One of the most well-rounded players in college basketball is long overdue for a spot in this space, as hes not only one of the best players in the terrific Atlantic-10 conference, but is also garnering legit consideration to be considered one of the most unique prospects in the 2008 draft.
Youd be hard pressed to find many more 6-10 (possibly 6-11 as hes at times listed) players in college basketball who start every game at the small forward position and play the majority of their minutes there. Pat Calathes
(brother of outstanding Florida Gator freshman Nick Calathes
) grew up as a point guard, standing only 5-10 as a high school freshman. Calathes grew all the way to 6-10 by the time he was ready to attend St. Joes, although it wasnt until this past summer that his body really caught up. He never seemed to lose his ball-handling skills and court vision, though, which has made him one of the most versatile players in the country this year. Calathes leads his team in scoring, rebounding and made 3-pointers, and is second in assists and blocked shots.
Athletically, Calathes is fairly average, possessing average footspeed and not being particularly explosive finishing around the basket in traffic. Offensively, Calathes is a terrific shooter, hitting over 45% from behind the arc on the season, and showing an incredibly quick release that he gets off flat-footed with a speedy and unconventional flick of the wrist. He moves well without the ball, always looking ready to catch and fire away instantaneously, if the situation calls for it. He likes to slither between the defense and find seams where he can get his shot off, being particularly hard to stop considering his size and high release point, combined with his ability to knock down shots while on the move or fading away.
Although his shooting is impressive, Calathes most impressive attribute is clearly his overall feel for the game. Hes a calming influence on his somewhat wild guards in his teams half-court sets, showing an outstanding commitment to creating spacing on the floor and rarely if ever taking a bad shot. Hes an extremely quick decision maker, unselfish to a fault at times, but the type who makes everyone around him better just by being on the court. His court vision is outstanding, and hes capable of making every type of pass imaginable, moving the ball quickly up the floor in transition, executing smooth drive and dish plays, but being especially good at making crisp post-entry passes, which will serve him well as a pro. He is obviously one of the smartest players youll find in all of college basketball.
Calathes also has some versatility to his game from what we can tell. A strong ball-handler driving with either hand, especially in transition, hes pretty active looking to slash to the basket, despite his average first step, getting to the free throw line over 6 times per game this season. Hes improved this part of his game dramatically as hes progressed from season to season and grown into his framegoing from 2.7 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted as a sophomore, to 5.2 as a junior, to 7.6 this season. He still struggles finishing with contact around the basket at times, but clearly looks more comfortable operating on the court. He seems to have developed a nice looking floater he can get off in the lane to help counter this problem. Calathes would benefit from polishing up the mechanics of his mid-range pull-up jumper, as this is a weapon that could be of great use to him in the NBA with the greater spacing hell enjoy out on the perimeter. Adding something resembling a post-up game to be able to take advantage of his superior size at the 3-spot would also help him out.
The biggest question Calathes will have to answer through the draft process will revolve around his ability to defend his position at the next level. His lateral quickness is clearly an issue, as its not rare at all to see smaller wing players blow by him out on the perimeter, and he struggles chasing them around screens as well. His excellent timing and length do help out in this area, though, and hes actually coming up with a steady amount of blocks and steals (1.4 each per game) to back that up. He also isnt a bad rebounder for his position (8.4 per game), leading his team and stacking up fairly well in comparison with other small forward draft prospects. Rarely will he outquick or outjump other players, but his excellent wingspan, hands, timing and reflexes are very helpful in this area, and he seems to have a knack for just sticking his hands in the right places and coming away with the ball. There is no question that he needs to continue to work on his body, though, if hes to deal with the rigors of the NBA.
Calathes doesnt look like your prototypical NBA draft pick on first glance, and thats why it isnt shocking that he isnt even being discussed as a prospect by any other outlet besides this site. Once you dig a little deeper and study his game, though, you can really begin to appreciate just how interesting of a player he truly is. Its definitely not of the question that someone falls in love with him (particularly a head coach), as he brings a unique skill-set to the table that is not very easy to find. He doesnt really look like a finished product either at this point, as hes improved noticeably on every part of his game over the past few years, and might not be finished quite yet as he continues to get stronger.
Something we wonder about is just how good
of a shooter is he? Calathes knocks down a fair amount of 3-pointers (2.3 per game on a 45% clip), but he doesnt make quite enough to categorize him as a specialist just yetsomething teams will probably want to learn more about in private workouts.
Calathes looks like a classic player to bring to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament to give teams a chance to further evaluate him against stronger competition. If the NBA doesnt work out for him, he apparently has the possibility to acquire a Greek passport. That would make him an extremely hot commodity this summer at the top level of Europe, where he would have an outstanding future.