Etienne -the back-to-back ACC Player of the Year (2018-19)- began his senior campaign with a 17-carry, 102-yard performance versus Wake Forest (9-12-20). In typical fashion, the all-purpose playmaker added three receptions for 47 yards. His collegiate production has largely matched the Louisiana native’s high school resume’, when he accounted for 115 total touchdowns at Jennings High School (La.). We break down his versatile skill-set in our highlight feature on Etienne.
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Shed more than 20 pounds from his freshman season. Played both the PF and center positions in school. Excellent passer out of the short roll and in 4-on-3 offensive situations. Defensively, he can guard wings and big men in the post (vs. Luka Garza, Iowa ‘20). Improved year after year in minutes played, blocks per game, rebounds and points per game.
Weaknesses: Will miss layups and dunks on occasion (Wisconsin ‘20). Scouts will question how well he can finish at the rim at the next level. Undersized for the power forward and center position at the next level. Can he overcome his physical limitations? Shot just 27.3% from three- point range during his three-year career in East Lansing. Saw his free throw percentage dip from 73% in his sophomore season to 66% as a junior.
- Attended Forest Hills Central High School for his freshman year and for his last three years attended Grand Rapids Christian High School
- Mother, Tanya, was a four-year letterwinner in women’s basketball at the University of Michigan and finished her career as the school’s all-time leading rebounder
- Named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2019
- Michigan State’s all-time leader in blocked shots
- 2017-2018 (35 games, 0 sts): 2.8 PPG, 65% FG, 66% FT, 2.6 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.7 BPG
- 2018-2019 (39 games, 14 sts): 10 PPG, 60% FG, 73% FT, 7.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.7 BPG
- 2019-2020 (31 games, 31 sts): 13.7 PPG, 55% FG, 67% FT, 10.3 RPG, 3 APG, 2.1 BPG
- Career: 8.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.6 AST, 58% FG, 69% FT, 1.5 BPG
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): College basketball fans could see why former Spartan and current Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green allowed Xavier Tillman to wear his now retired number 23 Michigan State jersey. Both players contain high basketball IQs and compete with intensity on both ends of the floor.
The maturity served the Grand Rapids native well, as he was usually tasked with quarterbacking the defense and handling the opposition’s toughest frontcourt player. Look for Tillman to be a contributor for a playoff team in the mid-to-late first round. His toughness and conditioning will remind hoops enthusiasts of Udonis Haslem and Tillman’s makeup would pair well in Miami under the leadership of Pat Riley.
We talked about Blankenship’s ability to disguise last season after he earned C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors following a two-interception performance against Tennessee State (see below). After a strong start to the 2019 campaign, the senior defensive back went down to an ankle injury in mid-October. Blankenship enters 2020 with over 200 tackles (233), 15.5 tackles for losses, eight interceptions, 18 passed defensed and two blocked kicks. The former West Limestone HS (Ala.) star has a chance to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft.We break down his diverse, well-rounded game in our video feature.
It didn’t take long for Graham, Jr. to make an impact on Oregon’s campus. The preseason 2020 All-Pac-12 corner has now made 39 consecutive starts due to a combination of agility, football smarts and toughness. We go inside the game of one of college football’s best perimeter defenders in our video spotlight. Heading into 2020, Graham was the active FBS leader in passes defensed (40) and has eight career interceptions. After opting out of the season, Graham participated in the 2021 Senior Bowl. He closed his postseason with fine individual workouts for NFL teams and should be a solid draft pick this spring.
Lenoir, a former four-star recruit as an athlete coming out of Salesian HS (Calif.), brings a fast aggressive approach to the cornerback spot. Not only does he support the run with an element of pizzazz, he works to disrupt the wide receiver’s release at the line of scrimmage. After making the numerical switch from No. 15 to No. 6 in 2019, the AP second-team All-Pac-12 corner finished with 47 tackles and nine passes defensed. In a conference loaded with solid players on the edges, the senior will look to take the next step in 2020 along with running mate Thomas Graham, Jr.
