In this edition of Scouring the Nation, I explore some more Division III professional prospects.
Upon watching a Drew University men's basketball contest, it becomes clear that Asmar Capers is not only their best offensive option, but is a rather complete player at the DIII level. While he does not possess a supremely quick first step, he plays within himself and finds ways to methodically put the ball in the basket.
Capers has a decent physical profile and is capable of banging on both ends of the floor. In the contests that I saw him, he got to the line with some consistency and was active in transition. More often than not, he converted on his attempts, displaying a nice shooting form in the process. Additionally, he makes use of the shot fake and tends to throw defenders off balance before attempting to blow by them. He struggled to get by his man with his quickness though, and this will be a significant weakness when he attempts to play overseas. Further, he is not a vertically explosive athlete, preferring to lay shots in off the glass rather than finishing strong at the rim. Because of this, he has limited potential on both ends of the floor. With that said, his handle allows him to compensate for his poor athleticism at times. Capers can also be deadly from long range when he is able to catch fire.
Defensively, Capers struggled with his consistency. He gave up on defense at times, appearing to be frustrated. However, on several possessions, he was able to slide his feet and force offensive players to kick the ball back out. Because he is not particularly fast, he struggled to challenge in transition. In the contests that I saw, he did not always hustle down the court on every play. With that said, he has some room for improvement, and if he is willing to put the time in to slim down, Capers could be an effective role player overseas somewhere.
Elsewhere in DIII, Hamilton College forward Pat Sullivan had a solid career for his team and could potentially continue playing somewhere overseas. His best performance against Williams College illustrated his strengths and limitations. Sullivan possesses solid post fundamentals, with the ability to drop step or go to his counter moves inside. He is strong on the block and can hit the medium range jumper when called upon.
Further, over the course of his four years at Hamilton, Sullivan extended his range and now possesses the ability to connect on shots out past the three point line. In his contest against Williams, he was able to utilize solid footwork and shot fakes to get open shots. And when he did, he finished with remarkable proficiency, connecting on 11 of 15 shots. While this was a career night, it is clear that Sullivan has a diversified skillset on the offensive end and is capable of functioning as a spot up shooter.
With that said, Sullivan will struggle to guard big men at the next level due to his average footspeed and below average height at 6'7. Still, Sullivan is a competitor who will likely find a niche somewhere.
Salem St.'s forward Brian Clark is even more undersized than Sullivan, but was more efficient from the field, connecting on 62% of his shot attempts compared to Sullivan's 49%. (on the year) Clark is more of a traditional post option, but can step out and hit the perimeter jumper. In the contests that I watched Clark, he tended to fight for position down low, looking to seal his man at every opportunity. When he did, he was able to either drive around his defender or faceup for a turnaround jumper in the lane.
Clark was remarkably efficient from the field in his senior season, and tended to pick his spots, contributing to his team's success. Additionally, he was a good rebounder for his size, despite the fact that he functioned as a low post option. Moreover, Clark was aggressive on defense and was his team's best shot blocker. If he can develop more of a perimeter game to keep defenses honest and improve on his current conditioning, Clark may be able to obtain a role off the bench at some professional level.
University of Chicago's Matt Johnson had one of the best careers in his school's history. This 6'4 guard has the height and length to be effective at the next level. Further, his upper body appears to be fairly underdeveloped at this stage of his career and a professional training staff may enable him to get stronger in order to be competitive. Johnson's game is suited for European basketball, as he tends to get free off of screens and thrives moving without the ball. He rubs off screens well and takes advantage of his team's offensive sets.
Further, Johnson possesses a decent crossover and handle, and thus is able to take his man off the bounce once he catches the ball on a curl route. After receiving the ball, he loves to pull up for an open jumper when defenders overcommit to his drive. He does a good job of drawing fouls in this situation and is able to get to the line fairly frequently. Johnson is also able to execute basic basketball plays such as the give-and-go and screen-and-roll with some proficiency.
Johnson's high basketball IQ coupled with his decent length allow him to challenge defenders when they initially get the ball. He did a great job of denying the ball and swiping without fouling. However, when his man was able to get deep position on him and attack the basket, Johnson's weak upper body strength tended to limit his ability on the defensive end. Therein, if Johnson is able to put the time in to transform his body, he should be able to excel at the next level, whereever that may be.
