Pac-12 M5: 01.20.14 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on January 20th, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. Much of the time, a demotion of an upperclassman that results in a freshman or sophomore filling the open role can make relationships sour in a hurry. However, that hasn’t been the case for Oregon State junior point guard Challe Barton and freshman Hallice Cooke, who have remained close after Cooke grabbed Barton’s starting spot earlier this month. Despite only averaging 8.8 MPG in Pac-12 play, the junior can typically be seen waving a towel on the bench and one of the first to greet players coming off the floor during a timeout. Barton’s laid-back attitude and easy smile certainly helps, but knowing that playing time on coach Craig Robinson’s squad can flip drastically at the blink of an eye, he knows that he needs to be ready to go and engaged at all times. If Cooke keeps up his current pace, however, that starting job is going to be locked up for awhile. The freshman has provided a much-needed spark to a struggling offense, averaging 10.5 PPG in his last five appearances.
  2. The Beavers got a huge win last night in the Civil War battle against Oregon, jumping out to an early 16-point lead and eventually holding on for an 80-72 upset. Oregon State is now in a tie for eighth in the conference standings and has a great chance of getting back to .500 when it faces Washington State on Wednesday night. On the Ducks’ side of it, things are not going well. The job that Dana Altman has done so far in the month of January is by far the worst in his four seasons with Oregon. His team is currently free-falling down the NCAA Tournament seed lines and desperately needs a sweep at the Washington schools this week.
  3. After suffering a stress fracture in his leg in mid-September, freshman guard Que Johnson got off to a slow start at Washington State. But the redshirt freshman grew more comfortable within the offense as the non-conference season wore on, and he has now become the team’s go-to guy with junior DaVonte Lacy out with various injuries. In this piece examining Johnson’s performance thus far, Jeff Nusser takes a look at his statistics and compares them to former Cougs’ great, Klay Thompson. Johnson is blowing past the freshman Thompson in terms of efficiency, using his aggressiveness to shoot at a 51 percent clip from inside the three-point line. He is also showing some early traits of Thompson’s late-game clutchness, hitting an overtime-forcing three with 10 seconds left against #15 Colorado, then knocking down the final three free throws of a three-point win against Utah a few days later. As Nusser says, putting these comparisons on a freshman may be unfair, but the early returns have been nothing less than terrific. Washington State returns to action Wednesday night against Oregon State in Pullman.
  4. Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist, Daniel Evans, released his updated projections over the weekend, and Arizona claimed his top overall seed once again. Next up are Oregon and Colorado on the five and seven lines, respectively, and California and UCLA coming in at eight and nine. Stanford remains squarely on the bubble and is listed as the second team out of his field.
  5. The Ducks debuted some nice new kicks in last night’s rivalry game with Oregon State, their “JumpDucks.” Long a testing ground for anything Nike has to offer, Oregon was the first one to get a crack at re-doing the Michael Jordan Jumpman logo, replacing it on the shoe’s heel with a shadow Duck mascot. The new Air Jordans look very cool and would be sure to sell quickly if Nike goes down that road. We’ll let you use your wildest imagination to dream up what’s up next for the stylistic offerings of Oregon athletics.
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Washington State Week’s Burning Question: How Long Is The Road Back To National Prominence?

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 6th, 2012

It’s that time again, as Adam Butler of Pachoops.com joins us once more with our Burning Question for the Washington State program, concerning the road back to national relevancy for the Cougars and whether Ken Bone is the man to lead them there.

Not too long ago, the Cougars enjoyed the most successful era in the history of their basketball program. But Tony Bennett left for Virginia, Ken Bone came in from Portland State, and Washington State hasn’t gone dancing since they did it back-to-back in 2006-07 and 2007-08. What do the Cougs need to do to not only get back to the NCAAs, but national prominence as well, and is Bone the man to lead them there?

