Top NBA Draft Prospects in the 'Other' Conferences (Part Two: #6-#10)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the 'Other' Conferences (Part Two: #6-#10)
Nov 02, 2007, 02:49 am
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-10:

Part One, Two, Three

Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC:

Part One, Two, Three

Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC:

Part One, Two

Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 10:

Part One, Two

Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East:

Part One, Two, Three

Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the 'Other' Conferences:

Part One

Non High-Major Conferences Part II

#6: Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-6, Junior, Shooting Guard, Memphis

Jonathan Givony

Probably ranked a bit low in hindsight after evaluating his game footage more extensively, there is really a lot to like about Chris Douglas-Roberts as an NBA prospect, especially when taking his physical attributes and production into consideration.

A 6-6 (although listed at 6-7 by Memphis) pure wing with a nice wingspan and outstanding athletic ability, Douglas-Roberts passes the eye test and then some on first glance. He has a fantastic first step, explosive leaping ability, excellent body control, and the core strength needed to put it all together on the floor. Douglas-Roberts has a somewhat lanky frame, but he plays extremely strong with the ball, being incredibly tough to deny angles to the basket, and very aggressive and confident when it comes to creating offense for himself.

The go-to option for an Elite Eight NCAA tournament team last season whenever they needed a basket, there is no reason to believe that Douglas-Roberts won’t continue to establish himself as one of the premier scoring wing players in the country as a junior. On a per minute basis, “CDR” as he’s called was the 5th best returning scoring sophomore in the NCAA amongst all draft prospects, which is impressive considering the team he played for when you look at the talent they had on their roster. It will be interesting to see how much the arrival of another very talented ball-handler in Derrick Rose will affect him. Rose is an unselfish and very pure playmaker, but he does need the ball in his hands to be effective, just like Douglas-Roberts.

Douglas-Roberts’ bread and butter lies in his slashing game. He is not only an outstanding athlete, but is also an excellent ball-handler with either hand, allowing him to be almost ambidextrous with the way he creates (and finishes) his own shot, making him that much more lethal as a shot-creator. He knives his way through the lane with great purpose--featuring a terrific array of crossovers, jukes and body fakes--drawing contact and finishing extremely well at the basket, sometimes with a pretty floater, and sometimes with a highlight reel caliber dunk. Douglas-Roberts was considered a point guard prospect in high school back in Michigan, and he was one of multiple ball-handlers in Memphis’ up-tempo offense who could get the team into their offense. His point guard skills aren’t as immediately recognizable these days, though, as he appears to have a clear-cut scorers mentality.

Douglas-Roberts is a very tough player as you’d expect from a Detroit-born guard, and at times Memphis will even post him up a bit to take advantage of mismatches. He’s strong and aggressive enough to carve out space for himself down there, and will even flash a little jump-hook shot to finish a play himself.

Where his toughness really comes out, though, is in his defensive ability. Douglas-Roberts has both the tools (size, length, lateral quickness) and the mentality to be a disruptive presence. He is a pesky, physical defender who sticks to his man and does not let up. He will come up with some steals and even the occasional block at times.

Despite all the positives, there are still some pretty noticeable drawbacks to Douglas Roberts’ game as well. The most obvious one would be his perimeter shot—as he hit only 19 3-pointers last season on a 33% clip. His shot isn’t broke, but the mechanics do need work, as his jumper looks different almost every time he takes one and often comes out as a push-shot. He’s not a consistent threat from behind the arc even when left wide open, and this is something that is really holding him back from being considered a top-tier draft prospect at the moment.

As much as Douglas-Roberts is a slasher, you’d like to see him develop a better pull-up jumper he can utilize from mid-range when the lane is clogged. He much prefers going to his floater, which possesses range out to about 12 feet, but would be well served by adding a fluid pull-up shot he can execute off the dribble as well—which most NBA shooting guards have in their arsenal. According to Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified stats, Douglas-Roberts goes all the way to the basket on 88% of his drives, which at times leaves him penetrating deeper into traffic than you might hope. This is fine at the Conference USA level, but won’t translate as well to the NBA.

