Our 2022 NBA Draft scouting report series continues with a look at Jeremy Sochan, a wing/forward prospect from Baylor.
Jeremy Sochan averaged just 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists on poor shooting numbers in his one-and-done season at Baylor University. So why is he getting lottery buzz heading into the 2022 NBA Draft? Beyond his seemingly pedestrian traditional stat line, his positional fluidity and the defensive havoc he creates at a young age brings tantalizing promise of a complete basketball player in time.
Jeremy Sochan (SOH-han) is Polish-American by birth but began playing basketball in the United Kingdom. Built with a huge frame at 6’9”, 230-lbs and possessing a 7’0” wingspan, he has good measurables and an NBA ready body to compete with professional athletes.
Sochan came off the bench for 29 of 30 games in 2021-22, but was one of the best in the country among non-starting players. He was named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year as well as to the 2021-22 Big 12 All-Freshman Team at the conclusion of the season.
His calling card is his ability to guard just about all five positions, and create deflections and transition opportunities in off ball situations. He keeps his hands active hands and feet ready to pounce on any loose handle or lazy pass. Sochan’s excellent motor and hustle are immediately evident upon putting on tape of him this past season. In the clip below, he shows the ability to step out to the perimeter, recover to fight in the paint, and erase an attempt at the rim in one possession.
Sochan generally acted as a roaming 4 on the weak side of opponent’s offenses in a zone-heavy Baylor scheme. This allowed him to help at the rim when needed, or step into the lane to prevent crosscourt passes. However, he stepped out onto guards and wings when necessary on switches and more than held his own. He remains light on his feet even at his size and has deft change of direction on the defensive end.
Even with him leaving his feet prematurely on this possession below (more on that later), he’s able to shut off the driving lane for a smaller ball hander and force a tough turnaround fade away jumper.
Even with his plus switch-ability, his best asset may lie in being utilized as an off-ball menace. He’s quick to help or dig and recover to his original position. Sochan also knows how to hawk the passing lanes off ball and has good anticipation to swipe errand passes and start a fast break. He averaged 2.0 steals per 40 minutes and racked up countless more deflections.
Jeremy Sochan brings his relentlessness to the glass as an active rebounder. He’s smart and aware in finding bodies to box and bring down down rebounds — 10.1 rebounds per 40 minutes in his freshman season. This in combination with his springy hops makes him difficult to neutralize on the boards.
While he’s very much unrefined on the opposite end of the court, Sochan has some real ability to handle the ball in space. In transition, he does a good job of looking up the floor and finding streaking teammates ahead. He could be a dribble handoff operator in short spurts or even a pick-and-roll operator in time in the half court game as well. His best threat at this stage in his development, however, is attacking closeouts and dribble driving from the top of the key.
While his shooting range is yet very limited, Sochan finishes near the rim fairly well. He’s able to use his dribble in limited face up opportunities, and has a high release on his short turnaround jump shots.
There is no doubt a ton of untapped potential in both his offensive and defensive game. Sochan is also one of the youngest players in this draft, having just turned 19 in late May. Given a proper coaching and a professional weights and conditioning program, his game could grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years.
Weaknesses and areas for improvement:
Even in the best of scenarios, Jeremy Sochan profiles as low usage off the ball on offense in this stage of his career. His spot up shooting just doesn’t make defenses pay, and his rolls and cuts to the basket are too infrequent for someone with his length and touch around the rim. If he can make himself useful as a screener and mover going forward, some of these worries can be mitigated, but in the meantime teams may be able to stash a smaller defender on him with giving it a second thought.
Put plainly, his shooting peripherals are very worrying. Sochan finished the season 29.6% shooting from three and 58.9% from the free throw line despite strong numbers from inside the arc. He recorded just 0.97 points per possession (PPP) in catch and shoot opportunities per Synergy, and defenses will continue to sag off from him until that improves. He has a workable shot motion with a slow but high release, but the results just aren't pretty at the moment.
While he has some juice on the ball and an electric first step to get by most players, Sochan can be reckless with the ball in his hands and sometimes finds himself barreling into set defenders. With barely above a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio, he still makes too many bad decisions in traffic and forces the issue at times.
While his perimeter defense is incredibly impressive for someone of his size and youth, Sochan can fall victim to shot fakes. He tends to bite on fakes and leave his feet for block attempts too often, creating a driving opportunity for his matchup. And once he’s out of position, he hasn’t quite mastered trailing opponents effectively, leaving him to resort to fouling. Sochan logged 3.7 personal fouls per 40 minutes in his sole season in college.
His slim frame means he’s not quite strong enough to post up bulkier big men on offense. Similarly, he won’t be able to play as a small ball five on the defensive end without being punished, as he can get pushed out of position down low with his thinner frame.
Here, Kansas’ David McCormick gets the better of him in establishing position in the post.
Below, Sochan isn’t able to contest with verticality and never really gets back into the defensive possession.
The tools are certainly there, but they will take some molding. Sochan returning to school in an increased capacity in the starting lineup for the Baylor Bears would help assuage fears of a toolsy prospect failing to put it all together, but no one can fault him should he presumably be taken within the first 20 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Possible fit on the Atlanta Hawks:
It’s no secret the Hawks’ defense was underwhelming this past season, finishing 26th in defensive efficiency per Basketball-Reference. At the 16th overall pick, Sochan could be an immediate boost to Atlanta’s perimeter defense at either the 3 or the 4 with tantalizing offensive potential as well.
There is some question at the forward spot going forward for the Hawks, with Danilo Gallinari on a partially guaranteed contract and trade rumors surrounding John Collins. Drafting Jeremy Sochan would undoubtedly be a long term play, but one that could pay off by betting on his rare and unique basketball gifts.