Something I’ve been thinking about lately from a roster-building standpoint: does Mike and the staff need to be actively looking to add another piece for next year or would they be better served saving it for a later class? Now that we’re in January, I think we’re starting to get a better picture of what they have. Here’s some thoughts. Apologies for length and rambling.
The framework the staff is dealing with: They’ve got Gafford, Garland and Hall in the 2017 class, which gives them 12 scholarships that are spoken for on next year’s roster. They could add one more person for next year (maybe more if there are defections). They have commits from Perry, Henderson, Sills and Joe in the 2018. If they used the scholarship for someone on next year’s roster (grad transfer, JUCO, high school), they’d still have 2 more spots available for the 2018 class. Obviously 3 if they don’t. And this doesn’t take into account how defections change it, because that’s impossible to forecast. But there’ll probably be a few because that’s just how it goes.
How I think next year’s rotation looks…
And I think it’s important to keep in mind what the 18-19 rotation could look like, for the purposes of this discussion…
For reference: Manny and Dusty average about 45 minutes combined, 43 in games that C.J. plays in. C.J. averages 10.9 minutes.
To me, after watching 14 games, next year’s roster could really use 1) a shooter and 2) another primary ballhandler, a distributor who could break down the defense. Anton is by far the best distributor on the team and I think they’d really benefit from adding another guy who could set people up. Khalil strikes me as more of a combo guard. Is he going to be able to fill this need? Had someone who’s seen him much more than me compare him to a bigger, better Manny type player. That can obviously be a really nice piece and I think Khalil already has the form to develop into a decent shooter in time.
As much as I think the need for another distributor is big, I think the need for shooting may be even more pronounced. Obviously they’ll graduate Dusty. None of the 3 signees appear to be shooters at this stage. Maybe they get there, but they don’t appear to be at this point. C.J. is definitely a shooter and I think he’ll start, average around 22-24 minutes and be a MIP-type guy after a year of developing his all-around game. Still, that leaves him, Daryl and Anton as the only guys you’d consider good shooters on the roster (maybe Brachen really develops and helps, but he’s going to have a lot of competition for minutes). This team already doesn’t shoot many 3s (27.1 percent of their FGAs, last in the SEC and 329th out of 251 teams nationally). And that’s with Dusty.
If they could get a grad transfer or late signee PG who could shoot, that’d be a home run. Obviously everyone wants that kind of player. The lack of shooting/spacing could be an issue next year if they don’t add another piece.
Obviously next year they’ll have Beard, Macon and Barford, but they’re going to have to sign a PG between now and the 2018 class. Sills plays SG for Jonesboro and is more of a combo guy. Think he can be a primary ballhandler, but they’ll need another to add to him and Garland, preferably someone who can get guys shots. In my mind, they need to use at least 2 of the 3 scholarships currently available between now and the 2018 class to add shooting and ballhandling. Joe is a good shooter.
Not sold on their 4s right now, but Thomas and Cook should improve with experience and I think Hall and Bailey can and will be combo 3/4s. So there’s options there.
Things I’m sold on as it relates to the roster moving forward: C.J. Jones, the length they’ll have on the wing and the positional versatility guys like Jones, Hall, Garland and Bailey can provide, Daniel Gafford being really good and a great fit for the system, Reggie Perry being a stud, the Gafford-Perry frontcourt duo, Ethan Henderson’s raw athleticism, Justice Hill as a PG down the line.
The biggest questions are shooting and PG play. Lot of words that probably could’ve been more concise, but just some stuff I’ve been thinking lately. Thoughts, opinions? I haven’t followed who they’re recruiting closely beyond who they already have and haven’t seen some of the in-state guys as much as I’m sure some of you have.