Friday, December 28, 2012

Expanding Your Basketball Horizons (Part 1)

In my “Expanding Your Basketball Horizons” series, I unveil the most talented players outside the bounds of Division I basketball and assess their future prospects at a professional level of play.

In this first installment of my “Expanding Your Basketball Horizons” series, I explore talented Truett-McConnell College wing Anthony Dorsey and several other early season standouts in NAIA Division I.

Truett-McConnell College’s Anthony Dorsey is one of the top perimeter players outside of Division I. Hailing from Hillsborough Community College, Dorsey is a standout scorer with the build and physical traits to succeed at a professional level. The 6’5 wing possesses good length, a decent first step, and the physical tools to play at a high level. He is not especially strong, and would benefit greatly from professional strength training.

In terms of his impact on the court, Dorsey is one of the top pure scorers in the NAIA, averaging 26.69 points per contest.  He gets his points in a variety of ways, functioning as both a jump shooter and a slasher. Dorsey is capable of breaking his man down off the dribble, and he possesses a serviceable handle that allows him to get to different spots on the court. He utilizes a decent crossover move and is comfortable attacking the basket with either hand. Dorsey does a nice job of shielding the ball to his body. When he does get to the rim, Dorsey has the athleticism and body control to finish through contact. With this said, Dorsey must do a better shot of seeking out contact, as his four free throw attempts per game is not enough for someone with his scoring prowess.

While he is capable of driving all the way to the basket and he utilizes this threat to create separation from his defender, Dorsey predominantly functions as a jump shooter who is able to create his own shot and is comfortable scoring off the bounce. He does a nice job of squaring his body off the dribble, and his high release point on his shot enables him to score over defenders. He has a nice pull up jumper, and also is able to square his body to the basket on post up attempts, finishing fadeaway shots close to the rim. Not only is Dorsey able to score off of the bounce, but he also shows some promise shooting off of screen sets. Dorsey moves well without the ball, and is particularly effective on in bounds sets, where he got much of his offense in the contests that I watched. Overall, Dorsey is currently connecting on 54.0% of his shots from the field. 

With these strengths in mind, Dorsey must improve as a long range shooter. He is connecting on only 32.7% of his attempts from beyond the arc, many of which are forced. His shooting form is rather average with a high release point, but he must work to keep his form consistent on his three point attempts. Dorsey’s decision making also must improve for him to be considered a top non-D1 prospect. His 0.64 to 1 Assist to Turnover Ratio is very much below where one would expect. While he is one of the few players on his team that can create his own offense, he must make stronger passes, and not try to force the issue. He is fairly unselfish and when he sees open teammates, he typically looks for them, especially off of dribble penetration. Dorsey is a good rebounder for a wing, averaging 4.77 rebounds per contest. His solid length and his knack for getting the loose ball enable him to achieve successful in this area.

Even though he is one of the top offensive options in the NAIA, Dorsey may have just as much potential on the defensive end. While it is difficult to assess given the fact that he is not playing against Division I competition, Dorsey possesses good lateral quickness and athleticism. When his man beats him off the dribble, Dorsey is often able to recover and block his opponent’s shot. He is averaging 1.00 block per contest, and this is a testament to Dorsey’s timing and quick leaping ability. Dorsey also does a nice job fighting through screens, and does a very good job contesting and closing out on jump shooters without fouling. On several occasions in the contests I watched, Dorsey did not bite on shot fakes from the perimeter. Further, Dorsey has quick hands and averages 0.69 steals per contest. Based on his performances at the JUCO level, I expect this number to be higher as the season progresses. Finally, Dorsey is a strong post defender who stands his ground and is able to contest the post entry feed. He does all this averaging about 1.5 personal fouls per contest.

Overall, Anthony Dorsey is one of the top perimeter prospects due to his prowess on both ends of the floor as well as his rare physical characteristics at 6’5. If he continues to produce and make his teammates better, he may be able to receive some looks at the Portsmouth Invitational.

Another high scoring NAIA standout, Robert Martinez, is the leader of a talented Our Lady of the Lake squad. The diminutive 6’0 point guard often plays off the ball and is extremely effective scoring from long range.  In fact, most of his scoring comes from beyond the arc.  So far, he has connected on 51.0% of his 100 three point attempts on the season (out of 150 field goal attempts overall).  Martinez boasts a picture-perfect shooting stroke with good elevation and a consistent release point. Martinez is capable of shooting long range bombs off the dribble, but typically prefers to receive the ball in catch and shoot situations. He does a good job getting ahead of defenses and pulling up in transition. Martinez moves well without the ball and thus is able to set himself up for open attempts.

