Watching Alabama senior Mikhail Torrance last week at Portsmouth reminded me of a left-handed Russell Westbrook. The only thing was, the similarly wiry Torrance isn’t left-handed! He just loves to go left. This isn’t that surprising to basketball purists or coaches who realize that going left means you lead with your dominant right shoulder.
Minutes into his first game when it was apparent that we had found a diamond in the rough, I pulled up Torrance’s stats: 6′5″ 210, 15.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.7 rpg — all outstanding numbers for an NCAA point guard.
So if this guy was flashing shades of Westbrook, why was he overlooked by all the draft experts, including ESPN’s Chad Ford who tends to throw the net high and wide on his various Top 100 NCAA player lists? Why had I not even heard of him?
For this, I had the good fortune of sitting next to IMG Academy’s Mike Moreau, who is Torrance’s trainer.
“Alabama had a new coach this year, so Mikhail spent the first half of the season just trying to fit into the new system,” Moreau told me.
“It wasn’t until late into the season when he started feeling more comfortable.”
More impressive was the fact that Torrance’s Portsmouth teammate, Tulsa’s Ben Uzoh, was the more recognizable NBA point guard prospect, but Torrance immediately snagged the alpha dog role and dominated the ball-handling responsibities as if they were meant for him.
His left-handed drives really are fun to watch, as he slithers through the defense. He has a great crossover that you’ll need videotape to prepare for. He does have a propensity to try for the great play, gambles which can lead to turnovers.
On defense, he’s very vocal, calling out screens from the far weakside on behalf of his teammates. NBA coaches will love that.
Do his numbers translate well a la Westbrook, who is actually just 6′3″ 187? It’s nearly impossible to tell, because Westbrook’s numbers only popped after his freshman campaign at UCLA, and even his sophomore numbers couldn’t have projected his incredible production at the NBA level.
I hope people get to see Torrance play more. I think he will definitely get drafted after this Portsmouth performance. DraftExpress even debuted him, like a hot track making a splash on the Billboard chart, at #52.
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