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Jackie Carmichael, 69, Senior, PF/C, Illinois State
After a break-out junior year, Jackie Carmichael and the Illinois State Redbirds had an interesting offseason. Set to return virtually every major contributor from the team that went 21-14 and had strong showings in the Missouri Valley and NIT tournaments, the Redbirds saw coach Tim Jankovich leave in the offseason to pursue an assistant coaching opportunity with SMU where he has been pegged as Larry Brown's successor, and freshman point guard Nic Moore followed his coach, transferring to SMU over the summer.
While the Redbirds did not quite replicate their success from a year ago and have struggled with the lofty expectations and unexpected departures, Carmichael has continued his progress into an impact player and legitimate NBA draft prospect.
Carmichael is primarily a back to the basket player at the college level, using his size and bulk to establish solid post position. At 6'9" he's undersized for a center, but he has solid length and a high release point, which allows him to get his shots off in the post, and should allow him to see minutes at power forward in more traditional lineups. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Carmichael gets over 40% of his own offense from the post, and his efficiency places him near the top 25% in terms of post scoring. His ability as a finisher at the basket and willingness to absorb contact also allows him to draw fouls at a good rate, with his 8.1 free throw attempts per-40 ranking third amongst power forward prospects and fourth amongst centers.
While Carmichael's moves are still not the most polished he would be well served to continue working on moves over his left shoulder, and do a better job feeling out the defender and developing counter moves he does a good job of getting to his spots, fighting for position, using his length to score over defenders and finishing through contact. His primary weapons are his jump hook and his turnaround jumper, both of which he shows good touch and feel on. Hes also a solid passer who does a nice job of reading defenses and finding the open man.
Carmichael is a very good finisher around the basket, with excellent touch, soft hands, and solid athleticism converting 66% of his attempts around the rim in the half-court. Besides showing itself in cuts to the basket and offensive rebounds, this also manifests on pick and rolls, where he dives hard to the basket and does a good job of finishing. This pick and roll game is perhaps a glimpse of his future role, as it should be relatively easy to incorporate this skill set into an offense. Illinois State struggled with guard play and shot-selection all season, and its not difficult to imagine Carmichael being much more of a factor in this area with better passers and spacing at the pro level. His strong frame, excellent hands, impressive timing as a roller and soft touch could make him a legitimate weapon in this area down the road.
His development as a jump shooter continues to be one of his bigger question marks. He's taking more jump shots now than at any time during his collegiate career, but the results have not quite been as improved as one would hope. He shows solid touch on his turnaround from the post, and has shown some improvement from mid-range. He gets good elevation and has a high release point, and has some potential in this facet going forward. He has struggled with consistency, however, and his range is mostly limited to 15' and in. If he were able to refine his consistency and extend his range somewhat, it would likely help his transition to the NBA quite a bit.
Another valuable asset Carmichael provides is his rebounding, particularly on the defensive end. While he hasn't quite duplicated his outstanding 2011-2012 output, where his defensive rebounding percentage of 28.8% ranked 5th in the nation, he's still one of the best rebounders in the country on the defensive end. He has good technique as a rebounder and is willing to put a body on his man and has the strength to hold his ground, and seems to be an instinctive rebounder who does a good job tracking down loose balls.
He also continues to be an effective shot blocker, upping his blocks to 2.5 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which is in the top half of big men in our top 100 ranking. He has also done a much better job staying out of foul trouble, cutting his fouls per 40 minutes pace adjusted in half from his freshman season from 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes pace adjusted to 4.2 his sophomore year, 3.8 his junior season, and 3.1 this year. He overall does a good job not biting on pump fakes and staying on his feet.
His length and strong lower body allow him to be a solid post defender, even if he sometimes plays too straight up and will lose his focus at times. On the perimeter, he has average foot speed, which could be a concern when projecting to the next level considering the more perimeter oriented big men he'll be asked to defend at the power forward position at times. Illinois State was a relatively poor team defensively, and Carmichael certainly played a role in that as he does not do a great job stepping outside the paint on the pick and roll.
Jackie Carmichael has shown continual progress in his efforts to transform himself into a legitimate NBA prospect. With his strong physical attributes, high basketball IQ and solid skill-set, he seems to have all the makings of a NBA rotational big man, and thus should have a solid chance of hearing his name called on draft night. Having not played the highest level of competition, and with no assurances of even an NIT invite after missing out on making the NCAA tournament, how he performs at settings like Portsmouth (should he chose to attend) and in private workouts could go a long way to determining where he gets drafted.