As we see every year, the NBA draft is a very active night for trades across the league. And with some attractive contracts and players on their roster, the Grizzlies could be one of the more active teams on June 20th. If the Grizzlies were to acquire another pick, it seems they could go several different ways with who they could choose. Many of the options are players with intriguing skill sets and high ceilings, but also plenty of question marks. As a result, the Grizzlies could focus on going with one of the more finished products in this year’s draft.
That is Tennessee Volunteer Senior Admiral Schofield.
If you ask any Volunteer fan, such as myself, who our favorite BasketVol player ever is, I am willing to bet many will put Schofield near the top of the list. He makes watching the game fun, and the reason why is because his passion and genuine enjoyment for the game of basketball is arguably second to none. The energy and attitude he plays the game with is infectious, and his work ethic and desire to improve off the court is consistent. It may be true one cannot quantify intangibles, but the positive impact Schofield made on the Tennessee basketball program is undeniable.
While Schofield’s personal qualities are amazing, his game itself also carries significant value. Over the past five years, Schofield has transformed himself from a three-star recruit into one of the best and most physically imposing players in college basketball. For many of the same reasons that he made the Vols one of the best programs in the nation over the past two years, many NBA organizations seem to feel he can do the same for them.
Schofield’s biggest strength may be the word itself. While that may seem odd on the basketball court, it is a big reason Schofield is highly effective. The key is not that he is just naturally very strong, he is very cerebral in how he uses it. He is very good at getting effective position on offense in the post. He can shield off defenders for good looks on shots in traffic. He was arguably the best screen-setting wing in the nation over the past two years.
As can be seen above, beyond his physical traits, Schofield’s mental approach and basketball IQ allows for him to make the most of his skills. He very rarely makes mistakes when he is on the court. In fact, in the NCAA, Schofield was one of only seven players over the past two years who played greater than 2,000 minutes with a usage percentage above 26% who did not turn the ball over more than 135 times. Whether the ball is in his hands or not, Schofield consistently makes decisions and plays that help his team win.
Schofield possesses very good rebounding ability as a wing. Along with his strength, he also gets very good positioning and has very sure hands. There were many late game situations where Schofield either helped the Vols secure a win or gain momentum by getting a big rebound in a crowd of players. In a league where lineups are getting smaller, having a wing who can rebound adds a tremendous advantage.
Schofield has tremendous form and touch with his shots that is surprising for a man of his size. Not only is his form textbook (from hours upon hours of hard work), it is quick and easily repeatable. That allows Schofield to be very effective coming off screens as a catch and shoot option. He also is a threat to hit a shot from anywhere within 30 feet of the basket. Whether his defender gives him space or not, Schofield is a legitimate threat as a shooter.
These attributes make Schofield a potential dream as a wing option in the NBA. His ability to set screens allows his team’s big to remain in the low post as a scoring option for a driving guard. Once the screen is set, Schofield can pop as a three point option that significantly improves his team’s spacing and outside shooting.
Schofield also has shown plenty of potential on defense. He can add value whether he is on or away from the ball. He intelligently uses his body to make it hard for his man to get position both in the post and on the perimeter. His body control helps him avoid fouls, as seen on the block above. He also has very good footwork and is in constant movement. This allows for him to effectively work as weak side help in the post and as a close out defender on the perimeter.
Along with his physicality and intelligence, Schofield plays with tremendous confidence. His game winner against Gonzaga was one of the many clutch, late-game shots Schofield made throughout his career. Furthermore, Schofield is the type of player who plays with a lot of emotion. He has won games with emphatic dunks and also by taking charges. While he does control his emotions well, he possesses the ability to make plays that shift the momentum to his team’s side in an instant.
Schofield certainly has very good talent, but he also has a few noticeable weaknesses. For one, the lack of a dribble-drive game is ironic with how big he is and how physical he plays. It would make sense that Schofield would be highly effective in the lane. However, he was the only player in the NCAA over the past years to play more than 2,000 minutes with a 26% or greater usage rate that attempted less than 180 free throws.
There are a few reasons for this. For one, Schofield is not the best ball-handler. While he can unleash is jump shot quickly and in traffic, he is limited when it comes to getting to the basket with the ball in his hands. He also has a tendency to settle for a jumper when he could drive for a higher percentage shot. While he can get good looks, he certainly could become better at utilizing his physical traits at the rim.
As mentioned above, Schofield possesses the ability to be a good defender. However, his size could limit his ability to stop leaner, quicker wings on the perimeter at the NBA level. His height could be a liability against taller players in the post. While he minimizes these match-up weaknesses a bit with his intelligence, he could be a liability in one-on-one situations at times.
Along with his lack of free throws, Schofield does not create a lot of plays outside scoofring and rebounding. He chooses to shoot at times when a pass to another teammate is clearly the better option, and does not create a lot of turnovers on defense. Becoming a source of turnovers would allow Schofield to exceed the expectations many have of him as a defender.
Schofield is likely one of the more finished products in this year’s NBA draft. While that may be a detriment in some drafts, it actually could add value to Schofield’s draft potential. He has a high floor as a player, and a likely ceiling as a highly effective 3 and D role player for a winning organization. However, the biggest asset Schofield provides is who he is as a person. He will help create a culture that is built on positivity, passion, and hard work, a trait that would be welcome to contending and rebuilding organizations alike.
Admiral Schofield has the chance to make a Malcolm Brogdon-type impact early in his career. Whoever drafts him will get a leader on and off the court, and a player who always strives to make winning plays. I certainly hope that is the Grizzlies, as he would be a wonderful addition to building a new culture focused on achieving and maintaining success.