Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Five: Prospects 8-11

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Five: Prospects 8-11
Oct 14, 2016, 01:30 pm
We continue our coverage of the top NBA Draft prospects in the Big Ten with scouting reports on prospects 8-11: Vince Edwards, Justin Jackson, Caleb Swanigan, Josh Langford.
More DX Conference Previews
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten
Part One
(#1) OG Anunoby
Part Two
(#2) Thomas Bryant
Part Three
(#3) Miles Bridges
Part Four
(#4) Nigel Hayes
(#5) Malcolm Hill
(#6) Keita Bates-Diop
(#7) Melo Trimble

#8 Vince Edwards, 6'8, Junior, Small Forward/Power Forward, Purdue

Josh Riddell

Vince Edwards has quickly established himself as a key member of the Purdue Boilermakers by starting nearly every game in his two year career, while being a significant contributor to back to back NCAA Tournament teams. Edwards is a well-rounded offensive contributor as he is the only power five conference player who will return to the NCAA for the 2016-17 season to average 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per 40 minutes last season.

Measured at 6'8” with a 7'0” wingspan, Edwards has ideal size for the small forward position and with his chiseled 225 pound frame, has the strength to play the power forward spot. Athletically, he is just average, lacking a degree of quickness and explosiveness.

While A.J. Hammons has graduated, Purdue still features two prominent big men in Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan and are expected to continue to feature them together in lineups. This has allowed Edwards to display his versatility by playing both the small forward and power forward spot in various lineups, which has demonstrated to NBA teams that he can be used in different ways at the next level.

Edwards made a substantial leap in his three point shooting accuracy in his sophomore year, as he saw his percentages rise from 32.6% to 40.7% on 4.7 attempts per 40 minutes. There is still a substantial dip in his somewhat mechanical looking jump-shot, which can slow his release and renders him more ineffective when closely guarded, but it's encouraging to see an uptick in his overall efficiency. If he can replicate his accuracy from the three point line as a junior, and speed up his release somewhat, it will go a long way in proving he can be a credible shooting threat from the perimeter at the NBA level.

He has displayed some potential as a slasher from the wing, but this area of his skill-set is still a work in progress. He reads the defense well on drives and recognizes the open areas to find the best possible shot for his teammates or for himself, whether that means passing out early, a pull-up jump shot or navigating all the way to the rim. He's becoming more adept at getting to his spots off the dribble for a mid-range pull-up and he converted 43.6% of his 39 jump shots off the dribble according to Synergy Sports Technology, despite not possessing the most fluid looking jumper.

One area that he will need to improve upon as he develops his attacking game is his ability to finish around the rim in traffic. He lacks a quick first step or creative ball-handling skills to create separation from his man easily, and doesn't have a ton of explosiveness off the move, which can lead to some tough finishes in the paint. He converted just 48.5% of his half-court attempts inside the paint last season according to Synergy Sports Technology, a poor rate for his physical profile. He was able to get to the line 3.7 times per 40 by using his strong frame to absorb contact which helped his efficiency on dribble penetration, but he will need to find more ways to score off the bounce since he may struggle to finish against NBA length.

Edwards flashed some skill as a passer by averaging 4.2 assists to 2.4 turnovers per 40. He can make the right reads from a standstill by seeing cutters, entering the ball into the post or swinging the ball in the flow of the offense to keep the action moving. He started to show some skill as a passer on the move and adding that ability to his arsenal will be the next step in his player development. This will help cement his ability to play from the wing as a multi-faceted offensive attacker.

While Edwards took a step forward in demonstrating what roles he can fill on the offensive end, he is still struggling to show off his defensive value, which is a major component of his potential role at the NBA level. He does have the physical tools and agility to hold his own against either forward position, but he doesn't always play with the energy needed to make plays, which doesn't work considering he's already at a disadvantage athletically. He can switch everything on the perimeter, but he uses this as a crutch to sag way off his man and fails to fight through screens, which allows the offense to move freely.

He did improve as a defensive rebounder and showed more of a desire to help his team finish plays as a sophomore by averaging 5.2 defensive rebounds per 40. However, he failed to produce steals (0.8 per 40) or blocks (0.5 per 40) which demonstrates and awareness his lack of aggression on that end. He's not a finished product defensively and he will need to develop into a versatile defender by improving his motor while taking more pride in slowing down his man to show his potential as a two-way player.

Edwards will continue to have ample opportunity to round out his skill set from the small forward position in a two big lineup while also being able to play some minutes as a power forward to show off his versatility. He will be 20 for the entire season, a young player for his class, and after making some clear improvements to his game as a sophomore after gaining comfort playing in the Big Ten, he will be looking to take another leap as a junior to make a bigger impression with NBA scouts.

