Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East, Part Three (#11-15)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East, Part Three (#11-15)
Oct 09, 2010, 10:57 am
Continuing to evaluate the top returning NBA prospects in the Big East, we take a look at Georgetown's Austin Freeman, USF's Gus Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous, Cincinatti's Yancy Gates, and Pittsburgh's Gilbert Brown.

Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA circuit before we come to any long-term conclusions.

-Top 20 NBA Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big 12
-Top 10 NBA Prospects in the Pac-10
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the SEC

Top NBA Prospects in the Big East, Part One (#1-5)
Top NBA Prospects in the Big East, Part Two (#6-10)

#1 Kemba Walker
#2 Mouphtaou Yarou
#3 Kris Joseph
#4 Maalik Wayns
#5 Alex Oriakhi
#6 Kevin Jones
#7 Chris Wright
#8 D.J. Kennedy
#9 Terrence Jennings
#10 Darius Johnson-Odom

#11 Austin Freeman, 6'4, Senior, Shooting Guard, Georgetown
16.5 Points, 3.5 Rebounds, 2.4 Assists, 1.9 Turnovers, 52.5% FG, 44.4% 3FG

Matt Williams

The last time we checked in on Austin Freeman he was fresh off an exceptionally efficient freshman year that he struggled to duplicate as a sophomore. The former consensus top-15 recruit got his act together last season despite missing some practice time after being diagnosed with diabetes mid-season, and while Georgetown ended the year with a disappointing upset loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Armon Bassett and the Ohio Bobcats, Freeman found his stroke and enters this season as the preseason Big East Player of the Year. A strong candidate to assume many of the possessions left behind by Greg Monroe, Freeman should have an excellent senior season, but he has some work to do to earn a spot in next summer's draft.

Despite his ability to score in bunches and put up gaudy efficiency numbers as a second-option on the college level, Freeman is undersized for a shooting guard and lacks the wingspan that would make his height less concerning. Built more like a fullback than a shooting guard, Freeman is able to bully his way to the basket at the college level and uses his strength exceptionally well once he clears his man's hip. He is deceptively quick for a player of his build, but he plays below the rim, lacks lateral quickness, and doesn't have ideal physical tools for a NBA shooting guard, limiting his upside.

As it stands, Freeman's lack of ideal athleticism is the biggest obstacle hindering him from being an intriguing prospect. He brings plenty to the table offensively. His value on that end the floor starts with his jump shooting ability. After seeing his three point percentage dip from the 40% he shot as a freshman to 30% as a sophomore, Freeman bounced back in a big way as a junior to the tune of a 44.4% mark from distance. Ranking highly in both three point percentage and true shooting amongst players in our database, the Dematha HS was at his best last season when he could set his feet on the perimeter and using his mechanically sound shooting form and quick release to make opposing defenses pay from beyond the arc.

Capable of putting up big scoring numbers on any given night, Freeman has developed some offensive tools that complement his shooting very well at the college level. His exceptional basketball IQ and physical strength make him a threat off the dribble as well. Adept at taking what a defender gives him, Freeman is a decent shooter off the dribble, and is fairly prolific taking one-dribble pull ups from inside the arc, but struggles to convert short range jumpers when he can't get to the rim. Using simple straight line drives and not attempting to get fancy, Freeman got to the basket at a good rate last season, and while he doesn't get to the line at a good rate, he shot a very respectable 63.6% as a finisher.

Defensively, Freeman uses his strength well to deny penetration, but struggles against quicker players and doesn't change directions well enough to keep up with dynamic ball-handlers. He competes and has solid fundamentals, which gets him by for the most part at the college level, but doesn't add much against quicker high-major guards and doesn't project well to the next level.

Freeman's value as a NBA player resides in his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and play low-mistake basketball. As we've noted in the past, he simply isn't a high upside player. A sound passer who can work off of screens and stretch the floor, Freeman is very much a known commodity at this point. Scouts are familiar with his game and his limitations, but width a big season, he could earn some buzz. A potential Portsmouth Invitational invitee, Freeman might not be an elite prospect, but he's poised to be a key player for one of Big East's best teams.

