The Prospect Overview: Don't Sleep on Leonard Miller
Leonard Miller has looked the part in a professional league at 19-years-old! Maxwell spoke to the G League Ignite prospect about his journey, his skill set, and his improvements!
Feature: Don’t Sleep on Leonard Miller
One of my favorite movies is Christopher Nolan’s 2000 film Memento. The story is told in a non-linear manner, starting with the ending.
Today’s feature is about Leonard Miller. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on Thursday to gain his insights on his game and his development. The only appropriate way to start this article is to transcribe his answer to the last question from my interview. Just like Memento, we’re starting with the ending. I asked if there was anyone in the draft that is being slept on: is there anyone who he has played against, or played with at any point, that is better than people realize?
Miller: In the draft?
Me: Anybody in the draft.
Miller: Just in general?
Miller: Definitely me, I feel like I’m slept on. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m really confident in my abilities, and I think I’m a really solid player.
Stop sleeping on Leonard Miller.
Leonard Miller hasn’t had the most traditional path to an NBA career. He’s the younger brother of TCU’s Emanuel Miller. Emanuel was a highly touted recruit, posting big numbers in the FIBA U18 Americas for a Canadian squad that would win a silver medal. He committed to Texas A&M, where he spent three seasons before transferring to TCU. Leonard didn’t receive the same level of attention, remarking to me that he felt like others saw him as getting opportunities because of his brother’s success. He bounced around between a few different prominent basketball high schools, receiving little playing time and then breaking his wrist while at Victory Rock Prep. With no college offers, Leonard went back to Canada for a post-graduate year with Fort Erie International Academy.
At Fort Erie, everything changed. While he grew up as more of a ball-handler, Miller shot up in height to 6’10” late in high school. He suddenly looked like an oversized playmaker with speed, steering the offensive ship for a great prep program.
“It all worked. Coming off of surgery [from his wrist injury], you’re not really expected to be better than you were in most cases. Luckily, I was! The work that I put in, my coaches’ belief in me, the players around me, they were all good players, good teammates, all those factors played a part.”
Suddenly, Miller was a hot commodity. Scholarship offers rolled in from the likes of TCU, LSU, Kansas, and Alabama. Because of his post-graduate status, Miller was also NBA Draft eligible in 2022. He became a buzzy, under-the-radar prospect. Some pundits saw Miller as a ball of clay, a late-blooming, high-upside developmental proposition with size that teams could take a swing on. Ultimately, he received an invite to the NBA Combine.
At the NBA Combine, Miller struggled. The pace of the game seemed to overwhelm him. He turned the ball over, traveling and throwing the ball where players were, as opposed to where they were going to be. Defensively, he was too upright and fell for too many fakes. Without a reliable jump shot, things looked murky for him as a 2022 proposition. While his long-term potential was still evident due to his size and wiggle, he looked too far away in other aspects. There wasn’t a “he is going to come into the NBA and do this well right away” skill to him.
Still, Miller had options. Several aforementioned high-profile colleges wanted him. He could enter the NBA Draft. While a first round selection looked unlikely, it was easy to envision a team taking him in the second. There was also a third option, and it was the one that I personally hoped Miller would take—a year with the G League Ignite. After seeing how players like Jaden Hardy, Dyson Daniels, and MarJon Beauchamp grew within the program, I thought Miller would be a perfect fit. He could play through his mistakes, receive high-level coaching, and face tough opposition on a consistent basis, something he hadn’t been able to do after his game started coming together. Miller ended up choosing the G League Ignite.
“Ignite was the best place possible for me to be. You’ve got a good staff, you’ve got good coaches, the players are amazing…At the stage I’m at right now, when I compete, I’m competing at a level that’s the closest thing to the NBA.”
The G League Ignite program, in my opinion, has done wonders for Miller. He’s grown right before our very eyes. Let’s dig into his development, signature skills, and where he can still improve.