Aside from his long range shooting, Martinez is a good passer, who looks for his teammates when slashing to the rim. Although he does not have a very long first step, it is quick enough to get past initial defenders at this level. He does a good job shielding the ball when attacking the basket. While he only averages 2.27 assists per contest, this is largely because he does not have the ball in his hands most of the time. Martinez does most of his work creating opportunities without bringing the ball up the floor. As a result of this as well as his prowess from beyond the arc, Martinez is utilized as more of a spot up shooting weapon than a pure point guard. With that said, Martinez projects as a point guard who can keep defenses honest.

Aside from his promise on the offensive end, Martinez averages 2.27 rebounds per contest, which is very good for someone with his size.  On the defensive end, Martinez possesses good lateral quickness and does a good job contesting on long closeouts. He has quick hands and averages 1.18 steals per game. With that said, his lack of length and bulk will hurt him in defending bigger weapons at a higher level of play. All in all, Rob Martinez is a promising offensive option with the range and quickness to play professionally after his collegiate career is over.

Rob’s teammate Lo’Ron Smith is a bulky guard who is capable of scoring in a variety of different ways. Smith has a strong frame, at 6’3 195 lbs, but he could stand to cut some weight in order to improve his quickness. He is Our Lady of the Lake’s second leading scorer, averaging 18.90 points per contest. Smith scores most of his baskets off of jumpers in the paint, and dials in from 14 and 16 ft off a few dribbles. He scores many of his baskets off in bounds plays designed to free him up. Smith also has the girth to create separation and score through contact both on the perimeter and attacking the rim. While he does not get to the line often, he makes the most of his opportunities, connecting on 85% of his attempts. Smith is capable shooting from beyond the arc, and is able to keep defenses honest, hitting 43.8% of his three point attempts. Smith projects as a capable screen and roll player who can hit shots from the mid range and beyond the arc.

Smith is a high motor player that impacts the game apart from his individual scoring. He averages 3.80 rebounds per contest and is strong boxing out and securing loose rebounds. Smith is also active on the defensive end, where he blocks shots and pokes the ball away for steals. He is currently averaging 0.60 blocks per contest and 2.00 steals per game. Smith is not a great decision maker on the defensive end though. He often gets into foul trouble, particularly defending post ups, where he uses his hands to push off and edge his man out of the paint. He also does a poor job finding and creating opportunities for his teammates. He must improve on his decision making if he hopes to play at a higher level.
Texas College’s Wendell Maye is another talented offensive weapon in the NAIA. The 6’3 wing scores the vast majority of his points attacking the rim, either in half court sets or up ahead in transition. He regularly beats the opposition down the floor and goes strong to attack the basket. Maye is incredibly active all over the court, and tips home baskets on the offensive glass as well. He averages 4.07 boards per contest. These easy opportunities have allowed him to shoot an efficient 50.9% from the field overall. Even in halfcourt sets, Maye has a quick enough first step to get by his initial defender and draw fouls at the rim, where he connects on 78% of his attempts at the line. Maye also has the handle and strength to shield the ball away from defenders and get to the rim. And while Maye’s stroke is somewhat mechanical and he did not connect from three point range in the contests I witnessed, Maye is making 44% of his shots from beyond the arc, a very efficient clip. This is probably due to the threat of his drive and the fact that he picks his spots well from the floor.

In terms of his decision making, Maye turns the ball over more often than he creates assists for his teammates, leading to a below 1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. Because of his strong ability to penetrate to the basket, one would expect Maye to set up his teammates more often. On the defensive end, Maye has very quick hands and does a nice job anticipating in passing lanes. He collects 2.36 steals per contest and uses this to fuel easy transition opportunities. Overall, Wendell Maye is a promising slasher with a reliable three point stroke and great anticipation ability.

Maye has several other teammates at Texas College with developing skillsets. Texas College point guard Jamal Robertson is a 5’10 point guard with a slashing mentality and a willingness to distribute to open teammates. Robertson has an excellent first step and is able to get past initial defenders. When he does, he either finishes at the rim or creates opportunities for big men Kerry Jones and Titus Stephenson. Robertson must do a better job finishing through contact (44% from the field overall) and become more efficient from beyond the arc if only marginally, where he is hitting 36.0% of his attempts. Robertson has good vision driving in the lane, and averages 3.80 assists per contest. He must cut down on his 2.90 turnovers per game if he hopes to play at a higher level. On the defensive end, Robertson is vulnerable to players shooting over the top of him. However, he has good lateral quickness and the hands to steal the ball away from his opponents. Much like Maye, he averages 2.30 steals per contest, employing his solid athleticism and anticipatory tendencies to create transition opportunities. Robertson is a solid point guard for Texas College who may be able to play at a higher level.

