In case you haven’t heard, Jeremy Lin is now on the shortlist of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award.
He’s also on the final list of 30 for the Wooden Award, but I’ll save that — or rather, the cross-section of Cousy/Wooden Awards — for another post.
The Cousy Award is given to the top point guard in the NCAA. There’s also a popular vote right now, in which…
The player that receives the most fan votes will receive one vote toward the final committee vote. Fan voting will run one month – beginning February 5 and will conclude March 5.
So, who are these guys? The casual Jeremy Lin fan probably hasn’t heard of most of them. Does Jeremy actually have a chance of winning? Does it increase his odds of being drafted or making it into the NBA? As someone who has seen everyone of these players play at least once, I will try to answer these questions for you.
The other ten finalists are as follows, ranked in reverse of what I believe is the most probable order of winning the award (least likely first)…
- Devan Downey (senior, 5′9″, 175 lbs, South Carolina) — The diminutive leader of the SEC’s Gamecocks is averaging a gaudy 22.8 ppg and 2.9 spg, but just 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, and 0 bpg. He’s the unquestioned captain of his team and has had some heroics this season. However, South Carolina is struggling in the middle of the pack in the SEC this season. He’s too small for the NBA, does not have quite high enough assist totals, and does not appear on any of the major NBA draft boards.
- Ronald Moore (senior, 6′0″, 160 lbs, Siena) — At 160 lbs, the skinny Moore is helping Siena to a conferencing-leading and dominant 15-1 record, 22-5 overall. He also leads the nation in assists, at 7.9 apg. These two factors have him ranked slightly ahead of Downey in my book, but Moore is only averaging 7.1 ppg, to go along with 3.3 rpg, 1.7 spg, and 0.1 bpg. The points per game average and the rail-thin frame just will not cut it in terms of any NBA talk. He does not appear on any draft boards. He still is, however, an excellent passer.
- Trevon Hughes (senior, 6′0″, 193 lbs, Wisconsin) — Again, another Cousy Award finalist who does not have an NBA body, but I think he’s on the list because Wisconsin is 9-4 in the Big Ten with a 19-6 overall record, which would probably be good enough for an NCAA bid if the season ended today. He’s averaging 15.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.6 spg, and 0.6 bpg. The assists average is just not where it needs to be to warrant consideration for the NBA as a point guard. You will not convince an NBA GM to pick someone who is averaging 2.9 apg as your point guard. Hughes does not appear on any NBA draft boards.
- Kalin Lucas (junior, 6′1″, 190 lbs, Michigan State) — Michigan State is currently ranked 10th in the nation and Lucas is its unquestioned leader. He leads the team in points at 15.8 ppg and also averages 2.0 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.0 spg, and 0.1 bpg. To my surprise, he is actually listed as a first-round pick on some draft boards. However, in my opinion, he plays more like a two-guard and as an NBA shooting guard prospect, he’s probably too small and not quite quick or explosive enough. He has a nice midrange game that is not transferable to the taller, more athletic NBA which can block the midrange shot, and he doesn’t take a lot of threes. He’s been injured recently and is just getting back, but the stats while having the injury have probably brought down his averages a little. You can see that his steals-per-game is not particularly high and that reflects his lack of quickness/speed, although the middle of the pack of these Cousy finalists does not possess a whole lot of flair in that department.
- Scottie Reynolds (senior, 6′2″, 195 lbs, Villanova) — Reynolds is another senior floor leader. He’s led the 5th-ranked Villanova many times this year to victory, boasting a 19.0 ppg average to go along with more modest numbers: 2.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg. While all of these players are still relatively young, you could call Reynolds the “crafty veteran” of the bunch. He’s not particularly quick laterally nor speedy north to south, yet he gets the job done, at least at the college level. He takes calculated gambles on D and has a knack for coming up with the bucket on O, sort of “manufacturing” points. However, he doesn’t have the sweetest stroke (it’s a flat-footed trey), doesn’t have dazzling handles, and won’t be posterizing anyone soon. He’s just a little too small, just a little too slow, and basically just a tad not there yet for NBA consideration. Most mock drafts do not have him included, although he’d probably be right up there if there were a 3rd round.
