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Seniors Under The Radar: Part Four
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On May 19, 2012 @ 6:27 pm In All,NBA Draft | No Comments
The NBA may be the only organization in the world where going to school for four years and having a degree is looked at as a negative in a lot of cases. In the NBA Draft especially, the younger a prospect is, the better.
Future pros staying in school for four years is virtually unheard of these days. With the draft’s age limit only requiring a prospect to be one year removed from high school, most players can’t wait to put their education aside to pursue a career in the NBA.
Believe it or not, though, there are still guys who do things the old school way and stay in school for four years before making the jump. Over the next several weeks leading up to the draft, we will be telling the stories of some of the seniors trying to fulfill their lifelong dreams. In this week’s edition we feature Marquette’s Jae Crowder, Clemson’s Andre Young, BYU’s Noah Hartsock and Austin Peay’s Tyshawn Edmondson.
Crowder On The Rise
Marquette forward Jae Crowder has the highest stock of any senior we’ve spotlighted in this feature. If the draft were to occur tomorrow he’d like go in the late first round to early second. The reason that we’re considering him under the radar is because the real Crowder is flying under the radar. Teams aren’t aware of just how skilled he is out on the perimeter and how he’s ready to play small forward in the NBA right now. The way he played at Marquette, where he played primarily power forward, gives the impression that he’ll need to make some sort of serious transition – but that is not the case.
“I don’t feel like it’s a weakness, but I want to get back to being comfortable on the perimeter,” Crowder said to HOOPSWORLD. “I played on the perimeter really my whole life. The Marquette system says I’m the four, but I’m on the perimeter on offense. I feel like me getting back to being guard oriented and savvy, being more comfortable is very key to what I’m trying to do out here. It’s just something about me getting back to where I was and adding on to what I learned at Marquette.
“I can handle the ball at a level that turnovers won’t be a factor. I’m not a point guard of course, but I will not turn the ball over by handling it. Some people say that I can’t handle the basketball but in the system I was playing in I really didn’t need to because I was playing a position that was very rare in other systems. I just feel like that part of it is a misconceived but other than that everyone knows I can really spot up shoot. My mid range game, I didn’t get to show that as much as I wanted to, but my mid range will be good.”
That has been the focus of Crowder’s workouts, which consist of two-a-days. The intense work he’s been putting in has him very confident and eager to go up against guys who are ranked ahead of him.
“I’ve been going through that my whole life,” Crowder said. “That’s the way that I would want it. Just going up against guys who played basketball at a high level, I just look forward to it. I feel like the training that I’ve been doing is preparing me a lot. I feel like it’ll come to life when I do try out for these teams. I know there’s a lot of one on one but I feel like I can really open some eyes to some teams who may need a player like me and what I bring.
“I feel like defensively I can be at the top notch. I really can get it done defensively and that’s one of the things that I bring when you talk about what I bring to the table. I’m defensive minded. Offensively I feel like I can adjust to any role, whether it be a higher or lesser role. I feel like I can create my own shot, I can create for others of course too. I feel like my game has really escalated my last two seasons and I’ve really sharpened it up since I’ve been out of school with training. I’m very confident going into workouts.”
While Crowder is one the first round bubble right now, don’t be shocked if he’s a lock to go top 30 by the time draft night in June come around. He has all the tools to be one of the league’s next best defenders, and a lot of offensive skills that are quite effective.
Young More Than Just 5’9
There are a lot of NBA teams who aren’t going to be able to get over the fact that former Clemson point guard Andre Young is only 5’9. They’re no different than a lot of colleges or even high schools for that matter. 5’9, while around average in the real world, is undoubtedly on the really short side for the game of basketball. It hasn’t kept Young from having a very successful career up to this point, though.
