On Saturday, TCU defeated #2 Baylor 75-72. Three NBA prospects stood out in this game: Baylor’s Jared Butler and TCU’s PJ Fuller & Desmond Bane. Bane and Butler are 2019 draft candidates, while Fuller is a long-term prospect with high upside.
Jared Butler recorded 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists on 8/21 shooting (1/5 from 3, 1/3 from the free throw line) against TCU. PJ Fuller had 21 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 6 turnovers on 7/12 shooting (1/3 from 3, 6/7 from the free throw line) in his 6th start of the season. Desmond Bane scored 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block on 9/18 shooting (5/8 from 3).
In the above clip, Jared Butler continuously exploits the TCU defense on the drive, particularly in the pick & roll. Butler is elite as a P&R ball handler, and he can break down defenses at a high level. Beyond that, he is lethal in the P&R because he has incredible vision due to consistently playing with his head up, as well as him being a great finisher at the rim. Butler also has excellent dribble-drive moves that help him with acrobatic finishes at the rim. Butler’s elite use of screens helps him immediately project to the NBA, as screens are more involved in NBA offenses than ever before.
PJ Fuller had a game that should be considered a flash of the future. Fuller is someone I have pegged as a long term prospect that should take the throne as TCU’s star prospect after Desmond Bane graduates. A 4 star recruit out of high school, Fuller has a great ability to drive and get to the rim. Beyond that, he has good defensive upside and should improve his 3 point shooting as time goes on. Fuller is still raw as a freshman, but has incredible talent and will benefit from added weight over the summer.
Lastly, Desmond Bane took over the game in the 2nd half and displayed the skills that warranted him being in the top 40 of the most recent MavsDraft big board. In the above clip, Bane displayed several elite shooting traits: standstill shooting, space creation, and shooting off the dribble. Bane worked relentlessly over the summer on shooting off the dribble and creating space- two areas of weakness for him following his junior year. Bane did a great job of creating space against Baylor, even if the shot didn’t fall to complete the crossover. This game was also impressive because of how he overcame his 2/10 start and finished 9/18 from the floor. At the next level Bane is likely to primarily be used as a spot up shooter, but he is capable of being much more than just a shooter when needed.
Bane also has a high IQ, and he uses his intelligence on both ends. In the first play, he recovers quickly and identifies the next move the offense is going to be making. Despite the foul, it was a great read to know where the ball would be moving to. He also did a great job staying disciplined against the Butler shot attempt for a crucial block. While his short arms hurt him defensively, he can minimize the damage with his intelligence. Offensively, Bane is brilliant at deceiving defenders on where he will pass to and rarely makes inaccurate or reckless passes to open teammates.
Look for Butler and Bane to be second round targets in the 2020 NBA Draft in June. Both possess elite skills that NBA teams can use immediately, which has become increasingly more important in rookies. As for Fuller, expect him to be a prospect for any of the 2021-2023 NBA Drafts as a wing.