Finding A Plaise?
BYU's Trent Plaisted enters the NBA Draft
Every year, the NBA Draft includes surprising names from unusual schools among its 64 picks. Searching for Cinderella returns to preview the NBA Draft by looking beyong the high-profile players and big names and highlighting players without the publicity, but with all of the skill. Using both original video and weekly columns, CBS College Sports will shine a light into the hidden corners of the Draft, introducing new faces who may hit the big screen on June 26th.
Trent Plaisted - BYU
Accolades: First Team All-Mountain West Conference, MWC Freshman of the Year, All-America Second Team in 2006, 14th on BYU's all-time scoring list.
In the News: The 6-foot-11 center signed with an agent last week, guaranteeing that he will not return to Brigham Young for his senior season. A lot of BYU fans questioned his decision to enter the Draft to begin with and now that he's hired an agent, they're really scratching their heads. But maybe Plaisted knows something the BYU fans don't.
College Performance: He averaged 15.6 points and 7.7 rebounds as a junior and put up consistent numbers during all three seasons at BYU, averaging 13.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg his freshman year. (BYU plays a conservative style of basketball, which might've kept his athleticism in check and prevented Plaisted from putting up more impressive numbers.) Of note, in his junior season, Plaisted shot 54.2% from the field (good) and the free throw line (bad), which means he likes to play close to the hoop because he can't shoot a mid-range jumper, even a free throw. He also turned the ball over 2.4 times a game, which could be an issue. On the positive side, he does find a way to rise to the level of his competition. He scored 20.6 points and grabbed 12.3 rebounds against top-10 competition last season, including 20+ point games against Louisville's David Padgett and UNC's Tyler Hansbrough. That bodes well for his potential at the next level, where he will have to prove himself capable of banging bodies with bigger players.
Scout's Take: He's a lefty who plays best with his back to the basket but can run the floor well. His mid-range jumper is suspect, but he should work hard to develop his offensive face-up game so that the 15-footer is in his arsenal. His big body and short arms means he'll probably play power forward in the NBA and not center. So he better develop that fifteen-foot jumper or he'll end up at the end of some team's bench. He dominated smaller players in college, but will not have that luxury at the professional level. Lucky for Plaisted, he's got what you can't teach - athleticism. The scouts who have seen him work out rave about his jumping ability. For a player that's 6-foot-11, the kid can leap out of the building. Plus, he's coachable, which means he listens, and a coachable-athletic combo equals massive amounts of potential. A few good work-outs could boost him into the late first round or early second round of the draft.
Jason Thompson - Rider
The best big man you've never heard of. (How many people can tell me where Rider is?) Thompson is 6-foot-11, 250 lbs. of pure grace on the basketball court. He is the rare big man who has range and handle. He can stop and pop or slash to the basket. (He's almost seven-feet tall and dished out 2.7 assists per game.) Last season, he averaged 20.4 ppg and 12.1 rpg in the relatively weak MAAC. As is always the case with smaller conferences, those numbers are hard to evaluate. He's still got to work on his inside presence - he lacks physicality and toughness - but that comes with age and Thompson's agility and touch have NBA teams salivating and his stock is on the rise.
DeMarcus Nelson - Duke
The Blue Devil's lone senior captain in 2007-2008, faded towards the end of last season, but his athleticism and learning curve continue to impress NBA teams. In his senior year, the six-foot-four combo-guard averaged 14.5 ppg and 5.8 rpg for the Dukies while playing 31 minutes a game. So he's definitely got the stamina and strength to make it in the NBA, but the big question mark lies in his scoring capabilities. He is still the all-time leading scorer in California high school basketball history, but Nelson could not score at will in college as he did in high school. While he's got an explosive first step and a decent jumper, his true strength, which is often overlooked, is on the defensive end. He's a great off-ball defender and his strong enough and fast enough to defend both the post and the perimeter. Think Bruce Bowen, but a better ball-handler.
Pat Calathes - St. Joseph's
The six-foot-ten swing man led St. Joe's to the tournament last season, averaging 17.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Don't let his height fool you, he's most comfortable out on the wing. Calathes is most adept in transition and with the rock in his hands. And his touch, man, it's a thing a beauty. Calathes shot 40% from three-point land last season and is automatic from the foul line. He would provide an offensive spark to any NBA team that chose him. His big weakness is on the defensive side where he's not aggressive enough on the pick and rolls and his lateral quickness leaves much to be desired. But if Calathes puts on some pounds (he only weighs 210 lbs.) and maintains his sweet shooting touch from downtown, his NBA draft stock is bound to rise.