Steadily progressing over his first three years of college basketball, Sam Muldrow had somewhat of a breakout season as a junior, emerging as one of the top shot-blockers in the NCAA and being named to the SEC's all-defensive team.
Standing 6-9, with an exceptional wingspan, but a fairly narrow frame, Muldrow is a very good athlete who must continue to add strength if he's to reach his full physical potential. Considering that he's already 22 years old, he has his work cut out for him.
Offensively, Muldrow is a very limited player who doesn't score at a very high rate (13.3 points per-40p) and does so inefficiently at that, converting just 47% of his 2-point attempts. He doesn't get to the free throw line much to compensate, and likes to shoot a fair amount of jumpers, of which he made just 27 of 84 (32%) attempts.
Muldrow lacks the strength to establish great position inside the paint, and doesn't possess a great deal in terms of ball-handling skills or advanced footwork at this stage. He does have decent touch around the basket, though, and South Carolina liked to isolate him on the block fairly often when he was in the game last year, and at times saw positive results in turn.
Muldrow is somewhat of a black hole, though, as he has very poor court vision and ranks amongst the ten worst passers in college basketball in terms of the amount of assists he dishes out on a per-possession basis. That was an upgrade over 2008/2009, though, where he tied for dead last in this category.
Muldrow improved his free throw shooting significantly last season (from 52% to 65%) and it's possible that he becomes a much more consistent outside shooter this upcoming season. He has solid mechanics, a high release point and a nice follow through, and was able to convert 14 3-pointers last season. Since it's highly unlikely that a NBA team would ever look to run a great deal of offense through him, it would be very beneficial for him to be able to space the floor by becoming a reliable spot-up shooter with his feet set.
On the defensive end is where Muldrow's main virtues as a prospect lie at the moment. He's the second best returning shot-blocker in college basketball, ranking just slightly below Oakland's Keith Benson in that category. He shows terrific timing with his weak-side rotations, and has the length and bounce to alter everything around the paint, making him quite valuable in that regard.
On the downside, Muldrow is an exceptionally poor defensive rebounder, one of the worst amongst NCAA big men prospects in fact. He looks very apathetic with this part of his game, rarely making an effort to box his man out and not really showing much effort going out of his area to grab loose balls. His lack of strength is clearly a factor here, but so are his average fundamentals and toughness at the same time.
If Muldrow has any chance of playing in the NBA he must improve significantly in this regard, as simply chasing weak-side blocks on every possession is not going to impress anyone once NBA talent evaluators start breaking down his film.
As a man to man defender, Muldrow similarly has a ways to go. He struggles badly when forced to defend out on the perimeter, looking very upright in his stance and being pretty easy for opponents to beat off the dribble. In the post, he lacks the lower body strength to keep stronger opponents from establishing deep position on him, which will clearly be much more of an issue in the NBA than in the NCAA.
Muldrow made noticeable strides between his sophomore and junior seasons, cutting down on his foul rate significantly and increasing the range of his jumper. He'll need to make a similar jump this season to establish himself as a legitimate draft prospect, and should be able to draw some looks based on his physical tools and shot-blocking ability. Even if he doesn't make the NBA initially, Muldrow is the type of player NBA teams will need to keep tabs on in the D-League or in Europe, depending on where he ends up.