Boone is an athletic big man who runs the floor extremely well and possesses very good quickness and footspeed. He moves well for a player his size in all directions, especially laterally. He is a very good leaper off one foot, but is just average off two feet. Physically, he has an excellent frame that will carry about as much weight as needed, with broad shoulders, strong legs and an excellent wingspan. His wide body and low base allows him to establish position deep in the post for rebounds or occasional garbage points around the hoop. He is not a soft player and does not seem to have too much of a problem throwing his body around. He has solid fundamentals and is generally a very intelligent player with a good court demeanor when things are going well.
Offensively, he is limited, but his length, strength and hands allows him to score some points on occasion inside the paint, and especially in transition with how hard he runs the floor. From baseline to baseline, there are few big men who are quicker than Boone in this draft, and it wasnt rare at all to see him get out in the open floor and beat guards down the court. He is also a solid interior passer who knows how to make the simple pass to give his teammate the easy bucket. All in all, he is an unselfish player who doesnt mind living on scraps and doesnt need to be a focal point of his teams offense to be effective.
As a rebounder is where he is likely most attractive initially. He has all the physical tools to become a factor here, including an above average wingspan, outstanding hands, quickness, timing, and an excellent knack for anticipating where the ball will end up next. The offensive glass is where he shines the most; as almost 50% of his rebounds over his three year college career have come from there.
Boone is also an excellent defender, featuring terrific footwork, a fundamentally sound defensive stance and imposing positioning immediately when his man gets the ball. He will bump his chest right into him and glide quickly laterally from left to right. He has a good understanding of the game here, showing very well on the pick and roll and knowing when to rotate on help defense inside the paint. His quick hands and feet along with his length make him a threat to disrupt the post entry pass and come up with the steal on any given possession.
In terms of intangibles, Boone is intelligent both on and off the court, being both an excellent student and a solid citizen. He will do the little things in order to win, and does not have much of an ego like some top NCAA players from large programs too. In terms of his resume, its hard to argue with his credentials. Hes won about as many games as any junior in this draft, was a three year starter at arguably the best college basketball program in America, played under an outstanding coach, and has numerous accolades under his belt.
As a 6-10 center, Boone is a bit undersized for the position. Despite being a terrific NCAA defender, does he have what it takes to defend much taller NBA Centers than him? Also how will he fare on the offensive end where he is limited as it is already?
Developing something that resembles a face up game could put those fears to rest, because at the moment, Boone doesn't have it at all. He refuses to put the ball on the floor or take shots outside the paint. He is very limited offensively as it is, with fairly average touch around the basket that makes him blow easy baskets at time off offensive rebounds, although this might have to do more with his lack of focus than anything. While he is a good leaper off one foot (which helps him block shots from the weak-side), he is not nearly as explosive off two feet. When attempting to finish seemingly easy baskets, he doesnt always go up strong enough, which means that hell have his shot blocked. This also has to do with the fact that Boone can be very tentative at times in almost everything he does when things arent going extremely well for him or his team, not really having that killer attitude youd like to see from a projected role-playing hustling type.
Most of his baskets are of the garbage type variety, off put-backs and offensive rebounds against smaller and weaker NCAA players. Working on developing more post moves, better footwork, establishing deeper position in the paint like he does when rebounding and finishing in a wider variety of ways would benefit him immensely.
The most concerning thing about Boone has to be his mental approach to the game. Watching him play, following him throughout his career, and speaking to people that have been around him over that time, there are major question marks about just how much he enjoys playing basketball. He shows very little passion and enthusiasm out on the courtdisplaying especially concerning body languageand you have to wonder just how hard he is going to want to improve over the next few years, as some question whether he is lazy. His heartbeat has been questioned repeatedly and UConn Coach Jim Calhoun tried every trick in the book to get him to fulfill his potential, without success for the most part. He regressed significantly from last year in every major statistical category except fouls, while only playing 2 minutes less per game. Off the court, he is an excellent kid, but on the court he might just be too nice for his own good. In addition, hes been wildly inconsistent throughout his college career, ranging from terrific performances to absolutely being a non-factor on the court and in the stat-sheet.
Boone can be considered a late bloomer. He wasn't heavily recruited out of high school by the top schools and decided to go to prep school (West Nottingham Academy) for a year to polish his game before college. In his first NCAA season, he started in 37 out of 38 games next to Emeka Okafor and had a very solid year, averaging 6 points, 6 rebounds and almost 2 blocks per game. Boone played extremely well in the postseason for UConn, especially in the Big East tournament when Okafor went down, and was rewarded for his efforts with a National Championship ring that he had a big part in.
As a sophomore, Boone exploded onto the national scene early on with a terrific showing in UConns out of conference schedule. He had terrific chemistry with Charlie Villanueva, but slight injuries made him fade significantly down the stretch. He still ended up averaging 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game, on an outstanding 61% shooting from the field and 66% from the free throw line. Boone was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection.
As a junior, things were much tougher with the emergence of Hilton Armstrong, Rudy Gays development into a college star and talented freshman Jeff Adrien breathing down his neck. His numbers dropped across the board, to 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks on 56% shooting from the field and 55% from the free throw line.
Boone looked on his way to establishing himself as a lottery pick last summer after Charlie Villanueva left for the NBA and he was primed to stepped into a much bigger role on the offensive end. That never really happened, as Boone was incredibly inconsistent throughout the season and regressed in almost every facet of the game. After UConn lost in the Elite Eight, Boone may have felt like he was going to be the last man standing at UConn his senior year due to the graduation of Hilton Armstrong, Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown, and sophomore Rudy Gay and fellow junior Marcus Williams leaving early for a likely spot in the lottery. Boone has never been comfortable as a go-to guy and could have felt that another poor season would completely eliminate him from first round consideration in 2007. He entered the draft, later hired an agent, and decided to skip the NBA pre-draft camp. Some think he has a promise from the New York Knicks at 29, but if he doesnt get drafted there, there is a definite chance that he will slip to the 2nd round.
Boone has all the physical tools in the world to be a contributor in the NBA, its mostly the mental part of the game that people question. It could very well be that a change of scenery is what he needs to motivate him, but no one can say that for sure.