Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part Three (#11-15)
|by: Walker Beeken - College Basketball Scout, Jonathan Givony - President, Matt Kamalsky - Director of Operations, Kyle Nelson - College Basketball Scout, Joseph Treutlein - Director of Scouting/Analytics
|October 4, 2011
|We complete our look at the top NBA draft prospects in the Big 12 with players ranked 11-15. Cameron Clark, Jeff Withey, Kourtney Roberson, Melvin Ejim and David Loubeau highlight this batch.
Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA level before we come to any long-term conclusions.
-Top 20 Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top 25 Prospects in the ACC
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part One (#1-5)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part Two (#6-10)
#11 Cameron Clark, 6-6, Sophomore, Small Forward, Oklahoma
A top-40 high school recruit according to all the major scouting services, Cameron Clark was a significant contributor on an Oklahoma team that finished 2nd to last in the Big 12, ranking in the top five amongst all freshmen in minutes played.
Clark has strong physical tools for his position, showing solid size at 6-6, with long arms, a nice frame and very good athleticism.
Despite being on the court for extended periods last season, he played a fairly simple role offensively for OU, not being called upon for a great deal of scoring or creating, averaging under ten field goal attempts for every 40 minutes he played.
The overwhelming majority of his possessions came in spot-up opportunities, coming off screens, cutting to the rim and running the floor in transition. This is a role he played very efficiently, shooting over 50% from inside the arc and 37% from 3-point range, while turning the ball over less than any freshman prospect in the NCAA.
Clark's most reliable weapon right now is his jump shot. 81% of his field goal attempts were jumpers last year in fact, and he seems to have potential in this area, showing nice mechanics and a quick release, coupled with his good size. He isn't always consistent with his release point, particularly shooting off the dribble, but this is something he can polish up in time.
Where Clark will need to improve the most over the next few years is as a ball-handler. He rarely got to the free throw line last season, garnering just 47 attempts from the charity stripe in over 1000 minutes of action. While he does possess a nice first step, he struggles to change directions with the ball, being unable to use advanced moves and not showing much in the way of a left hand. When he does put the ball on the floor, he's far more likely to pull-up off the dribble in the mid-range area than make his way all the way to the basket, which makes him much easier to defend.
On the other end of the floor, Clark shows good potential, both with his physical tools and his effort level. He gets in a low, fundamental stance and shows solid intensity on this end of the floor, even if his lack of strength and experience made things difficult on him at times last season.
All in all, Clark is a fairly raw player who is still a year or two away from being discussed as a serious draft prospect. He showed some intriguing flashes of talent as a freshman, though, which when combined with his nice physical tools and the typical incremental improvement you see from players this age, could make him into an interesting player down the road.
#12 Jeff Withey, 7'0 , Center, Junior, Kansas
Jeff Withey averaged just 2.5 points per game as a sophomore at Kansas and has never scored more than eight points in a game during his career. Yet the 7-foot redshirt junior was ranked ahead of NBA lottery picks Klay Thompson and former teammates Marcus and Markieff Morris coming out of high school. Now that the Morris brothers are in the NBA, scouts will be watching to see if he can assume a larger role and live up to his significant high school hype.
Originally committed to Louisville, Withey started his college career initially at Arizona. He requested to leave the program following the abrupt retirement of Lute Olson just weeks before the start of his freshman season, but was denied. Eventually he was given his release and transferred to Kansas, where he sat out a full year and became eligible after essentially missing out on the first season and a half of his college career, something that undoubtedly set him back.
Withey looks the part of an NBA center, standing around 7'0 with an excellent wingspan and a broad-shouldered, though underdeveloped, 240-pound frame. He is a year older than most of his classmates so it will be interesting to see how much stronger he looks after another offseason of strength and conditioning in Lawrence. He is a good athlete for his size, though, both mobile and reasonably explosive around the basket.
Withey is still an extremely raw player despite going into his fourth year of college--not a surprise considering that he has only seen around 200 minutes of actual game time in his career thus far. He's never really been a part of any meaningful playing time, usually playing at the tail end of blowout wins or losses, so it is difficult to evaluate him on either side of the ball.
While watching him in the post, it is clear that Withey lacks toughness at the moment, not possessing the strength or aggressiveness needed to back his man down, often choosing to fade away from contact. His footwork is equally unrefined and untested, but he did show some basic moves from jump hooks to drop steps that, combined with his soft touch around the basket, suggest his post-game could develop with greater minutes. He struggles nearly every time he has to put the ball on the floor, however, and ranks as one of the most turnover prone centers in our database, coughing the ball up on over 22% of his possessions.
