In this edition of 'Scouring the Nation', I explore two of the top prospects in NAIA Division II- Saint Francis (Ind.)'s Qadr Owens and Huntington University's Caleb Kennedy.
Caleb Kennedy clearly had one of his more remarkable performances against Owens' squad. He was dominant throughout and connected on a very high percentage of his shots. Kennedy's game centers around his crafty post moves. While he is only 6'6, his girth at 215 lbs allows him to maneuver around taller players. At a higher level of basketball, Kennedy will likely still be able to employ his post-up moves. However, he will have to slim down in order to play at a faster pace. With his wide shoulders and strong upper body, Kennedy should be able to still function similarly, even if he has to sacrifice some of his strength.
In the post, Kennedy utilizes an array of drop step and pivot moves in combination with quick jumpers to exploit defenders in the painted area. While his post arsenal is not all that advanced, his savvy around the basket allows him to compensate. While he does need to extend his range, Kennedy regularly pulls up for turnaround jumpers or runners after initially receiving post entry feeds. But, he prefers to create for himself off the dribble. With regard to how this facet of his post game will translate at the professional level, it is clear that he is going to have to minimize the number of times that he puts the ball on the floor. While defenses already converge on him, he would likely struggle maneuvering around higher level athletes on the block. And, he would assuredly turn the ball over more often at the professional level because help defenses in these leagues are far more advanced than anything he has seen in NAIA.
Further, Kennedy is an excellent shooting threat from the mid range. Despite being the focal point of Huntington's offense, he still manages to connect on 51.7% of his field goal attempts. He possesses decent form on his free throws and shoots them at a 70.3% clip, indicating that he has the fundamentals to develop a consistent outside shot. These numbers do not tell the entire story though, as they fail to account for scoring trends. Kennedy tends to dominate in spurts. In his contest with Saint Francis (Ind.), he performed valiantly, but was saddled with foul trouble for some parts of the game; this, in turn, limited his ability to get into a rhythm and ultimately allowed Saint Francis to stage a comeback.
Considering the fact that Kennedy functions primarily as a post option, he rebounds the ball fairly well, especially on the defensive glass. He possesses good box out fundamentals and the intuition to know where the ball is going to land next. Kennedy is also a solid passer. In his contest with Saint Francis (Ind.), he saw several double teams, but was able to dish it to his teammates for easy baskets. Even when he was directly assisting them, his presence commanded significant defensive attention, and this allowed other players to assert themselves when he was in the game.
On the defensive end, there are numerous question marks concerning how Caleb Kennedy will stop quicker forwards at the professional level. While he is capable of moving laterally when defending in the post, the transition to the perimeter might be fairly difficult for him. However, he does have outstanding length, and this enables him to really contest and alter shots at the basket.
Overall, Caleb Kennedy appears to be a good prospect without a definitive position at a higher level of basketball. He must continue to expand his game and improve on his outside shot in order to receive looks from overseas scouts.
On the other end, Qadr Owens demonstrated why he was an All American a season ago. Not only was he able to successfully involve his teammates, but he also displayed his scoring prowess throughout the contest. While he is not a consistent three point shooting option this season (35.4% on the year), he did connect on 4 out of 5 long range shots in this game, attempting decent looks and successfully stretching Huntington's defense. Moreover, he strongly drove to the basket and either set up teammates, or was able to finish through contact. Owens has excellent body control and the upper body strength to complete tough plays around the rim. Further, his solid handle allows him to maneuver around defenders, making him one of the more complete slashers in NAIA basketball.
In terms of his court vision, Owens is a willing passer and successfully set up several of his teammates in this contest. After he drove to the basket and kicked the ball out, though, his teammates would often swing it around the perimeter to an open man, thereby negating some potential assists. However, he oftentimes does make the right pass, and is willing to do whatever it takes to lead his team to victory. Owens is also an exceptional athlete, as evinced by his 5 rebounds per game at 6'1. (may be smaller than his listed height as well)
From a defensive standpoint, Owens was able to shut down his opponents on the perimeter despite his height disadvantage. He even played solid post defense on several occasions, and really forced Caleb Kennedy into some difficult shots. Further, Owens has quick hands and impressive instincts on this end of the floor, which enable him to collect 1.48 steals per game.
Overall, Qadr Owens is one of the more underrated guards in the NAIA. He is a consummate winner who must continue to improve his consistency from beyond the arc. If he can do this and continue to work on his offensive repertoire, he should earn a decent contract overseas.
(Image Sources: Huntington.edu & Naia.cstv.com)