“Obviously a lot of people have concerns about my height,” Young said to HOOPSWORLD. “It’s always been something that really comes up. I’m about 5’8, 5’9. A lot of people are worried about that. That’s fine with me. Throughout my whole life people have pretty much doubted me. I have confidence in myself. I just really use it as motivation. There are obviously a lot of things I don’t have control over, but I do have control over working hard, bettering myself as a basketball player and trying to improve.
“I’m a smart basketball player. I take care of the ball. Knock down open shots. I’m willing to do whatever I need to do, whether it’s getting a certain guy the ball, knocking down shots, playing defense, all kinds of things. I think I’m a really good all around player. I just love to play the game. I’m willing to do whatever it takes, work hard every day in practice. That’s something I always do. I have to work harder than other guys because they have a height advantage over me. I love just working hard and trying to get better.”
Coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Young has consistently gone up against pro-level talent night in and night out over the last four years. He took a step forward in his development every year, capping off his career by averaging 13 points and three assists as a senior.
“Playing in the ACC really built toughness from me,” Young said. “The ACC is tough. Once you hit the ACC schedule it’s a grind, night in and night out. You could be playing the team in the bottom of the league, but it’s going to be a grind out game. I really developed a lot of toughness through that. Obviously in the ACC it’s really physical, that was something I had to get used to as a freshman. But you know, now it’s something I really embrace. I love playing tough, not a lot of calls kind of thing. I just love contact. That kind of thing. I really think it built toughness and showed me how important it is to really study the game night in and night out and be ready for each team.”
When Young isn’t working on his game in the gym, he’s studying the league’s top point guards along with guys who are his size to study their tendencies. As a true student of the game, Young still feels like he has a long way to go.
“Oh no, by no means have I peaked,” Young said. “I think you can always continue to improve. Everyone has weaknesses and my thing is just making my weaknesses into my strengths. Obviously there are some things I can’t take care of, but everything else I can work on. I love being in the gym by myself, working on my game, ball handling, shooting, doing all kinds of things. And watch a bunch of film . It’s something I take pride in, really improving.”
As Young continues to improve, expect him to continue to prove people wrong. He may be done growing in terms of height, but his skills are growing by the day and the size of his heart cannot be measured.
Hartsock Ready For Whatever Is Ahead
After losing Jimmer Fredette to the 2011 NBA Draft, there were many people wondering how BYU was going to recover. Fredette was the focal point of their offense and one of the nation’s best scorers. With a freshman-laden team in 2011-2012, all signs pointed to a down year for the Cougars.
Instead, the Cougars were arguably just as good. They won 26 games and made it back to the NCAA tournament. Senior big man Noah Hartsock, who really exploded as a senior by averaging 16 points and five rebounds a game, was one of the catalysts behind their impressive run.
“It was a really good year for us again,” Hartsock said to HOOPSWORLD. “We won more than 25 games, got back to the NCAA tournament. I felt this year was really good, helping me more on the offensive things with the team. I was able to expand my game a little bit with shooting and different moves in the post. So overall I think it was a really good year to end out on.
“Jimmer was a special player when he was here. He led the nation in scoring. We got here and we knew that there were going to be a couple players who averaged double figures, myself and Brandon Davies. We knew the main focus was going to be inside. That summer before last year, we worked on our inside game, just trying to work together the best we can.”
Now as he gets ready to play professionally, Hartsock is working hard on his already reliable jump shot. It’s easy to see him a floor-stretch four at the next level, but he wants to be able to do more than just spot up.
“Shooting off the dribble is one thing I’m working on,” Hartsock said. “I’m pretty good at set shots, but catching it with one or two dribbles is something that I’ve been working on and trying to get better at. I also want to be more physical, add more strength. Those are two things I’ve been working hard on to get better at.”
Teams will already be expecting Hartsock to come in and shoot lights out since that’s what he did at BYU. Hartsock is hoping to show them some things they aren’t expecting as well, though.
