Johnny O’Bryant, 6-foot-9 power forward, LSU
2013-14 stats: 15.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, .496 FG%, 0.9 bpg, 0.5 spg
A true back-to-the-basket big man, O’Bryant flew under the radar throughout his college career, largely stemming from LSU’s lack of success. But despite not playing for a great team, the product of a small town in Mississippi was an extremely productive interior presence. Not the most athletic or flashy prospect, O’Bryant is known for his physical nature and skilled post moves, two aspects of his game that should serve him well in his transition to the pros.
Career highlights: A McDonald’s All-American in high school, O’Bryant was an impact player for LSU as a freshman, albeit an inconsistent one, due to injuries, but still managed to average 8.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on the season. His sophomore year, O’Bryant became a much more efficient and effective player as a full-time starter, finding his groove as the campaign went on and averaging 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, earning first team all-SEC honors as a result of posting 15 double-doubles, including a monster 30-point, 10-rebounding outing against South Carolina. O’Bryant was joined by a pair of star freshmen, Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, on the Tigers’ frontline, but remained the team’s go-to guy as a junior, as reflected by averages of 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and again garnering first team all-conference accolades.
Strengths: A strong, physical player, O’Bryant reshaped his body over the course of his college career, which made him better equipped to utilize his soft touch and agile footwork in the low post, where he possesses an array of moves. He also extended his jumper, allowing him to be face-up player on occasion, and either knock down mid-range shots or drive by defenders, finishing at the rim with power. O’Bryant is an effective rebounder and plays hard, relishing battles in the paint with opponents, but having enough finesse to also utilize his high skill level and decent athleticism.
Weaknesses: Defensively, O’Bryant has a lot of work to do, as he can struggle with longer, more explosive players who can either step out to the perimeter or simply shoot over the top of him. A good rebounder, he must further commit to that aspect of the game in order to maximize his effectiveness on the court, as he only has average size for his position. Consistently running the floor hard in transition and not being a one-dimensional black hole when he has the ball on offense is also important, as well as not settling for difficult, low-percentage shots and increasing his mediocre foul shooting.
Draft projection: O’Bryant is a second-round prospect, who can raise his stock by displaying his skilled offensive game against his counterparts in pre-draft workouts. If his motor and dedication to getting into better shape are any indication, he has a good chance to reach his ceiling, round out his game and carve out a niche for himself as a second-unit post-up scorer on the next level. Finding the right fit will be crucial, but if O’Bryant has a promising training camp and summer league for a team in need of a player with his skill set, in time—perhaps even with some seasoning in the D-League to help him develop into more of a complete player—he can have a successful professional career.