Scottie Wilbekin, 6-foot-2 point guard, Florida
2013-14 stats: 13.1 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG, .402 FG%, .390 3P%
He might not have any flashy traits that scream out NBA prospect, but Wilbekin’s ability to run the show and play defense at a high level, combined with his intangibles, make him worthy of consideration. A hard-nosed player with leadership qualities and a selfless approach, Wilbekin’s skill set projects well as a role player. However, it can’t be ignored that he’s not exactly a prolific scorer, nor does he possess above-average physical tools.
[MORE NBA DRAFT: Louisville's Russ Smith]
Career highlights: A low-profile in-state recruit, Wilbekin was a defensive-oriented reserve his first two seasons, averaging 2.4 points and one steal in 17.1 minutes per game as a freshman, then 2.6 points in 15.2 minutes per game as a sophomore in back-to-back Elite Eight seasons for Florida. As a junior, Wilbekin posted per-game averages of 9.1 points, five assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and earning SEC all-defensive team honors in another campaign that concluded in the Elite Eight, though he was known more for garnering two team suspensions. His senior year, Wilbekin averaged 13.1 points, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game, while shooting 39 percent from three-point range, winning the conference’s player of the year and tournament MVP awards, receiving first team all-league and third team All-American honors and once again making the league’s all-defensive team, en route to helping Florida advance to the Final Four.
Strengths: A low-turnover, mistake-free type of point guard, Wilbekin is an underrated playmaker and while he isn’t regarded as a breakdown player off the dribble, he has the ability to make things happen offensively when necessary. Capable of defending on or off the ball, he’s excellent at pressuring opposing ballhandlers and is equally competent at chasing shooters around screens, utilizing his quickness, strength, fundamentals and determination. While he isn’t exactly a huge scoring threat, Wilbekin improved enough as a shooter to keep defenders honest and has a knack for making clutch shots.
[MORE NBA DRAFT: Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton]
Weaknesses: Only possessing average size for his position, while Wilbekin has plenty of quickness, he isn’t considered an elite penetrator or finisher in the paint. He’s become more of a scorer over the course of his career, but it doesn’t necessarily come natural to him and defenses can strategize to put him in that role. Off-court issues prior to and after his junior year will be closely scrutinized, but even without red flags for his character, Wilbekin’s perceived lack of upside will be held as a strike against him.
Draft projection: Wilbekin has a chance to be picked late in the second round, but if he isn’t selected, he will certainly have an opportunity to play summer league and assuming his positive attributes shine through, participate in a team’s training camp. There’s a definite possibility that he could start his professional career in the D-League or overseas, but if Wilbekin can show he’s a standout defender, become a more dangerous scorer and be a dynamic playmaker, then he should have a chance to establish himself as an NBA player. Although his ceiling isn’t as high as many of his fellow draft hopefuls, Wilbekin’s floor-general qualities and defensive prowess, not to mention Florida’s history of developing pro-ready players, give him solid odds at eventually cracking a roster and potentially evolving into a steady fringe rotation player.