November 7, 2016

Wahooze 2016-17 Hoops Preview -- Part II

Take a peek at Part I, HERE.

Now we're just a few days away from the start of the season, and I've seen the Blue/White scrimmage and dug for notes from the two closed-door scrimmages, and I'm ready to reshuffle the UVAMBB Power Rankings, as follows...

#1 London Perrantes
If he can hold steady above 40% from three and keep doing all of the things he always does, he'll play the most minutes, provide us with reliable double-digit scoring, give us "good-enuff" defense, and lead the team to wins.  He might not be the best player on the 2016-17 team, but he's the most important player.  The most valuable player.

We're just a better team with the ball in his hand.

#2 Isaiah Wilkins
YES!  SERIOUSLY!  All the peripherals suggest that he's ready to take off this season.  We already knew that he's a defensive force, and now it seems like his offense is catching up.  He's kind of a positionless forward, but at this point in his development, he might be matchup-proof.  I'm now looking for major minutes and flirtations with double-digit scoring this season.

Wilkins is ready to explode this season.  Watch and see.

#3 Austin Nichols
He didn't do anything to really excite me during the B/W scrimmage, and now he's suspended for the first game.  Still, it's pretty clear that he's at least our second-most important frontcourt player, as Diakite is still really raw and the other guys are limited.  That said, I am officially tempering my expectations for Mr. Nichols (while allowing my expectations for Wilkins to skyrocket.)

Nichols is still more of an exclamation point than a question mark.

#4 Kyle Guy
The rumor is that he missed only two shots in scoring 27 points in the closed-door scrimmage against VCU.  It's going to be an ensemble effort on offense this season... unless - and this is a big UNLESS - unless Kyle Guy is ready for big minutes and is able to produce big points on a consistent basis.  He's the only player on the roster (other than maybe Shayok) that I would consider to have the potential of a scoring average over 13 ppg this season.  Realistically, he'll be closer to half that, but the upside is real.  Defensively, however, he has a lot to prove.

Guy is our future leading scorer, the only question is when that future arrives.

#5 Marial Shayok
I remain bullish on Shayok's potential this season, as both a quality defender and a go-to scorer.  But his minutes will have to be earned, and the competition on the perimeter is intense.

He was never fully healthy last season, so hopefully things click for him this season.

#6 Devon Hall
#2 to Wilkins in the "most improved" department, I'd say.  He looks like a real plus defender now, which is important as we try to replace what we lost in Brogdon.  He also seems comfortable running the offense.  Scoring is always going to be the big question mark with Hall, but he seems less passive and more attack-minded this season.  Fingers crossed that the light has really come on for him, in his fourth season in the program.

A big-time breakout is still very possible if he can develop some confidence.

#7 Mamadi Diakite
He's raw, but he's ready to play.  A bit indecisive and mechanical on offense, but the ability is so clearly there (clean, fluid shot).  And his shotblocking is something special.  Great instincts on timing his jumps.

Unlimited upside.

{A quick aside: With Wilkins/Nichols/Diakite rotating in the frontcourt, our perimeter defenders will be able to take more risks.  Also, the hard hedge stuff should be much improved over what Gill and Tobey were able to deliver with their limited footspeed (our new bigs are QUICK).  How quickly this trio is able to master the aggro post double is going to dictate a lot of success/failure early in the season as we attempt to defend elite-level low post scorers.  My guess is that we surrender a lot more easy buckets than we're used to seeing, but also generate a lot more pure turnovers and corresponding fast break opportunities.}

#8 Darius Thompson
Speaking of fast break opportunities, DT is our best open court finisher.  He's also our best perimeter defender from a pure quickness / risk-taking / steal-generating perspective.  So in a lot of ways, he's a really good fit with the Wilkins/Nichols/Diakite frontcourt rotation.  Thompson takes risks, and if he fails, the erasers behind him can clean up.  In the set offense, his shot does not demand respect, so defenders will sag off and gum up the works down low.  There's not a great counter for that, which is why I have Thompson ranked #7 and not higher.  He's strictly a limited role player, until/unless that shot improves and until/unless he becomes a more reliable "textbook" defender.  I just don't see where his minutes are going to come from -- Perrantes is going to play 32+ at the point, and Guy/Shayok/Hall are - or should be - ahead of Thompson in the pecking order at the wings.

I hope to see this more often in 2016-17.

#9 Jay Huff
I've become convinced of a few things:
1) Huff is not going to redshirt.
2) Huff is a future NBA player.
3) Therefore, Huff is going to play as a true freshman, even if his frame is not ready for the pounding of college basketball.
4) Huff can block shots, so even if he gets pushed around and bullied in the post, he still fits with that Wilkins/Nichols/Diakite core.
5) Huff is going to stretch defenses and drill some key threes this season.

No way he slips out of the regular 9-man rotation.

#10 Jarred Reuter
He's just too damn short for the kind of game he needs to play.  And it's a shame, because he brings some very good skills to the table.

#11 Jack Salt
After the scrimmage, some people declared Salt to be "much improved."  I disagreed, as he was victimized, again and again, by getting his shit packed by Diakite and the gang.  Fundamentals are great, but at some point you have to have athleticism to produce against D-1 talent, and I think Salt lacks that.  I wish Tony, Jack, and all of us could embrace the upside of 'FIVE HARD FOULS.'

#12 De'Andre Hunter
Maybe it's the lingering ankle injury, but Hunter just does not seem to be ready to play at this level.

#13 Ty Jerome
"Who is that walk-on, number 11, why is he playing so much?" ~My wife at the Blue/White scrimmage.

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