6-0 180 PG Wisconsin-Green Bay
In the third part of my “Senior Sleeper” series, I take a look at Wisconsin-Green Bay point guard Keifer Sykes and his NBA Draft prospects. Sykes has the look of a second-round point-guard prospect because of his lack of build and competition at the mid-major level.
Sykes had somewhat of a down year while carrying the load as a senior after a standout junior campaign playing alongside big man Alec Brown. His overall efficiency fell as a senior without playing with another standout on the front line. Besides that, Sykes had a productive four-year career at Wisconsin Green-Bay, averaging double figures every season and winning Horizon League Player of the Year as a junior and a senior.
Physically, Sykes is listed (generously) at 6-0 and 180 pounds, but is an NBA athlete – with a 45(!)-inch vertical while being extremely quick. He’s a terror in transition, always running the floor looking for lobs and pushing the tempo with the ball in his hands.
At the college level, Sykes was able to get where he wanted with the ball thanks to his speed and quickness, but teams were able to neutralize him more as a senior as they’d shade two or even three defenders to him on defense. It made his job more difficult – playmaking for himself and others. At the NBA level, he’ll never seek that much attention, allowing him to thrive as a back-up, change-of-pace type point guard.
Sykes still needs to add strength to help him defend and finish at the rim in the NBA. He already has an array of finishes around the rim thanks to his impressive athleticism, and he improved during his time at Wisconsin-Green Bay. After shooting under 60 percent at the rim in his first two years in college, he jumped to 64.4 percent as a junior and 66.7 percent as a senior, according to hoop-math.com. He also showed improvement shooting two-point jumpers over his final three seasons – shooting 33.8 percent as a sophomore, 35.3 percent as a junior and 40.1 percent as a senior.
Sykes is a prospect who showed up in the biggest games for the Phoenix, as he scored double-digits against Wisconsin in his final three meetings with them, including 32 points as a junior. Some scouts may worry about some of the regression as a senior, but he improved in most areas throughout his career and still shows room for growth.
If Sykes can make further improvements and develop range from the NBA three, he could be a solid back-up point guard in the league. Sykes has to keep up his energy level on the defensive end to bother opponents, as he lacks sufficient length to bother NBA point guards. He also needs to continue to improve as a playmaker, as he can be too narrow-minded at times, solely looking to score with the ball in his hands.
In the end, I expect Sykes to be picked between 45-60 in the upcoming draft, but stick around as a back-up point guard in the league.