|Team: Rishon Le-Zion|
H: 6' 7"|
W: 215 lbs
(31 Years Old)
|RSCI: 60||Agent: Andre Buck ||
High School: Ridgeway
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Drafted: Pick 42 in 2007 by Trailblazers
There is a reason why Derrick Byars was named SEC Player of the Year in 2007, and he didnít take very long to show why here at the Showcase. Byars has quietly been having an excellent season in the D-League with Bakersfield, both individually and from a win/loss standpoint. As a 6-7 wing player with a terrific frame and length, Byars is always going to draw NBA interest. Beyond that, his skill-set continues to improve as well.
Byars is one of the best shooters the D-League has to offer, connecting on a ridiculous 49% of his 3-point attempts this season, on over 5 attempts per game. He is excellent with his feet set, and can get his shot off against most defenders relatively easily thanks to his terrific size. Heís also pretty effective pulling up off the dribble, as well as posting up and fading away for a turnaround jumper. Off the ball, he is extremely smart finding open spaces from which to cut to the basket and get easy looks at the rim. The fact that his team plays unselfishly and really knows how to space the floor definitely helps in this regard.
Just an average ball-handler at best, Byars is pretty limited in terms of creating his own shot from the perimeter. He has good strength but isnít a great athlete, although he could certainly be considered above average at this level. Heís an unselfish player, though, who feeds off his teammates and looks content being a role-player, which is obviously what he would be if called up by an NBA team.
Defensively, Byars had a very positive showing here at the Showcase, as he has excellent physical tools to get the job done, but also displays nice fundamentals. His length allows him to contest shots effectively, and he slides his feet pretty well when defending the ball. He isnít a very fiery or intense guy, though, and is surprisingly a relatively average rebounder, not always showing the type of hustle you might expect. This passivity seems to be something that shows up in his entire game, and might be what is holding him back from truly breaking out.
Byars isn't going to wow most people with an incredbily versatile skill-set or phenomenal athleticism, but he is a solid player with good tools and two very important NBA-level skills. Teams looking for a role-playing wing player who can step into a rotation, make shots and defend either the 2 or the 3 will probably give him a long hard look.
The SEC player of the year used the NCAA tournament as an opportunity to show scouts what they might have missed out on this year at Vanderbilt, as he has put his complete package of skills on show for everyone in his teamís three games this past week. His combination of size, skill, and passing ability rank will get him drafted this year, and a strong set of workouts could possibly help Byars land a spot late in the first round by the time it is all said and done.
Versus the Hoyas, Byars chose to let the game come to him rather than force the issue, even though Vandy might have been better off if he would have looked to score more when he had the ball in his hands. He did an outstanding job of reading the defense and finding the open man, as shown by his five assists. These assists were not based off of penetration by the Virginia transfer, but rather by his remarkably heady play and ability to work the ball around the perimeter. His solid fundamentals were on display, exhibited on his beautiful backdoor cut and reverse layup with his left hand in the first half. He came through in the clutch when his team needed him most, drilling a three pointer over Roy Hibbert around the 9 minute mark, only to then foul Hibbert out at approximately the 4 minute mark when he took him out on the perimeter yet again and was fouled on a three point attempt. Byars then came through big again, isolating Jeff Green on the wing and taking him to the basket, drawing a foul and converting two huge free throw attempts late in the game. Whenever the Commodores need him to step up, he did, but unfortunately that was not enough to make up for their inability to defend Georgetown inside.
The defensive end is where Derrick really stood out against the Hoyas, putting the clamps on Jonathan Wallace throughout the entire game. He did a great job of keeping in front of Wallace, constantly pressuring the ball and not allowing him to collapse the Vandy defense like he has done to so many other teams throughout the year. Byars actually has outstanding defensive fundamentals and knows HOW to defend, not relying on his athletic traits like so many ďshutdownĒ defenders do at this stage, allowing him to perform consistently on the defensive end no matter whom the opponent many be.
On the down side, Byars is not the greatest athletically, nor does he possess the worldís best ball-handling skills for a perimeter player. He beats people off of the dribble through his smart play and utilization of ball fakes, rather than his explosive athleticism or remarkable crossover. The seniorís shooting mechanics are a bit odd, as he often shoots the ball from the left side of his head, resulting in inconsistent release points and success in his outside jumper. Even though he shot 37% from three on the year, his percentage would be much higher if he were able to clean up the form on his jumper a bit more before he hits the next level.
Byars has used the tournament to show the nation his complete game, and gave him three more opportunities to show scouts what he brings to the table. Pre-draft workouts will be essential for him, as they will serve as a chance for him to improve his stock enough to warrant a guaranteed contract in the first round, or could leave him sitting in the second round fighting for a roster spot in training camp. Either way, his performance in the NCAA tournament has done nothing but help him in the eyes of NBA scouts.
