It’s always great making my way back to South Bend. After enjoying a hearty meal at Rocco’s, I made my way over to campus for my second Notre Dame scouting opportunity of the season (for my scouting notes on the first, click here), this time against a struggling NC State team with two prospects of NBA interest.

 

I’ll hit on the relevant Notre Dame standouts again, but will focus this scouting analysis primarily on the NC State prospects.

 

Here are my takeaways.

Dereon Seabron | NC State

So. (RS) | Wing | 6’7” | 180 lbs. | 5/26/2000

21 PTS, 2 OREB, 6 DREB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 0 TOV, 2 PF, 59.1 TS%

The ACC’s fourth leading scorer and second leading rebounder has certainly caught scouts by surprise, rising to legitimate 2022 NBA Draft relevance seemingly out of nowhere.

The strengths noted in the tweet above manifested themselves against Notre Dame. Seabron is extremely talented as a slippery slasher and routinely converts difficult, body-contorted finishes through and around contact.

The third clip encompasses his proneness to funky, awkward-looking finishes. In my initial film study of Seabron, I noticed a tendency to abruptly come back left-to-right across his body and the face of the defender to finish with his right hand on left side drives. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of lack of left hand finishing dexterity or anything of the sort, but rather an unconventional go-to move that he executes so suddenly and unexpectedly that it catches defenses off guard.

 

Seabron’s aptitude for providing rim pressure is truly elite, but what else does he bring to the table? Does he have commensurate complementary skills to translate to the NBA level?

 

The rebounding is quite good. While the majority of his rebounds in this particular tilt were uncontested, he’s shown to have a nose for the ball and a willingness to scratch and claw for boards on both ends.

 

Seabron didn’t show much from a playmaking perspective against Notre Dame, but has proven capable of leveraging his size, handle, and advantage creation to get into the paint, draw help, and find the open man. He also keeps his head up when pushing the pace in transition.

 

The glaring improvement area offensively is the jump shot. I got to Purcell Pavilion early to get a close up look at Seabron’s shooting mechanics.

Nothing seems to be crazy broken here. He has a pretty deep wrist cock angle, but all-in-all not too shabby.

 

While the jumper doesn’t look disastrous, the results simply haven’t been there. Seabron is a career 24.1 percent three-point shooter (on only 58 attempts) and shoots less than 70% from the free throw line.

 

He did happen to knock down just his eighth three of the season against Notre Dame when given ample space via Blake Wesley going under a ball screen.

I think there’s some room for improvement here, but given his age and general unwillingness as a shooter despite having the ball in his hands on the perimeter quite a bit, I’m not overly optimistic that he becomes enough of a shooting threat that his jumper commands respect at the NBA level. This will likely hinder his ability to deliver the same value as a slashing driver at the next level. Perimeter defenders will likely sag off of him, dare him to shoot, and have notably better NBA-level rim-protectors lurking on the helpside when he gets downhill.

 

Seabron’s defense, on the whole (rebounding aside), leaves you wanting more. At 6’7” with a 6’11” wingspan, Seabron has blocked only one shot the entire season, which is a bit mind boggling and doesn’t jive with what you’d expect when you see him. His combination of length and fluid movement would make you think he’d have the potential to be an impactful, versatile defender, but that really hasn’t been the case.

 

Seabron has also struggled to curtail some ball-watching habits as an off-ball defender.

He’ll need to clean this up to be able to stay on the floor at the next level.

 

NC State ranks 327th of 358 DI teams in defensive rating and, while this is a team stat, Seabron’s lacking defense certainly isn’t helping the cause.

 

Bottom Line: While he’s on the older side (will be 22 on draft day) and has some glaring improvement areas as outlined above, Seabron has shown enough to warrant RD2 draft consideration. I’d be more comfortable taking him in the 45-60 range on a two-way than signing him to a guaranteed deal, but it’s not out of the question that a team falls in love with him and takes him a bit earlier.

