For the past four years, I have made it my mission to complete thorough scouting reports on as many draft prospects as possible from each class by studying countless hours of film and making in-depth notes to build a comprehensive offensive and defensive profile.
From detailing strengths and areas of improvement to assessing athletic functionality, skill scalability, and projected roles, player evaluation is an arduous process heavily dependent on situational context. And thanks to unpredictable variables, it is also full of human error.
As it just so happens, Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley were some of the youngsters that caught my eye, and as such, I chose to take deep dives into their games. So without further ado, let’s jump into a three-part series of scouting reports starting with Sochan.
Jeremy Sochan | Baylor | Freshman | Forward |
Height: 6’ 8’’
Weight: 225 lbs
Wingspan: 7’ 0’’
Stats (30 GP)
Per Game: 9.2 PPG/6.4 RPG/1.8 APG/1.3 SPG/0.7 BPG
Per 36: 13.2 PPG/9.2 RPG/2.6 APG/1.9 SPG/1.0 BPG
Shooting Splits: .474 FG%/.296 3P%/.589 FT%
- High-level processor as a passer despite not picking up many assists, shared a lot of touches with a stacked Baylor roster, but can pass with either hand in transition or the half-court. Head coach Scott Drew used Sochan as a point guard a few times, and he could play small-ball five in the proper context.
- Strong ball-handler with great fluidity for a player his size. He can put it on the floor against smaller players and bully them to the rim. Sochan also has the ability to blow by traditional bigs. He is not much of a self-creator due to limited pull-up shooting ability. His teammates assisted 64% of his field goals at Baylor last season.
- Definitely has some rebound and run potential to take the ball coast to coast or run a fast break, keeps his head up to survey the floor, and it is hard to stop him with a head full of steam against an unset defense, should fit well with teams that love to push the pace.
- Love his passing upside as a post-playmaking hub, pick-and-roll ball-handler, and drive-and-kick guy. He made some impressive live-dribble passes, and I would love to see more short-roll and dribble handoff passing opportunities come his way. I see a realtisic pathway for him becoming a secondary or tertiary playmaker as a connector piece.
- Sochan is not afraid to take threes, but he is not a good shooter right now. He only hit 29.6% of his long-range attempts, 58.9% of his free throws, and showed poor touch on his floaters, going 3-of-14 (21.4%) on those shots. He needs a lot of time and space to get his shot off cleanly, has odd hand placement on the ball, and does not have many solid indicators for him becoming a floor spacer right now.
- He loves to use a pump fake to get defenders to bite before attacking overly aggressive closeouts to get to the rim, but how will this translate in the NBA when the shooting percentages are not good enough to warrant an overreaction? I could legitimately see him being left unattended on the perimeter.
- Strong finisher, made 67.2% of his shots at the rim in the half-court, and showed the ability to finish with either hand, convert through contact, and get to the free-throw line. He is also a decent lob threat from the dunker’s spot or on the break. I would love to see him utilized as a roll-man more often as he only had 25 of those possessions all season.
- He is a primarily below-the-rim athlete, but he is crafty and patient near the rim. Sochan has spin moves and up-fakes to lose defenders, uses his length and touch to finish at the basket, and has a tight enough handle to get to the rim. However, he got stripped relatively often later in the year as his spin move became more predictable.
- Sochan has limited utility as a pull-up shooter or post scorer at the next level. He does not have any reliable go-to moves in the post, though he flashed hints of fadeaway jumper. While that shot was intriguing, it came on low volume. His shooting off the catch and off the dribble must come along if he wants to reach his high-end outcome, but I do not expect these things to come to fruition quickly.
- Nearly a third of his rebounds were on the offensive glass. Sochan has a high motor, can read the ball off the rim, and has the timing to high-point the rebound for putbacks or to create second-chance opportunities. He is one of those players who enjoy doing the dirty work, and other players rarely outwork him for better positioning.
- Sochan is an intelligent cutter who finds his way to the dunker’s spot for easy finishes. Defenders cannot afford to lose track of him away from the ball. He shot 19-of-23 (82.6%) on cuts, which ranked in the 93rd percentile in the nation. This part of his game will be crucial during his rookie season since he does not project as a shooter or someone with the ball in their hands.
- Ridiculous positional versatility. Sochan has the motor, size, strength, foot speed, and elite lateral mobility to potentially switch 1-5 in the NBA, which makes him insanely scheme versatile and immensely more valuable than a traditional drop coverage big man. I could see him earning an All-Defense nomination in the future.
- Sochan navigates ball screens well in the pick-and-roll, communicates with his teammates on switches, and is disruptive at the point of attack. He can play at the level of the screen, hard-hedge and recover to the roll man, and ice ball screens to force ball handlers towards the sidelines. He is uniquely mobile and can defend guards straight up.
- Sochan could become a late-shot-clock defender on isolation possessions because of his switchability. He only allowed his assignments to shoot 6-of-22 (27.3%) on isolation possessions this season, and he is tough to get around or shake one-on-one.
- Possesses an insanely high motor, dedicates himself to his assignment, doesn’t gamble too often, and remains seated in a defensive stance. He showed excellent footwork and practices verticality at the rim, though he isn’t a true rim protector due to his lack of lift. Sochan is unlikely to accumulate many blocks at the next level.
- He can be jumpy on the perimeter, overly aggressive, and commit some silly fouls from time to time. But for the most part, Sochan is a fundamentally sound defender on the ball. He absorbs contact and walls off drives when ball handlers attack his chest. He forces players to take wide angles, often resulting in kick-outs or tough contested jumpers.
- Physical tools make it easier to contain smaller players on the perimeter. He contests shots on-ball well thanks to his length and mobility and bothers pull-up shooters. He also has the strength and frame to body up frontcourt players who try to back him down in the post.
- Routinely makes the correct rotations as a weakside defender, has the traits of a solid secondary rim protector, and contests shots well at the rim even if he doesn’t come away with a ton of blocks for a guy with a seven-foot wingspan. He can relocate several times on one possession and not get lost, encouraging signs of being a tremendous team defender.
- Tends to close out in an upright position that leaves him susceptible to blow-bys, but even when beat off the dribble, he takes good angles and has the length and foot speed to recover back into the play to contest or bother shots.
- Menace in the passing lanes with his length, came up with lots of steals here, reads the floor well, and has great anticipation. He also has a good swim move when bigs try to seal him down low, allowing him to deflect or steal post-entry passes. Lazy deliveries will get picked off if he is in the area
- Strong communicator, very vocal with his teammates, and helped direct traffic when he was on the floor. Sochan was incredibly impressive as one of the defensive anchors for a top-four program in the nation in one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA. There are not many teenagers that can do what he does.
- Sochan is a nightmare when trapping ball handlers on the baseline or in the corners. His length and frame are an imposing obstacle to overcome. He applies a ton of pressure and absolutely suffocates their airspace, usually resulting in errant passes or turnovers.
All statistics are courtesy of Basketball Reference, Synergy Sports, and BartTorvik.