Horton knows how to use the athletic ability he has. He is more athletic than most think and has pretty good quickness with the ball is in his hands. On defense he has shown very good anticipation and quick reaction time when playing on the ball defense. Along with that, despite being only 6-2, his wingspan is solid which allows him rebound and play on the ball defense quite effectively.
For Horton to reach his full potential at the next level he will have to develop into more of a true point guard, and based on his current skill level that transition could very well happen. During his senior campaign he has proven he can set up teammates on the drive and dish and run a simple offense at times reasonably well. What makes Horton so dangerous as a versatile scoring point guard to bring off the bench is that he has the mentality and skill set of a shooting guard. He is wonderful running off curls to free himself for open jump shots. He also has the instincts and ability to get to the basket and finish strong. Another aspect of his game he improved as a senior is his free throw shooting, he has become an outstanding free throw shooter to the point where he is almost automatic. Thus the more aggressive he is going to the hoop, which he usually is, the more he can go to the line.
Horton is also extremely dangerous in the open court shooting short jump-stop shots; he can stop on a dime and pull up from mid range, and do so fluidly. That ability to stop quickly and rise up for a shot benefits him improvise in a set offense as well coming off curls and in transition.
He is also a fine ball handler, not being very flashy with the basketball, but just getting the job done. He is strong with the ball, using his body well to shield the defender and making it hard for opponents to pick his pocket. He is fairly trustworthy with the basketball, taking care of possessions and not making many foolish mistakes. Even though he is not a flashy ball handler, he has a strong crossover and can go strong to his left or right. He will get by defensive players mainly by using his strength and instincts, being able to utilize a great change of pace dribble and right when the defender goes for the steal, make a quick move and get around him. He changes gears when dribbling the ball very well, not going full speed blindly on every play, but rather being crafty and instinctive in getting to where he needs on the court. Horton also has a wonderful floater going to the basket that is almost impossible to block.
What stood out about Horton since his freshman year has been his perimeter shooting ability. He is a set-shooter who does not get a lot of elevation on his jump-shot, but is effective nonetheless. He has very good 3-point range, but his mid range game is where he is at his best. Going back to his ability to use a great jump stop, when he is dribbling full speed down-court he has no problems using pulling up for a quick stop and pop jumper. His quick release benefits him greatly in transition and when he is close to the hoop. A testament to his improvement as a senior, his percentages went up in ever shooting category, free throws, 3-point shooting and field goals.
Horton truly has the complete arsenal of scoring options. He can stop and pop, fade away or he can square up with his feet set from the 3-point line. He can also take it to the hoop and put up a floater or he can get to the line and display his great looking free throw shot.
Hortons shooting ability would be somewhat limited if he could not get to the hoop when he is overplayed on defense. Over time he has greatly improved in that area. When going to the basket off the dribble he can get shots off in the lane over bigger players. He does this by using crafty floaters and surprising the defense with his quickness. He uses pump fakes well and is quite intelligent in how he sets up the players that are defending him. Generally Horton will not blow by defensive players and get to the hoop, but he is sneaky and will get to the basket when he wants nonetheless.
Hortons passing ability is more of a mixed bag. He can make crisp passes and sees the floor well enough to find the open man when hes interested in doing so. When compared to earlier in his career, he is now more willing to give the ball up and find his teammates more on offense. His passing arsenal includes knowing how to effectively use bounce passes. His ability to drive and dish effectively makes him a legitimate lead guard option in the NBA.
On the defensive end, when he is motivated he can be a very effective player. He plays very impressive deny defense at times. He is good face-guarding solid offensive players when he is motivated to do so. He is quite skilled at cutting down passing lanes and getting steals off long passes across court. Horton is not shy when going after rebounds either; he has the toughness and strength to rebound quite well for a guard. When he decides to turn on his defensive intensity, he is a surprisingly good on the ball defender.
One of the reasons Horton is not a 1st round caliber talent is because he is not an incredible athlete, especially for a PG. He has very well-defined basketball skills but he is not extraordinarily quick or explosive. He might have trouble against bigger and more athletic PGs in the NBA on offense and defense.
Another issue is his size; if he is projected as a PG he has pretty good size, however if he cannot effectively run an NBA team, he could have trouble. He would be very small for a SG and would have extreme difficulties on the defense end as well. Some teams may feel that he is too much of a combo guard for their liking.
Shot selection and overall decision making are two areas of major concern with him. When he was younger his shot selection was extremely poor, however he has improved in that area to a certain extent. Sometimes he still settles for 3-point shots when he would be much more effective penetrating the lane and setting up a teammate. Horton does not always display his passing ability even though it seems like he is capable of finding open teammates. If Horton perfects this part of his game he could improve his effectiveness and consistency greatly. Hes been wildly inconsistent in every facet throughout his career, though.
The defensive end could also create potential problems, as at times he is a very passive defender. He had a bad habit in college of leaving his man completely, cheating down and making his entire defense collapse. Horton can play very good deny defense when he wants to, however it seems like he does not want to often enough. Thus, if he is a defender that turns his defense on and off, he will not see very much playing time
Then there are the intangibles. Horton really did not win at all in
college, despite the fact that on talent, Michigan was certainly an NCAA tournament caliber team. His teams generally underachieved and did not reach their potential, and so did he for the most part as a college player. In terms of leadership, he has not shown much of it on the court. He is also not that tough of a player on defense, not really showing the willingness to go after it and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Another major issue with Horton is the legal problems hes had, causing him to miss a big chunk of his junior season. After missing a month early on in his junior year with a knee problem, Horton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence, and was suspended from Michigan for the rest of the season.
If he fails to erase that stigma that surrounds him, his draft stock could be affected because NBA organizations are generally not interested in already marginal prospects with a troubling past.
After coming into Michigan as a highly touted recruit and McDonald's All-American, Horton was named Big 10 freshman of the year after an outstanding season in which he showed the potential of a future top-20 pick, averaging 15.2 points, 4.5 assists and 3.7 turnovers a game. He was also named to the All-Big Ten second team that year. His team went 7-7 in their out of conference schedule after losing their first 6 games, but rebounded to finish 10-6 in the Big 10.
Horton fell off dramatically as a sophomore, seeing his numbers fall in every individual category including his already poor assist to turnover ratio. He averaged 12 points, 3.6 assists, 3 turnovers, and shot 36% from the field. His team went 23-11 on the year, but only 8-8 in the Big 10 and missed the NCAA Tournament once again.
His junior year Horton only played in 13 games, again averaging just 12 points a game, with 4.2 assists and 3.3 turnovers. Michigan went 13-18 on the season.
As a senior Horton had his coming out party once again on the national level, averaging career bests in every category except rebounds, with 17.6 points, 5.3 assists, 3.5 turnovers, a 1.51 a/to ratio, and shooting 45% from the field, 39.4% for 3 and 90% from the free throw line. He was named to the 1st team All-Big 10.
After a productive senior year and a solid showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Horton has elevated his stock to the point that he has a good chance of being selected in the 2nd round. He will almost surely be invited to the Orlando pre-draft camp, and has a chance to help himself even further. He projects as 3rd point guard/lead guard with potential early in his NBA career with a chance to prove that he is capable of being a full-time backup. On talent alone, he is more than worthy and could end up being a steal down the road.