“It looks like I’m not the most athletic,” Hartsock said. “When I’m on the court I’m able to play well in a game even if the speed and athleticism is higher, I’m good at adjusting to that and playing with that. I feel like it’s one thing I can improve on, I am a little more athletic than I look on film.
“One thing I’ve been doing since high school and in college is I’m able to adjust to different roles. First couple years I set picks, rebounded and hit open shots. If I get the chance to play on a team, I feel I fit well at knowing my role and adapting to it, playing in the system so I can help the team win. I think that’s one thing I can really bring to the team. Whatever they need me to do, hopefully I can fit that role for them.”
Hartsock’s ability to adjust and adapt will serve him really well at the next level. Just about every team wants a big man who can stretch the floor, and Hartsock can certainly do that and more.
Senior Slump Motivating Edmondson
There were high hopes surrounding the Austin Peay basketball team coming into this season. They were the preseason favorites to with the Ohio Valley Conference, thanks largely in part to Tyshawn Edmondson. Edmondson, who originally played at St. John’s out of high school, was coming off of a big junior year in which he averaged 17 points a contest.
Those high hopes quickly turned into disappointment as the Governors failed to live up to expectations. They finished the year 12-20 and just 8-8 in league play. Edmondson’s scoring average fell all the way down to 12 points in what was just a nightmare season. It’s a season that has really motivated Edmondson over these last few weeks and will continue to do so the rest of his career.
“We had the same team as last year but we just didn’t click together for some reason,” Edmondson said to HOOPSWORLD. “Some guys were more selfish than others. Some of us wanted to play team ball. We weren’t really flowing together, doing what we need to do to win. We were picked the win the league, but we just weren’t playing together like we were the year before. Some were trying to get theirs, others were trying to play together so we could win.
“I’m happy that I had the opportunity to play D-I basketball and being able to show my talent. I wasn’t as good as everyone expected me to be. We didn’t finish too well, we were a really good team. I could have done some things differently to help us out, but I have to live it. It’s definitely something that I think about. It’s always in the back of my head. I think if my season went different I might have a better chance than I have now. I feel like it’s definitely motivation because I just know that I can play with the top players. I’m happy I’m getting to opportunity to play at the pro level.”
The weeks leading up to the draft will be all about Edmondson showing the things that he wasn’t able to show at Austin Peay during his final year of eligibility. If that’s the only time you saw Edmondson play, then you only got a glimpse of who he truly is.
“I don’t think too many people have seen me explode like I can,” Edmondson said. “They know I can shoot, but I don’t think they know I can run the pick-and-roll as well because the stuff we ran at Austin Peay wasn’t really guard oriented. It was more for the big man. I wasn’t really able to show what I can do often, but I’m sure I’ll be able to show them throughout this summer.
“I know the game real well when I’m out there. I can use the pick and roll real well, pick and pop. I can shoot it well. I’m explosive as a point guard. Many point guards aren’t explosive. I’m one of them. I feel like I can do some big things. I’m quick, fast, so I feel like I can do good in the NBA.”
Edmondson spent most of his time in college playing shooting guard, but wants to make the transition to being the primary ball handler at the next level.
“I think that’s something I can be comfortable with,” Edmondson said. “If they need me to score, I can. But, I can also find other people real well and put other people in situations where they can score real well. That’s something I’ve been practicing on every day, finding other people and trying to see ways I can get other people open instead of trying to score all the time.
“I’m hoping that (my height) helps me stand out. I can also play combo guard. I’m leaning more to try and play the point because I can really be good at that. I can see over most guards. I can see the floor real well. I’m hoping that will stand out and put me a little bit above the other competition.”
The more Edmondson shows to NBA teams the better, because as he acknowledged he does have some ground to make up after a down year at Austin Peay. Luckily, he has plenty of time and opportunities to do so.
Senior NCAA and NBA analyst Yannis Koutroupis will be hosting his weekly chat this Friday May 18 at 11 am EST. You can get your questions in here.
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