Ken Bone Enjoyed Much success While At Portland State, But So Far It Has Not Translated To The Court In Pullman (credit: Don Ryan)

Adam Butler: Find their identity. The Bone era hasn’t been devoid of talent, but it has been missing consistency. I think I like their style – it’s generally up-tempo – but there’s been an inability to consistently perform and execute what I imagine is Bone-ball. Maybe that’s a result of being an uptempo-ish team in this recent trend (started by Bennett in Pullman) of Pac-12 school’s to slow things down and play deliberately. Nonetheless, if it’s unclear what you’re doing, odds are you’re not going to be particularly successful. The same concept applies to a lot of things, just ask your first girlfriend. But there are a lot of things going for the Cougars, too. I think Reggie Moore could be poised to break out of this two-year funk as senior seasons tend to help people do, and Brock Motum is a Player of the Year front-runner. Am I sold on Ken Bone building a Top 10 team? Not today. But I think it’d be a step in the right direction if there was an identity to what a Cougar game was like as opposed to hoping talent prevails.

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game Three

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 7th, 2012

Our third matchup of the summer pits the third seed, myself, Connor Pelton, up against sixth seeded Ben Knibbe (UW Dawg Pound). The winner of this one is off to the semifinals, where it will meet the winner of our matchup to be revealed on Tuesday. Below are the rosters, followed by some commentary:

Connor Pelton

  • Head Coach – Slats Gill, Oregon State
  • Guard – Reggie Miller, UCLA
  • Guard – Isaiah Thomas, Washington
  • Guard – Chauncey Billups, Colorado
  • Guard – Baron Davis, UCLA
  • Forward – Kiki Vandeweghe, UCLA
  • Forward – Klay Thompson, Washington State
  • Forward – Richard Jefferson, Arizona
  • Forward – Jon Brockman, Washington
  • Center – Steve Johnson, Oregon State
  • Center – Robin Lopez, Stanford

Connor’s Take:

Before I tell you why my team is so much better than Ben’s, let’s first take a look at my seven-man rotation; which is undoubtedly the best in this entire fantasy league. We start in the backcourt, where I was able to pick up two of the clutchest players in not only Pac-12 history, but the NBA as well. Chauncey Billups is our designated starting point guard, if only because Reggie Miller needs to be available at any time to knock down the three. In late-game situations, however, Lute Olson’s famed zone defenses won’t be able to match up and prevent both of these clutch guards from knocking down the winning jumper. You surely already know of Miller’s exploits in the waning minutes of a game (eight points in 11 seconds, anyone?), but Billups hasn’t gotten the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” for no reason. In one of Billups’ best NBA seasons’ (2007-08 with Detroit), he averaged 38.5 points per 48 minutes of clutch time (defined as fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, and neither team ahead by more than five points).

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Pac-12 Morning Five: Leap Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 29th, 2012

