There may be no better defensive player in the nation than Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan, whose athletic skills coupled with a 6-foot-9 frame gives him the ability to guard anyone from point guards to post players.
Sochan finally showed draft scouts this week he can fill up the bucket, too.
One of the most hyped players in the Bears' touted recruiting class, Sochan matched a career high with 17 points to go with six boards and a couple assists in a win over TCU. He was 6 of 9 from the field, perfect in five trips to the foul line and still managed to lock down his opponent every time he stepped on that end of the floor.
“We just went in with a growth mindset and stayed positive,” Sochan said afterward. “We wanted to be the toughest team, and I think we did that for most of the game.”
Sochan has had a growth mindset all season.
The youngster who grew up primarily in Milton Keynes, England, and whose mother was a standout Polish basketball player, arrived with such high esteem based largely on his raw tools. But even after missing time because of a sprained ankle earlier this year, Sochan has managed to refine his game to the point where he's a threat at both ends of the floor.
Albeit an inconsistent one. After that TCU showcase, Sochan managed just six points in a win over Oklahoma State.
The versatile swingman has seemingly yet to scratch his high ceiling, which has mock drafts putting Sochan anywhere from late in the lottery to the middle of the second round.
“I’m definitely recovering still. I think it’s a long process,” Sochan said of his ankle injury, “but I’m at a point where I’m feeling good and I just want to do anything for my team and play as hard as I can.”
SIZE: 6-9, 230 pounds
STATS: 8.4 points, 6.2 rebounds
STRENGTHS: Sochan's physical tools are off the charts. He has a long wingspan that makes him a dynamic defender on both the perimeter and in the post, and his leaping ability makes him a solid contributor on the boards. He has a developing post game and plays with energy.
WEAKNESSES: Sochan has the ability to take over games, but he's yet to showcase that killer instinct on a team that has been forced to play shorthanded due to injuries. He also needs to improve his handle if he wants to become a truly position-less player, and his outside shot (31% from the 3-point arc) and free-throw shooting (54.2%) need work.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Sochan's draft stock could depend largely on how Baylor fares in the NCAA Tournament. If he can have a couple of big offensive games on the college game's biggest stage, it may help eliminate many of the question marks about his overall polish and send him more solidly into the first round of the NBA draft.
Other prospects around the Big 12:
SG OCHAI AGBAJI, KANSAS: Raw talent and projectability are often valued far more than experience when it comes the draft, but Agbaji has both of them. He's the go-to scorer for a top-five team, and all those games he's played for the Jayhawks allowed him to pass Wilt Chamberlain last week on the school's career scoring list. Not bad company, eh?
PG IZAIAH BROCKINGTON, IOWA STATE: The biggest question surrounding Brockington has less to do with his talent and more to do with the value NBA teams place on 6-foot-4 guards. But make no mistake: He's a gamer. That was evident last week, when the senior poured in 35 points in a must-win 84-81 victory over West Virginia.
SF KENDALL BROWN, BAYLOR: Much like Sochan, the 6-6 Brown is an elite defender with otherworldly athletic ability who is still trying to polish up the offensive end of the floor. Of all the prospects in the Big 12, though, Brown has the best chance to climb into the lottery with a big close to the season.
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