These sophomores are looking to take the next step in their games. They will go from being good players to top-level players. The following is a breakdown on each player’s skill set and the areas they need to make improvements on to take their game to that next level. Here are some sophomores looking to take that next step:
M.J. Walker, Guard, Florida State
Walker has the capabilities to get downhill to get to the basket. His finishing skills around the basket with both hands are good. He needs to be more effective as an overall shooter. As for defensively, he must improve staying tight on shooters giving them less space. His lateral quickness and on-ball defense are solid. His overall production is pretty good but has tools to be more of a go-to player next season.
2018-19 Averages 7.5 points 2.2 rebounds 1.6 assists 34.0 FG% 32.8 3pt%
Paul Scruggs, Guard, Xavier
Scruggs has a good ability to go downhill especially off of ball screen action. His overall skill needs improvement to be a more effective scorer. He gives all-around production with contributing on the boards and finding others. The offensive skill set has enough there to take that next step. He has good length as a defender, but the angles that he takes defensively must improve. His help side defense is a slight step behind with his closing out ability needs improvement. He has the body and athleticism to be a good defender.
2018-19 Averages 12.3 points 4.9 rebounds 3.3 assists 46.1 FG% 37.5 3pt%
Chris Lykes, Guard, Miami
Lykes gave major production for a Miami team that struggled this past season. His ability to be a bucket getter with ability to drive and hit perimeter jumpers. He gives electric energy when he is on the court as the leader. His ability to get in small gaps and penetrate is sensational with great control. His small gives issues against bigger guards and the ability to deny on the perimeter. The ability to disrupt guards defensively by getting underneath gives him solid leverage on the ball. He could become a more aggressive defender to have a great impact. Lykes will look to continue to improve going into next season as a more complete player.
2018-19 Averages 16.2 points 2.7 rebounds 3.2 assists 40.6 FG% 31.8 3pt%
Geo Baker, Guard, Rutgers
Baker is the go-to player for Rutgers as the leading guard. He has the ability to get streaky and get it going offensively. His ability to shoot consistently will elevate Baker to another level. His ability to penetrate and get to the mid-range and pull up is good. He’s a solid ball handler could improve as he’s good at attacking in transition. He’s a pretty active defender who does a good job on the ball. The use of active hands and good feet make him a quality defender.
2018-19 Averages 12.2 points 3.1 rebounds 4.1 assists 35.4 FG% 34.1 3pt%
Dejon Jarreau, Guard, Houston
Jarreau a very long defender and super athletic. He brings great energy on defense as his feet are good and he has great hands. Next, he has all the physical tools to continue to grow into a dominant defender. He must improve as a more consistent perimeter shooter to take the next step. His ability to get to the basket with his explosion is great. The touch around the basket he uses is good as well. His overall skills and athleticism set up for Jarreau to have great potential for next season.
2018-19 Averages 8.7 points 3.8 rebounds 3.3 assists 47.1 FG% 36.4 3pt%
Justin Smith, Forward, Indiana
Smith is athletic with a good build and is active on the boards. He runs the floor well, but he needs to be able to finish through contact better. His athleticism really shows in open space and he has the ability to put the ball down and attack the basket. He has a tendency to start watching defensively and that can cause him to be out of position and be late. He also has difficulty staying in front at times. His ability to develop his skill set will determine his growth for next year.
2018-19 Averages 8.2 points 4.5 rebounds 0.8 assists 49.6 FG%
Jordan Tucker, Forward, Butler
Tucker is a very good shooter who moves without the ball really well and his spot up ability is great. He has the ability to go downhill and attack the basket as he’s a decent driver with solid touch. He’s great in transition spotting up as a shooter in rhythm. Further, he could become a more complete player with more distribution and penetration. Rebounds pretty well. He’s an average defender who has good size and his lateral quickness is decent. He could be more active on times on and off the ball. Tucker should have a very solid season next year.
2018-19 Averages 9.7 points 4.1 rebounds 0.8 assists 35.8 FG% 37.0 3pt%
Remy Martin, Guard, Arizona State
The leader of Arizona State plays with great energy and effort. He’s a big shot maker, but needs to improve his overall shooting ability to be a consistent shooter. Next, he brings active hands on defense, but his size can cause post-ups against him. His lateral quickness is decent and he’s an average athlete. He’s got a good first step and is a pretty good driver. His ability to get others involved is good and he rebounds well for his size. An efficient shooting ability will take Martin to the next level.