On defense, his lateral quickness seems below average and he therefore struggles significantly chasing his man onto the perimeter. Though he lacked the strength to be a factor in the post as a sophomore, he is a solid shot blocker due to his timing, showing good timing in limited minutes last season. Conversely, he is also the most foul-prone player amongst prospects in our database, averaging 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which partially explains, among many reasons, why he did not see many minutes.
Obviously, Withey has a long way to go before realizing his potential at the collegiate level. While he is very raw from a skills perspective, players in his mold are rare commodities at the professional level. Considering his pedigree, as well as Kansas' track record with developing big men, he's certainly a player worthy of keeping a close eye on. There is no doubting his intriguing physical tools, but scouts will be watching to see if he can take a significant step as a junior and contribute for the first time in his career.
#13, Kourtney Roberson, 6-9, Power Forward/Center, Sophomore, Texas A&M
After playing just 12.7 minutes per game in his freshman season, Texas A&M big man Kourtney Roberson should have a chance to play more minutes and earn a larger role as a sophomore, thanks to the departure of starter Nathan Walkup.
The first thing that stands out about Roberson are his big hands, terrific wingspan and extremely muscular frame at 6'9”, looking the part of a physically imposing presence in the paint. Athletically, he's not an exceptional specimen, but he does move well for a guy his size and has pretty quick feet.
Roberson's bread and butter at this stage of his development revolves around his rebounding ability. He used his big body, high intensity level and excellent hands to average an impressive 12.5 rebounders per forty minutes pace adjusted last season.
Offensively, Roberson was still coming into his own as a freshman and didn't always look very polished with his skill-level or feel for the game. He got most of his touches off of cuts and offensive rebounds, where he was able to finish strong at the rim. He made the most of his opportunities last season, shooting 59% from the field and seemingly knowing his limitations.
He also showed flashes of a developing post game. He uses his body to get good position on the block, and has pretty solid footwork and a nice touch around the basket. It will be interesting to see if new head coach Billy Kennedy makes it more of a priority to get the ball to him in the post this season.
Roberson didn't show anything as a shooter as a freshman, hardly attempting a jump shot all season. He shot a poor 57% from the free throw line though and doesn't have the most fluid stroke. Developing a reliable mid-range jump shot at some point in his career would certainly benefit him going forward.
Defensively, Roberson has a big strong body and can bang inside, but he still struggled defending the post. He didn't challenge shots as well as he should have, and his lack of length and explosiveness enabled players to score over the top of him. This a concern going forward if he's going to defend the center position, where he'd face even bigger players at the NBA level. If defending the four spot, he doesn't seem to have the lateral quickness to step out and defend some of the quicker, face up fours who can operate on the perimeter.
This season should shed more light on Roberson's professional potential. After spending a year in prep school, he's a bit old for a sophomore, so he'll need to continue to produce with his increased playing time to keep (or get) scouts interested. If he's able to shore up his weaknesses defensively and add some offensive polish to go along with his NBA body and rebounding ability, he'll certainly draw more attention to himself over his career at Texas A&M.
#14 Melvin Ejim, 6'7, Sophomore, Forward, Iowa State
Though Toronto native Melvin Ejim was not a very highly touted recruit coming out of high school, he made an immediate impact for a rebuilding Iowa State program as a freshman last season. The young forward started nearly every game, finishing 5th on the team in scoring and 2nd in rebounding while shooting a respectable 49% from the field despite some extended bouts of inconsistency as he adjusted to the level of competition in the Big 12. With an infusion of transfers becoming eligible for Head Coach Fred Hoiberg this and next season, Ejim will need to carve out a niche in what will be a very interesting ISU frontcourt, while continuing to develop as a prospect.
Though it is far too early to label him a tweener, Ejim was clearly stuck between positions from a NBA perspective as a 20-year old freshman. Standing just 6'6, Ejim has less than ideal size for a four at the next level, and did not show a refined skill set in the post or out the perimeter while playing the power forward position extensively last season. The young forward could conceivably blossom into an inside-outside threat and see time at the three down the road as he played the small forward position in high school and spent a considerable amount of time roaming the perimeter in his first season in Ames.
Apart from his lack of size, Ejim has a fairly impressive physical profile. He has long arms, broad shoulders, and a strong frame that appears to have excellent potential for improvement. The Brewster Academy product shows great explosiveness off of two feet around the rim and excellent straight line speed in the open floor, but lacks a degree of fluidity when changing directions that limited his ability to use those tools to get to the rim as a slasher.
