On Point Scouting Exclusive written by Aaron Shore
Part 1 – The pros:
Part 2 – College upperclassmen:
Part 3 – Zach Edey
After focusing on Zach Edey in my last post, today I’ll take a look at four other interesting college underclassmen bigs.
CHARLES BEDIAKO | Freshman, Alabama | 20.0yo C | 7’0, 225lbs, 7’4 wingspan | Brampton, ON
Charles Bediako (Courtesy ISA)
Overview: After a somewhat disappointing performance at the most recent FIBA U19 World Cup 2021, Charles Bediako has looked better than (I at least) expected to start his college career. He starts at center for a good Alabama team, and plays around 17 minutes a night, providing Nate Oats’ run-and-gun team with a big target in the paint. His most notable game so far was in early December, in Alabama’s biggest win of the season against Gonzaga. Charles looked great against one of the best frontcourt lineups in the country, guarding both potential #1 pick in the coming draft, Chet Holmgren, and the leading candidate for college player of the year, Drew Timme. In 22 minutes of play, he put up 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and, most impressively, 6 blocks, quite a few of them on Timme. More recently, he had another great showing in a tight win against Mississippi State, where he scored a season-high 15 points (6 of 7 from the field), adding 5 rebounds and 6 blocks.
I really like Bediako’s decision to stay for a post-grad year in high school at IMG, the same school that also helped in developing Zach Edey. He needed the time to work on his body and game, and it shows that he’s been able to add some weight and muscle, though there’s certainly room for additional strengthening. I was on the fence before, but I increasingly buy into him as a future NBA prospect. While not as dominant as Edey in the paint, in many ways he fits the bill of a modern NBA big much better with his combination of rim-running, improved mobility, and rim protection.
Bediako’s production in his rookie year is quite good, putting up 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game, on great shooting numbers (68% from the field). And he has plenty of room to grow with more minutes and paint touches. Much like a few others I’ve mentioned in this series of posts, he lost some momentum (and minutes) in the beginning of conference play, but has since rebounded and has looked good in recent games. The overall picture remains very encouraging. Bediako provides good rim protection and decent mobility for his size on defense, while currently being primarily a rim-running and lob threat on offence. He doesn’t do much beyond that at this point, which I think is just fine. Hopefully though, he can add a few other aspects to his game during his college career. In particular, a mid-range jumper or even an occasional 3-point threat (he’s flashed some shooting sparks during FIBA play and has decent touch), as well as a few basic post moves would be nice.
I’ve heard some Christian Koloko comparisons thrown out there, though I don’t see quite the same level of mobility and defensive potential with Bediako. In terms of areas for improvement, he’s quite foul prone right now, which is one of the main reasons he plays less than 18 minutes per game. He already fouled out in 4 games and had 3 or more fouls in 10 others. But I don’t think there’s reason for alarm here. This was also true for Edey last year and there’s a significant learning curve for bigs in college on how to stay out of foul trouble. I also think it’s no surprise that he did better against lighter bigs like Timme and Holmgren. He still has quite a hard time keeping up with big heavy centres who often manage to push him around. His centre of gravity is quite high, so he’ll need to continue getting stronger and better to have a real shot at the highest levels.
Team Canada outlook: Charles reminds me quite a bit of Kyle Alexander, who I’ve mentioned earlier as one of the guys I’m more excited about for the team. They have similar body types, measurements, athletic abilities, and playing style, and both provide primarily interior defense, hustle, and rim running. With that said, it’s interesting to note that Bediako’s current stats actually compare most closely to those that Alexander put during his senior year of college, while playing significantly larger minutes for a very good Tennessee team (7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 1.7bpg in 24 minutes of play). Which again, shows that Bediako still has significant room to grow and develop in the coming years, and could eventually become one of the best centers in college basketball. Regardless, Team Canada would be thrilled to have another player of Alexander’s level and skills (or potentially even a bit bigger and better) at its disposal.
ENOCH BOAKYE | Freshman, Arizona State | 18.9yo C | 6’10, 255lbs, 7’5 wingspan | Brampton, ON.