  1. It’s the last day of February, a glorious time to be a college hoops fan, right? But for UCLA fans, not only are they on the verge of being on the outside looking in during the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, but Sports Illustrated today publishes an “extremely negative” article about the Bruin basketball program. Pulitzer Prize winner George Dohrmann – author of “Play Their Hearts Out”, among other things – will publish a piece today, which deals with the downfall of the program, from Final Four installation to Pac-12 also-ran. The bulk of the story deals with destructive behavior from a handful of players in UCLA’s 2008 and 2009 classes (most notably – surprise! – Reeves Nelson), but plenty of blame is laid at the feet of head coach Ben Howland for not dealing with that behavior promptly or fairly. The content of the article certainly didn’t live up to the fears that UCLA fans experienced on Tuesday, when they found out that Dohrmann, breaker of the Minnesota cheating scandal in 1999 and the Ohio State football scandal last season, was dropping a bombshell on the program, but certainly any negative article about the Bruins at this point is not a good thing for the long term prospects of Howland, already regarded as being potentially on the hot seat. Howland commented on Tuesday that he can’t talk specifically about former players, and that “everybody makes mistakes, I’m definitely not perfect” but that he thinks he has “for the most part” handled things correctly. We’ll have more on this story later today and in the future as events warrant.
  2. Sort of annoying that we have to deal with that kind of story right at the start of what should be about a month-long holiday for fans of the sport, so let’s try to wipe away that story by focusing on some good stories. And there may be no better story in the Pac-12 this year than Arizona’s Kyle Fogg. Fogg came from being an afterthought in the 2008 recruiting class, only signed by Lute Olson because the Wildcats were losing Jerryd Bayless after just one year, as well as a couple graduating seniors, and needed some “fresh blood.” Now, four years later, Fogg is well on his way to becoming an All-Pac-12 performer and he already occupies spots in several Wildcat career top ten lists.
  3. Another senior who has come from relative obscurity to claim a spot as one of the conference’s best players is Oregon senior guard Garrett Sim, who just got done torching in-state rival Oregon State, the alma mater of both of his parents, to the tune of 25 points on ten-of-14 shooting. And for one Duck fan, Sim is the perfect player for the home crowd to root for – not only effective, but eminently annoying to opposing teams and opposing fans. And yes, annoying is a good thing in this context.
  4. Sim has certainly turned it on as a senior, but California’s Jorge Gutierrez has got the whole “thorn in the side to opposing teams” thing down pat after four years of experience. Even as a freshman, Gutierrez’s relentless energy, hustle and defensive pestiness drove opposing fanbases crazy, but over the years, as the Golden Bear combo guard developed his game, he has earned grudging respect from up and down the conference. While just about every coach – save one – in the conference will be glad to see Gutierrez’s eligibility expire, we’ll certainly be missing a little fire in our game next season.
  5. Lastly, let’s jump up to Washington State for one last bit of finding that silver lining, because as Jeff Nusser at CougCenter points out, this year’s Cougar team actually improved offensively, despite the losses of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto to the professional ranks a year early. Of course, what he fails to mention is that the WSU defense took a complete nose dive. They fell from 46th in the nation in defensive efficiency last year to 199th this year, propelled mainly by their inability to do anything particularly well on that end of the court; they’re in the bottom half of the nation in opponent’s effective field goal percentage and in forcing turnovers, while they’re not a whole lot better than that in hitting the defensive glass or keeping their opponents off of the free throw line.
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Predicting the All-Pac-12 Team

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 11th, 2011

With players like Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, and Klay Thompson departing for the NBA, the talent level from top to bottom in the Pac-12 this season isn’t exactly at its peak. That means guys who had a mediocre season or played a role on a team last year will be looked at to step up and become the next big stars of the conference. This is evident as we have compiled our best guess as to the All-Pac-12 team, and only one player from last year’s team has made the list. Here we go!

  • G Jorge Gutierrez, Sr, California – We begin with the only player from last season’s all-conference team. Gutierrez averaged 14.6 PPG and 4.5 APG in 2010-11, but he will be looked at to take on an even bigger role this year with the departure of Cal’s third-highest scorer, Markuri Sanders-Frison. Grouped in a backcourt with Minnesota-transfer Justin Cobbs, opposing defenses will be stretched to the max on the perimeter.
Jorge Gutierrez, Cal

Gutierrez Will Be Looked At To Lead The Golden Bears To The NCAA Tournament This Season

  • G Jared Cunningham, Jr, Oregon State – If you look at the stats from last season and the previews for this year, there isn’t a very strong representation from Oregon State. But from the returning scoring leaders to the “most entertaining” lists, Jared Cunningham is always a constant. Cunningham averaged 14.2 PPG last season, but his biggest contributions come on defense. Cunningham stepped in for the departed Seth Tarver as Oregon State’s top defender, averaging 2.7 SPG, most of which turned into immediate buckets for the Beavers. If he can make three-pointers with consistency (and if his exhibition performance was any indication, he will), Cunningham is a lock to make the All-Pac-12 team.
  • C Harper Kamp, Sr, California – Kamp is actually one of the smaller centers in the league, but his agility and great defense make him one of the most respected players around the conference. With the aforementioned loss of Sanders-Frison, California’s season could hang on how healthy Kamp is and whether or not he stays out of foul trouble. Kamp averaged 14.2 PPG in 2010-11, but his biggest contributions came on the boards. His 5.6 RPG was second only to Sanders-Frison’s mark last year. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.09.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 9th, 2011