#9, Justin Jackson, 6'7, Freshman, SG/SF, Maryland

Without the benefit of extensive high school footage, we prefer to wait and see how Jackson performs as a freshman before adding to his DraftExpress profile, which already features two scouting reports breaking down his strengths and weaknesses, as well as two interviews.

#10, Caleb Swanigan, 6'9, Sophomore, Power Forward, Purdue

Matt Williams

Caleb Swanigan's college recruitment was not without drama, as the 18th ranked RSCI prospect initially committed to play for the Michigan State Spartans, before abruptly decommitting and electing to stay in his home state of Indiana to compete for the Purdue Boilermakers. Coach Matt Painter already had a pair of 7-footers - since-graduated A.J. Hammons and the efficient scoring, 7-2 rising junior, Isaac Haas - and was in need of a power forward to plug into an otherwise well-rounded lineup.

A starter from day one, the Fort Wayne, Indiana native averaged nearly a double-double, scoring 10.2 PPG and grabbing 8.3 RPG (second overall in the Big Ten), but showed plenty of room for improvement during his first season in Lafayette. Swanigan impressed with his hustle, nose for the ball and versatility on offense, but was too inefficient as a scorer, turned the ball over often and proved to be inept at the defensive end at times.

The big man declared for the 2016 NBA Draft and participated in the Combine, but realized his best option was to return to school for at least another season after struggling badly in Chicago, as he was considered a fringe second round draft pick at best. The rising sophomore will have ample opportunity to prove himself as a key member of a legit Top-25 team.

Standing 6-9 in shoes and 247 pounds with a 7-4 wingspan and 9-1 standing reach, Swanigan's physical profile is intriguing and concerning at once when projecting him to the NBA. He's got a strong lower body and excellent wingspan and reach, which he uses to make an impact as a defensive rebounder and post threat. However, the 19-year old has a very wide frame, is flat-footed and lacks lateral quickness, muscle definition and explosion as a finisher and rim protector.

The majority of Swanigan's offensive opportunities were in the low post, where he proved to be adept at carving space out with his physical tools. He embraces physicality, uses his strength to make first contact with the defender, and makes himself available to catch passes via his strong lower body and length. He's not the fastest big man around, but he does run hard and is willing to work for duck-ins. Intelligently, he seeks to establish position a few feet above the block, where he operates with a few dribbles and body-bumps to create space for hook shots or turn-around jumpers, which are very much a work in progress, but have potential.

Swanigan's lack of fundamentals and inexperience in the low post were evident, however, as he turned the ball over on 20.7% of his 150 total post possessions and regularly over-dribbled into trouble, failed to keep the ball high and rushed passes. When challenged by taller or more athletic defenders, his lack of quickness and explosiveness complicated matters, which certainly doesn't bode well for the next level.

Operating in the high-post and oftentimes as the trailer, the lengthy big man displayed a knack for moving without the ball and finding open space near the extended elbow to take spot-up jump shots. His shot selection was poor, which led to him connecting on a mediocre 35.1% of his spot-up attempts, according to Synergy. He had a tough time when being closed out on and didn't show effective pull-up skills when attacking from the perimeter, but his high release point and length do help to offset his lack of elevation on his shots.

The second year big man has to be more consistent with his shooting mechanics, specifically in terms of his lower body. As is the case with most players, he's more accurate when he catches the ball bent and prepared to shoot rather than when he catches the ball and then bends. He also showed a tendency to widen his base and flail his legs in opposite directions on his follow-through, which contributed to his inconsistency. He has a long way to go before becoming a credible threat from the NBA line, but proving to be a steadier perimeter threat can only help his stock.

Swanigan's athletic limitations and below average instincts are hindrances on the defensive end, too. He is flat-footed, lacks lateral quickness and routinely struggles to keep up with quick, skilled players, especially in isolations. He also shows poor technique on close-outs, using long and slow steps with his arms at his side far too often, which neutralizes his great wingspan. He has difficulty hedging and recovering in pick-and-roll situations, but does fight through screens competitively when guarding the ball, though he has to work on taking better angles to stay in front of his man.

For all his shortcomings, Swanigan is a very good defensive rebounder because he's super long, competitive, hustles, doesn't mind contact or getting on the floor and reads the ball well off the rim thanks to his terrific timing and instincts. He utilizes his frame to establish position and uses his wingspan to corral the ball, though he is limited by his lack of athleticism and mostly rebounds in his own area.

Barring significant improvement, Swanigan faces an uphill battle to carve out a niche at the NBA level, but he'll be a key cog on a well-rounded Top-25 team with the chance to prove he can handle more volume efficiently. All in all, the rising sophomore has a lot to prove to scouts, but is in a great position to do so this upcoming season.

#11, Josh Langford, 6'5, Freshman, Shooting Guard, Michigan State

Without the benefit of extensive high school footage, we prefer to wait and see how Langford performs as a freshman before adding to his DraftExpress profile, which already features a scouting report breaking down his strengths and weaknesses, as well as an interview.

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