All in all, though, it’s hard not to get the sense from evaluating his video in depth that we might have been sleeping on Douglas-Roberts a bit over his first two years at Memphis, due to their off the radar conference slate and stable of perimeter talent. That’s going to change now going into his junior season, where we feel he could really develop into a major draft story. He’s got the talent and the physical attributes, and if the preseason predictions are any indication, could be part of a NCAA tournament Final Four run, giving him exactly the boost he needs.

#7: Reggie Williams, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, VMI

Jonathan Givony

The #1 scorer in the country last year finally finds himself a spot in this preview, after unsuccessfully trying to declare for the 2007 draft due to his coach “forgetting” to send in the necessary paperwork to allow his star player to explore playing at the next level. With that in mind, Williams returns to VMI for his senior year, with plenty to prove in terms of showing that his terrific scoring ability is not just a by-product of VMI’s incredibly unconventional offensive tempo—having led the NCAA in points (100.9), assists (14.8) and possessions (93.2) amongst other stats, with all-time records even broken in steals and 3-pointers attempted and made.

Watching him on tape, it’s pretty clear that he’s an extremely talented player regardless of the system he plays in. He wouldn’t have led the country by a huge margin by averaging 35 points per 40 minutes (on 53% shooting) if he wasn’t. Williams has decent size, complimented by extremely long arms, although physically he could still stand to add some bulk to his skinny frame. He’s often the one who brings the ball up the floor for VMI, acting as the defacto point guard very often. Williams can get to the basket using either hand, although he’s a natural lefty with somewhat improvable ball-handling skills. He gets to the free throw line at an excellent rate (8 attempts per game), even if his 66% averages here are nothing to boast about. He is probably a better shooter than his 32% averages from behind the arc would indicate, though, showing a quick release and deep range, but also being somewhat on the streaky side because of his poor shot-selection (which his team’s style of play is largely responsible for). He also gets points in the post, from mid-range, and from everywhere else on the floor, being extremely sneaky in the way he slithers around players and knocks down tough shots. He doesn’t ever knock your socks off with his athleticism, though.

Williams is an extremely smart player, highly unselfish as ridiculous as it might sound considering that he attempted a whopping 24 shots per game. His 4.4 assists per game tell the story nicely, though, as it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he has absolutely terrific court vision with the way he finds teammates creatively with bullet passes when they expect it least. He’s also a very good rebounder, aided greatly by his length and timing and the fact that he played almost a power forward type role on this end, despite being somewhat of a point guard offensively.

Defensively, he’s a little bit difficult to evaluate due to the amount of zone his team plays, and the fact that they run a lot of full-court press and gamble an awful lot in the passing lanes. With that said, in the few isolated half-court possessions we were able to evaluate, he seemed a bit lackadaisical at times, not showing the greatest lateral quickness in the world.

All in all, we feel like we still need to see more of Williams before we draw any real long-term conclusions about his NBA potential, as his footage isn’t as easy to come by as some other prospects, and the system he plays is pretty unconventional to say the least. You never want to rule out a 6-5 scoring machine, though, so we’ll be sure to stay tuned.

#8: J.R. Giddens, 6-4, Shooting Guard, New Mexico, Senior

Mike Schmidt

After being involved in an array off the court issues at Kansas, J.R. Giddens transferred to New Mexico, where he is yet to completely put his issues behind him. The once highly touted prospect had a solid season last year, but struggled through injury problems throughout the season, including a broken nose and bum ankle. He eventually finished off the season by being kicked off the team once again, a disappointing conclusion considering his past history. Despite some noticeable progress, Giddens still struggled with many of the same weaknesses on the court as well that hindered him at Kansas. Now a senior, he must prove he can finally hone his natural talent and translate it into an NBA-ready skill-set, as well as stay out of trouble for the entire year.

The senior guard will draw NBA interest based on his natural physical tools alone. Giddens possesses great athleticism, and the ability to create his own shot at any time. Though shorter than many NBA two guards, the senior has a well built body and can jump out of the gym.

