBA wing, and Prince has the defensive prowess and potential as a shooter to rise up draft boards sooner rather than later.

One of the youngest soon-to-be-seniors in the country (he'll still be 21 when the 2016 NBA Draft rolls around), Prince has flown somewhat under the radar through three years despite scoring over 18 points per 40 pace adjusted and grabbing over 8.0 rebounds per 40 pace adjusted ever year he's been at Baylor.

Prince stood out at Nike Academy thanks to his defensive toughness, rebounding and shot making ability. Prince is a gritty defender who takes on the challenge of defending multiple positions, using his quickness to stay in front and his length to contest. Although it was in a camp setting, the San Antonio, TX native locked down DeMar Derozan on multiple occasions, and rarely got scored by the rest of the perimeter players throughout the course of the camp.

Prince crashes the glass, plays with toughness and does a little bit of everything on both ends. His jumper has a bit of movement at the top and isn't in the knockdown category quite yet, but he's nevertheless a very good spot up shooter who is comfortable pulling the trigger with a hand in his face (1.34 PPP when “guarded” which is in the 94th percentile according to Synergy Sports Technology) and gets great rotation on the ball. Prince also knocked down a couple of pull up jumpers, which gives him some hope in an area where he really struggled last year.

Prince isn't much of a shot creator, but he's able to use his size and strides to attack in a straight line and his length to finish around the rim. He's more quick than he is vertically explosive, but Prince certainly has enough juice to finish above the rim and he does a nice job of attacking the body of the weak side defender ot get to the line.

Prince does, however, have room to improve as a passer and decision maker – very important qualities for a 3 and D, role player type of wing. Prince showed some flashes as a playmaker by driving and kicking or dropping it off to the big, but he also struggles executing the simple play at times and isn't immune to making a wild pass in traffic. Improving his overall feel and becoming a more consistent jump shooter are two of the biggest keys for Prince's development.

But even with his current skill set combined with his physical tools (and the fact that he hasn't even turned 21 yet) he most definitely has enough intrigue to slide into the draft conversation in time.

James Webb III, Small Forward/Power Forward, 6' 9”, 6' 10.5” wingspan, 199 lbs

Mike Schmitz

After shooting 40.9% from three (110 attempts) in his first year with Boise State, former JUCO transfer James Webb III continued his torrid shooting pace at Nike Academy. Although he shoots a line drive and doesn't have the most natural wrist action, Webb shot it with extreme confidence and a high success rate from every spot behind the arc.

Playing both the three and the four, Webb was put in a lot of pick and pop situations and did an excellent job taking advantage of slower bigs closing out to him by drilling triple after triple. Given the trajectory of his shot and his somewhat mechanical release, it will be interesting to see if Webb's 3-point shooting numbers will stand the test of time in his junior season at Boise State.

In addition to Webb torching the nets, he also played with the high motor Broncos fans got used to seeing form him all season long last year. He crashes the offensive glass relentlessly and flies around the floor despite his thin frame.

Although Webb had some really nice moments, he didn't seem to progress in some of the most important areas where he still has room to develop. Webb is still very thin (199 pounds) and doesn't have the frame to play the four consistently in the NBA. He also lacks the length (6' 10.5” wingspan) to contest shots around the rim as a power forward.

While he's more of a three on the defensive end, Webb still lacks the ball skills to consistently play on the wing offensively. He isn't very comfortable putting it down more than once or twice, and often looks to quickly swing the ball and follow the pass right into a ball screen. Webb is an explosive athlete who plays with a high motor and is capable of making spot up threes, but his thin body, struggles as a ball handler and age (turns 22 in August) limit his intrigue and upside a bit, although that shouldn't prevent him from being discussed as a draft prospect.

Paris Bass, Small Forward, 6' 8”, 6' 11.5” wingspan, 196 lbs

Mike Schmitz

One of the lesser known prospects in the college group, Bass' combination of physical tools, defensive potential and playmaking ability make him a very intriguing prospect to follow as his body, decision making and jump shot continue to develop.

Sporting a 6' 8” frame that has room to fill out with an impressive 6' 11.5” wingspan, Bass has ideal physical tools for an NBA wing. His body is a bit hunched and he's very thin at this stage, but Bass has wide shoulders, long arms and a solid base.

Aside from his physical tools, Bass has a versatile offensive skill set for a player his size. Although he's a bit turnover prone, he's very comfortable handling the ball, distributing in the half court and transition, and he's a capable spot up shooter despite his low release and slight forward lean. The do-it-all forward from Detroit can play with or without the ball, as he does a nice job moving off the ball and crashing the offensive glass when he's not involved in the play.

Bass is more fluid than he is explosive, as he struggles finishing around the rim in traffic at times (also a product of his thin frame), but his ball handling and passing ability are very advanced for his age. Detroit uses him as a point-forward type, which wasn't on display in full effect at Nike Academy, but you could see the potential as a playmaker.

Bass also has a lot of potential on the defensive end as he moves well and has the length to make plays on and off the ball. Bass turned in an impressive freshman season at Detroit – per 40 pace adjusted numbers: 18.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.6 blocks, 2.5 offensive rebounds, and a 20.4 PER on 48% from two and 36.8% from three – and is slowly but surely working his way onto the NBA radar. Bass needs to improve his strength and as a shooter and decision maker, but he's without question an NBA prospect with strong potential after a couple more years of seasoning at Detroit.

Isaac Copeland, Small Forward/Power Forward, 6' 9”, 6' 9” wingspan, 198 lbs

Mike Schmitz

Copeland didn't wow scouts with an overly versatile skill set or explosive plays on either side of the ball, but he has excellent size for a combo forward, is a solid athlete and is fairly effective as a floor spacing, spot up shooter.

Copeland doesn't have the smoothest shooting stroke, but he's very capable of making shots with range. He's fluid, can play above the rim at times, and doesn't play outside of himself on the offensive end. Copeland will most likely have to develop into more of a three given his lack of length (6' 9” wingspan) and average frame, but there's enough to like to consider him as an NBA prospect a few years down the road.

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