Tacko Fall: C – UCF, 21 years old
Measurables: 7-6, 300 lbs., at least an 8-0 wingspan
Strengths: Size, Length, Shot-Blocking
Weaknesses: Mobility, Shooting
Conclusion: I went to watch Fall take on Temple University this past week, and the Senegalese center showcased both his skills and weakness in the close two-point win. Tacko’s box score tells much of the story, as he finished with 14 points (6-9 FG, 2-4 FT), 10 rebounds, five blocks, five turnovers, and two assists in 30 minutes. Every one of his made field goals was a dunk, and he was consistently and comfortably sealing smaller defenders for post position. He swished two of his free throws and badly bricked the others. His jump hooks fell short. Fall was (by my count) actually closer to recording 10 swats than the five he received credit for, but he spent the majority of the contest parked in the paint and struggled to step out to the perimeter and challenge shots when necessary. Fall was also closer to posting 10 giveaways, but it doesn’t count as a turnover even if you get blocked and the opposing team rebounds and immediately starts a fast break.
Temple has slipped to 14-15, but they almost managed to come out on top in this one, thanks in large part to a nine-point halftime lead and their ability to successfully swing the ball against UCF’s zone and knock down open treys. Since Tacko is allowed to camp out in the paint, the Owls were essentially forced into implementing this strategy. However, they shot 10-for-21 from beyond the arc and nearly pulled off the upset behind junior stretch big (6-10) Obi Enechionyia’s 19 points on five-of-eight from three. Fall is listed at 300 lbs., but he failed to make body contact on most of his screens. One of the lone picks Tacko set where the defense actually felt his presence resulted in an offensive foul call. To his credit, he politely asked the referee for an explanation, and the official obliged. When Fall was on the bench, he sat closest to the coaches and appeared to be in constant conversation with one of the assistants. Tacko is still a very raw specimen boasting less basketball experience than most collegiate players. The fact that Fall isn’t forced to leave the paint defensively right now helps to mask his lack of speed and quickness. Furthermore, with more and more big men dominating from the perimeter, the increasing prevalence of spread pick-and-roll, and the defensive three seconds rule, a lack of agility does not bode well for Tacko’s odds at enjoying an NBA career.