- John Scheyer (senior, 6′5″, 190 lbs, Duke) — Playing for high-profile Duke certainly has its advantages. You get big game after big game in the ACC, and Scheyer has done well, even garnering talk of mid-season #1 All-American player by one of ESPN’s analysts. Scheyer has some great numbers: 19.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.5 spg, and 0.2 bpg. You can’t knock him on the numbers. But now’s where we start talking about serious NBA consideration. First of all, he’s 6′5″ and can handle the rock. He has a nice stroke and isn’t afraid to hit treys, shooting a very solid 40+% from beyond the arc and 89% from the charity stripe. However, the knock on him is his athleticism. At 190 lbs, he’s pretty light. His upper body lacks muscle and he’s not particularly quick off his feet nor speedy in any direction, east-west or north-south. Most NBA draft boards have him going in the late 2nd round. This is where I start to get a little annoyed because Jeremy Lin is left out of the picture. People have a hard time comparing Jeremy’s Ivy League numbers (16.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.7 spg, 1.3 bpg) to the usual major conference averages. While everyone thinks Jeremy’s numbers are inflated, I think the opposite. I think it’s harder to achieve numbers in the Ivy because league play is, how shall I say, “quagmired”. You have 7 other Ivy teams (and only seven!) who know you intimately and will just refuse to guard you one-on-one. You have teammates who can’t draw a double-team like you. You have deliberate opponents (take Princeton, for example) who will drain the shotclock and keep things close. Anyways, you can see that Jeremy’s numbers are right there with Scheyer’s, although I would say they are completely different players and Jeremy’s incredible steals and blocks tallies totally blows away Scheyer, but both of them are just good ‘ol basketball players. Yet, Jeremy isn’t there where Scheyer is, at least at the end of the draft board. I am particularly flummoxed because I’ve noticed that Scheyer likes to cheat on his man on D, making up for his lack of quickness by overplaying the entry pass whenever an opposing guard decides to take him into the middle-area post. In the NBA, you get back-doored for an alley-oop dunk if you do that. I also don’t like Scheyer’s center of gravity, or lack thereof. I have concluded that he will get battered by NBA offenses. I’m not sure that NBA draft board authors agree with me.
- Matt Bouldin (senior, 6′5″, 224 lbs, Gonzaga) — Here’s where we start talking legit NBA-caliber players. Bouldin’s a rock-solid, stocky, NBA-ready 224 lbs. He’s averaging 16.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.6 spg, and 0.1 bpg. He can hit the trey, handle the rock, make good passes, and find a way to the tin. However, he doesn’t have break-neck speed, isn’t really a lateral player, and doesn’t have a lot of flair to his game. At the same time, what I just described, I could probably say the same for, oh, Chauncey Billups, right? So anyways, most NBA draft boards have him going late 2nd round because of his lack of speed. The fact that he’s at Gonzaga helps him tremendously. Please, can we stop calling Gonzaga a mid-major? That is just utterly ridiculous. Look at their program, look at their talent, look at their previously recruited talent, look at the teams they play, look at how they are now shoe-ins for the tourney every year. Gonzaga is a major basketball program and Bouldin is the leader of the Duke of the West (I can’t be the first person to say that, right?). How would Bouldin stack up against Jeremy Lin? Well, as I’ll postulate in a future post, it all comes down to Portsmouth. Interestingly enough, one hoops blogger predicted they would be on the same Portsmouth team (why would you predict that two Cousy finalists would be put on the same roster?), which further reinforces the fact that people do not know who Jeremy Lin is. Jeremy can get off his feet much quicker than Bouldin, but Bouldin’s got him on height, strength, and shooting. In a more open-court style, you want Jeremy. In a half-court “Van Gundy” set, you want Bouldin. The west coast TV announcers who regularly cover Gonzaga all think Bouldin will make some NBA roster.
- Greivis Vasquez (senior, 6′6″, 200 lbs) — I put Vasquez just ahead of Bouldin because of his length, albeit by only a tad. Like Bouldin, he can shoot the rock, uses his length to his advantage, can’t really be displaced at his weight (unlike Scheyer), and can create something on O. Vasquez has some really good numbers in a really great conference, the ACC: 18 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.2 apg, 1.5 spg, and 0.3 bpg. He’s hitting 40% from beyond the arc and 80% from the FT line. He had a triple-double last year against eventual national champion North Carolina. However, he got outplayed by Scheyer last week in a Duke vs Maryland head-to-head (I still need to watch the tape of that one). And, like Bouldin, Vasquez isn’t particularly athletic in terms of getting to the rim quickly or posterization potential. Still, most NBA draft boards have him going in the 2nd round (again, like Bouldin). I’m just not convinced that the 6′6″+ ballhandler who lacks speed has been a proven commodity in the NBA yet. Look at Francisco Garcia of the Kings. Tall but yet lanky ballhandler with a solid base, but what has he done? I might also add that maybe Jeremy was lucky Ricky Rubio spent this year in Europe, otherwise really tall lanky point guards would be the latest fad in the NBA. The other thing about Vasquez is his sometimes fiery attitude on the court, which can end up with a dumb hard foul, a “hero”/selfish shot, or some confrontation with the crowd or an opposing player. NBA = No Boys Allowed (that includes attitudes), you know. Again, in determining potential amongst peers like Jeremy, this will come down to Portsmouth.