The Endless Motor
My absolute favorite thing about Leonard Miller is that you never have to worry about him giving 100%. I often read about how players get up and down the floor well, and it’s generally a statement about a player’s mobility and speed. Miller gets up and down the floor well, but as importantly, he gets up and down the floor every single time. There’s no lollygagging, no taking plays off. This is the type of behavior that coaches are going to eat up. It’s going to help him earn the trust of a team’s staff. Failing to get back on defense and not rim-running hard on offense are two common, annoying habits among young big men. By playing with this level of effort, it’s easy to envision Miller sneaking in some minutes early in his NBA tenure as an energy big off the bench. By getting back on defense in a timely manner, he can prevent teams from getting good looks by running quick sets. Offensively, it’s been an easy way for Miller to expose opposing big men while getting easy points for his own team.
“It’s the easiest way to get a bucket—just run the court. If you can beat your man down, or if you can get back on the defensive end and make a play, you’re very effective. I’m tall, lengthy player, and I can move. To get up and down the court, it’s no problem for me.”
Getting buckets is something Miller has done well for the Ignite, scoring 15.3 PPG on 62.4 TS% as a 19-year-old (and he’s a young 19, too!) in a professional league. His transition game is a big part of that. Per Synergy, 19.9% of his offensive possessions come in transition, and he scores 1.228 points per possession on those opportunities. That ranks him in the league’s 83rd percentile. His willingness to run exhausts opponents, but what makes Miller special is his end-to-end speed. There are always guys who are willing to do the little things, but Miller’s athleticism separates him from that pack. When he has the ball, his uncanny slither for his size keeps back-pedaling defenders off balance. His touch is sublime, too.
In totality, Leonard Miller finishes 69.1% of his shots at the rim, per Synergy. That grades out as “excellent” on their scale, placing him in the G League’s 83rd percentile. It’s not just his transition work, either. In the halfcourt, Miller still converts 61.7% of his shots at the rim. He plays with a level of fluidity and body control that enables him to deal with or evade contact, and the ball comes softly out of his hands when he isn’t able to jam it home. Even better, he’s started to use his off-hand when needed. For a young player to be finishing at such a high clip against grown men is beyond encouraging.
Miller’s finishing and transition play are aided by what has become his signature skill—his rebounding. Currently, Miller is 17th in the G League in rebounds per game, averaging 8.6 per game. He receives less playing time than everyone else ahead of him, playing 25.8 minutes per night. He’s also on the same squad as the league’s 10th-ranked rebounder, Eric Mika. Given his surroundings, opposition, and minutes, this is tremendously impressive.
The benefits of this are three-fold. The first is that his activity on the defensive glass limits the opposing team’s second-chance opportunities. The second is that his speed and advanced ability to put the ball on the floor for a player his size allows him to act as a grab-and-go threat. While I’ve already covered his transition scoring prowess, being able to enact those types of possessions on his own makes it an easier skill set to unleash. Lastly, Miller’s 2.3 offensive rebounds per game give him easy put-back chances. He does a good job of keeping the ball high, and he’s quick and light getting back off the floor for his second jump.
“I think I improved in that area [rebounding]. I didn’t know I’d be this effective. It’s working, I just keep doing it. That’s what I have a knack for. It comes easy, but I’m giving effort to secure the board, get putbacks. Putbacks and running the floor are just effort things that my body can naturally do. I’ve always been a good rebounder, I’d say, but I’d say this year I really stepped it up.”
“Versatility” is a buzzy word in the basketball space. It’s amorphous and often overused. That said, I think Leonard Miller can bring real, actual, important, winning versatility on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Miller has proven both willing and capable in a tertiary role. Despite being on the thinner side (listed at 210 pounds), he’s a good screener who is unafraid of contact. He should also be able to add mass well, boasting a good frame and having just finished growing recently. Though he doesn’t get to act as an on-ball screener often, he’s finished well as a roll man (7-for-11) and has enough burst that he should be effective slipping, too. His propensity to scrap on the offensive glass can generate easy second-chance buckets. Miller also has some of those pre-growth spurt guard skills in his back pocket, too. There’s a wiggle and shiftiness to him going downhill. Paired with his embrace of physicality, Miller can get through smaller players and shake off slower ones when he puts the ball on the deck. He has his moments as a passer, too.
While I don’t see Miller being the point-forward, oversized initiator type that some projected him to be coming out of Fort Erie, there’s still real upside here. He could function well out of short rolls or handoffs with his ability to sling the rock or attack the cup and finish.
On the defensive end, Miller has grown by leaps and bounds. I was pretty low on Miller’s defense coming into the year, viewing it more as a theoretical development area rather than anything worth getting excited about immediately. As previously noted, he had a tendency to bite on fakes way too often. His stance was too upright, diminishing the value of his length. He didn’t slide as well as you would expect, given his ability to move on the other end of the floor. At times, his on-ball reaction time felt a step slow. Rotationally, he wouldn’t always spring into position or offer proper help.
When the Ignite faced off against Metropolitans 92 in an exhibition game, it was immediately obvious that Miller had taken steps forward. His stance was better, and his lateral movement was more seamless. He held up better than I anticipated on the block. Miller played with more engagement off the ball. His hands noticeably took a step forward, swiping into loose handles at the point of attack and better tracking the ball in passing lanes.
“I’m a fast learner. I’m always developing in different areas that I see on film…Things will click and I’ll pick it up. You’ll see, if I lack in an area one game, the next game, it’s better…When my coaches explain something to me, I apply it…I’m trying to be as attentive as I can so there is little-to-no error. Of course, there’s probably going to be some lapses in the game where you miss a coverage here or there, but as long as I try my best and I’m better than the previous game, that’s all that matters.
Miller still has moments where he gets out of position or misses a rotation, but the egregious examples of that are growing fewer and farther between. At 6’10” with a 7’2” wingspan, good lateral mobility, and solid speed off the floor, Miller could be the type of defender NBA teams crave. His length and quickness should enable him to play in multiple ball-screen schemes. Miller’s size and toughness help him switch up, and he’s done a better job of keeping smaller players in front of him when switching down. When he needs to rotate, he covers ground well, a skill that has shown increasing importance in the playoffs. He maintains his balance well, and on occasions when he loses it, he gets it back in short order. A 6’10” player who has demonstrated switchability and rotational upside in a professional organization is a tantalizing proposition.
As is the case with many young players, a key swing skill for Leonard Miller is going to be his outside shooting.
Coming into the year, this was a noted concern amongst the draft community. Per Synergy, Miller shot 28.8% from three during his games at Fort Erie. His shooting motion was rough—he released the ball low with a push shot, almost resembling the form of a shot putter more than a traditional basketball jump shot. While his mechanics still lead to a low release, it already looks better than it did prior to the season. His follow-through and release look cleaner, and it doesn’t appear as if the ball is rotating more, as if it’s coming off his fingers rather than his palm.
“I feel comfortable with my jump shot. I just get a lot of reps up in the gym to get it better and better…Last game, I knocked a couple shots down. I’m really trying to improve it and get better.”
While the work he’s put in is apparent in his shooting motion, the results are still lagging behind in some respects. Miller is sitting at 29.2% from long range on the year. It’s not ideal, but there’s still room for optimism. For starters, Miller is a 6’10” 19-year-old, and most players his size don’t shoot it that well to begin with anyway. On top of that, Miller is hitting threes at a better clip than he was a year ago. That’s notable not just in that it shows incremental growth, but also because he’s doing it against bigger, longer opposition while having to shoot from further away, as the G League uses the NBA’s three-point line. When players scale up in opposition, an efficiency dip is common. Rookies routinely post poor shooting splits as they adapt to the athleticism and pace of the NBA game. For Miller to go from playing against decent high school competition to the G League and shoot slightly better from long range is actually remarkable. He’ll likely never be a knock-down guy, but his willingness to shoot (2.6 attempts per game) paired with a track record of improvement gives reason for optimism. He won’t be a complete negative on the spacing front.
A bigger cause for concern, in my opinion, is his turnovers.
Earlier, I touched on how his motor will do him big favors with coaching staffs. His propensity for turnovers is where he could find himself in trouble. Miller is averaging 2.2 TOV to 1.2 APG at the moment. His feel for where his teammates are going can be lacking at times. He can be too upright with the ball and underly cautious with his dribble. The ball will bounce too high or be located too far in front of him when he puts it on the floor at times. He’ll throw a pass without properly anticipating the off-ball defender’s ability to pick it off. His pass placement can leave a lot to be desired. While Miller shows flashes as a ball-handler and passer, this is the one area of the game where things can still feel too fast for him. As he grows and adapts, I see this becoming less of an issue. He’s already shown improvement. The first part of the G League season, categorized as The Showcase Cup, saw Miller averaging 2.6 turnovers per game. In the regular season, which began on 12/27, Miller has cut that number to 1.5 per game. While his assist totals have also dropped as his usage has remained even, his turnover rate has dropped 5.9%. In our conversation, Miller noted that his feel is the area where he has improved the most throughout the season and that things are coming easier to him now. Continuing to take better care of the ball will be critical for his draft stock.
Lastly, Miller drew criticism earlier in the year for fouling too much. After averaging 3.3 fouls per game during The Showcase Cup, that number has been reduced to 2.6 per game during regular season play. While his steal rate has decreased a bit (2.2 to 1.6), his block rate has remained the same. Miller has done a better job of keeping his hands to himself, using his skill to defend rather than getting too physical.
Leonard Miller has been growing before our eyes. While he looked lost defensively at the combine, that now projects to be a strength in the future. His jumper mechanics are smoothing out. He’s fouling and turning the ball over less. Improvement is good to see, but it doesn’t mean anything if the end result won’t be worthwhile. With Miller, I don’t think that will be the case. He’s already proven productive in a professional league at 19 years old. The numbers aren’t empty calories, either—he’s scoring efficiently and playing the right way. His activity on the glass and speed getting up and down the floor give him a real chance to carve out minutes as an energy big out of the gate. Pair that with his screening, and that makes him a worthwhile big man in early offense for an up-tempo scheme. Having something to hang his hat on early in his career will give him a foot in the door. From there, he can blossom. If his outside shot reaches a league-average level and he continues to grow defensively, he’s the type of guy teams would want on the floor in a playoff game. Should he add more playmaking, he could become more than a tertiary option.
If you’ve been sleeping on Leonard Miller, it’s time to wake up. He’s 6’10”, he’s producing, and he has no problem doing the little things on the court. There is a respectable floor outcome and an enticing ceiling within him. Plus, we’ve seen two late growth spurt players hit in recent years with Trey Murphy and Jalen Williams. His work in the G League should guarantee him a first round selection, in my opinion. Where he goes in the first round will boil down to what his improvements continue to look like over the following months. When considering his draft stock, it’s important to keep in mind that Miller can, and has, gotten better in a short amount of time.
The Expanding Big Board
Welcome to The Expanding Big Board! Every week, a new player is added to the board. Once a player is added, they cannot be removed. The current ranking is listed first, with last week’s ranking in parenthesis.
This past week, each member of No Ceilings submitted a Top 60 Big Board for our latest Consensus Big Board. During these exercises, I spend a lot of time breaking down players, potential outcomes, and rankings. As such, there was more movement this week. Enjoy!
1. Victor Wembanyama (1)
2. Scoot Henderson (2)
No movement here. These guys are both quite good.
3. Brandon Miller (4)
4. Jarace Walker (5)
5. Cam Whitmore (6)
6. Ausar Thompson (3)
7. Amen Thompson (7)
This tier is still totally up for grabs. I don’t feel great about Brandon Miller at #3, but he’s earned the spot. His production has been outrageous, I buy his frame filling out, and I see him holding his own defensively at the next level. He’s limber enough with good rim protection instincts from his time playing as a point-center for his high school team. I trust his passing vision, and his nuclear shooting with give him tremendous gravity to help space the floor even if he never becomes a truly dynamic attacker. Ausar Thompson finally falls, as his 41.4% at the rim in the halfcourt has become increasingly worrisome. He forces some really bad looks there, falling victim to tunnel vision rather than kicking it out when he gets swarmed. I still like him a tad more than Amen Thompson, as I like Ausar’s defense better and buy his shot coming along far more. Amen is the better athlete and more creative of the two, but his lack of improvement as a shooter, unwillingness to embrace physicality, and tendency to leak out in transition too often all have me more worried about what he does as an off-ball, complementary player.
8. Jett Howard (9)
9. Keyonte George (10)
10. Nick Smith Jr. (8)
Just minor philosophical changes here. Jett Howard’s lack of strength has started to show itself more inside the arc in conference play. Only 10.5% of his shots in the halfcourt are getting to the rim. I still love his playmaking instincts, and I believe he’ll fill out given his frame and late growth spurt, but those things will take a bit to actualize at the next level. Still, he’s a great shooter with good size for a wing. Keyonte George is my favorite of the microwave scorers in this draft and an awesome movement shooter who has shown flashes of playmaking, though they aren’t consistent. Defensively, his strength helps him out, but he’s not the quickest player, and his instincts off the ball are just okay for now. Nick Smith Jr. remains a tricky evaluation, as I like his passing vision and buy his shooting more than the college percentages say I should, but he’s been hampered by injury all season. Where I struggle is that right now, his playmaking is limited by his ability to get inside, and he needs to get stronger. Defensively, he hasn’t shown much of anything and makes some puzzling decisions off the ball. With those circumstances, his shooting is more critical to his success than it is for George, and I still think George has the edge in that department.
11. Gradey Dick (unranked)
Gradey Dick, welcome to The Expanding Big Board.
The short of it is this: Gradey Dick is an exceptional outside shooter, and he’s 6’8”. Dick has hit 42% of his threes on the year on high volume. His presence on the perimeter is daunting. I’ve described the way he draws hard closeouts as akin to seeing a child pick something up off the ground and put it in their mouth—there’s an immediate “oh no no no no no” reaction from defenders who are terrified of what’s to come. He’s struggled a little more than expected off movement this year (23.5% on threes off screens), but given his shooting track record, I think he’ll become a potent movement threat in time. His game when chased off the line is nothing to sneeze at, either. Dick’s first step is solid, and he gets off the floor well. He’s converted 62.5% of his shots at the rim in the halfcourt. Playing in a tough league like the Big 12, that’s a great number to see. He’s improved tremendously as a passer from high school to college, too. Dick had a bad tendency to get lost in the mid-range and pick up his dribble at inopportune times. Now, he’s seeing the floor better and playing with an increased sense of fluidity. He ranks in Synergy’s 89th percentile on pick-and-roll possessions including passes, and he’s particularly adept at using his shooting gravity before hitting the roll man for an easy bucket.
The concerns with Dick center around his defense and frame. Right now, he’s really skinny, and he looks lighter than his 205-pound listing. Stronger players will be able to plow through him out of the gate at the NBA level, and at times, he can be a tad slow in his initial reaction on the ball. The good news is that Dick plays with engagement, sees things as they develop, and he’s quick to act. He’s shown impressive moments as an off-ball defender, swiping the ball or meeting an opponent at the rim. If he can put on good mass and get a hair quicker, he should be in good shape. Even if he doesn’t, he’s still a lights-out shooting talent with confidence to spare, which should be enough for him to hang around.
12. Cason Wallace (12)
13. Jalen Hood-Schifino (15)
14. Brice Sensabaugh (13)
15. Anthony Black (11)
16. GG Jackson (14)
Anthony Black is a bit of a faller here, as his 25% from three in conference play has been concerning given his lack of violent straight-line burst. He needs to draw players out to the perimeter to leverage his wonderful playmaking skillset, and if he’s struggling to this degree against better competition from the college three-point line, it raises real questions about what he’ll look like at the next level offensively. Similarly, GG Jackson has struggled to find efficiency in SEC play. After a nice bounce-back scoring outing against Missouri, he struggled mightily with turnovers against Ole Miss, coughing it up four times in 12 minutes. While his face-up game at his size is beyond impressive, he’s still raw, and he’s going to need a good developmental organization that lets him work through his mistakes in order to hit his more optimal outcomes.
-The Mid-Major Game of the Week was Oral Roberts vs. Western Illinois!
Oral Roberts won 82-73, but they were in firm control throughout. They are now 23-4 overall and 14-0 in conference play. Former NBA Combine invite Max Abmas is perhaps the biggest reason for that. He finished the game with 29 points on 17 shots, going 5-10 from three-point range, along with four rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Abmas’ shooting and scoring reputation has long been known, as he’s in his third consecutive season averaging more than 20 PPG and shooting over 38% from distance on high volume. Where Abmas has grown is as a passer. He’s playing a much more selfless brand of basketball, settling less and finding his open teammates more. While his assist totals have remained relatively flat, his turnovers have decreased. Abmas is playing within himself more and acting as a connector more consistently as opposed to just looking to set himself up for shots. Settling less helped him as an attacker, too, and he’s shooting 58% on twos, the highest mark of his career. Defensively, questions remain. He’d be a hunting target at the NBA level, standing 6’1” and lacking a strong frame. His attention can wane, and he doesn’t provide a great deal of resistance at the point of attack. If he’s going to stick, he’ll have to find a way to keep his head above water on that end while acting as a scoring specialist on the other.
Fifth-year big man Connor Vanover has been a revelation for Oral Roberts. After a few seasons as a solid high-major player at California and Arkansas, Vanover has now found himself as a top option for the Golden Eagles. At 7’3”, he is beyond imposing as a rim protector, swatting 3.4 shots per game with a BLK% of 14.1. He’s thin down low, and he lacks speed, but he sees plays develop and gets off the floor well. Offensively, he’s providing floor spacing, shooting 4.3 threes per game and connecting on 33.6% of them. Beyond that, he’s a play finisher inside the arc, and that’s about it. He should sneak into the Portsmouth Invitational conversation as a 3-and-D center. Though he’s limited athletically, his shot blocking and shooting could give him a puncher’s chance.
I’ve given Western Illinois’s Trenton Massner a lot of love lately, and he looked good again in this one, scoring 23 points and racking up eight assists, five rebounds, a block, and a steal. The fifth-year, 6’2” guard dug into his mid-range bag early, including a nice shot over Vanover for two. He also displayed his long-range ability, hitting some extra deep threes. While Massner is a high-major athlete, my biggest offensive concern is his handle and footwork. He doesn’t have a ton of juice with the ball and needs to be smarter about when he picks up his dribble. Still, I see him as deserving of a Portsmouth Invitational invite. He stuffs the stat sheet (18.7 PPG, 5.2 APG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.4 SPG) and can shoot the cover off the ball.
Two other standouts were Kareem Thompson and Alec Rosner. Oral Roberts’s Thompson is an intriguing junior point-forward, standing 6’6” and averaging 3.0 APG. He can shoot, too, converting on 39.4% of his triples this year. Thompson threw a dazzling pass in transition, a testament to his pass placement and creativity. He only scores 8.4 PPG, so he’ll need to prove he can do more as a scorer to land on NBA radars. Western Illinois’s Rosner is a transfer-up from Winona State, a prominent Division-2 program. A 6’3” senior, Rosner is a dynamite shooter, hitting 38.8% of his 6.5 threes per game. He’s a reliable decision-maker, too, averaging 2.3 assists to 1.1 turnovers per contest. His range and shot-making from distance stood out throughout the game. While his size and lack of athleticism make an NBA outcome unlikely, it’s easy to see him playing professionally somewhere with his playmaking chops and scoring prowess.