Offensively, Giddens established himself as the go-to scorer on New Mexico last season, and showed no fear in attempting to create his own shot. He has the tools to develop a deadly mid-range game down the road, but forces too many looks off the dribble at this point. Rather than drawing contact or finding the open man when double-teamed, Giddens will often pull up and force bad shots from 10 feet out. His ability to pull up at any time would be much more effective if he showed a willingness to drive all the way to the basket and create contact on a regular basis as well. On the drive to the basket, Giddens displayed a quick first step, though his ball handling became sloppy at times, particularly with the left hand.

The talented guard relied on his three point shot at Kansas, but his accuracy with the perimeter jumper dropped significantly last season. This can be attributed to Giddens’ shot selection, which will need a lot of work this season. When spotting up from three or working against just one defender, he can shoot the three pointer quite effectively, but the success rate again drops significantly when he forces difficult shots. The mechanics on his shot look funny, but he releases the ball very quickly, and with the elevation needed to shoot contested jumpers at the NBA level.

The combination of quickness, length and strength give the senior guard potential on the defensive end of the ball, but the effort has yet to match the physical tools in this area. Giddens rarely exerts himself defensively, and lacks the fundamental knowledge of defensive rotations and positioning.

J.R. Giddens will be relied upon to be the go-to guy for New Mexico again this season, but this time it will be under Steve Alford, his third college coach in 5 seasons. With an improved shot selection and a focus on team play, Giddens could move his way up the draft board of many scouts. Until then, he will find himself in the second round of many mock drafts, but with great potential to move up or down depending on his final season of college basketball.

#9: Jason Thompson, 6-10, Senior, Center, Rider

Joey Whelan

When you’re one of only three players in Division 1 basketball to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, you’re going to draw some attention. So even though Jason Thompson played on a .500 Rider team last season, the senior still was a recognized prospect in basketball circles. Thompson’s impressive numbers from last season have earned him preseason player of the year honors in the MAAC this year. With his numbers having improved significantly in each of his first three seasons with the Broncs, his senior campaign should prove to be a strong one.

Physically, there are some things to like about Thompson, but plenty that could hold him back. He has average size for an NBA center, but has great length which lets him play bigger than he is sometimes. He doesn’t have great leaping ability, but makes up for it by being very quick off his feet. Thompson certainly is an active player as well, very rarely is he stagnant on the offensive end of the floor. What does hurt Thompson is his overall athletic ability. He isn’t tremendously agile or quick, and while he may seem to do fine in conference play, this is against weaker and smaller competition than most other big man prospects face.

As one would expect from a player of Thompson’s size in a smaller conference, he gets the majority of his touches in the post. He does a fairly good job of getting position and keeping it, but at 250 pounds, there is room on his frame to add more muscle, which would certainly help him at the next level. What is interesting to observe, is despite having a height advantage on most of his defenders, Thompson often tries relying on his speed rather than his size to score. He has a fairly quick spin move and shows decent footwork on the block. He is very aggressive going to the basket and shows nice touch around the hole, but as is common with so many college big men, he often rushes his shot, releasing before he is squared to the rim. From the tape we saw of Thompson though, it looks like most of the time he is able to take advantage of his size advantage in the post when scoring, rather than possessing an elite skill set or feel for the game.

Thompson likes to roam around on the perimeter a lot, where he will catch and shoot from time to time (even beyond the arc), or drive to the basket. Thompson has awkward form, but a quick release, and still has a lot of work to do before he can be considered any sort of a consistent threat from the outside. Against MAAC defenders, Thompson was able to drive to the basket from the perimeter and finish some shots in the lane at times. He doesn’t show the quick first step or overall explosiveness that indicates he could do this against higher level competition consistently, though.

One thing that really stands out about Thompson is his hustle. He averaged just fewer than three offensive rebounds per game last year, and his aggressiveness when going to the basket translated into nearly eight free throws attempted per game last season. Factor in that he shot a respectable 72.4% from the line, and Thompson was able to do some damage against teams that consistently fouled him.

