The young forward out of Baylor was certainly an interesting prospect due to his tenacity and sheer athleticism, but his numbers at Baylor before the draft were fairly underwhelming. Sochan averaged just 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in his final season at Baylor. And he did this off of the bench. That’s right, he didn’t start in college.
But despite the less-than-flattering numbers and his role at Baylor, some were still considering Sochan a potential first-round pick. But the Spurs kind of shocked everyone when they took him 9th overall, making him an NBA Lottery pick.
How A College Bench Player Becomes A Lottery Pick
What got the Spurs excited about Sochan was his ability to guard any position on the floor. He had the quickness and length to make life challenging for point guards and the height, strength, and athleticism to match up with bigs in the post. On the defensive side, he played with tenacity and effort at all times. He’s an excellent off-ball defender and makes life difficult for anyone trying to get to the rim or on shooters on the outside during a close-out.
His versatility doesn’t only exist on the defensive end. At 6’9, he has excellent ball-handling ability and an elusive first step. During his college career, he could handle the ball and run the offense well enough to fill in at point guard. While he was a great ball handler, he was far from an elite shooter of the basketball. In his final year at Baylor, he finished at 29% from three and a dismal 59% from the free throw line. Not good.
Starting To Put Things Together Offensively
So far in his rookie season, Sochan is averaging 8.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 2.4 apg. But over his last seven games, the 19-year-old rookie has taken a massive leap scoring 14 or more points in all seven contests, including a big-time 30-point performance against the Phoenix Suns on January 28th. He also added eight rebounds and five assists.
Defensively he’s been everything the Spurs had hoped. He’s an absolute menace that can cover any position on the floor while disrupting the offense and being able to help when he’s off the ball. At times, he reminds you of a young Dennis Rodman, not just because he’s on the Spurs and dyes his hair in all sorts of colors. He makes the lives of the players he is defending an absolute nightmare on the floor.
Recently he’s been handling the ball with much more frequency, allowing him to exist within the flow and rhythm of the Spurs’ offense. He’s shown that he can dribble, drive and create plays for his teammates and himself.
Jeremy Sochan is an excellent young NBA player who plays with total effort and a will to win every night. There aren’t many reasons to watch the San Antonio Spurs right now, but Sochan is one.