-Next week’s Mid-Major Game of the Week will be Belmont vs. Drake! Make sure you’re following me on Twitter @BaumBoards to vote for the Mid-Major Game of the Week in the future!
-I watched more mid-major action this week, as I checked in on two No Stone Unturned prospects in a game against each other, Dillon Jones and Steele Venters. Jones has started to grab a lot of attention due to his well-rounded statistical output. Scoring 15.8 PPG, grabbing 10.8 RPG, and tallying 3.9 APG, he’s sure to grab the attention of many. Jones is a well-rounded scorer with an impressive arsenal of dribble moves and footwork at his disposal. He also appears to have shed weight, looking lighter and moving better north-south and east-west this season. Still, he’s rather ground-bound and lacking defensively. Rebounding traditionally scales up well, but Jones is reliant on his physicality in a small conference, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to have that same impact against stronger opposition. Defensively, he doesn’t play with a high level of attentiveness and lacks high-end lateral foot speed. He’s a better shooter than his 32.9% from three on the year would have you believe, but I don’t know where he fits in the NBA positionally if he isn’t a scorching shooter. The 6’7” Venters is only 35.3% from three on the year, but he hit over 40% in his first two seasons at Eastern Washington. He’s a potent movement shooter who sees the floor well. As with Jones, he struggles defensively, but more so on the ball. He’s engaged off of it and knows where to go, but he has stiff hips and struggles to stay in front of quicker players.
-Two other Eastern Washington players grabbed my attention—Angelo Allegri and Cedric Coward. Allegri is a fifth-year player, but he’s 6’7”, and he can dribble, pass, and shoot. He uses his physicality to finish inside well, he’s a career 34.6% shooter from deep, and he sees the floor exceptionally well for his size. His ability to throw long, accurate passes jumps off the page, and he has some footwork to create openings to get downhill. Athletically, he’s pretty average, and while he won’t kill you defensively, he isn’t much of a playmaker, either. Coward is an absolute menace. The 6’6” sophomore, who transferred up from a Division-3 school, makes every “little thing” play imaginable. He’s got a young-looking face, but don’t let it fool you—he’s a babyface assassin. His efforts allow him to tally up 14.6 rebounds per 100 possessions, a 2.3 STL%, and a 3.7 BLK%. Coward isn’t just an effort guy, either; he’s skilled. He’s shooting 46.4% from three on the year, though he only takes 1.1 per game, and he’s at 75% from the charity stripe. His passing is enticing, too, as he shows real creativity in that department and has an assist-to-turnover ratio over 2-to-1. I’ve got my eyes on him going forward.
-Kentucky’s Chris Livingston feels like he’s showing impressive flashes more consistently. His combination of physicality and touch still makes the 6’6” freshman an interesting proposition. Given that his shooting still isn’t consistent (31.6% from three in conference play) and his defensive impact is limited, I’d still like to see him return to school. But don’t move on from him just yet because his counting numbers aren’t noisy.
-Boogie Ellis is quietly putting together a nice senior season at USC. The 6’2” senior has always struggled at the rim due to his size and lack of vertical pop, but he’s grown polished in the mid-range thanks to his experience as a lead scoring option, and he’s making 42.3% of his catch-and-shoot threes on the season, per Synergy. While he’s still not the most traditional table-setting point guard, his assist percentage is up, and his turnover percentage is down on the year. Those numbers are even better in conference play, too. Add in his increased defensive impact (2.8 STL%) despite a heavier offensive workload, and there could be a Top 100 case for him.
-A tip of that hat to Baylor’s Adam Flagler, who ripped off 16 consecutive points for Baylor before hitting two clutch free throws to seal it against TCU on Saturday. The 6’3” guard’s ability to get hot and make the right read continues to make him a late second round/priority undrafted target on my board.