Terquavion Smith | NC State

Fr. | Combo Guard | 6’3 ¼” | 165 lbs. | 12/31/2002

4 PTS, 1 OREB, 6 DREB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TOV, 1 PF, 20.2 TS%

This was a rough game for Smith, who has otherwise been really growing on me as a prospect. These games happen to even the best of prospects and it’s often quite valuable to scout them in person and get a clear understanding of why.

 

Smith’s role as a high usage freshman guard with a .550+ 3PAr (much of which is of the self-created off-the-dribble variety or catch-and-shoot from well beyond NBA range) on a bad team lends itself to some poor statistical showings from time to time.

It was a cold shooting night for Smith, but it was evident from when he fist took the floor for warm-ups that the ACC’s leader in made threes is a legimate, dynamic shooting prospect.

Additionally, Smith’s thin frame and lack of physicality lead to immense struggles as a rim-finisher in the half-court, where he converts at a dire 0.771 point-per-possession clip.

Smith is at his best in a fast-paced transition game by either leveraging his speed to beat defenses coast-to-coast for a finish or filling lanes as a knockdown spot-up shooter in odd man break scenarios. He has shown more passing/creation flashes as of late, which is encouraging, but he’ll need to add significantly to his frame to become a more well-rounded scoring threat when the pace slows down.

 

Turnovers haven’t been notably troublesome for Smith throughout the duration of the season, but he committed four in this game. Let’s take a closer look.

While the first two may not have been the best decisions, you can live with aggressive turnovers. The lob was thwarted by a great helpside defensive read by Wesley, and the kick-ahead pass likely could’ve been snagged by a more sure-handed teammate.

The second two were more troublesome as lackadaisical passes in the half-court, both of which were easily avoidable unforced errors.

Defensively, it was a mixed bag for Smith. There were some high impact flashes featuring a timely dig at the nail, fighting over the top of an off-ball screen then sprinting to jump the passing lane, and a quick-reaction recovery block pin after stepping up to help on a driver.

While it’s a positive that Smith has the requisite speed, athleticism, and instincts to make these flash plays, the consistency isn’t there yet from possession to possession.

In the first play, Smith gets caught standing upright, focusing too much on the seemingly impending double high ball screen, and losing track of his man who is one pass away from the handler. This momentary lapse causes him to be late to close out when a pass is zipped to his man in the corner. He’s still too upright in his futile closeout attempt and Wesley blows by him without a hint of resistance. Lucky for Smith, Cam Hayes had his back as a helpside defender and forced a miss at the rim.

 

The second clip is a bit of a broken play following a Notre Dame offensive rebound where Smith gets caught in no man’s land and surrenders a three to Dane Goodwin at a critical juncture of the game.

 

The context is, again, a bit of a mess for Smith. He’s a skinny freshman guard on a dreadfully bad defensive team. This does not make the most conducive environment for him to grow, develop, and succeed defensively.

 

Bottom Line: There are some striking macro-level similarities between Wesley’s and Smith’s rises to prospect prominence. Like Wesley, Smith was a tail-end RSCI top 100 recruit who was undervalued, in part, due to the lack of evaluation sample throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Both are now flourishing and join Paolo Banchero as the only three ACC freshmen averaging 12.0+ points per game. Like Wesley, Smith has his fair share of rough, inefficient showings (like this one) but the flashes have become more frequent peaks and the underlying talent is undeniable.

 

Unlike Wesley, Smith has yet to pick up a ton of mainstream draft buzz, but the production as a true freshman guard in the ACC will surely turn some heads. I’d expect Smith to pick up some steam if and when he tests the 2022 NBA Draft waters.

 

Given the notable lack of certainty and depth in the 2022 NBA Draft class, it’s not out of the question that Smith makes a late charge as a sharp-rising dark horse with strong pre-draft workouts and/or combine performances. If he returns for his sophomore season, he’ll likely be projected as a 2023 first rounder.