Ejim's lack of a clearly defined position is more a symptom of his raw offensive game than it is of his height. Lacking the ball-handling ability to create his own shot, refined footwork in the post, or a consistent jump shot, Ejim has a lot of physical tools to work with, but just as much room to improve his skill set. He was still able to muster some strong scoring efforts last season getting most of his looks in catch and finish situations, which he converted at an exceptional 59% rate according to Synergy Sports Technology.
Throughout his rookie campaign, Ejim struggled with his decision-making when forced to make plays for himself. Like most freshman, he appeared a bit green and tried to force the issue when challenged. He was at his best when he was aggressively crashing the offensive glass, getting up the floor in transition, and flashing aggressively to the rim when his defender rotated to help on one of his teammates. His jump shot seems to have some potential and he used his strength well when putting the ball on the floor, but it is clear that Ejim is still learning how to make things work on the offensive end.
Defensively, Ejim has just as much room for improvement. Lacking a degree of lateral quickness, he shows solid intensity and uses his physical strength well on occasion, but is prone to using his hands when beat and is still developing his fundamentals both out on the perimeter and closer to the rim. He doesn't help himself by overcommitting to whichever direction his man makes a move, and should improve dramatically on this end of the floor as the game slows down for him and he learns to go straight up in the post.
At this point, there is little we can definitely say about Ejim's NBA potential. He has a lot of things to work on, but was one of the more productive freshmen in the Big 12 despite his underdeveloped skill level. His athleticism is his best asset at this point, and he made some truly incredible plays above the rim last season, but he'll need to learn how to use it to his advantage in one-on-one situations to help define himself as a player and prospect.
#15 David Loubeau, 6-8, PF/C, Senior, Texas A&M
Steadily improving his minutes and production his three years in campus, David Loubeau has developed into a solid college player heading into his senior season. Standing 6'8 with a good wingspan and nice coordination and mobility, Loubeau is undersized for his position and not very explosive, but he has a decent package of skills that he brings to the table.
On the offensive end, Loubeau does almost all of his work in the paint, where he operates primarily out of the low and mid post. Utilizing a combination of back-to-the-basket moves and short face-ups, Loubeau does a good job using moves and countermoves while showing the ability to adeptly finish with either hand.
As a post-up player, Loubeau relies primarily on hook shots with either hand in the 5-8 foot range, where he possesses nice touch and instincts. He shows good footwork along with a propensity for faking and using countermoves, often using spins and up-and-unders to fake out his man. He also shows no problem utilizing his body, having a solid power game and the ability to finish through contact and get to the free-throw line.
On the down side, Loubeau's size hurts him in his ability to finish down low, and he doesn't have many advanced moves to get good separation, something that is even more problematic against NBA-caliber competition. His lack of explosiveness and inability to play above the rim except when open in space also pose problems for the transition of his post-game to higher quality competition.
Beyond his back-to-the-basket game, Loubeau does a solid job contributing on short face-ups and finishing on pick-and-rolls, showing good agility and nimble feet for his size, doing a good job to catch and finish in traffic. He's creative with his lay-ups, showing the ability to finish with either hand and go under the rim to avoid his man, something that allows him to finish well at this level. His ability to separate and get high percentage shots against bigger, more athletic defenders is an issue in this area of his game as well, however.
One thing Loubeau doesn't show much of on the offensive end is a spot-up mid-range jumper, something that will likely be a necessity to find a niche in the NBA for a player in his mold. He did shoot a respectable 74% from the free-throw line as a junior (up from 56% as a sophomore), but rarely takes jumpers in the half-court offense, where his results are less impressive.
On the defensive end, Loubeau's size and below average quickness are problems both in the post and on the perimeter, where he's often beaten laterally and shot over. He shows a good motor and a basic groundwork of fundamentals, often staying in plays and putting his hands up to contest shots, but he projects to have problems consistently defending frontcourt players in the NBA. His lack of explosiveness also shows up as a help-side defender, where he blocks just 0.4 shots per game in 26.4 minutes.
Much more damning to his prospects, however, is Loubeau's very poor ability on the glass, where he pulls in a very weak 7.9 rebounds per-40 pace adjusted. For a player with his physical profile and skill set, he'll likely need to be an above average rebounder at the least to find a long term spot in the NBA, and he'll need to make up serious ground here as a senior.
Looking forward, Loubeau's ability in the post and on pick-and-rolls combined with his good strength and length give him something to build upon projecting to the next level, but developing more complementary skills like a jump shot and especially better prowess rebounding the ball will be paramount to his chances.
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