Texas College big man Kerry Jones is another promising player who does a nice job finishing close to the rim. Jones regularly frees himself for open opportunities and is a viable target on the block. Jones has a decent back to the basket game, and employs good footwork to maneuver around the opposition in the paint. Jones is efficient around the basket and is shooting 56.3% from the field.  He does a good job of sealing his man on the block and facing up and attacking the basket if he receives the ball outside the paint. When he gets the ball in deep, he is able to draw fouls at a fairly high rate, using his body to attack the rim. He currently has 61 free throw attempts early in the season. Jones is also effective on the glass, averaging 7.07 boards per contest. He is very capable on the offensive glass, and creates extra opportunities for his team. Jones possesses good box out fundamentals, a knack for the ball, and the strength to corral it against bigger opponents. Jones is also an adept passer, serving as an option on the in bounds play to advance the ball. On one particular occasion, he was able to throw a running one handed pass from the opposing team’s free throw line to an open teammate for a slam dunk. Defensively, Jones does an excellent job fronting the post and chesting his man out towards the top of the key. Jones plays fundamental post defense, opting to go straight up instead of gambling and fouling his opponent. Overall, Kerry Jones is a promising big man who could develop into a role player somewhere on this continent.

Fellow frontcourt player Titus Stephenson is an active combo forward with a decent in between game. While he does not have a quick enough first step to create separation from his defender, Stephenson can post up or face up and attack the rim. He is able to start as far out as the three point line, as he is a threat to score from beyond the arc, hitting 46.2% of his 13 attempts. Stephenson is active moving without the ball and tends to be the recipient of good passes cutting to the rim. Stephenson has a good enough handle to attack off the dribble, but is limited by his lack of quickness. Stephenson is aggressive and is able to get to the line pretty regularly, drawing 60 free throw attempts so far in early action and connecting on 83.3% of his attempts. On the defensive end, Stephenson predominantly plays post defense, and possesses average lateral quickness defending the perimeter. With that said, he generally does a nice job on closeouts, but must keep himself from fouling jump shooters. In a contest I watched, he fouled a three point shooter late in the game, which took his team out of the contest. Stephenson is also a good rebounder for his size who creates extra possessions for his team. He must continue to work on his decision making, and he could become a good role player if he commits the time to improve his deficiencies on the court.

(Picture Source:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Early Season Top 70 NBA Prospects

The following is an early list of my top 70 NBA prospects. Obviously, conference play will shake up these rankings (it does every year), as some players' weaknesses will be exposed, while others will step up their games late in the season.

1.       Cody Zeller, Indiana

2.       Archie Goodwin, Kentucky

3.       Otto Porter, Georgetown

4.       Alex Len, Maryland

5.       Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

6.       Isaiah Austin, Baylor

7.       CJ McCollum, Lehigh

8.       Nerlens Noel, Kentucky

9.       Alex Poythress, Kentucky

10.   Mason Plumlee, Duke

11.   Marcus Smart, Oklahoma St.

12.   Trey Burke, Michigan

13.   Tony Mitchell, North Texas

14.   Gorgui Dieng, Louisville

15.   Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

16.   B.J. Young, Arkansas

17.   Steven Adams, Pittsburgh

18.   James McAdoo, North Carolina

19.   Ben McLemore, Kansas

20.   Glenn Robinson III, Michigan

21.   Victor Oladipo, Indiana

22.   Willie Cauley, Kentucky

23.   Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke

24.   Anthony Bennett, UNLV

25.   Jackie Carmichael, Illinois St.

26.   Rodney Purvis, NC State

27.   LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma St.

28.   Jeff Withey, Kansas

29.   Phil Pressey, Missouri

30.   TJ Warren, NC State

31.   Rodney Williams, Minnesota

32.   Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona

33.   Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

34.   Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga

35.   Tim Hardaway Jr. Michigan

36.   Allen Crabbe, California

37.   Ray McCallum, Detroit

38.   Doug McDermott, Creighton

39.   CJ Leslie, NC State

40.   Jamaal Franklin, San Diego St.

41.   Russ Smith, Louisville

42.   Michael Snaer, Florida State

43.   Andre Roberson, Colorado

44.   C.J. Wilcox, Washington

45.   Richard Howell, NC State

46.   Lorenzo Brown, NC State

47.   Mike Moser, UNLV

48.   Patric Young, Florida

49.   Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

50.   Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

51.   Talib Zanna, Pittsburgh

52.   Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee

53.   Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall

54.   Mike Muscala, Bucknell

55.   Greg Whittington, Georgetown

56.   Nate Wolters, South Dakota St.

57.   Isaiah Cannon, Murray St.

58.   Erick Green, Virginia Tech

59.   Chane Behanan, Louisville

60.   Geron Johnson, Memphis

61.   Brandon Paul, Illinois

62.   Elijah Johnson, Kansas

63.   Ryan Kelly, Duke

64.   Adonis Thomas, Memphis

65.   Nik Stauskas, Michigan

66.   Elias Harris, Gonzaga

67.   Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota

68.   Karron Johnson, Shaw University

69.   AJ Matthews, Farmingdale St.

70.   Keith Appling, Michigan St.
NR- Myck Kabongo, Texas

(Image Sources:,,,,,,, Bigstory