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Draft targets: Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans

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Evans likely will be a second round selection in the upcoming 2018 NBA draft.

Stephen F. Austin v Texas Tech Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s March, baby! Alright, it’s already 22 days into the month, but it’s never too late early to think about potential NBA second round draft targets. Hooray for the Detroit Pistons in the Stan Van Gundy era! The Pistons will have a second round pick in the low 40’s, so there’s a decent enough chance a few very legitimate NBA players will be on the board for them to overlook.

So while I’ve been enjoying the NCAA tournament and my Alma mater Michigan’s success quite a bit, I thought why not use my interest in the college game to start compiling some draft profiles a bit earlier than usual. Last year I only started compiling maybe a month before the NBA draft. The Terrance Ferguson one is here. Donovan Mitchell is here. Luke Kennard is here. Justin Jackson is here.

With this profile, and probably the next few, I’ll be looking at point guards projected in the second round.

Keenan Evans

The 21-year-old, 6’3 senior point guard has led his Texas Tech team to the Sweet Sixteen with a couple of strong performances (45 total points on 14-of-24 shooting from the field) in the NCAA tournament over the weekend. Texas Tech doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of anyone as a basketball school, yet this season they finished in second place in the perennially strong Big 12 conference, and Keenan was a big reason why.

Most of Evansimpressive value comes from attacking defenses and getting to the foul line. He was near the top of in the Big 12 in both free throws attempts and percentage (182-of-224, good for 81 percent). Evans’ junior season was his breakout one, playing more than 30 minutes a game and shooting over 43 percent from three-point range (51-of-118). In this, his senior season, he’s seen a slight improvement in his shooting from the field overall, but a 10 percent decrease in three-point percentage while taking slightly more threes a game. For all four years, though, he’s averaging 36.5 percent from the perimeter.

For reference’s sake, Ish Smith at Wake Forest shot 30.1-percent from downtown in 211 career college games (66-of-219). As for the foul line, I won’t go into what Ish did there.

Film

These two plays see Evans (No. 12) go one-on-one against probable 2018 top-five pick and exceptionally long and tall human Mohamed Bamba. Evans’ penetration is patient and calculated, and often direct to the hoop. Sure, he’s got some shake and filthy hesitation to his game, but for the most part (based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve read) he’s looking to get inside and absorb contact. He’s a tough customer who uses his strong body to his advantage. He really finishes in a controlled fashion when attempting shots inside. I wouldn’t describe him as a flashy, athletic player, although his athleticism could be considered good to very good for the college level.

These two clips show Evans’ ability to make jumpers off the bounce. His setup on the second one fools Trae Young just a little bit. I’ll be frank — and most of you are aware — it’s just not surprising that any big conference starting guard has the ability to get hot from the outside and put up decent numbers for long periods of time. These guys ended up at these big schools for a reason. The thing is, can Evans take that success in the college game and be able to bring it to the NBA game, the longer three line, the limited minutes and the known factor that he won’t be top dog anymore?

This lefty finish falling away is crafty and shows Keenan’s overall strength. I’m also noticing that he stays low to the ground when driving to the hoop, making it hard for defenders to strip him and making it easier and quicker for him to burst up to the rim and make plays.

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If you’d like to engage in some basketball watching that will be enjoyable (and don’t need to rise super early on Saturday), tune in to TBS this Friday at around 10 p.m. for the Texas Tech vs. Purdue Sweet 16 game. It will be more entertaining and healthy than watching any Pistons game, that’s for sure, and you can see for yourself a guy the Pistons should seriously consider in the second round.