Blake Wesley | Notre Dame

Fr. | Combo Guard | 6’5” | 185 lbs. | 3/16/2003

15 PTS, 3 OREB, 3 DREB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 0 BLK, 1 TOV, 2 PF, 35.2 TS%

Wesley has made the jump from a fringe RSCI top 100 recruit to a consensus first round prospect for the 2022 NBA Draft. The highs are very high for the 3x ACC Freshman of the Week… as an 18-year-old 6’5” combo guard with a 6’11” wingspan and natural off-the-dribble creation chops, the draw is evident from an NBA talent evaluation perspective.

 

As mentioned the first time I scouted Wesley, he’s very streaky by nature at this stage in his development curve. His 3-of-16 shooting performance in this game encapsulated the downside of said streakiness from a scoring efficiency perspective.

 

While there was certainly some ugliness to his shot diet, sometimes shots just aren’t falling. That was the case for Wesley against NC State. While many freshmen would take a back seat and become passive in the midst of ice cold shooting, Wesley found a way to remain aggressive and pivot his approach in order to continue providing value and secure a hard fought win.

 

Wesley was relentlessly assertive in getting downhill, attacking the rim, drawing fouls, and getting to the stripe (12 free throw attempts).

The effort on the offensive glass in the final clip was tremendous.

 

Wesley also unlocked his playmaking ability in the second half, showing great floor awareness in making simple, effective kickouts to shooters and finding a cutting Dane Goodwin for an easy lay-in.

Through this aggressive style of play and heavy dose of creation responsibility, Wesley only committed one turnover, which stemmed from being a bit overzealous in pushing the pace as a handler against a full court press in a broken play situation.

 

Bottom Line: It was good seeing a “bad game” from Wesley to get a feel for how he adjusts in the face of adversity. It was a rock fight of a first half with surely frustrating struggles for Wesley, but he kept his head on straight and figured out a way to help his team in different ways.

 

These scoring struggles continued through the next three games (home against UVA/Duke, at Miami), wherein Wesley was a combined 7-of-39 from the field. While there are some viable concerns to be raised from this slump, Notre Dame won two of the three games and Wesley accumulated 15 assists to only 4 turnovers.

 

He has been on an upswing in the four games since, averaging 16.0 PTS, 5.0 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.5 STL with a 50.0 FG% and 43.8 3P% in four wins. Like I said… streaky. But this is to be expected. My position on Wesley hasn’t really waivered throughout the ups or the downs. He’s a clear RD1 talent that should warrant serious consideration in the back half of the lottery into the teens.

Nate Laszewski | Notre Dame

Sr. | Forward | 6’10” | 235 lbs. | 7/19/1999

18 PTS, 1 OREB, 10 DREB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TOV, 2 PF, 91.1 TS%

Laszewski completely flipped the script on the lack of assertiveness I saw when scouting him against Pitt in late December. After going into the locker room tied at 30 following a lackluster first half, the Irish came out of the gate slowly in the early going of the second half, down by five after three minutes. Laszewski put the team on his back, scoring 11 of the next 13 points for the Irish.

Laszewski, a ridiculous sniper at 6’10”, fueled a 15-0 run for Notre Dame, wherein their win probability shifted from 44.5 % to 91.9% in a 3 minute and 18 second span.

He was truly the difference in the game.

 

Bottom Line: My projection of Laszewski remains the same.

Dane Goodwin | Notre Dame

Sr. | Wing | 6’6” | 208 lbs. | 12/28/1999

17 PTS, 2 OREB, 6 DREB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 2 TOV, 1 PF, 66.0 TS%

Goodwin continues producing at an All-ACC level and this game was a representative microcosm of the strengths he brings to the table.

 

What particularly stood out was Goodwin’s knack for finding soft spots and vulnerabilities in NC State’s defense.

Goodwin makes up for his lack of off-the-dribble juice and wiggle with a keen sense of relocation along the three-point line and a feel for finding gaps in the paint when the defense overhelps on drivers.

 

He also continues to impress as an above average positional rebounder, again fueled by a high level of court awareness and knowing where to be.

 

Bottom Line: My projection of Goodwin remains the same.


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