Jordan McRae, 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Tennessee
2013-14 stats: 18.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 43.6 FG%, 78.8 FT%,
McRae steadily progressed as a player during his college career, going from just a high-energy athlete to a versatile all-around talent and go-to scorer. Combining explosiveness, long-range shooting and tough defense, McRae is a two-way player who functioned in a variety of roles during his four-year tenure. But even with his well-rounded game and strong resume, he faces the same stigma as most seniors in the draft, the perception that he’s already come close to reaching his ceiling.
Career highlights: The Atlanta native played sparingly as a freshman under former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl, appearing in only 10 contests, then became the Volunteers’ sixth man as a sophomore at the outset of Cuonzo Martin’s regime, averaging 8.6 points per game. McRae became a starter as his junior season and posted averages of 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and two assists, along with 35.3-percent shooting from three-point range, en route to first team all-SEC honors, with scoring outbursts like 34 points in a win over LSU, 27 points to beat Florida and a career-high 35 point effort against Georgia highlighting the campaign. His senior year, McRae averaged 18.7 points, 3.5 boards, 2.5 assists and a blocked shot per game, again earning first team all-conference accolades and helping his team advance to the Sweet 16, where Tennessee lost to Michigan, a game in which he had 24 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
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Strengths: Functioning in a variety of roles for Tennessee, McRae was utilized as a primary ballhandler, defensive stopper, designated outside shooter and featured offensive option, giving him experience that could help him make the transition to being a complementary piece for a team on the next level. He’s most effective offensively as a spot-up shooter, slasher and transition scorer, while also contributing as a playmaker. On the defensive end of the court, McRae uses his great size for his position, length and lateral quickness to defend multiple positions and possesses uncanny shot-blocking ability for a perimeter player.
Weaknesses: Although he plays with a high motor and a degree of fearlessness, McRae’s slender frame, even after four years of college, will be problematic in the professional ranks, as bigger, more powerful shooting guards look to take advantage of him by playing physically on both ends of the court. While he’s somewhat of a jack of all trades offensively, there’s not a particular area in which he can be considered elite at this stage of his career. His scoring burden at Tennessee should be taken into consideration, but McRae’s ballhandling could use tightening and his shooting could become more consistent in order for him to maximize his potential.
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Draft projection: A solid second-round prospect, if McRae fares well in head-to-head competition with his peers during pre-draft workouts, he should move up the board a bit, as his two-way game, versatility and athleticism could appeal to teams looking for a player ready to contribute. Making a positive impression in summer league and making a smooth adjustment to the NBA is important, but depending on where he lands, McRae might end up seeing spot minutes as a rookie and perhaps even time in the D-League if playing time isn’t readily available. But if he can make an impact as a high-energy, defensive-minded and mistake-free performer when called upon, he could begin to shape a role moving forward as a shooting guard with the ability to makes plays on either side of the ball.