  1. Washington State heads into this season with lower-than-normal expectations after the departures of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. Thompson and Casto were arguably the best two players on the roster a year ago, so this season the Cougars will need to rely on experience and chemistry if they are to return to a major postseason tournament. If they are to make the NIT or NCAAs, it will be because of their guard play. Marcus Capers and Reggie Moore both return in the backcourt, and with the additions of Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd and freshmen DaVonte Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew, the Cougars feel like they can go up against any group of guards in the nation. Washington State’s season will get underway next Monday night when they take on Gonzaga in Spokane [ed. update: head coach Ken Bone said Tuesday that Moore is questionable for Monday's game with a groin injury].
  2. Three regular season games have already tipped off across the nation, but the season doesn’t officially start at most places until Friday. That means the previews are still rolling out, including this look at each Pac-12 team and the best players in the conference. They have California guard Jorge Gutierrez and UCLA center Joshua Smith highlighting the first All Pac-12 team, while Oregon guard E.J. Singler and California forward Harper Kamp highlight the second. The All-Freshman Team includes four guards, highlighted by Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Washington’s Tony Wroten, Jr.
  3. Bakersfield High (CA) combo guard Tyrone Wallace committed to California on Monday, and in this interview with Jim McGill he talks about his decision. “I’m going to play the one and two, play combo,” says Wallace. “It depends on whatever we need. I’m versatile so Coach (Mike) Montgomery said they’d play me where I’d fit best at any given time.” Wallace is a four-star recruit coming out of high school and could see some major minutes next season with Gutierrez graduating. Wallace was down to Cal and Colorado before his commitment.
  4. Not only did Utah lose a game last Friday night, but they also lost a pair of key players for several weeks. The biggest loss was to starting center David Foster, who is out indefinitely after a foot injury. “We need Dave,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said after the game. “When Dave went down, it put us in a little bit of a whirlwind.” The Utes have also lost junior shooting guard Chris Hines to a rib injury. The designated “sixth man” of the team will be out three weeks. The injuries mean that the Utes will only have eight scholarship players for their first six games of the year. Expect them to struggle mightily.
  5. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins is hoping that the meaningful minutes most of his freshman played last year will translate into victories this season. While Dawkins knows that the majority of his team is still mostly sophomores (seven of them, to be exact), the Cardinal doesn’t have much of a choice. If players like forward Dwight Powell, guard/forward Anthony Brown, and center Stefan Nastic all have big years and get some help from senior center Josh Owens, this team could be on the rise again.
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Demarquise Johnson Commits to Washington State

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 24th, 2011

Up until Saturday, Ken Bone’s 2012 recruiting class was a solid bunch of two star players. That all changed late Saturday morning when Demarquise Johnson became the Cougars’ fourth commitment of the 2012 class. Johnson is the type of player that can and will make an immediate impact in a Ken Bone system. He is considered by many to be one of the best players in this year’s class from the state of Arizona, and the Cougars beat out schools like Gonzaga, UNLV, and Washington to get him. At 6’5″ and 190 lbs, the Westwind Prep (AZ) product is an explosive scorer, precisely the kind of guy Bone wants to build an offensive attack around. While Johnson may receive comparisons to former Cougar Klay Thompson, do not expect him to light it up by any means as a jump shooter.  He will however get to the basket faster than Thompson and will be more physical in the paint. The only fault in Johnson’s game that I can find is in his rebounding ability and willingness to go up against a 6’7″ guy for the ball, but that is certainly something he can work on by the time he is in a crimson uniform. ESPN had this to say on their scouting report of Johnson:

Johnson Is a Very Nice Pickup for Ken Bone's Program (credit: Husky Haul)

Johnson has that quintessential frame for the two or the three and the skills as well. He can stroke it from deep and he gets great lift and rotation  on his shot. In addition, he has a terrific burst off the dribble and can slash his way to the basket exhibiting excellent body control. Johnson is one of the elite scoring guard prospects in the country. If  he is willing to improve his all-around game (rebounding, defense, making others better) he should be an excellent Division I player.

