I’ve already looked at the top performances from NBA draft prospects early in the season, but what prospects are trending in the opposite direction as we continue in the non-conference slate of the schedule? It should be noted that it’s still very early in the season and plenty will change, but there are a number of players disappointing scouts in the early going. With that being said, here are my top prospects who have struggled thus far.
Tim Quarterman 6-6 190 PG/SG LSU Junior
Season Stats: 10.8 ppg, 3.5 APG, 3.3 RPG
As one of the few upperclassmen on LSU, Quarterman was supposed to lead alongside one of the most talented freshman in the country in Ben Simmons. Quarterman has really struggled through three games this year adjusting to Simmons’ style of play, trying to play off the ball more than last year. Even more shocking might be the fact that his minutes have decreased from 33.6 last year to 22.7 this season.
The two incoming four-star shooting guards — Antonio Blakeley and Brandon Sampson — have really taken away time for Quarterman on the court. But there’s no reason to believe all three and Simmons could co-exist on the floor at once. If LSU wants to play for something greater this coming spring, they’ll need Quarterman to be a greater factor on the court. Yesterday’s breakout game showed his true value, but he’ll need to keep it up for LSU to get where it wants to go.
Brandon Ingram 6-9 200 SG/SF Duke Freshman
Season Stats: 10.6 ppg, 3.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG (36.2 FG%, 26.3 3PT%)
Ingram has looked all types of out of sorts for Duke early on, but it’s easy to see the natural talent he displays every time he’s on the court. Ingram is one giant tease right now for NBA draft experts, looking like a prototype NBA swingman capable of getting his shot whenever he wants thanks to his 6-9 frame and 7-3 wingspan. But Ingram desperately struggles against stronger and more athletic foes with his skinny frame, which doesn’t bode well for his translation to the pros.
Ingram is also trying to figure out his role for Duke on the fly along with the other veterans and freshmen in the program, so this might just be an early-season hiccup for the talented swingman. It’d be best to bet on coach K figuring out this roster and how to utilize the talent, including Ingram, to have a successful season just like the rest of the Blue Devils teams he’s taken to the NCAA tournament. Ingram figuring out how to use his talent will help Duke reach it’s ultimate ceiling and help him decide whether or not to make a leap to the next level.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk 6-8 195 SG/SF Kansas Sophomore
Season Stats: 9.0 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 RPG
Before a dominant performance last night against Chaminade, Mykhailiuk had really struggled this season, only scoring nine points over his first two games of the season against Michigan State and Northern Colorado. The talented second-year player was a popular vote to breakout this season after an underwhelming freshman campaign that rarely saw him make his way to the floor (11.9 minutes per game as a freshman). There’s a lot of room for improvement for Mykhailiuk, so much so that it’s a question as to whether he’ll be ready to make the leap in year two like everyone once predicted.
Mykhailiuk’s average length hurts him on both ends still, and he lacks the strength to overpower smaller opponents around the basket. Mykhailiuk showed more confidence in his jump shot last night (6-11 from three) which was a welcomed sight after struggling for so long from range. He’ll have to prove he’s lethal from that range for Mykhailiuk to get passed opponents with his average quickness off the bounce. If he’s able to grow from his 18-point performance last night, we might start seeing Mykhailiuk’s name on draft boards once again.
Malik Pope 6-10 205 SF/PF San Diego State Sophomore
Season stats: 5.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG(28.9 FG%, 23.5 3P%)
Pope has really struggled in his sophomore season after many were expecting a breakout year from the uber-talented combo forward. Pope has all the tools needed to play at the next level, with a pure jump shot and smoothness with the ball in his hands. At nearly 6-10 with a 7-2 wingspan, Pope has the size necessary to play either forward spot at the next level, but must show more progress dominating at the college level before he considers making the leap.
Pope has regressed as a three-point shooter after hitting 40.8 percent a year ago, and has been just as bad from the field early on. For a San Diego State team in desperate need of a go-to guy like Pope, it’s really head-scratching that they haven’t been able to find success with him. There’s still plenty of season left for Pope to turn it around, but through four games early this season, the results haven’t been promising.