- Sherron Collins (senior, 5′11″, 205 lbs, Kansas) — Currently averaging 15.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.3 spg, and 0 bpg. The only way Collins wins the Cousy Award is if Kansas beats Kentucky prior to the Cousy Award announcement the weekend of the Final Four, which is not going to happen because, barring unforeseen circumstances, Kansas and Kentucky will each get #1 seeds and would not face each other prior to the Final Four. I just think it will come down to Collins vs John Wall, with Wall way ahead at this point (btw, we’re not talking about the popular vote here) and assuming Jeremy’s Harvard doesn’t do some miraculous thing to not only get into the tournament, but also advance. Collins is built like Baron Davis, but does not compare to BD in the athleticism department, as the rather low 1.3 spg would indicate. That, in a nutshell, is this year’s point guard draft class, which in some ways helps Jeremy and in others, hurts him. For Collins, it’s his high-value, high-exposure leadership role on the #1 team in the nation, his big butt and his 205 lbs that may make him not only an NBA first-rounder, but a potential lottery pick, depending on the unpredictable quirks of the NCAA Tournament and the lottery teams. As far as performing in the NBA, I think Collins has a chance. We’ll see when he suits up for NBA Summer League and goes head-to-head against other strong, diminutive point guards like Ty Lawson and Jonny Flynn (well, chances are, these two might not need to go to Summer League). If he were mano-y-mano on Jeremy, I think Jeremy would be able to hold his own in terms of the strength and height department. However when Jeremy has the ball, Collins would present a problem with both the quickness and strength on D against Jeremy. Not easy to get around a guy built like Collins and Jeremy might have trouble against stocky-ish quick point guards (he hasn’t faced any this season).
- John Wall (freshman, 6′4″, 195 lbs, Kentucky) — The fact that he’s the only underclassman up for this award amongst a bevy of well-seasoned seniors ought to be a big enough hint. As I said earlier, I don’t see how Wall does not win this award. Only a head-to-head beat down convincingly by Collins, before they vote for the winner during the Final Four weekend, can possibly change that, and if Kansas and Kentucky earn #1 seeds for the tourney, mathematically that will be impossible. You can Google John Wall yourself. He really needs no introduction. He’s the consensus #1 pick and many, many, many analysts agree that he may be one of those NBA landscape-altering first picks. They’re saying he’s better than Derrick Rose. Alright, I’ve already said enough. Let’s move on.
What are Jeremy’s chances of winning the Cousy Award? As of this writing: nil. Absolutely nil. Two words: John Wall. However, fans of Jeremy should still vote for Jeremy. It will be an eyebrow-raiser to the Cousy Award committee if and when he wins the popular vote. The bigger the margin Jeremy wins the popular vote by, the more news it will be. Who knows, maybe NBA GMs listen to the news, maybe they don’t.
Will Jeremy make the final cut from 11 to 5 finalists? Btw, this will happen on March 1st (although the popular vote balloting will continue until March 5th). I think Harvard must beat Cornell this Friday and run the table on the remaining five Ivy League games after that, to even suggest that Jeremy makes the final cut. Otherwise, the final five will be Wall, Collins, Scheyer, Bouldin, and Vasquez. Because character does play a role, the only one Jeremy can unseat is Vasquez. Incidentally, the only way Harvard beats Cornell is if either of their starting big men, Keith Wright or Pat Magnarelli, comes back healthy for that game. Well, either that or Jeremy goes “MJ” and scores 36 on Cornell.
Are Jeremy’s chances of being drafted increased by being on this list of 11? By itself, no. Coupled with the mentions in ESPN, Time, and especially SportsIllustrated and the Wooden Award, yes. Winning the popular vote would help, too, since the NBA is ultimately a business and if there’s anything that’s consistent about the NBA and their franchises, even the ones that lose year after year, it’s that they are no dummies when it comes to the marketing potential of certain players.
There’s another point guard who appears on many mock drafts but was cut from the Cousy list of 30: Manny Harris of Michigan (junior, 6′5″, 185 lbs). He has some nice numbers: 18.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.9 spg, and 0.4 bpg. My guess is that he was cut because Michigan is having a blah year and he had faced some unpublicized disciplinary action by his coach earlier in the season.
One last thing. In terms of the Cousy Award, Jeremy is darn lucky that 6′7″ Evan Turner of Ohio State got injured early in the season (I’ll let you Google that). Since he’s come back, Turner has been sensational and Ohio State is actually using him to bring up the ball and initiate the halfcourt set. In other words, Turner can legitimately be considered a point guard. However, it’s a little late to be throwing him in the mix right now. Turner will also most likely be considered a small forward in the draft, although he does have point guard skills. It’s kind of like asking a young Grant Hill to play point. He can do it, and he’d do it well, but you’re wasting him putting him at the point in the NBA.
Cousy Award fan voting ends March 5th, but the list gets whittled down to five from eleven on March 1st. Harvard’s crucial game with Cornell is this Friday.
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