Great players step up their game when their team needs them most, and thatís exactly what Derrick Byars did today in leading Vanderbilt to an upset victory in double overtime over Washington State.
Judging by the way this game started, you would never guess that Byars would eventually find his way into the stock up portion of this article. He forced the issue badly in the first half, making foolish passes for turnovers, jumping in the air with nowhere to go, being called for a palming violation, displaying shaky ball-handling skills, and even shakier shot-selection.
Byars can get very hot or cold at times from the perimeter due to the inconsistent release point/side to side motion and lack of arch he gets on his jump-shot, but in the second half, he absolutely caught fire to save the game for the Commodores. He hit four 3-pointers within a five minute stretch, and from that point on essentially willed his team to victory. He came up with a few steals, made some very tough contested shots pulling up from mid-range after having created his own shot, and then continued to will his team in overtime, scoring 5 points in the first session.
Performances like this typically stick in the minds of NBA decision makers, since itís often the last (and sometimes the first) acquaintance they have with a player. Byars helped himself tremendously with his play today, and has a chance to continue to help himself even more next week in the Sweet 16.
Draft Prospect of the Year: Derrick Byars , 6-7, Senior, SG/SF, Vanderbilt
In a conference that is not lacking in NBA talent, no one helped their stock over the 2006-2007 season as much as Derrick Byars. The leader of a tough and unselfish team that made up for what it lacked in talent with pure determination, Byars was very much a legit candidate for SEC player of the year, and was only narrowly edged out in our mind by in-state rival Chris Lofton. Byarsí strength, smarts, shooting ability and defensive presence have established him as a legit NBA prospect, and has put him in a situation to get drafted if heís to play well at Portsmouth and/or the NBA pre-draft camp.
Capping off an outstanding week on an individual (32 and 24 points respectively against South Carolina and Florida) and team level, Derrick Byars and the Vanderbilt Commodores are both seeing their stock reach an all-time peak at the perfect time as far as they are concerned.
Byars led Vanderbilt to a massive upset on national TV against #1 ranked Florida on Saturday, a win that solidifies his teamís place for an at-large NCAA tournament bid, but will now come with a much better seed. He hit an array of difficult shots from seemingly every part of the floor, coming off screens and utilizing his strength extremely well to outhustle the national champions on both ends of the floor. He did it while being matched up with one of the best defensive players in college basketball in Corey Brewer, scoring clutch baskets that kept his teamís momentum going in the timeliest moments of the game.
This has been an outstanding year so far for the 5th year senior transfer out of Virginia. Heís currently the 4th leading scorer in the SEC, playing for the 2nd best team in the conference. Heís improved his all around game tremendously from when he first started his NCAA career, going from being just a solid all-around role-player with nice physical tools to a fairly complete college player who has no problem stepping up and being a leader for his team.
As far as his pro prospects go, Byars has a few things going for him, although at this point, he is anything but a sure thing. He has good size at around 6-6 (though heís listed at 6-7) to compliment his chiseled frame. Athletically he is solid, yet unspectacular, but he knows how to use his terrific strength to his advantage. His best attribute has to be his jumper, which he is hitting at a 38.5% clip from behind the arc. He has a slow and fairly deliberate release, which hurts his percentages when heís crowded excessively, particularly when shooting on the move, but heís excellent when given the opportunity to set his feet and get off a clean look.
Byars is a crafty player who likes to use an array of jab-steps and shot-fakes to create space for himself, and is capable of bullying his way into the paint and finishing creatively with his brute strength. Heís not a great ball-handler, nor does he have an explosive first step, so when he does commit himself to putting the ball on the floor, heís usually going to go all the way to the hoop rather than show an advanced pull-up game from mid-range. His court vision is above average and he makes quick and good decisions, moving intelligently off the ball, particularly off screens, and being very much capable of executing within a half-court offense. He averages a solid 3.2 assists per game, although some of this has to do with Vanderbiltís offense, a variant of the Princeton offense, which is very much geared towards garnering assists.
Defensively, Byars is fundamentally sound and knows how to use his strength to his advantage. He lacks a bit of lateral quickness at times to stay in front of more explosive matchups, but he has good awareness and is committed to playing good defense, which is usually half the battle. His strength and intensity also come in handy on the glass, where he is averaging nearly 5 rebounds a game.
Byars might not be a top prospect due to his lack of incredible athleticism or shot-creating skills, but he will certainly get a chance to impress scouts at Portsmouth and possibly the pre-draft camp. To make it in the NBA, heíll have to improve the speed in which he gets his shot off, since the wasted motion in his mechanics leave some real question marks as to how effective heíll be against bigger and more athletic defenders, where his strength wonít be as much of a factor as it currently is. He has a few things going for him, but nothing he can truly hang his hat on at this point in time as far as his upside is concerned (as a 5th year senior), which is why itís important for him to help his team go as far as possible in the NCAA tournament this March.