As a freshman, Adrio Bailey showed flashes of ability but also was pretty limited in what he could do. He made 56% of his shots, which were almost always close to the basket. He rebounded some - not a ton - and played some good defense at times. Bailey also shot 32% at the free throw line, a weakness that limited his usefulness + made it hard to play him in crunch time.
Bailey looked, physically, very similar to the freshman Michael Qualls, but his game was quite different even for that stage. Same size - somewhere around 6-5, 200-ish pounds - same explosive leaping ability.
Which direction do you expect the Arkansas coaches to take Bailey’s development? Will they try to expand his game a la Qualls, or get him stronger and focus on his inside game?
It seems to me that Bailey is a more fluid athlete than Qualls with a quicker leap and better lateral quickness. As such, I think he is a much more valuable commodity on defense already than Qualls ever was. He is probably going to be much better on the offensive glass than Qualls, as well as a better finisher around the basket. Qualls was only 60% at the rim as a junior. Bailey was 83% last season. Some of that difference is obviously sample size and degree of difficulty, but Qualls was a stiff finisher that was improving before he left.
As such, I don’t believe Bailey has to improve his perimeter game as much as Qualls did to get on the floor and be as valuable a contributor. However, he has to reach a threshold in ballhandling proficiency and FT shooting so that his negatives aren’t eating up a lot of his positives. If he does that, he’s just a player, and you get him on the court at whatever position best complements the rest of the lineup. If he improves his ball skills as rapidly as Qualls did, he’s got next-level potential.
Our D could take a quantum leap if we could play him on the wing without a huge tradeoff on O. I’d love to see Gafford and Thompson shutting down the lane and Bailey causing havoc on the perimeter as the head of the snake in the 1-2-2 zone.
Question is whether Bailey will be as good as Qualls as a junior. It is hard to tell right now. Qualls’ year to year improvement was huge. I think how Bailey comes back as a sophomore will answer that question.
To the question OP asked, I think they will develop Bailey as a combo 3-4 with more at 4 as a sophomore and more at a 3 as a junior. Just a guess.
I just think at this point it is unrealistic to think he can be an offensive threat at the 3. He’s shown no ability to make a jump-shot and as mentioned above can barely make a free throw. Qualls was a super player. It seems like every good athlete now is compared to Qualls, which is not fair to most of them. As mentioned above Qualls got much better as a shooter but even in his freshman year showed some glimpses (he made 6 3’s his freshman year even though his % was low). Bailey has never even taken a 3. I just think Bailey is a 4 until we see otherwise. Wish I was wrong.
I won’t be surprised if Bailey and Qualls are just very different players. He can be as good as Qualls but with weak overlap in strengths and weaknesses. Qualls was outstanding at getting to the line, making FTs, scoring in the clutch, and defensive rebounding. He was fairly average at best in most other aspects. In fact, he hurt us some by taking more treys than his proficiency could support. When he didn’t get fouled on drives, he wasn’t great at finishing nor passing. His physical build never translated into steals, offensive boards, or blocks, and I never got the impression that he was a lockdown position defender, though the coach might disagree.
As a junior, Bailey might possibly be All-SEC Defense, very good on the boards at both ends, and a dynamic cutter. If he becomes a legit scorer from anywhere, we have something.
Qualls is overrated as a shooter. He took 87 treys in SEC play as a junior and made only 31%. He took 68 and made 32% in SEC play as a soph. He never broke 45% eFG%. Hannahs and Macon were over 57% last season by comparison. That’s why he wasn’t going to be a first-round draft choice. Madden passed up perimeter shots to feed Qualls when he shouldn’t have at times. If Qualls hadn’t been so good at getting to the line, he would have been a very average offensive player. If Qualls had come back and shown that he could be an efficient shooter, he would have worked his way into the first round.
That said, Qualls was a good scorer in the clutch. He had the confidence to make big shots and did in many close games.
I never regarded Qualls in the class of Hannahs and Macon as a shooter. At the same time by his junior year, I never felt uneasy when he shot a three. 1 out of 3 is not bad. That is in Anton Beard class. I thought by his junior year, he had transformed himself into a scorer, not a shooter. He shot enough threes and made enough to earn the respect of the defender to allow him to take the defender off the dribble.
I think Bailey ends up as a 3. Just looking at the roster he really has no choice unless he wants to end up just being a bench guy that’s always the 10th or 11th man.
You look at this upcoming year, he’s got 2 upperclassmen still ahead of him in the 4 spot. It’s possible he could beat out one or both of those guys, but even if he does, he’s not beating out Reggie Perry the next year, and Ethan Henderson is also going to have something to say about minutes at the 4 as well. And we are heavily recruiting Ian Steere and DJ Weaver as well, both of those guys will also be looking for minutes at the 4 spot.
And all Bailey needs to do to play the 3 spot in our system is get better at ball handling and improve his shooting enough to where he’s not a huge liability, and I think he’ll do that. He’s already quick enough defensively to match-up against smaller guys, he showed that against UNC in the tournament. And with CMA defense is what gets you on the floor, he’s not so much concerned with offense. Just look at Manny Watkins, he played a lot of minutes at the guard spots and couldn’t shoot free throws, and didn’t take a shot outside of a layup for 3 1/2 years.
Qualls shot 31% from the arc as a junior in SEC play. That’s equivalent 46.5% on deuces. That’s not satisfactory by any measure. It’s well below average for a designated shooter. Only Mizzou as a team shot worse from the arc than Qualls individually that season. He took 5 treys a game.
Posters used to blast poor Alandise Harris for poor shot selection. His eFG% was 48%, as compared to Qualls at 44%. Qualls shot the ball almost as often as Portis did, but Portis had a 57% eFG% in SEC play. His ability to score at the line was what kept fans from noticing how less-than-stellar Qualls was from the field. That and rising up for a fantastic game from the field here and there. He got to the line for a FTA every 4.9 minutes. Macon was also outstanding in that regard, but he was “only” at 5.6 min per FTA last season.
I always thought Qualls shot the ball too much, but I held my tongue because of the FTs. I agree that his willingness to let it fly did set up his driving to some extent. Nonetheless, I suspect that we would have been a better offensive team if a few of his touches had been redistributed to Bell, Madden, and Portis, who were better shooters.
Ironically I just noticed that Qualls is shooting 35% from the arc in Israel this season but only 57% from the line. If he had shot that well from the arc as a junior, he might have been projected into the first round. On the other hand, if he had shot that poorly from the line, I don’t know if we would have made the NCAAT if he hadn’t adjusted his game accordingly.
In any case this sounds like I think less of Qualls than I do. I loved his toughness. He tended to play his best at the most important times. He never lacked for effort. I just wish we could have seen what he could have become as a senior. He was still very much a work in progress when last we saw him.
The staff is really pushing him to improve his ballhandling and shooting this offseason. They see him as a guy who can play the 3 or the 4 if he continues to develop his perimeter skills.
I know they’re very pleased with the progress he’s made with his dribbling since the season ended. Shooting is still very much a work in progress. You want him to become a solid ballhandler, but I don’t think he has to be great at it to be able to play on the wing. Just good enough to attack closeouts with 1-2 hard dribbles to get to the rim. But then the defense obviously has to respect his shot enough to close out hard. So it’ll be interesting to see how much progress he can make.
I know he’s very motivated to be able to play on the wing. He knows versatility is a ticket to more playing time for Mike.
Comments: Yeah, I remembered when Mike signed Bailey he compared this young man to Qualls except taller. Mike loves to coach players up an attribute he doesn’t get enough credit.for, they changed his shot last season he will play the 3slot more times than the four position unless Mike is playing small ball