Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This breakdown focuses on Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield.
The Tennessee Volunteers put together a memorable season in 2018-19, winning 31 games and making an appearance in the Sweet 16. Though the team was not littered with five-star prospects, Rick Barnes’ squad brought a feel of toughness and overall acumen to the table and while projected first round draft pick Grant Williams was the centerpiece of it all, he had a worthy running mate in Admiral Schofield.
Schofield stands just 6’5 despite a projection as a combo forward at the NBA level, but the four-year standout does bring a 6’10 wingspan to the table. Perhaps more importantly, Schofield is built in stout fashion, weighing in at 240 pounds with toughness and physicality to hold up in a variety of match-ups.
By nature of his four-year stint in Knoxville, Schofield is already 22 years old and, as with many NBA Draft hopefuls, that “long in the tooth” persona may be seen as an overall knock. However, Schofield brings a combination of maturity and leadership to the proceedings that isn’t matched by many and he does have an intriguing skill set on the floor.
Defensively, Schofield projects as a versatile prospect. He did not generate elite block and steal rates (1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively) as a senior, but it wasn’t as if those numbers were totally absent from the mix. At a professional level, Schofield profiles as more of a switch defender that can be solid across the board, rather than as an active playmaker wreaking havoc in passing lanes and protecting the rim in earnest.
On the other end, there is also a clear path to NBA relevance, and it begins with Schofield’s aptitude as a shooter. Over the final three years of his college career, Schofield converted a blistering 40.5 percent of his three-point attempts (159 for 393 overall) and, at his size, that is a definite asset. It should be noted that 40.5 percent may not be a reasonable expected baseline for Schofield from the NBA line but, at the very least, shooting will be a plus for him as he sells his overall package to professional squads.
Elsewhere, Schofield shows aptitude when attacking close-outs and finishing near the rim, at least against college competition. He is more of a straight-line attacker off the dribble without too much wiggle to his ball-handling, but Schofield will be playing a secondary role in the NBA, and there is enough on tape to project him to make sound decisions with the ball in his hands.
One of the overarching questions with Schofield’s NBA translation stems from his limited athleticism. His overall stoutness and girth help to mitigate some of that concern, but Schofield posted only a 34-inch max vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine. On the more optimistic side, though, he did put together encouraging agility and quickness times, showcasing his relatively nimble feet and fluidity.
In today’s NBA, there is plenty of room for a player with Schofield’s theoretical skill set. He may be relatively limited on the offensive end — particularly without too much in the way of high-level passing and creation for others — but Schofield can knock down open jump shots and fill in the gaps in a supporting way. Defensively, he may fare better in a switch-heavy scheme and Schofield has the physical profile of a player that should be able to hold up against bigs in the post, even while performing adequately against most NBA wings.
It remains to be seen as to how NBA scouts will evaluate Schofield. Some view him as an easily projectable role player that could garner a top-40 landing spot in the 2019 class. Others may be more skeptical, focusing on his weaknesses (namely athletic burst and traditional length) over his relatively obvious strengths.
For the Atlanta Hawks, Schofield may make sense with any of the team’s trio of second-round selections, as he doesn’t need the ball to succeed offensively and would bring a measure of toughness and defensive projection to the mix. Beyond that, his shooting should be appealing to Atlanta’s front office and it wouldn’t be a full-fledged shock to see his name associated with the Hawks on June 20.