Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Class of 2014's best shooters
By Paul Biancardi
Though the top three prospects in the Class of 2014 are big men who control the paint, there are several outstanding shooters in the class. Let’s examine the five best shooters among the incoming freshmen and one from the Class of 2015.
1. Justin Jackson, North Carolina He started out as a 3-point shooter but has developed into a master of the mid-range jump shot. Most outstanding shooters are confident and comfortable from a certain spot on the floor, but that’s not the case with Jackson. He is equally effective and productive from a catch-and-shoot scenario as he is putting the ball on the deck and rising up to finish inside the arc or in the paint. A combination of length, balance and extension with a feathery touch will make him hard to defend.
Though he's also good from short range, Xavier signee Trevon Bluiett, who is ranked No. 46 in the ESPN 100, is a stellar shooter.
2. Devin Booker, Kentucky Booker is a consistent long-range shooter who demonstrates the preparation, mechanics and balance needed to be elite shooter. With his 6-foot-5 frame he gets a clear view of the rim over a contested hand. When he is behind the arc spotting up or on the move running off screens he usually gets his body squared up and rises up with solid elevation, a high release and plenty of rotation. His accuracy is not limited to long distance as he will get into his dribble pull-ups at the elbows and baseline when he sees a an open pocket of space. With James Young declaring for the NBA draft, Booker could play immediately at Kentucky and fill the role of a long-range threat. Booker, who was the winner of the Under Armour Elite 24 3-point shooting contest last summer, can get hot and put consecutive 3-pointers together at a moment’s notice.
3. James Blackmon, Jr., Indiana Blackmon owns deep range and accuracy on his 3-point shot up to 22 feet from the basket. The self confidence is evident in that regardless of the prior result, Blackmon has the perfect “next shot” mentality that elite shooters must have. Without the ball he must be accounted for by defenses as his trigger is quick and his delivery is poised. His shooting will extend a man-to-man defense or a zone defense, thus creating driving lines and post play for his team. Blackmon must be ready to make attention-grabbing cuts from screens to create the time and space needed to make defended jumpers.
4. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier Bluiett is strong and physical small forward who is always thinking about shooting and ready to shoot when the ball finds him. He is excellent at making jumpers off the catch from anywhere on the floor, from moving along the 3-point line to curling at the elbows on pin downs. Bluiett doesn’t force his attempts as he knows when he is open and when he needs to get open. He also understands his body’s restrictions and his shooting potential throughout the game.
5. T.J. Haws, BYU With Haws attending BYU and having deep range on his 3-point shot, plenty of comparisons to former BYU great Jimmer Fredette will be made. Haws is equally dangerous without the ball as he is with the ball in his hands as he forces defenses to find him. He is adept at using the shot fake to create a better shot, and he is unselfish and accurate as a passer.
Name to know in 2015: Austin Grandstaff, Ohio State Grandstaff's range is unlimited as he has made jumpers out to 30 feet off the catch. Grandstaff is a clever player who will use a shot fake and a step-back dribble to create distance between his jumper and a defender.