Enoch Boakye (Courtesy cdn.vox-cdn.com)
Overview: Boakye has had a somewhat disappointing start to his college career. He plays only 13 minutes per game on a middling Arizona State team, providing a modest production in these minutes. I always thought the talks about him as a potential one and done were not very realistic. But I also hoped that he would get more minutes on a team that has a rather depleted front court. The fact that this does not happen demonstrates how hard it is for big men to make an impact in high-level college basketball right from the get go. As for Boakye, it might be that he’s not completely back in shape after spending most of the summer nursing minor injuries. But I also think that the rosy predictions tended to ignore the lack of elite level explosiveness, polish, and in particular a rather questionable shooting touch around the rim.
In the minutes I’ve watched him play this season he showed some offensive sparks but mostly looked a bit lost and had a hard time getting quality shots, though part of it could be attributed to the lackluster team play by the Sun Devils. On the bright side, I was impressed with how chiseled he already looks, with very broad shoulders, and a grown men’s body, which can clearly still put on more weight without losing mobility. there are also some positive signs for good rebounding and rim protection (12 rebounds and 3 blocks per 40 minutes). But overall, this has not been the career start that Boakye and Canadian basketball fans were hoping for.
Team Canada outlook: It’s way too early to give up on Boakye and I remain quite bullish about him as one of Canada’s more promising prospects at center. There are not many guys with his combination of size, strength, fluidity, and consistent motor. So we have to remain patient, especially considering how young he is (not yet 19) and how hard it is for big men to adjust to this level of play. He still has very good defensive potential and hopefully the offense will catch up with time, as he remains in college and gains more playing time, skill, confidence, and experience.
TRE-VAUGHN MINOTT | Sophomore, South Carolina | 20.9yo C | 6’10, 270lbs | Montreal, QC
Tre-Vaughn Minott (Courtesy gamecocksonline.com)
Overview: Minott, like many Quebec prospects in recent years, played in the NBA Academy in Mexico, alongside Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona), before moving to South Carolina last winter. He hasn’t made a breakthrough to real rotation minutes yet but I do think that he’ll become a useful college center as an upperclassman. He has an intriguing physical profile (very wide shoulders and good length) and has made considerable strides since I first watched him as a heavy high school prospect with coordination challenges and a wavering motor. He still has some athletic and reaction-time limitations, but I think he’s one of these guys who take longer to figure things out. He really improved his attitude to the game and level of commitment since his high school days and overall, I remain intrigued about his developmental trajectory.
Team Canada outlook: Minott already has some experience playing for Canada’s junior teams, though he didn’t leave much of a mark. I like the improvements he’s made and remain curious to see what he looks like as a college junior and senior, when he hopefully also gets more opportunities to play. He’s really big and long, with good defensive potential, especially putting a body on FIBA bigs. So certainly, someone to keep an eye on for the coming years.
JAVONTE BROWN | Freshman, Texas A&M | 19.6yo | 7’0, 255lbs, 7’5 wingspan | Toronto, ON
Javonte Brown (Courtesy cloudfront.net)
Overview: To be honest, Brown is here more because of his combination of size, mobility, young age, and some high school sparks than because of anything he’s shown more recently. His play this summer during the U19 World Championship left a lot to be desired in terms of his feel for the game, awareness, offensive and defensive production, and proclivity for turning the ball over. He started his college career at UConn but did not see any playing time behind a stacked frontcourt. So he decided to transfer to Texas A&M, where he at least gets some minutes this year (8.5 minutes per game), but provides very modest production (1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game). He does show some flashes here and there (e.g. in a surprising win against Florida, where he had 6 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes of play) and there is still certainly a chance that he becomes a force in the paint as a college upperclassman. However, the pro potential appears to be somewhat limited at this point.
Team Canada outlook: Really too early to tell. You can’t teach size, and he also fits the profile of a modern center in terms of decent mobility. This means he’ll stay under the radar for the next few years. He’ll need to make substantial improvements to his game, particularly his court awareness and feel for the game, to really be considered a useful rotation guy for Team Canada. And that’s especially true given the relative depth of guys whom I’ve already mentioned here. But considering how young he still is and his fantastic physical tools, I guess this is not out of the realm of possibilities and certainly not something we’ve never seen before with big men.