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): The ACC Player of the Year put together a solid sophomore campaign that was spearheaded by his defense. Big game player. Jones took it to fellow 2020 NBA Draft point guard prospects: Devon Dotson (Kansas), Cassius Winston (MSU), Cole Anthony (UNC) as he led his team to a 4-0 record vs. the trio. Against the three, Jones averaged 21 points and had a near 3:1 assist-to- turnover ratio. Jones offensively does his best work out of the Blue Devils “horns” set, where he operates with two players up top and two in the corner. He is capable of making the right read in the pick and roll as well as pulling up in the midrange (UCF ‘19, 1st Half ). Defensively, his length bothers opposing guards (averaged just under two steals per game for his career). Jones’ feet and arms are always in motion, which leads to deflections.
Weaknesses: Jones saw his three-point shooting percentage improve from 26% to 36%, was his sophomore numbers indicative of his outside shooting long term or a fluke? Jones is best when setting others up, look at his work a season ago with three lottery picks. If he joins a team with subpar talent does he have the ability to make other players around him better? Jones has good length for the position but it remains to be seen how he handles the more physical NBA point guards with his lean frame.
- Attended Apple Valley High School (Mn.) and was a consensus five-star recruit. He was also named Minnesota’ Mr. Basketball
- He has two older brothers that played college basketball: Tyus and Jadee. Tyus also attended Duke, and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. Jadee played at Furman University.
- 2020 ACC Player of the Year recipient as well as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year
- 2018-2019 (36 games, 36 sts): 9.4 PPG, 41% FG, 26% 3-PT, 76% FT, 3.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.9 SPG
- 2019-2020 (29 games, 29 sts): 16.2 PPG, 42% FG, 36% 3-PT, 77% FT, 4.2 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.8 SPG
- Career stats: 12.4 PPG, 42% FG, 31% 3-PT, 77% FT, 1.8 SPG, 4 RPG, 5.8 APG,
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Jones played a lot of basketball during his two years at Duke. Despite being just a sophomore, he is one of the more experienced players in the draft. DraftNasty projects Jones being most successful with a team where he can create for others that has talented wings and big men. Look for an organization like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers to target the former Duke point guard at the bottom of the first round.
On August 30, 2014, the Florida State Seminoles squared off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Advocare Classic. The result? A hard-fought 37-31 victory for the top-ranked Seminoles. The game within the game featured two future NFL All-Pros matching up at different positions then they would eventually star at in the NFL. At the time, current Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill was a running back/return specialist and Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey was starring in a safety/nickel back role. In what proved to be a precursor for the future, Hill tallied an incredible total of 278 all-purpose yards. Ramsey contributed 12 tackles and 1/2 tackle for loss, while displaying outstanding agility and body control. We go inside one of college football’s best matchups of the past decade.
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Winston plays the game at his own pace and doesn’t have a clear comparison in today’s NBA. His ability to weave in and out of traffic, command the game in transition and keep his dribble is remenicist of former NBA MVP, Steve Nash.
Coach Speak: “Quite honestly, there are not a lot of players in the country that play (with) that high level of basketball IQ,” Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said before MSU played the Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament during Winston’s freshman season. “So we used an old NBA player, now retired, named Steve Nash, because he could find the open man with brilliance. And we find Cassius Winston to be that kind of point guard.”
Worth noting, his shooting splits also compare favorably to Nash when he starred at Santa Clara University. Winston is a gifted passer, who had a 6.4 assist to 2.7 turnover ratio. In his latter years in East Lansing, he showed he could bail the offense out of bad sets with creativity off the dribble as well as pull up from three in transition (43% from the three point line).
Weaknesses: Has the point guard position evolved too much athletically for Winston to find a role in today’s NBA? Conditioning was a problem early on in his junior season when the MSU point guard was asked to shoulder heavy minutes as the Spartans looked for scoring punch (Florida ‘18). Winston is also 22 years old, does he have any upside?
- Attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School (Mi.) and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
- All time assists leader in Big Ten history (890 total) and named Big Ten Player of the Year (2019).
- 2016-2017 (35 games, 5 sts): 6.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 5.2 AST, 42% FG, 38% FG3, 77% FT
- 2017-2018 (35 games, 34 sts): 12.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.9 AST, 50% FG, 49% FG3, 90% FT
- 2018-2019 (39 games, 30 sts): 18.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.5 AST, 46% FG, 40% FG3, 84% FT
- 2019-2020 (30 games, 30 sts): 18.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.9 AST, 45% FG, 43% FG3, 85% FT
- Career: 14.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.4 AST, 46% FG, 43% FG3, 84% FT
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):
Winston has potential as a second round draft pick if he finds a coach that believes in his skill sets. In recent memory, former undersized Spartans like Draymond Green (35th overall pick ) and Bryn Forbes (undrafted) have been able to latch on in the league despite their low draft position. Winston, who is more decorated than the previously named Spartans, has the intangibles to serve as a quality backup point guard to start his career if he can overcome his physical limitations.
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Anthony is a well- conditioned athlete. The Tar Heels point guard missed six weeks with a torn meniscus in his right knee but never skipped a beat with his conditioning and he rarely looks tired. He averaged 34.9 minutes per game and the NBA workload shouldn’t be a problem for him. A week after coming back from injury, he played 43 minutes against Duke. Offensively, Anthony is best when asked to make plays off the high screen and roll, where he can drive, shoot the elbow jumper or make the correct pass (Boston College; 1st Half). An accurate barometer for if Anthony is playing well is if he is driving to the basket, he shot at least six free throws in 12 of 22 games played. In those games where he shot more than six free throws, Anthony averaged 21 points compared to 15 points when he did not. He also enjoys using the step back jumper and fade away. When asked to finish at the bucket, Anthony will shoot the ball high off the glass or go to a baseline reverse rather than dunks.
Weaknesses: Not long and doesn’t possess a great wingspan. Duke point guard Tre Jones is also listed at 6’3” but his length was the difference as he overpowered Anthony to the rim on multiple occasions in their first matchup. Untimely turnovers are a problem as well (ACC Tournament: Virginia Tech; 1st Half). He averaged 3.5 turnovers per game. He was stripped with his team up two against Duke when he tried to split two defenders. Anthony also will need to tweak his shot selection, he is prone to settle for three pointers or fadeaways. The freshman has a fairly quick release but does start his shooting motion at his midsection, will this be effective at the next level?
- Attended Archbishop Molloy High School (NY) for three seasons before transferring to Oak Hill Academy (Va.) for his senior season. He was named the 2019 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP after totaling 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists
- Father, Greg, played 11 seasons in the NBA and won a championship in college at UNLV
- Member of the U18 USA National Team and led team USA in scoring at the 2019 Nike Hoops Summit
- Missed six weeks during his lone season at UNC with a torn meniscus in his right knee
- 2019-2020 (22 games, 20 sts): 18.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4 APG, 38% FG, 34.8% FG3, 75% FT
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Cole Anthony plays with a competitiveness that many freshmen don’t possess. However, turnovers and shot selection will be a question mark for scouts. Can Anthony be trusted to make the smart play? He would be best served playing for a team that has a veteran point guard who can show him the ropes. Look for him to be drafted around pick No. 7 like a Tar Heel point guard who came before him, Coby White. A pairing with the Detroit Pistons and Derrick Rose would be ideal.
While Mace took over the Friday night starting role for the Gators in 2019 en route to eight wins, it wasn’t until 2020 that he really began to take off as the team’s ace. In 2020 (through four starts), he posted a 1.67 ERA in three victories. The 6-foot-6-inch right-handed pitcher has a repertoire that includes an 87 MPH slider and deft curve ball. The former Cincinnati Reds 2017 12th-round pick increased his draft stock while at Florida and has a chance to hear his name called in the first two rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft.