Part 2: The First Annual Showman Preseason Awards
Part 2 of the First Annual Showman Preseason Awards is here….. you can check out Part 1 Here.
The “Wow, Didn’t See This One Coming So Fast” Award
Frank Jackson, PG, Duke
As everyone is patiently waiting for Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles to step on the court, Frank Jackson’s potential to become the next great guard has me intrigued. The Dukies currently have one of the better teams in the nation with Allen, Jeter, Tatum, Giles, and Bolden, but I have a feeling it will be Frank Jackson who takes them to the next level in terms of team success. With Derryck Thornton’s departure, Jackson should see immediate playing time as the secondary ball handler behind Allen, which should bode well for Duke fans and strike fear in the rest of the ACC. Many scouts fear that playing with Allen might stunt the growth of Jackson, but I think playing with Allen will really allow Jackson to hone his craft as a PG and learn how to play more off the ball. When watching Jackson play, the first thing that stands out is his demeanor on the court: He is a very relaxed player who lets the game come to him, and he has the confidence to back it up. When talking about on-the-court skills, his ability to shoot the three will be his niche. Jackson might not have the shooting prowess of a Devin Booker or Jamal Murray, but he is not far from it. He should have plenty of opportunities to show his ability to stretch the floor while playing alongside the likes of Giles, Tatum, and Allen. In terms of pro comparison, I am going old school: I see a lot of Duke legend Jay Williams in his game, but with more athleticism. Many NBA draft fans have Tatum and Giles as early locks for the lottery, with Allen as an outside possibility, but much like the infamous rise of Marquese Chriss, I can see Jackson finding his way into the later half of the lottery.
The “Sorry, but This Seems Like a Bad Idea” Award
Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State
Earlier this year, a story popped up that had the headline, “5-star recruit Jonathan Isaac might jump from high school to NBA, thanks to new loophole,” and as a strong supporter for the no-age restriction, I was instantly intrigued by Jonathan Isaac. The incoming Florida State freshman is similar to Wenyen Gabriel as he stands 6'10 with an impressive shooting stroke and level of athleticism for someone his size, but unlike Gabriel, I think Isaac is a bad choice for a team in the top five. When watching Isaac, shades of Skal Labissiere are all I see when it comes to his physicality of playing the game, and that has me worried. Isaac has the ability to be a top five pick, but he also has a chance to fall into the late teens or early 20s if he doesn’t add the necessary strength. Alongside the physicality of the game, I worry that his offensive skillset isn’t as far along as someone like Brandon Ingram, which would allow the lack of strength to be a non-issue. Still, while I think Isaac currently falls below the top five talent, his length and shot are as intriguing as Tatum or Jackson for wing prospects in the upcoming draft, and he will definitely be a must-watch when on TV.
The “Can’t Tell You Why But I Just Dig His Play” Award
Allonzo Trier, G, Arizona
This upcoming Arizona team has a lot to be excited about. With a great recruiting class and strong returning players, they are poised to make some noise come March. The Wildcats have a trio of prospects (Simmons, Smith, and Markkanen) that could all go in the first round, but it is the returning Allonzo Trier that has my attention and the opportunity to make a major statement this season with the departure of four seniors. Trier is a 6'5 guard who, regardless of production, will probably leave after his sophomore year due to his age. While averaging 14 PPG, Trier lacks the ideal height for an average NBA guard, but he still has the potential to be productive at the next level. Trier has a knack for scoring around the rim, which is evident at his 72% scoring rate while finishing at the rim and his impressive mid-range jumper, something that is lost among current prospects. Although he doesn’t shoot too well from beyond the arc (32%), Trier has the ability to develop into a more consistent shooter. With a strong supporting cast behind him, I can truly see Trier as a candidate to win PAC-12 Player of the Year, helping Arizona close in on Oregon as conference champions. As I watch Trier more and more, I can’t help but see glimpses of Dion Waiters or Randy Foye.
The “National Player of the Year Who Goes in the Middle of the First Round” Award
Grayson Allen, SG/G, Duke
It seems to be a growing trend in college basketball: You win a National Player of the Year award, and then get projected as a late lottery to early 20s projected draft pick. This year should be no different as Grayson Allen joins the likes of Denzel Valentine, Trey Burke, Doug McDermott, and Frank Kaminsky, as a potential a NPOY who will likely be drafted in the range of 11–15. Allen is a very interesting prospect in that he has great athleticism, can attack the rim better than most in college hoops, and can shoot from NBA range, but he lacks the frame needed to play starter-level minutes in the NBA. Overlooking his middle school appearance, Allen really needs to improve his defense this year if he wants any coach to take him seriously in the pros. Although Allen has serious issues when it comes to strength, his ability to get to the rack will get him on a roster. As I watch Allen, I see serious similarities between him and Manu Ginobili in terms of scoring at the rim and getting to the hoop. The Ginobili comparison might be egregious to some, since he is no doubt a future Hall of Famer, but Allen has the ability to become Ginobili lite, especially since both love to flail their arms when driving to the rim. Allen may never be an NBA starter, but he has the potential to blossom as a scoring threat off the bench.
Part 3 is coming soon too…..