Perry Jones and Quincy Miller are two of the most talented prospects in the nation, but Baylor's depth and zone defense hide their NBA potential. Jonathan Tjarks breaks down the future lottery picks in NBA Draft Toolbox.
Their school, Baylor, made only one NCAA Tournament appearance from 1951-2007. Neither player is putting up eye-popping statistics and both have long stretches of games where they disappear offensively.
They're two of the top five prospects in college basketball, but their talent level has been somewhat obscured by how the Bears are constructed.
Baylor plays a 1-3-1 zone, an odd choice for one of the most talented teams in the country. Zones are usually used to compensate for an athletic disadvantage, and by sitting in one, Scott Drew is negating a lot of his team's athletic ability.
Inferior teams can easily move the ball around the perimeter and slow the tempo of the game. Even worse, it's hard to rebound out of a zone, since there are no individual box-out responsibilities. West Virginia, behind standout offensive rebounder Kevin Jones, was particularly effective at this in their 83-81 OT loss to the Bears, taking 30 seconds to find a three-pointer, rebounding the miss and then starting the cycle over again.
On the other end of the floor, Baylor doesn't have a true point guard. Both Pierre Jackson and AJ Walton are ball-dominant players who are loathe to give up the ball; the two combine for an astounding 5.6 turnovers a game while taking almost as many contested pull-up jumpers, regardless of how much time is on the shot clock.
And while the Bears guards are always looking to shoot, both Miller and Jones understand how to operate in a team concept. They'll accept the double team and hit the open man, but far too often, the ball is not rotated back to them, as seemingly all their teammates think they are the top 10 prospects who need to be taking contested shots.
To be fair, Baylor is one of the deepest teams in the country, particularly in the frontcourt. Quincy Acy, an athletic 6'7 interior player, takes 7.2 shots a game, while Anthony Jones, an athletic 6'10 forward who can stretch the floor, and Cory Jefferson, a bruising and athletic 6'9 center, see significant floor time as well. The Bears are so deep they opted to red-shirt J'Mison "Bobo" Morgan, a 6'11 McDonald's All-American who transferred from UCLA.
Baylor doesn't maximize their stars athletic ability defensively, get them the ball enough offensively or play them as many minutes as is typical for a lottery pick. Five years from now, when people are making lists of the top 100 players in the NBA, they're going to wonder how a college team with both Miller and Jones ever lost a game. That's how.
6'11 sophomore power forward
- Shot creation: Fluid 6'11 athlete with a 7'2 wingspan and a better than 30-inch vertical. Complete player who can score out of the low post, drive to the front of the rim and finish, pull-up for a mid-range jumper and shoot from the three-point line (going 35.3 percent from deep this season). Averaging 14.2 points on 54.5 percent shooting; such a dominant offensive player that he's criticized for being too unselfish.
- Defense: Rare prospect with the athletic ability to match up with all three frontcourt positions at the next level. Averaging 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks a game as a sophomore.
- Outside shot: Has an excellent outside stroke which he rarely gets to use in college. Career 64.2 percent free throw shooter whose percentages should increase with time.
- Rebounding: Playing in a zone next to Acy depresses 7.5 rebounding average. However, also has a disturbing tendency to shy away from physical contact in the paint at times.
- Passing: Averaging 1.2 assists and 1.9 turnovers a game this year, but is an excellent passer for a big man, capable of running the break like a point guard and finding the open man.
- Best case: A five-tool 6'10+ player with versatility to play inside and outside on both sides of the ball -- Lamar Odom.
- Worst case: Talented but enigmatic big man who drives coaches crazy by not maximizing his talents -- Anthony Randolph.
6'9 freshman forward
- Shot creation: Skilled 6'9 forward with a 7'4 wingspan and excellent ball-handling skills for size. Still recovering from serious ACL injury suffered in high school, but quickness and length make him nearly unstoppable at college level. Creates driving lanes with threat of perimeter jumper and can pull-up and finish with high release point from every part of the floor. Averaging 12.9 points on 49.7 percent shooting as a freshman while attempting 4.2 free throws a game.
- Defense: Uses length to make up for lack of bulk on the interior and contest shots on the perimeter. Still not totally comfortable cutting on injured knee; if recovery continues, could be an All-Defensive SF at the next level. Averaging 0.7 blocks and 0.8 steals a game this year.
- Outside shot: For a pure shooter, the goal is to shoot at least 40 percent from the three-point line, 50 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free-throw line. As a freshman, Miller is at 40/49/77.
- Rebounding: Smart player who uses length extremely well, averaging 5.0 rebounds a game this season. Can be pushed around by stouter opponents with lower centers of gravity and could stand to add 10-15 pounds of muscle.
- Passing: Excellent passer out of the post who can read double teams and find the open man. Not given a lot of chances to be a primary offensive option in Waco as a freshman, averaging 1.6 assists and 2.2 turnovers a game.
- Best case: Five-tool 6'9+ perimeter player capable of effortlessly creating offense for himself and teammates while defending multiple positions -- Tracy McGrady.
- Worst case: Lack of athleticism makes it difficult to create shot efficiently at the next level and keeps him on the perimeter -- Mike Dunleavy.
6'7 senior forward
- Shot creation: Uses size and athleticism at 6'7 to bully weaker defenders in the paint. Has quickness to get around taller defenders, but lacks ball-handling ability to create much offense off the bounce. Averaging 12.7 points on 58 percent shooting as a senior.
- Defense: Makes up for lack of ideal height with 7'3 wingspan, but can still be overwhelmed by taller fours like Thomas Robinson. Averaging 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals this year.
- Perimeter shot: Biggest improvement in game this season. Capable of knocking down 15-20 foot jumpers though still not entirely comfortable playing that far from the basket. Averaging 75.8 percent from the free throw line this year.
- Rebounding: Career 5.6 rebounding average depressed by playing primarily in a zone. Will need to become rebounding specialist to stay in the NBA.
- Passing: Doesn't have ball skills to have offense run through him. Averaging 0.7 assists and 1.9 turnovers this season.
- Best case: Undersized power forward who carves out NBA career with length, athleticism and tenacity -- Jason Maxiell.
- Worst case: At 6'7 245 with soft hands, quick burst and long wingspan, could become latest undersized college basketball player (Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates) to become NFL TE.
Anthony Jones: Athletic 6'10 senior forward with a 7'2 wingspan whose shown ability to knock down three-pointers (career 33.3 percent three-point shooter). However, playing time has been significantly cut as a senior and inability to put on weight in four years in Waco is a red flag. Doesn't have foot-speed to play as a 3 and will need to add at least 20 pounds to survive as a 4 in the NBA, but rare combination of length, athleticism and shooting ability are worth keeping an eye on in the D-League or Europe.
Cory Jefferson: Athletic 6'9 sophomore interior player with 7'0 wingspan capable of protecting the rim, holding position in low post and moving feet to cut off penetration. Averaging 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in limited playing time. Will need to expand offensive repertoire and gain weight as career progresses.
Pierre Jackson: 2010 JUCO player of the year at Southern Idaho. Extremely quick and athletic 5'10 guard with great ball-handling skills as well as body control to finish acrobatically at the rim. Capable of making every pass in the book but looks for his shot far too often. 3.6 turnover average is completely unacceptable is for a point guard.
J'Mison "Bobo" Morgan: Has shown virtually nothing in three seasons at UCLA and Baylor with career averages of 2.5 points and 1.7 rebounds in 11.1 minutes. However, has size (6'11, 250 lbs.) and recruiting pedigree to be worth monitoring as a red-shirt senior next season.