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Go Fudge Yourself
In a basketball world filled with offensive darlings, LSU freshman Alex Fudge is terrorizing opponents with his defensive ability.
There’s something about chaos that brings a tear to my eye. While some like to stare and look at a beautiful painting and marvel at it’s pure excellence, I tend to seek out the madness in life. In the words of the great Bob Dylan…“Chaos is a friend of mine.”
The same goes for evaluating NBA Draft prospects. Everyone has their own way or system to seek out individuals that could thrive at the next step of the basketball world. Personally, I always look for a talent that pops off the screen. You want to find that type of player that immediately grabs your attention and makes you realize “this kid has it.” Some players require further examination. Those long hours watching film where your eyes grow heavy and your brain turns into a questionable realm of darkness.
When you find that player that gets you more excited than others, there’s no espresso shot in the world that can bring forth that type of high. Trust me…I’ve tried them all. After hearing some rumblings from my respected Draft colleagues about a certain freshman generating some buzz at LSU, I decided to dive down the rabbit hole and see what all the fuss was about. Then…I fell in love.
I’m here to tell you all to Go Fudge Yourself.
Every NBA Draft cycle features a bit of a wildcard. Usually this involves a young player who many thought would spend multiple years playing in the collegiate or professional ranks overseas. That specific talent starts to get the attention of evaluators and scouts around the industry and then one burning question comes to mind…
“Should he just declare this year instead?”
We just saw something similar happen last year with San Antonio Spurs rookie Josh Primo. After averaging just 8.1 points per game while playing limited minutes as a young freshman at Alabama, Primo was viewed as a popular sophomore breakout candidate if he returned to the Crimson Tide. Many thought Primo would eventually become a lottery selection after a solid sophomore year. Instead, Primo kept his name in the 2021 NBA Draft and was selected 12th overall even after many thought he was going to be a late first round pick.
Now I’m not here to tell you that something similar is brewing in the NBA Draft world this year, but I am here to tell you that we need to keep an eye on a specific prospect in Baton Rouge. Allow me to introduce you to Alex Fudge, a 6’8” freshman wing playing for the LSU Tigers. Before I continue to tell you to go Fudge yourself, I need to warn you that you’re about to dive down a DEEP rabbit hole with me. So buckle your seatbelt and prepare for a wild ride.
Fudge is fudging awesome. See what I did there? We like to have fun here. At 6’8”, 185 pounds, Fudge will scare some people with his thin frame. But it doesn’t take long for you to fall in love with the terrifying combination of explosiveness he has all over the basketball court. Fudge flies around the floor like a fighter jet patrolling the skies in the middle of combat. Now Alex Fudge isn’t going to wow you when it comes to his stats, but it’s important to know the bigger picture here. LSU is currently becoming a team to take serious note of this year. They are stacked with number of players that can fill up the box scores and they swarm you on defense. According to Sports Reference, LSU has the number one defensive rating in the country.
Fudge has been coming off the bench for the Tigers but he has impressed in limited minutes. In just 17.0 minutes per game, Fudge is averaging 5.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals game while shooting 46.9% from the field and 22.2% from downtown. While that last percentage might scare you, don’t worry…we’ll get to that later. What really is important about Fudge is his lethal, and I do mean LETHAL, ability on the defensive side of the ball. For all you advanced number fans out there, here’s some stats for your ass. Fudge currently has a 5.6% block rate & 5.5% steal rate. The last player to reach that category was Matisse Thybulle.
Enough Talk, Let’s Look at the Tape.
Every time you see Alex Fudge on the basketball court, it’s as if he just received six adrenaline shots and then was suddenly released into the wild. The anticipation and reaction timing that Fudge has on the defensive side of the ball is simply remarkable. Great play above in which we see Fudge analyze this play away from the ball and then he makes an incredible block at the rim.
This was literally the next possession. That’s Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe, who is currently averaging 21.0 points per game this season, going right at Fudge and access is denied. You’ll see a number of times on tape that Fudge has an impressive combination of footwork and lateral quickness to stick with smaller opponents. His versatility and ability to defend multiple positions at a high level is going to have the attention of evaluators in a hurry.
Not only does Alex Fudge have some explosiveness on the defensive side of the ball, the 6’8” freshman can get off the floor and launch above the rim at any moment. Great example of the leaping ability that Fudge has here in transition as he’s on the receiving side of this alley-oop.
Remember when I compared Alex Fudge to a Fighter jet earlier? You probably thought I was pretty crazy for that one (it’s okay, most do). Look at the anticipation and the get out speed that Fudge has. He reads this pass before it even happens and then he is GONE. Great job of dissecting the play and reacting which leads to a beautiful transition slam.
I absolutely LOVE this entire sequence. Alex Fudge takes the assignment of guarding the smaller guard and the ball handler is convinced here that he’s going to be able to dance with Fudge and the LSU freshman politely tells the opposition to go Fudge himself (I couldn’t resist). Look at the pressure and quickness that Fudge has. I’m a sucker for when guys are active with their hands and you’ll see a number of times on tape that Fudge has his hands out and up often when defending the perimeter. It’s the attention to detail that can show the mentality that a player has when it comes to locking in on both sides of the ball. Great job by Fudge here of cutting off multiple driving opportunities before forcing a shot clock violation and then we get the emotion which you just love to see.
There’s also some intriguing playmaking ability when it comes to Alex Fudge. You’ll see a number of times on tape that he stands out with his vision and ability to hit teammates on the money. Love the steal and chase down here and then the quick recognition to find his cutting teammate for a bucket. We got to finish that one folks.
Another nice display of the type of anarchy that Alex Fudge can cause when he’s on the basketball court. Fudge just can disrupt so many things on the defensive side of the ball with his activity and awareness. Great job of contesting the initial look here and then he quickly turns around and stays active with his hands to force the steal.
I call these next two clips “The Alex Fudge Experience.” What I love about this kid is his desire to make hustle plays. Yes, I’m an absolute sucker for elite defensive prospects. But Fudge jumps out on tape with his desire to make the extra effort plays that can keep possessions alive. Fudge comes from the weakside corner here to explode and get a massive offensive rebound. Although he fumbles the ball here, he still manages to get his team another possession.
Another example of the type of hustle plays that Alex Fudge can make on any possession. This doesn’t require any talent at all. This just is an example of having heart and wanting the Fudging ball more than the other player. I have about six more “Fudge” puns so please…just hang on a little longer. Fudge again comes from the weakside to get this offensive rebound and creates another possession for his team.
While the offensive versatility is still going to need some fine-tuning when it comes to Alex Fudge, there’s some plays where you just find yourself walking around trying to pick your jaw up off the floor. This might not look like much but the explosiveness and quick first step that Fudge has in his arsenal already is promising for his development. When he gets downhill he GLIDES through the lane.
So let’s talk about the outside shot. While many are going to point out the 22.2% from downtown, I actually am not overly concerned about it. This looks to be a case of a player who understands that his outside shot is not his strength right now, and there’s going to be some confidence concerns because of it. The thing with Fudge is you have to remember this is not a finished product at all. Fudge is currently 18-years-old and won’t turn 19 until May. The shot is going to be a work in progress but this could be a situation in which repetition and coaching could bring out a more consistent production.
There’s going to be plenty of buzz generating when it comes to LSU freshman wing Alex Fudge. Although many thought the 18-year-old could be a name to keep an eye on down the road, the tools and upside could start to heat up the conversation much earlier than expected. Fudge has been playing limited minutes for the Tigers, and it will be interesting to see what he can continue to do over a larger sample size. At the end of the day, I hope you go Fudge yourself.