2018-19 Averages 12.9 points 3.2 rebounds 5.0 assists 40.2 FG% 31.2 3pt%
Corey Kispert, Forward, Gonzaga
A solid all-around player who has the ability to hit perimeter jumpers. He’s really good in transition and he spreads the floor very well. Also, he can take get in the middle for pull-ups and drives but needs to be more effective. He has active hands defensively and has really good feet and technique. He has the ability to stay in front very effectively and can guard 2-4 very well. He brings good size and consistency defensively. Overall he needs more skill offensively, but he will be the lead perimeter defender next to Admon Gilder in the backcourt.
2018-19 Averages 8.0 points 4.1 rebounds 1.0 assists 43.7 FG% 37.4 3pt%
Brady Manek, Forward, Oklahoma
Manek is a stretch 4-5 who consistently will shoot perimeter jumpers. Furthermore, he lacks great physicality and can give up post-ups to stronger players. He’s pretty in ball screen action defensively along with being in good position. A very active screener who is very good in pick and roll sets. He runs the floor very effectively in transition and is always shot ready on the perimeter. He possesses very good hands and catching ability.
2018-19 Averages 12.2 points 5.9 rebounds 0.8 assists 46.9 FG% 35.8 3pt%
Nate Reuvers, Forward, Wisconsin
Reuvers is a stretch 4-5 who can really shoot in from the perimeter. He is sneaky athletic and can get to the basket as well. He has good touch around the basket with an ability to go both ways with a turnaround fade away. He has really good feel off of setting screens and opens up very effectively. His footwork defensively is solid and contains guards well. The technique he brings defensively is really good along with his ability to help and recover. Reuvers has great potential for next season as his overall skill set and body will improve.
2018-19 Averages 7.9 points 3.9 rebounds 1.0 assists 44.9 FG% 38.1 3pt%
Yves Ponds, Forward, Tennessee
Ponds is an athletic wing who brings good energy and effort. He will be a great rebounder. He has really good length and size along with moving his feet extremely well. He could improve on staying closer to drivers and not give them enough space to pull up. He has the ability to guard 1-4 giving him great versatility. His offensive skills are very limited, but he is athletic and can drive. However, the consistency to be able to get to his spots and finish must improve. The overall skill set needs to improve along with his shooting ability. To be a consistent starter his offense must improve greatly.
2018-19 Averages 2.2 points 1.8 rebounds 0.5 assists 51.6 FG%
Garrison Brooks, Forward, North Carolina
Brooks brings great effort and energy on the boards. When he’s in good post position his ability to finish is really good and he can catch tough post entries with his athleticism. His footwork in the post is really good as he is always balanced and he has a good jump hook too. The ability to face up and attack is there also. His activity gives him his production, but for next season the post will run through Brooks and he could really excel. He could bring more activity on the defensive end. More effective perimeter oriented bigs can give Brooks issues with his inability to guard outside the paint. His post defense is solid, but not great as he can get beat by more physical bigs. Brooks could have major production for North Carolina next season.
2018-19 Averages 7.9 points 5.6 rebounds 1.3 assists 57.4 FG%
Isaiah Livers, Forward, Michigan
Livers has active feet and great technique along with the versatility of guarding perimeter players and bigs. His on-ball defending skills are very solid along with his ability to help. He lacks great athleticism and speed so he can get beat by better athletes. He is a good pick and pop player creating spacing. His ability to spread the floor is good he can really shoot it from the three. He can drive to the basket too and use his physicality to get to his spot. The ball handling skills can improve so he can attack gaps more effectively. Livers should be a bigger part of Michigan’s plans for next season.
2018-19 Averages 7.9 points 3.9 rebounds 0.7 assists 48.7 FG% 42.6 3pt%
Collin Gillespie, Guard, Villanova
Gillespie a very high IQ player with great sense and skill set. His ability to be composed and having control is exceptional with jump stops and head fakes. He is a really good overall perimeter shooter could improve as an overall driver. Next, his athleticism is not great therefore he can struggle to get by quicker guards. He’s best as a spot up shooter, but needs to be able to go off the dribble also. His footwork on defense is really good with active hands. He brings good energy with his help in closing out on shooters. He can get caught with digging down on the post and lacks the quickness to get back to his man. The on-ball defense is very good as the technique is very sharp. Gillespie is looking to lead Villanova back to a deep NCAA tournament run.
2018-19 Averages 10.9 points 2.4 rebounds 2.8 assists 40.9 FG% 37.9 3pt%
Images Courtesy of 247 Sports, Tallahassee Democrat, Washington City Paper
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