In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, in this edition, we evaluate John A. Logan College guard Jayden Scrubb.
A number of players who spent time playing for a junior college have gone on to be pros, but virtually all of them have moved to the NCAA Division I level before turning pro. Jayden “Jay” Scrubb is attempting an incredibly rare move from the Junior College (JUCO) ranks to the NBA.
A member of the Great Rivers Conference, John A. Logan College in Cartersville, Illinois has been home to Scrubb’s talents for the past two years. And despite a scholarship offer to attend Louisville, he has chosen to keep his name in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The last player to be drafted directly out of a JUCO college was Atlanta Hawks 2004 second round draftee Donta Smith out of Southeastern Illinois College, who played in just 61 NBA games and would be out of the league for good after just two seasons. Can Scrubb stick in the league for even longer?
Scrubb is 6’6” and 215 pounds with a 6’9” wingspan. Finding reliable statistics from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), let alone any stats at all, is a tall task. Scrubb tallied 20.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game across his two season JUCO career. He shot 52.4% from the field, 39.5% from three and 75.3% from the line, according to RealGM.
Scrubb has a really unfortunate surname, as he is the reigning Junior College Player of the Year, following recent NBA draftees Kadeem Allen, Cleanthony Early, and Jae Crowder. Of course, those three were previously unheralded recruits who moved to bigger time NCAA Division I programs before turning pro. Jay ended up at Logan College due to academic qualification issues, as he received numerous offers from D-I schools prior to these troubles.
He can leap out of the gym with trampoline-like bounce and despite a thin frame, can take contact in the air and finish well.
Did I mention he has a reported 40” vertical? It can be useful at times when the ball is coming off the rim.
Scrubb possesses an entire artillery of necessary moves to create for himself: an inside out dribble, a euro-step, you name it. He has a feathery handle and an effortless lefty pull up from anywhere within 25 feet. If you give him some space, he will make you pay, like below off the screen.
Scrubb never lets the defense settle in against him. There are no false moves or pointless jab steps when he faces up against his defender. As soon as he receives a pass, he’s into his first move, often blowing by his man immediately with his electric first step. His slick crossover and behind the back dribbles freed him up over and over to let him rise up and bury mid range jumpers.
Defenses constantly scramble to slow him down and send extra men to help trap Jay Scrubb. In this clip, he has the recognition to find the extra man in the corner as soon as the double team comes.
He showed some post moves when the opportunity afforded it. If a smaller defender tried to push him out of the post, Scrubb would use his leverage to back him down and flip in a shot with his left. It won’t be a featured aspect of his game at the next level, but that kind of controlled resolve and diversity in his game on the offensive end is rare.
On the defensive end, Scrubb can be a game changer when he wants to be. He notched 1.2 blocks per game with his quick bounce and recognition.
Scrubb will fly in for defensive rebounds as well, simply out leaping most of his competition. He can turn defense to instant offense in one swift move and he is an absolute terror in transition with his quick foot speed.
Putting on the tape for evaluation, it was immediately clear to see he has the ability of a high level collegiate player and deserves to be on a team fighting for an NCAA tournament bid somewhere.
It was comical at times to see Scrubb absolutely toy with his competition. Any time he wanted to get to a spot on the floor, he got there. Any time he called for the ball, more likely than not the ball was going in the net some way or somehow. There wasn’t anyone in the NJCAA who could shut him down or even come close to slowing him down when he had the ball in his hands. By the abrupt end of his sophomore season, he had absolutely nothing left to prove at this level as an individual player, so it only made sense to look for new basketball opportunities elsewhere.
It’s not exactly breaking news to say the level of play in the NJCAA is not near that of NCAA Division I play. Yes, Scrubb dominated virtually every bit of film available for consumption, but it was like consuming empty calories. Had he been willing and able to transfer a year earlier and played a season at Louisville or elsewhere, it would have helped confirm his impressive feats at the JUCO level, but we never got that chance to see for ourselves.
Scrubb is also entirely left handed in his game and chooses to drive left, especially along the baseline, almost exclusively. He plays with tons of confidence and swagger, but at times can press too much and play erratically. He drives into traffic too often puts himself in unwinnable situations.
Despite the ball being in his hands constantly, Scrubb racked up very few assists and turned the ball over a good bit, to the tune of a .78 AST/TO ratio for his collegiate career. This doesn’t bode well if he’s asked to create for others in the future, as he never had to adapt his game for that at the JUCO level.
He’ll commit to slashing to the basket early in a possession with the usually accurate belief he can navigate to the lane through two and three defenders but that’s not always the correct play. This type of tunnel vision will get him into trouble against more athletic defenders.
For as agile and quick as he is, Scrubb can inexplicably be sluggish and a step slow on the defensive end. Here, he gets taken off the dribble with little resistance.
Scrubb can take breaks on defense and be lackadaisical, seemingly looking to conserve his energy for the offensive end. His arms are too often by his side rather than spread wide when guarding the ball.
Below is a good encapsulation of how out of control Scrubb can be on the defensive end. He gambles for a steal unsuccessfully and then loses his man on the cut to the basket.
Help defense is very much an optional term in Scrubb’s vocabulary at best. The play at the JUCO level was very static with few set play calls and more ad-libbing from offenses. For this reason, it’s hard to judge how well of a screener Scrubb is. There wasn’t a ton of decisiveness on the opposite end either when defending screens, as the moment whether to fight through a screen or switch is crucial against NBA level shooters.
Possible fit with the Hawks
Scrubb profiles as a secondary playmaker at the off guard or shooting guard position. He excels as an isolation player and as the ball handler in screen situations. In a league where arguably the weakest position is that shooting guard spot, he might be able to provide instant offense for the Hawks or any other team as a firecracker off the bench.
Any team that drafts Scrubb is taking a huge bet on the talent outweighing the completely unknown. Can he take on a lesser role in an effort to fit into an NBA lineup? Can he rev his motor up to chasing NBA level players around screens?
I would wager Scrubb will have a large learning curve to overcome before ultimately being able to contribute to an NBA rotation. This seems to signal the potential for a G League assignment, maybe in the form of a Two-Way contract, even if he is drafted. But don’t be surprised if Scrubb continues to put up 20-point games at whatever level he is at, and don’t forget his name if you hear his name being called upon in the Association down the road.