Saturday, November 19, 2011

Scouring the Nation (Part 2)

In this segment, I explore all of the talent around the nation outside of Division 1. Far too often, these players are overlooked due to a lack of media attention. It should be noted, though, that some of the top historical NBA talent has come from outside of Division 1. With a lot hard work and determination, coupled with some natural talent, these late bloomers can succeed at the professional level, be it in the United States or overseas. For my second edition of this series, I explore Fisk (Tennessee) University's Darrell Miller.

Fisk University's Darrell Miller is one of the rising non D1 prospects at the college level today. He has established his presence early on in this season and appears to have a lot of room for improvement. This 6'8 sophomore has the length and frame to develop into a special player down the road if he continues to develop physically.

In terms of his physical limitations, while Miller began his career at 6'8 185 lbs, he has since added some weight to his build. He still has a ways to go before he can be able to match the physicality at the professional level, but if he continues to develop at his current pace, he should be in good shape by the time his collegiate career is finished. With that said, it must be noted that Miller's ever-improving physical profile heavily factors into his capabilities and deficiencies on both ends of the floor.

On the offensive end, Miller is a solid post up option. He fights for position on the block as best as he can and is willing to move around in order to accomplish this task. Darrell does a good job of establishing deep post position at this level, getting low to the ground and calling for the ball. Against more physically imposing players, he may struggle a bit more, as they often have the ability to challenge the post entry. But currently, he does a good job of sealing his man. Once he catches the ball, however, Miller does not have a particularly developed array of post moves. He tends to wait a little too long before going into his move as well, which would lead to turnovers at the next level. However, Miller does a good job of moving around his man and attacking the basket after initially catching the ball with his back to the basket. He must develop more advanced drop step/pivot moves on the block as well as a jump hook shot.

So while he is not especially effective with his back to the basket, Miller has displayed excellent potential as a face up player. He has a decent handle at 6'8 and is able to blow by his man with an impressive first step and extra gear. He attacks the rim with reckless abandon and is willing to fight through contact. With that said, his backcourt at Fisk University often forgets to feed the post and is not able to get him the ball on the high post when facing high level defensive pressure.

Additionally, Miller must look to develop more of a perimeter shot to keep defenses honest. Therein, his shooting mechanics could use some work, although he has a decent feel at the line, where he converts on roughly 70% of his attempts. Darrell does a good job of picking his spots on the court, as evinced by his 52.6% Field Goal % so far this season.

Also, in terms of his unselfishness, Miller does not display tremendous vision when given the ball on the high post. With that said, he is always a willing passer when defenses collapse on him on the low block. And, it should be noted that this is another developing facet of his game.

Aside from his quickness when slashing to the basket, Miller's greatest asset is his proficiency on the glass. Miller has a knack for anticipating where the ball is going to be as he corrals it and this has allowed him to average 14 rebounds per game in the early going. (through first three games and team exhibitions) This is especially helpful on the offensive glass, which is one of his greatest strengths. Despite this ability, Miller does not have great box out fundamentals, instead opting to jump in from behind in order to secure rebounds. If he can improve in this capacity, he could lead NAIA in rebounding throughout the season. (and not just through the first 4 games or so) As he develops physically, Miller has the potential to become one of the better rebounders at any level of basketball.

On the defensive end, it is really difficult to evaluate Miller's performances because Fisk plays zone at times. However, he does allow players to get deep post position occasionally and does not challenge on the catch. Further, while he has decent foot speed for a player his size, Miller does not always get in his stance. Despite this, he does a good job of closing out on perimeter shooters, utilizing his length to challenge their perimeter jumpers. Finally, Miller struggles as a help defender, focusing too much on his man and not always putting in the best effort to contain dribble penetration.

Overall, it will be interesting to see how far Darrell Miller can develop as this season progresses. He has two more years of eligibility left and he is still getting acclimated with his teammates after transferring from Milligan College, where he played his freshman season. Miller is one of the more talented players outside of Division 1, and it will be interesting to see if his intensity and effort level can pick up as he becomes more confident with his team's dynamic.

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