While Matt Johnson has good potential at the next level, another Johnson was among the leaders nationally in scoring. Raysean Johnson of D'Youville was one of the major impact players this season in DIII basketball. Not only was he capable of scoring the ball from the perimeter, but he was strongest attacking the basket. Johnson often played at his own pace driving to the hoop, scoring through defenders without exceptional quickness or change-of-pace dribble moves. He was able to do this because he understands spacing and has the handle to drive in between defenders and either dish the ball off to his teammates or score in traffic. Also, Johnson was one of the best in DIII at anticipating contact and getting to the line. He possesses a believable shot fake and the necessary scoring instincts to understand how to get his man in the air. And, when he got to the line, he normally connected on his free throws, seldom letting an opportunity pass him by. At times, he did turn the ball over when trying to break through a zone defense and when pushing the tempo. Still, given the number of possessions that he had the ball in his hands, his turnovers were few and far between.
Raysean Johnson was aggressive on the glass and displayed good box out fundamentals in the contests that I watched. He was able to secure rebounds and push ahead. Further, he has a decent pull up jumper in his arsenal to keep defenses honest. On the opposite end, Johnson displayed decent lateral quickness, but put forth countless lackluster efforts in trying to stop the ball in transition. He often was unwilling to race down the floor in order to catch players on the opposing team that were cherry-picking. Further, he did not always get in his stance and missed several trap opportunities. At the next level, Johnson will have to put in a lot more effort to guard bigger players. Otherwise, he will be relegated to the bench in spite of his talent.
Despite his limitations defensively, Johnson was able to hit a game winning layup in one of the contests that I witnessed. He appears to have some intangibles on the offensive end, but must work to improve his outside shot and go to his pullup jumper with more regularity.
A player with a decent physical profile for the next level is Middlebury's Ryan Sharry. The 6'8 forward was one of the top post players in all of DIII and displayed solid fundamentals on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, he made some heads up plays to get open, particularly off of inbounds passes. He also made several backdoor cuts to free himself close to the hoop. He was capable attacking his man off the dribble and drawing contact in post up situations. Further, he can step out and hit the three point basket, as evinced by his 42.9% 3 point %. Not only does he display great form and balance on his jump shots, but he can also connect on shots fading away from the hoop. This should increase his chances of landing a roster spot at a higher level of European basketball.
Further, Sharry was aggressive on the glass and would box out to secure defensive rebounds. He hustles to loose balls and is willing to sacrifice his body. When he does secure deep post position, he possesses a nice drop step and pivot move, which he executes rather quickly. On the defensive end, Sharry is not blessed with exceptional lateral quickness, but he does play with fire and gets his hands up to contest shots. Sharry's ideal height and basketball savvy make him one of the clear cut candidates to land on a European roster next season.
Finally, Franklin & Marshall's Georgio Milligan is the most complete player mentioned in this article. He excels on both ends of the floor do to his solid physical tools as well as his tremendous basketball IQ. Milligan is an efficient scorer from the field. While he only attempted 78 three point shots all year, he connected on 44.9% of them. Further, he possesses a decent midrange game, but must work to keep a consistent shooting motion when pressured. With that said, he was able to dial in on some tough fadeaway jumpers.
In terms of his greatest strengths on the offensive end, Milligan is best moving towards the basket. He is extremely physical and has the footspeed and athleticism to avoid the charge. This is supported by the fact that he shot 231 free throws on the year, a very high total for a player at any level, yet he rarely was called for a charge. Moreover, Milligan is an exceptional passer, and is able to thread the needle for passes inside. It has been said time and again that the post entry pass is a lost art in basketball. Milligan knows exactly where to feed post players and is fairly conservative in his approach, opting only to dish inside from the wing. Further, Milligan is dynamic in transition and regularly throws on-point alley oop passes to electrify the crowd.
Standing at 6'2, it is clear that Milligan can play either guard position at the next level. He possesses the handle to convert to a lead guard role, often splitting double teams. Milligan is strong inside and is willing to take his game to the post if at all possible, where he can either connect on a turnaround jumper or bully his way through contact.
Despite these notable strengths on offense, Milligan has the most potential to be a lockdown defender at the next level. Not only does he have the requisite footspeed to keep up with just about anyone, but he has the savvy to closeout players and force them into tough shots. He drives offensive players to their off hand and will often beat them to the spot, forcing them to kick it back out. He also has quick enough hands to get in the passing lanes and finish on breakaway steals. (2.1 steals per game) Finally, in spite of his size at 6'2, Milligan has been known to block shots at the Division III level due to his superior athleticism. (1.2 blocks per game)
Georgio Milligan will be an excellent pickup for whichever team discovers him. He has a great work ethic and the necessary physical tools to succeed at a higher level of basketball.
(Image Sources: Drewacorn.com, Hamilton College Athletics, Mascac.com, University of Chicago Athletics, Nescac.com, and Franklin & Marshall Athletics)