Is your team looking for a long and lengthy wing? Maybe someone who gets after it on the defensive side of the ball? How about a prospect possessing an oozing amount of potential on the offensive side of the ball? Then look no further NBA fans. Allow us to properly introduce you to Florida State sophomore wing Devin Vassell.
In each and every draft class, a certain prospect will start to gain some serious momentum throughout the draft process. It's a time in which evaluators finally get a chance to sit down and review the performances of the prospects throughout their previous years. Devin Vassell is one of those names that seem to potentially be gaining some traction.
When you turn on the tape, it's not hard to see why Vassell can have some Front Offices drooling. Vassell has an ideal frame for a modern-day wing. Standing at 6'7", with a reported 6'10" wingspan, Vassell has the combination of length and athleticism that teams desire. But the kicker? His offensive game is much better than his stats might show. Teams strive to find a player that can transition smoothly and make an early impact. But if that player can also have a large amount of untapped ability to his game that a developmental staff can work with, it only will excite a Front Office even more. That might just be the selling pitch when it comes to a talent like the Florida State sophomore.
When you look at a player like Vassell, the first thing that will stand out to you on film is his length. Any time you can combine that frame with his athleticism, you can check off a lot of boxes quickly. What's more exciting, is Vassell's ability to run the floor. This past season, Synergy had Vassell ranked in the 94th percentile (excellent) when it came to Transition offense. Great display of his transition ability in the clip above. Notice how Vassell stays in his lane and slows up just enough to allow for the advantage against the transition defense. Great catch and punch here allow Devin to quickly hit the boosters and attack the lane.
I came away more than impressed with Vassell's shot creation versatility, especially off of the bounce. The sophomore's high shooting release stands out as well. When you're someone with that amount of size, a high release like his makes it that much more difficult for defenses to defend you. Here we see a P&R set in which Vassell does a great job of reading the defense after the initial pick. Notice the quick hesitation to set up the secondary defender. Once Vassell gets the big man to react, he switches gears. A nice little step back, and it's an easy knockdown jumper.
SHOT CREATING PART II
This is simply one of those instances that if you are defending a player who can hit this shot...you tip your hat and get ready for the next battle. Just good defense here, but better offense. Notice the footwork and body control by Vassell. Shot clock winding down, for all of you coaches wanting to point out a potential bad shot selection (it's okay we still love you). A nice little spin dribble, step back fadeaway combo to leave NBA scouts nodding in approval.
SHOT CREATING PART III
I wanted to make sure to include another example here of Vassell's ability to create his own shot. You'll notice in this clip that it looks like Vassell is defended well after the initial action. But take a closer look at Devin's ability to stop under control and sell the big man with a shot fake. From there, all he needs is a fadeaway and he makes this look like a routine play.
These are the types of plays that will have some scouts standing on the table in Front Offices for their guys. First of all, let's make sure you see where Devin starts during this entire defensive sequence. Vassell is defending the ball handler, who is going to swing this pass and clear out to the opposite corner. The problem here is that Florida State's big man reads the P&R action incorrectly and overcommits. Vassell quickly reads and reacts to the roll man slipping for a wide-open layup. Just a great example of anticipation and instincts on the defensive side of the ball.
OFF THE BOUNCE
This is about as good of a job you can do defensively, but Vassell has a knack for not being phased during tough shots. Some might argue with the shot selection, but I'm looking at something else specifically here. Notice the amount of area that Vassell covers with just two dribbles. Also, while it might look like the sophomore is smothered, take a look at the window he creates for himself at the highest point of his shot. The high release and body control do wonders here. Vassell has one of my favorite things I look for when I'm looking at a prospect. It's something I personally call, the "Shaun Livingston Trait." Vassell knows the spots on the floor in which he thrives, and he works to get to those areas. He shows patience and knows how to set up defenders to get himself in the right position to take a shot with high confidence.
Two different clips here, but wanted to show the variety of ways in which Vassell can make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. You could argue that Devin Vassell is going to be one of the best overall defenders in this year's class. His overall strength will need to improve (as it does with most prospects leaping to the next level), but the combination of length and lateral quickness stands out. Vassell can use his length to meet you up top for a shot, or he can give you problems with his on-ball ability. He's going to step in and make a team's overall defense better with his awareness in rotations and play recognition.
Vassell went on to shoot 41.5% from downtown this year, and his outside shooting stroke is more than intriguing. As mentioned previously, notice how high his release is. If he can continue to develop his offensive arsenal and stretch defenses like this...his potential on the offensive side of the floor will make teams drool like the moments before a thanksgiving feast.
While some might not see this as "basketball IQ", allow me to explain why this clip is so important. The little things stand out in such a big way when you are evaluating a prospect for the next level. When it comes to Devin Vassell, a number of times on film you see there's no hesitation in his understanding of spacing and filling spots correctly. He rarely stands still on the offensive side of the ball. Watch Vassell move without the ball the moment this drive begins. His acknowledgment and understanding of creating angles for passes are fantastic.
Another play here in which might not seem like a lot but I want you to take a closer look at what makes this play special. When Florida State gets initial possession of the steal here, take a close look at were Vassell is on the floor. This is nothing but effort. Vassell doesn't coast on this play, he puts in great effort to make sure he gets himself involved and fills his lane correctly. Because he does this...Vassell is rewarded with an easy slam.
Another tough shot and you can see that it's obvious that Vassell has an ability to hit a lot of contested shots. In fact, Vassell shot 49.0% from the field this year, as well as an EFG% of 56.5. The talented wing does a great job of creating space at the last second and his ability to create off of the dribble makes for a promising development when translating to the NBA game.
Nothing too flashy here but it shows you the anticipation and awareness of Vassell on the defensive side of the floor. Most young prospects that want to pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball would have exploded up for the initial block attempt. Instead, Vassell does a great job of being patient and anticipating the block on the other side of the rim.
FEEL FOR THE GAME
Remember earlier when I said that Vassell works to get to his spots on the court? A great example of it right here. Yes, Vassell could have put the three up from the corner, but he works to create himself a closer look with more than enough spacing for a knockdown jumper.
We save the best for last. Great job of Devin to read the passing lane and he's off to the races here. Vassell then gives us a nice showing of his combination of length and athleticism.
Throughout the process of studying the film of the incoming draft class, no other prospect has impressed me so far as much as Florida State's Devin Vassell. The combination of raw tools and potential are too intriguing to ignore. A player like Vassell scared me at first. I always find myself cautious of the potential tag, especially with someone like Vassell who doesn't wow you with his statistics. The thing is, Vassell jumps out with what he can do on tape. He doesn't force the game and he makes impactful decisions on both sides of the ball. He should translate as a weapon defensively with his anticipation and instincts. If his offensive game can continue to develop, and he can continue to shoot it with confidence from outside...some NBA organization might find themselves an absolute steal.