Is it ever to early to speculate on the future of college athletes?
Apparently not. In the middle of what could be a special season for the Kentucky Wildcats, conversations are swirling everywhere about which guys are headed to the NBA and which ones may come back for another year.
PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson are as good as gone. Both may end up in the lottery. Reid Travis will be out of eligibility. After that, the big question marks are Nick Richards, Ashton Hagans, and Tyler Herro.
Nick’s question mark has more to do with his patiences of playing for a third year that he obviously needs. But based on NBA draft predictions, Hagans and Herro are going to have difficult decisions to make.
Herro, specifically, is getting very mixed reviews from those in the know. He was supposed to be a three or four year guy. But Evan Daniels says he’s 90% out the door. He is in the top 40 of NBA prospects according to most rankings. But what, specifically, are coaches seeing that leads them to these conclusions?
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic recently polled 50 college assistant coaches about the qualities of NBA prospects playing in the NCAA right now. Since these guys are responsible for scouting and game planning against the players, their opinions should carry a lot of weight. The four anonymous coaches that analyzed the Kentucky prospects had this to say about Tyler Herro:
“He’s a good, not great shooter. He’s got a good feel as a passer. I don’t look at him as someone who can be a secondary handler. I look at him more the way Kentucky uses him, where he’s constantly flying off screens. He’s got a good ability to curl screens and get in the lane, where he has pretty good touch. Good passer out of there.”
“I don’t know, I think he kinda needs to unpack his bags and be there a while. I would think junior year All-American, but maybe next year. He missed a lot of shots short early because he was pulling the string on them to get it out of his hand fast, and he was leaving them on the front rim. He’s got moxie. He’s got a competitiveness about him. He’s not as athletic as people say, like they’ll throw out Rex Chapman or Bobby Sura. He’s not that. But he’s a good player, and he’s a worker.”
While those reviews are not all negative, it is pretty clear that college assistants think Herro may not be ready for the next step just yet.
On the other hand, Bleacher Report ranks Herro as the No. 21 overall player in the draft and on the verge of their “Mid-Level Starters” tier. They seem to love his upside, and they believe he could be a commodity for the draft in June.
“Herro is playing himself into the 2019 draft, catching fire early in February and running with it ever since. With 29 points on 10 attempts against Arkansas on Tuesday, he put on a shot-making clinic that highlighted his picturesque form and ability to convert off movement. He shot 51.4 percent from three during the month of February. Herro can be hit-or-miss as a decision-maker and defender, but if he continues to bury jumpers at this rate—he certainly has the confidence to build a lengthy hot streak—teams could target him this June for his off-ball shot-making.”
Perhaps more interestingly, Bleacher Report also ranks Herro higher than high-profile teammate Keldon Johnson. They feel like Johnson’s inconsistency may be a problem come draft time.
“Johnson has had a tendency to fade in and out, partly due to limited creation ability. He’s totaled 11 points combined this season between isolation and pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions. Will Johnson be an accurate enough shooter to work mostly as a spot-up (32.3 percent of offense) player? He’ll need to be considering his 10.4 assist percentage. From a glass-half full standpoint, he’s still converting 39.1 percent of his threes and executing runners (20-of-40) at a high level.”
This ranking also has PJ Washington ranked No. 15 overall, the highest of any Wildcat.
Which of these opinions will most closely align with that of NBA front office officials? That’s what really matters. But for now, it seems that Herro’s NBA resume is a bit murky to say the least.