is coming off an up and down junior year, where he started the season on the bench while recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. This was just another in a long line of setbacks after missing a portion of his sophomore season following felony drug charges for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Heytvelt was sidelined for the first eleven games of last season and finally made his return in late December. Due to the injury, and severe conditioning problems that came along with it, he saw his minutes drop from 26.2 to 20.6, going went through spurts poor production and even being asked to come off the bench during certain stretches in an attempt to get him back on track. If healthy, and in better shape than he was last season, Heytvelt will look to pick up where he left off after his standout sophomore season where he averaged 15.5 ppg and 7.7 rpg in just 26 minutes per game.
Heytvelt is a versatile big man who does a decent amount of his damage in the post, but can certainly stretch the defense out with good range and a nice stroke. He is an excellent target in the post thanks to his soft hands, excellent touch and ability to finish strong at the rim, but can also create shots for himself both facing and with his back to the basket. His skill level really stands out at the collegiate level considering his size, and he does not possess any deficiencies in terms of his physical attributes either, as he is very mobile for a 6-11 player and has a solid frame as well.
When in the post, his bread and butter is turning to his left shoulder on either block and shooting a baby hook, which is quite effective. He has a soft touch in there and has very good footwork as he uses his pivot foot to his advantage. Another way he uses that pivot is with his inside pivot away from the basket, which he uses very well to face up. Hes made a living off the move which creates space and allows him to get his shot off.
Where Heytvelt struggles at times in the post is with his shot selection. He doesnt always look comfortable down there, as he has a tendency to rush his moves or force up questionable shots. It would benefit him to get stronger down in the paint, as he doesnt always do a great job establishing position inside, and has a tendency to fade away from contact at times.
Heytvelts explosiveness and leaping ability seemed to decrease last season because of his foot injury and the conditioning issues that came along with it. He was catching less alley-oops and having far less follow up dunks than in years past, as he looked quite a bit heavier. Its going to be interesting to see if he can regain some of the athleticism he used to showcase in the past on a regular basis.
Heytvelt gets to the free throw line at an excellent rate, but only shot 66% last season once there, which is considerably low for someone with his shooting stroke. This indicates a lack of focus, which has always been one of his biggest issues.
Defensively, Heytvelt is a bit stuck between positions at the NBA level. He lacks the strength and probably the toughness to defend most back to the basket centers, and doesnt have the lateral quickness to guard some of the more athletic power forwards that like to face the basket. Hes fairly crafty but seems to lack focus on occasion, not always playing with the same intensity level, and being somewhat foul prone at times. At times he looks pretty fundamentally sound, particularly guarding the post, but in others he seems to show little to no interest in helping his team come up with a stop. Heytvelts shot-blocking numbers rate by about 50% last season, and he lost nearly 2 rebounds off his per-40 minute averages. It will be imperative for him to regain the athleticism and activity level he once had in order to not be docked points by NBA scouts for his defensive potential.
There are two main issues to keep an eye on regarding Heytvelt one of them of course being his physical conditioning. The second issue are his intangibles. Heytvelts suspension for drug possession will be researched heavily by NBA teams, and any additional incidents could drop him out of draft consideration. He has already earned himself a reputation for having a bit of a different personality than most college athletes, and it will be important for him to show some maturity in this his senior season. Considering his talent level, Heytvelt could be well on his way to an All-American type season, and Gonzaga could very well make a deep run in the NCA tournament with all the talent they have on their roster. If those two things come to fruition, theres no doubt that his draft stock will rise dramatically, as there are very few big men who possess his combination of physical tools and skill-level.