In addition to Johnson, the Cougars have also gotten commitments from Richard Longrus, Brett Boese, and Richard Peters, who is also from Westwind. The trio are all small forwards, so it appears that Wazzu will have a big logjam at that position. The Cougars will also add Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge, a guard, to next year’s class. Recruiting, especially in basketball, can take on a sort of momentum, and since Washington State is still trying to get three-star small forward Jordan Tebbutt (Oak Hill Academy, VA) and three-star center Zach Banner (Lakes High, WA), this most recent committment is huge.  Johnson, nor anyone else, can’t officially sign on the dotted line until the early signing period begins on Nov. 9. But the fact that his commitment came so late, and he has no more official visits, is a telling sign that he will stay a Coug.

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RTC Mock Draft: Final Edition

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2011

1) Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona

3) Utah Jazz- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey

4) Cleveland Cavaliers- Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania

5) Toronto Raptors- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

6) Washington Wizards- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic

7) Charlotte Bobcats- Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo

8) Detroit Pistons- Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas

9) Charlotte Bobcats- Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State

10) Sacramento Kings- Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

11) Golden State Warriors- Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State

12) Utah Jazz- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut

13) Phoenix Suns- Marcus Morris, SF, Kansas

14) Houston Rockets- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State

15) Indiana Pacers- Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas

16) Philadelphia Sixers- Nikola Vucevic, C, USC

17) New York Knicks- Iman Shumpert, PG, Georgia Tech

18) Washington Wizards- Alec Burks, SG, Colorado

19) Milwaukee Bucks- Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence

20) Minnesota Timberwolves- Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas

21) Portland Trail Blazers- Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State

22) Denver Nuggets- Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee

23) Houston Rockets- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania

24) Oklahoma City Thunder- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke

25) Boston Celtics- Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College

26) Dallas Mavericks- Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia

27) New Jersey Nets- Justin Harper, PF, Richmond

28) Chicago Bulls- Charles Jenkins, SG, Hofstra

29) San Antonio Spurs- Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia

30) Chicago Bulls- Jeremy Tyler, C, Japan

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Around The Blogosphere: Draft Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 23rd, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Rotnei Clarke Gets His Release: The Arkansas star has been granted a release after a rather complicated discussion with Razorback staff. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Kevin Broadus Rejoins the Georgetown Staff; Hired as Special Assistant to John Thompson III: The controversial former Binghamton coach will join the Hoyas next season. (Casual Hoya)
  • Ed O’Bannon and Baron Davis Return to Westwood to Finish Classes: The former Bruin greats are back on campus taking classes. (Bruins Nation)
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. Makes USA U19 World Championship Team: “USA Basketball announced today that Tim Hardaway Jr. made the cut for 2011 USA U19 World Championship team. That means that Hardaway will spend the next three weeks training in Colorado and traveling to Europe to participate in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships.” (UM Hoops)
  • FIBA Americas Cup 2011 — U16 Americas Cup Field is Set: An overview of Team USA’s competition. (Villanova by the Numbers)
  • Georgia Tech Transfer Brian Oliver Thinking Big East, Maybe Syracuse: “According to Adam Zagoria, Georgia Tech transfer Brian Oliver is thinking about moving to a Big East school in the Northeast and that puts Syracuse on the list.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • Keith Urgo Lured to Penn State: “Patrick Chambers has plucked a Villanova coach for his staff at Penn State. Keith Urgowho was an Assistant Coach last year for Villanova will be heading to State College for the same role.” (VU Hoops)

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2011 RTC Mock Draft: Final Version

Posted by zhayes9 on June 21st, 2011

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

One final stab at how Thursday night will play out before we finally send off some of our favorite college players to the next level:

1 ) Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke. Any Derrick Williams-to-Cleveland rumor is searching for intrigue that’s simply non-existent. Irving was the pick the night the Cavaliers struck gold at the lottery and remains the pick today. Irving is  a safe bet to develop into a dynamic player at such a vital position on the floor.