#12 Gus Gilchrist, 6-10, Junior, Power Forward/Center, South Florida
13.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, .5 assists, 2.3 turnovers, .9 blocks, 49% FG, 76% FT, 48% 3FG

Walker Beeken

After a very strong start in 2009-2010, South Florida's Gus Gilchrist suffered an ankle injury that kept him off the court for a fifteen game stretch during the middle of the season. Though he returned to action in mid-February, Gilchrist couldn't regain his early season form, where he averaged over 20 points and 7 rebounds per game through his first seven games. With the departure of Bulls star guard Dominique Jones to the NBA, Gilchrist will have his chance to shine and prove that his early season numbers were no fluke.

Playing as a face up big man at South Florida, Gilchrist's game on the offensive end resolves almost completely around his jump shot. With Jones drawing so much attention and setting him up for open looks last season, it will be interesting to see if he's able to score with the same efficiency without him. Gilchrist's shooting numbers were no doubt impressive last season though. He saw big increases in his percentages from the field, the 3 point arc, and the free throw line, leading to a true shooting percentage of 58%, up from 45% as a freshman. This improvement projects well for him going forward, as his height and quick release should enable him to be an effective shooter at the professional level on pick-and-pop and other catch-and-shoot situations.

Gilchrist is somewhat of a black hole on offense though, often floating around the perimeter and hunting jump shots, with passing the ball usually just an afterthought. When he does attempt to pass or make a play, it's obvious that his feel for the game is behind his natural talent and scoring instincts, as he struggles taking care of the ball, as evidenced his very poor .21 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.

Even when Gilchrist takes his game into the post, he's still looking primary for a turnaround or face up jumper. He showed flashes of other post moves with improved footwork and a soft touch around the basket, and if he can add that to his offensive arsenal, he has the potential to put up big scoring numbers this season as a junior.

On the defensive end, Gilchrist still has quite a bit of work to do before he's capable of adequately defending NBA power forwards. He has the necessary size and length, but as we mentioned before, his lateral quickness and elevation are marginal at best. He doesn't display great toughness either, as shown by his just average rebounding numbers. In fairness though, his rebounding was much better prior to his ankle injury. Watching his work on the glass and on defense this season should give a better indication of where he really is when healthy.

When looking down the road, Gilchrist is a player to keep an eye on, mainly due to his potential as a shooter for a guy his size. The strides he made as a player from his freshman to sophomore season were encouraging, and he still seems to be nowhere near his full potential. He still has a ways to go on the defensive end and with his overall feel for the game, but if he can match his production from last season's hot start and sustain it throughout this season, he should at least find himself on the radar of NBA scouts.

#13 Jarrid Famous, 6-11, Senior, PF/C, South Florida
10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, .5 assists, 2.1 turnovers, .7 blocks, 53% FG, 63% FT

Jonathan Givony

A non-qualifier academically out of high school, and then again out of prep school, Jarrid Famous took a long road from the Bronx to playing NCAA division I basketball, but finally made his debut this past season for South Florida. He only has one season of eligibility left as a junior college transfer, but could be a player to keep an eye on based on his excellent physical tools and solid production in the Big East conference.

Famous is a fairly rare specimen from a physical standpoint , standing 6-11, with nice length and a frame that can definitely still fill out. He is a very mobile big man who runs the floor well and is pretty explosive getting off his feet. Simply put, players with Famous' size and athleticism don't grow on trees, and they'll always get the benefit of the doubt in the evaluation process for that reason.

Offensively, Famous is mostly a complimentary piece, the type of player who gets his points in transition, on the offensive glass, and finishing plays created for him by others around the basket. He has the length and explosiveness to play above the rim and will do so impressively at times, but tends to struggle with contact and definitely isn't the most contact-loving big man you'll find. Famous doesn't have much of a post-game for that reason and he struggles putting the ball on the floor.

From the perimeter he is very limited as he possesses little in the ways of a jump shot and only coverts 63% of his free throw attempts. His decision making is fairly poor, recording four turnovers for every assist he dishes out, showing a feel for the game that can't be described as being anything more than average at best.

Famous does get to the free throw line at a solid rate and is capable of making his presence felt on the offensive glass. His quickness causes problems for many of the big men he matches up with at the college basketball level, and is something he can continue to develop into an advantage, particularly with the way he runs the floor.

Defensively, Famous has some excellent tools to work with, as he has great size, length and mobility for his position and could develop into a very effective matchup down the road, especially with his ability to switch on the pick and roll.

