One of the more intriguing prospects in this freshman class, especially from a physical standpoint, B.J. Mullens
has had an up and down freshman campaign. Things haven't changed very much for the young seven footer since we last wrote about him in December, but after a full season in college, including all of conference play, a more complete picture can now be drawn.
From a skills standpoint, there really isn't much to say about Mullens at this stage, as most of his production in all areas of the game come directly from his excellent physical attributes. The vast majority of his offense comes off of pick-and-rolls, alley-oops, transition lay-ups, and wide open dump offs in the lane -- all catch-and-finish moves. As we previously wrote, Mullens' size and tremendous mobility make him a huge asset as a finisher, something he's done a good job taking advantage of throughout the season, usually showing a desire to get open while often calling for the ball.
With his size and athleticism, Mullens isn't often strongly contested when he gets to the rim at this level, so it's no surprise he ranks in the 96th percentile of finishers at the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology. At the next level, however, Mullens will need to show a bit more of a mean streak at the rim, making better use of his explosive power, something he doesn't need to rely on much in college. The fact that his frame can probably support another 10-15 pounds of muscle without much detriment will certainly help him down the line. Playing with a good point guard will be a must regardless of where he ends up, as he really has outstanding potential in this area.
As a back-to-the-basket player, Mullens has looked pretty raw for the most part, not showing much prowess in backing his man down to get superior position, and showing inconsistent results with the hook shots and turnaround jumpers he tries to execute from 5 feet out and beyond. The form on these moves doesn't look bad, as he has a nice foundation in place, so it's just a matter of continuing to practice these moves while doing a better job of getting deep position.
On the defensive end, Mullens clearly has a long way to go as a man-to-man defender, leaving a lot to be desired in the area of fundamentals, frequently getting beat despite his towering size. In the post, he gives up position way too easily, showing little grasp of leverage, and he also doesn't seem to have much concept of angles, getting outsmarted by players a fair share. To his credit, he does seem to put in somewhat of a concentrated effort guarding his man, moving his feet and keeping his hands outstretched, though players are still frequently able to score over him.
We spoke about Mullens' problems keeping up with Ohio State's team defensive schemes earlier in the year, and while this isn't something Mullens has overcome, he's certainly shown some progress, doing a better job making rotations, being in the right position, and showing better attentiveness and awareness in Thad Matta's zone. His reaction time in making his rotations is not very good, but it's clear that he's put in more effort as the season has gone on. With his size and length, he has a lot of potential as a shot blocker, and he shows flashes of this at times, but he needs to improve his reflexes and timing to realize his potential in this area.
Mullens is still a fairly mistake-prone player, which is likely a product of his average basketball IQ. He often looks somewhat absent-minded boxing out opponents and such, and thus ranks as a pretty average rebounder relative to his physical tools. He's also an incredibly poor passer, garnering just one assist every four games (8 total in 32 games), and picking up six turnovers for every one assist. He has the second worst assist to turnover ratio
in college basketball, and is the second worst passer per possession as well.
Looking forward, Mullens has a tough decision to make in regards to entering the draft, as he could be a lottery pick this year in what many view as a weak class, though you'd be hard pressed to find a talent evaluator who wouldn't think Mullens clearly needs another year or two in school to develop. The only thing he does at an NBA level at this point is get open and finish at the basket on the offensive end, so it's hard to see him contributing much to a team initially. The fact that his coach played him just 13 minutes per game in Ohio State's three conference tournament games is telling of how far along he is as a player at this stage in his development.