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Kyrie Irving appears to be the near-unanimous choice at #1

2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona. Ideally, Minnesota would be eyeing a 2-guard, but they’ll have to swing a pre-draft deal to fill that need, as no shooting guard is worth taking this high. My money’s on GM David Kahn holding on to the pick and trying to trade Michael Beasley later. Williams has all of the skills to be an eventual All-Star.

3) Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky. The Jazz are fairly set up front with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings, so look for #3 to come down to either Knight or Kemba Walker. Given Knight’s shooting ability, size and character, I see the former Kentucky point as the most likely choice.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey. Rumors are spreading that Cleveland is looking to trade #4 for more picks to fill multiple needs, but passing up on Kanter here could be a grave mistake. The young Turk has a great attitude, impressed at the Chicago combine and could mold into the best post player in the entire draft.

5) Toronto Raptors- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic. Toronto has a major need at power forward and worked out both Vesely and Bismack Biyombo this past weekend. The Raptors have been connected with Vesley since the first draft prognostications began and we see no reason to change our minds now. Vesley is a high-level athlete with commendable versatility for his size.

6) Washington Wizards- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State. Washington could be a candidate to move up to either #4 or #5 and take Kanter or Vesely. If they hold fort here, look for Leonard to be the selection. The former Aztec is a phenomenal rebounder and athletic freak that can instantly boost a position of dire need for the Wizards.

7) Sacramento Kings- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut. The Kings wouldn’t mind if Leonard fell to them at #7, but if Washington grabs him, point guard is the next choice with Tyreke Evans more suited as a scoring guard. This pick will come down to Walker, Alec Burks and even Jimmer Fredette. Walker could instill some character to a shaky locker room and can contribute immediately.

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Around The Blogosphere: June 1, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on June 1st, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Future Cats named SEC’s top newcomers: The praise keeps rolling in for next year’s freshmen class. It’s like they’re supposed to be really good or something. Over the weekend, Yahoo! Sports’ Jason King previewed the top newcomers in the SEC and–shocker–the Fab Four were among them. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Kevin Ware commits to Louisville: The one-time Tennessee/UCF commit has decided to head to Louisville. (Card Chronicle)

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Klay Thompson

Posted by rtmsf on May 24th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Klay Thompson

School: Washington State

Height/Weight: 6’6, 206 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round

Overview: Klay Thompson is on the very short list of contenders for the title of best pure shooter in the draft. After shooting 41% from three and 42% from the field as a freshman, Thompson saw his averages dip a bit as a sophomore mostly as a result of a significantly increased role in the Cougar offense, as by last year he used 32% of his team’s possessions (good for 15th in the nation). Thompson led the Cougs in scoring in his final two seasons on the Paloose, and despite leaving a year of eligibility on the table, he comes to the draft as a pretty complete offensive player, with an NBA-ready game and a history of improving every year. As a freshman, he was more or less “just a shooter,” but he has since added a deft mid-range game, has become very comfortable with the ball in his hands, and has shown a crafty ability to get to the line, shooting 185 free throws as a junior, a drastic jump from the mere 31 he attempted from the line as a freshman in nearly as many minutes. Thompson is average at best athletically, and as a result does not project to be a great defender, but his 1.6 steals per game as a junior indicate that he is active enough to contribute defensively. He did get dinged with a possession of marijuana charge at the end of last year that raised some eyebrows, but that is generally just regarded as a minor blip for a good character kid.

Thompson Has Classic NBA Shooting Guard Skills

Will Translate to the NBA: When you can stroke it from deep like Thompson can, you’ve got a spot in the NBA. At 6’6, Thompson has the length to be able to get off his shot with ease, and is just good enough off the bounce and on the move to keep defenders honest and earn him clean looks from three. Thompson shot 39% from three in his career at WSU, and given that he was almost always the focal point of the opposition’s defense, that’s a mighty impressive number.

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