Defensively, Thompson was a stand out in the MAAC last season. He led the conference in rebounds (10.1) and blocked shots (2.2). Again, even though Thompson isn’t a tremendous leaper, he is able to block and alter a lot of shots because of his length and quickness off the ground. He does a solid job fronting the post, but again could stand to add on a little more weight to prevent stronger players from backing him down. Thompson looks a bit lost at times within his team’s half-court offense (his awareness here leaves something to be desired) and still needs to do a better job of closing out on shooters. Perhaps the best part of Thompson’s defensive game is the same as his offensive game; he is active. Throughout the course of the game his head is on a swivel, constantly scanning the floor to see where he should position himself.

Thompson has put up stellar numbers thus far in his career, but there are always skeptics of mid-major players who produce against sometimes lesser competition. While Thompson has shown a lot of promise, his athleticism and feel for the game are major question marks. He is often too mechanical on the court and it doesn’t appear that he has the physical abilities that would make him an effective power forward at the next level. Despite this though, there are still aspects of Thompson’s game that will get the attention of some scouts. If he has a strong senior season, he should get the chance to test himself against tougher competition at the various pre-draft camps and tournaments.

#10: Derrick Brown, 6-7, Sophomore, PF/SF, Xavier

Rodger Bohn

Although ending the season with a heartbreaking loss is never an easy pill to swallow, Xavier basketball has a lot to look forward to in sophomore Derrick Brown. His play late in the season was crucial in the Musketeers’ NCAA tournament run, which came to a conclusion in a narrow overtime loss to eventual runner-up Ohio State. Brown had a jaw dropping 8 points and 16 rebounds in a meager 16 minutes of playing time in XU’s first round defeat of BYU, a school record for rebounds in a tournament game.

The biggest asset that Brown has is surely his remarkable athleticism. There are no more than five players in the collegiate game who are more athletic than him, if that. His freakish leaping ability completely translates into his play on the floor, as he dunks absolutely everything around the cup and is able to out jump virtually all of his foes, making him an absolute terror on the glass. 41 of Brown’s 77 field goals last season were dunks, evidence backing up just how much of a monster he is around the rim. Although he was forced to play in the pivot for virtually all of his minutes, he did show off some promise in the few times that he was able to go to work facing the basket. The red shirt sophomore displayed a first step that would be impressive for a small forward prospect, blowing by unsuspecting defenders en route to the rim. He’s able to take advantage of unbalanced defenses to get to the rim with one or two dribbles, but still hasn’t shown the ability to create his own shot from the perimeter.

Equally as impressive as his athletic prowess was his ability to finish inside. Brown shot a resounding 70% from the field, with a 73% true shooting percentage, placing him atop that category of all prospects in the DraftExpress database. While the large majority of the Dayton native’s shots are dunks or lay-ups, the numbers don’t lie about how efficient of a player that he is when out on the floor. The fact that he showed off great hands and quick leaping ability helped in his ability to convert everything inside, and also contributed to his great efficiency rating.

Forced to play power forward and even center at times last season, Brown did not have very many opportunities to show off his perimeter game. In the limited times that he did play out on the wing, he showed off a pretty nice static jumper when left open (although with a slow and deliberate release), converting on half of the 8 three pointers he attempted last year. Derrick showed off decent ball handling skills for a power forward, but both his handle and outside shot will need improvement if he hopes to evolve into a full time combo forward. Unfortunately, the graduation of Justin Doellman and Justin Cage will leave Brown relegated to the “4” and “5” slots for yet another year, although he will be Xavier’s premier frontcourt option.

Defensively, Brown is very versatile in that he is able to guard both small forwards and post players equally well. He has outstanding lateral quickness and length, which allows him to do a very nice job of staying in front of smaller players when defending out on the perimeter. Weighing 225 pounds, Brown has adequate strength to guard defenders in the post as well. His versatility on the defensive end will be a major selling point to prospective teams in the future, and makes his much more desirable as a prospect.

Brown still has a bit of a ways to go before we can project where he’ll be drafted, but he certainly has all of the physical tools to become an NBA player one day. It is rare that you find a player with his package of size, athleticism, and hustle play playing in the Atlantic-10. Expect a much improved year from Brown individually this year in the stats category, with much more opportunity on the offensive end. Xavier as a team should be atop the A-10 yet again, led by Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell, and Manhattan transfer C.J. Anderson, giving Brown plenty of chances to show his stuff in front of NBA personnel.

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