Unfortunately that doesn't help him very much right now, as he simply lacks the fundamentals and awareness needed to be effective at the moment, and he's frequently targeted for isolation plays both in the post and on the perimeter by opposing coaches, often with great success. Famous tends to gamble a lot on this end of the floor and clearly isn't as tough or active as you would like to see from a big man with his physical tools, something he needs to improve significantly if he's to have any chance of making the NBA. While he's an above average rebounder offensively, the same can't be said about his production on the defensive end. Getting stronger should help in this regard, but at the same time, Famous must improve his effort level as well.

Famous isn't in an optimal situation by any stretch of the imagination going into this upcoming season, as the next best player on South Florida's roster –Gus Gilchrist--happens to play the same position as him and is clearly too heavy to be overly effective at the 4, certainly at the NCAA level.

South Florida's methodical offense was somewhat of a one man (Dominique Jones) show last year, and that definitely made Famous' weaknesses much more glaring than they would in a more normal setting. When Gilchrist was out for nearly a two month stretch from mid-December to mid-February Famous had some of his best games of the season, but saw his field goal attempts and overall production whittled down to very little once Gilchrist came back.

Despite his shortcomings, Famous is the type of player who could improve rapidly in just his second season of college basketball, and will likely still hold a certain amount of intrigue for NBA teams regardless going into the draft process this upcoming spring. His intriguing physical tools could certainly tease someone into taking a flyer on him in June even, ala Magnum Rolle last year.

#14 Yancy Gates, 6'9, Junior, Power Forward, Cincinatti
10.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 1.4 turnovers, 52.2% FG, 58.9% FT

Having profiled Gates fairly late in the season with a comprehensive scouting report, we've elected to wait and see what type of progress he's made with a fresh perspective in a few months, rather than rehashing many of the same comments made last year based off his 2009-2010 game footage.

#15 Gilbert Brown, 6-6, Senior, Small Forward, Pitt
10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 50% FG, 71% FT, 40% 3FG

Jonathan Givony

Playing in only 23 games last season after being ruled academically ineligible for the fall semester—bizarrely just a few months after winning Pitt's academic Excellence award—Gilbert Brown had a topsy-turvy junior season filled with ups and downs.

Standing 6-6, with a nice frame, long arms and solid athleticism, Brown fits the mold of an NBA wing player from a physical standpoint. He's got a quick first step, is effective in transition, and is capable of making plays above the rim.

Offensively, Brown is an efficient and fairly versatile player who played his role coming off the bench effectively for Pitt last year, even if he was very inconsistent at times. He converted his 2-pointers very well at 54%, got to the free throw line at an excellent rate, posted a positive assist to turnover ratio, and shot the ball better than he ever has from the perimeter at 40% from beyond the arc.

Brown doesn't have any glaring weaknesses at this stage, although there are some question marks regarding whether he can continue to shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as he did last season. He only took 2.3 attempts from 3-point range last year, and did so in 22 games, which is a pretty small sample size considering that he never shot better than 28% prior to that.

His mechanics are also somewhat unconventional, flicking the ball at the basket from way above his head, which may cause some problems when it comes time to transition to the much further distance of the NBA 3-point line. While very solid with his feet set last season, Brown struggles shooting the ball off the dribble, and converted just 71% of his free throws last season, two things he would be well served working on.

As a shot-creator, Brown has room to improve, as his advanced ball-handling skills are just average at this stage and he relies heavily on his first step to gain an advantage and make his way into the lane. He does finish very well around the basket, though, and got to the free throw line at a great rate as mentioned, which is largely a testament to the aggressiveness he brings to the floor.

Defensively, Brown is outstanding, showing great physical tools with his size, length and lateral quickness, and having the toughness and intensity to put them to use. He guards pretty much any position at the college level, often seeing time at the power forward position on an undersized Pitt team, but rarely allowing opponents to take advantage of him inside the paint.

On the perimeter he's extremely effectively with the way he moves his feet and puts pressure on the ball, getting down in a low, fundamental stance and doing a great job smothering his opponent with his length. Pitt likes to switch on the pick and roll and Brown is a huge part of that strategy, as he has the ability to keep up with pretty much anyone thrown his way at the Big East level.

Despite his modest production last season—10.7 points in 24 minutes per game--and somewhat advanced age--turning 23 in September--Brown might be somewhat of a sleeper prospect to make an NBA team, and could even stick around for a while if he continues to improve and endears himself accordingly. He's extremely solid in every facet of the game and is incredibly strong in probably the most important one from his perspective—defense, which will give him a fighting chance anywhere he ends up. If he can prove that his perimeter shooting accuracy from last season was not a fluke, he's got a pretty good case to merit being drafted even.

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