“Coaches Recruit Tweeners Now”—Rob Dauster:
“As recently as five or six years ago, the label “tweener” was dreaded in basketball circles. If a player wasn’t quite big enough to guard fours or quick enough to guards threes, or if a ball-handler was just a little too score-first, or if a shot-blocker was just a little too concerned with shooting threes, it was a negative.
One top 25 head coach put it to me like this:
Before, the question was, “Who are they going to guard at the next level?”
The question now, however, is, “How is anyone going to guard them?”
I’m working on a larger piece that will come out later this month on how the increasingly-positionless and pace-and-space oriented ‘Modern NBA’ is changing the way basketball at the lower level is being played, and one of the keys, according to coaches I spoke to is how talent is evaluated before the college level. Bol Bol is the perfect example. On the defensive end of the floor, he can protect the rim with the best of them. Offensively, he shot 44.1 percent from three on 59 attempts and 82.4 percent from the free throw line in 19 EYBL games. Not only is he a human eraser on one end of the floor, but his ability to shoot creates space in the lane by pulling his rim-protecting counterpart away from the basket.
Those particular set of skills make him incredibly valuable, whereas in the past, the fact that he doesn’t have much of a post game, he isn’t all that strong in the paint, his motor tends to run hot and cold and he loves standing around the three-point line waiting to jack up a three would all be red flags.
Jontay Porter, Michael Porter Jr.’s “little” brother who is 6-foot-10, 240 pounds and expected to enroll at Missouri this fall, is another prime example. He’s 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, yet he’s a guy that thrives with his ability to play on the perimeter, whether it’s his ability to shoot, make plays off the bounce or pass the ball. Two coaches raved about the way that Simi Shittu— a 6-foot-9, 220 pound combo-forward with an athletic, muscular build—led the break himself after grabbing defensive rebounds. He can handle the ball and pass, and letting him get a defensive rebound and go makes the transition game that much more efficient; finding a point guard for an outlet pass is a thing of the past.”
» Read more in-depth analysis of the basketball recruiting process in my Recruiting is a Seriously Funny Business cornerstone article.