Sean Kilpatrick, 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Cincinnati:
2013-14 stats: 20.6 points, .423 FG%, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 apg, .348 3-FG%
A pure scorer, Kilpatrick had one of the most distinguished careers in Bearcats’ history, improving in each of his four years. One of the best players at his position in the nation last season, Kilpatrick’s strength and diverse methods of putting the ball in the basket are the hallmarks of his game. However, as polished as he is, like with many college seniors, the biggest concern about his transition to the next level is how close he is to already reaching his ceiling.
Career highlights: After spending a postgraduate year in high school and redshirting upon his arrival at Cincinnati to avoid being stuck behind Lance Stephenson, Kilpatrick made an instant impact as a freshman, scoring 21 points in his college debut and averaging 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds, while shooting 37.7 percent from three-point range to make the Big East’s all-rookie team, then following it up with sophomore-year averages of 14.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, earning second team all-conference honors, reaching double figures in 29 contests and helping to lead his team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. As a junior, Kilpatrick averaged an even 17 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, again making all-conference second team in a campaign that was highlighted by a career-high 36-point effort against Marquette. His senior year, Kilpatrick averaged a league-high 20.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game, scoring double figures in all but one outing, winning both first team all-conference and All-American honors and finishing as the second all-time career scorer in school history behind the legendary Oscar Robertson.
Strengths: Toughness is the most obvious positive quality Kilpatrick possesses, as his physical nature, strong frame, aggressive mentality and willingness to lock in defensively are very evident every time he steps on the court. At the same time, he’s worked hard to become a proficient outside shooter from deep range and an advanced ballhandler with the ability to create for himself and others. Adept at drawing contact and getting to the foul line, where he knocks down free throws at a high level, Kilpatrick is an excellent rebounder for his position and doesn’t shy away from taking and making shots in the clutch.
Weaknesses: A good, but not great athlete, Kilpatrick only has average size for an NBA shooting guard and while he handles the ball well for a wing, it would be stretch to envision him being able to function as a true combo guard, let alone stay in front of quick point guards on the next level. Kilpatrick was a volume shooter in college and didn’t make shots at a high percentage, so adjusting to being more of a complementary player will be a process. As previously mentioned, his age doesn’t help his case, because admirable as his development has been, it’s fair to wonder how much better he can get.
Draft projection: Due to his competitiveness and understanding of the game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kilpatrick fare well in the pre-draft workout process and whether or not he’s drafted in the second round, he will get the opportunity to show what he can do in summer league. There’s certainly a possibility that Kilpatrick’s determination and high skill level could allow him to carve out a niche for himself as a second-unit scorer, but it’s important that he ends up in a training camp where his type of game and approach are valued. For Kilpatrick, there’s a thin line between ending up on an NBA roster and having to begin his professional career in either the D-League or overseas, though it’s very feasible that even if that latter scenario occurs, he could work his way up to the best league in the world.