Penn's Zack Rosen could be the smartest point guard in the draft. Will that be enough -- along with a stellar Ivy career -- to get him draft? (Photo courtesy of Penn Athletics)
I can't be sure how much Linsanity led to the Ivy League getting some more scouting this season, but it has to be at least a tiny bit. The truth is that there will be a lot of smart athletes coming out of the Ivy, and a few of those will turn out to be diamonds in the rough, and able to succeed at the NBA level.
With the strides that Tommy Amaker is making at Harvard, including a brief stint in the Top 25 last year, it is possible that we will see more and more Ivy hoop players show up on top 100 lists, and even draft boards.
Enter Zack Rosen, who could be the poster child for a player that just needs a shot with a team to establish his credentials.
School: Penn (Philadelphia, Pa. | Ivy League)
Hometown: Colonia, N.J.
Accolades: Honorable mention AP All-American (senior), Ivy League Player of the Year (unanimous), 3x First team All-Ivy (2 unanimous), Phildelphia Big 5 Player of the year, and more
Team Record: 49-68
Penn re-emerged as a force in the Ivy League in 2011-12, and a big part of that was the play of Zack Rosen. He took home award after award for his work both on and off the court and set himself up to get a lot of long looks at camps and workouts leading up to the draft.
This is a kid that since he showed up on campus as a freshman has rarely left the floor for the Quakers and it shows in his ability to make things happen. He set school records and conference records. He just kept learning more and more about the game.
There may not be a player who is headier on the court on draft day.
But smarts aren't the only thing that Rosen brings to the table, and a smart team looking for a third point guard could be ringing his phone.
Final Season Averages:
18.2 pts... 5.2 asts...3.2 rebs...1.4 steals...2.7 turnovers..38.2 mins...45.3% FG...39.9% 3 PT...88.2% FT
Rosen leaves Penn averaging almost 15 points per game, which might be a little more than you want from your point guard, but it wasn't like he had a great supporting cast for most of those seasons. At the same time, Rosen was a very good shooter, making 43 percent of his shots, and coming in a tad under 40 percent from long range.
He was still able to distribute the ball well, with 588 assists in his career, including 173 in his senior season. His 1.80 assist to turnover ratio could probably use a little work -- he will definitely be facing stronger defenses in the NBA -- and you would like to see him hold onto the ball a little better.
That said, there has been no better person to handle the ball for the Quakers in the last four seasons.
Rosen scores a 5.89 on the HOOPWAR scale, easily leading his team, and putting him in a good class with other point guards in the draft. His number compares well with North Carolina's Kendall Marshall's 4.45 (achieved against better competition, but also with a better supporting cast). And his defense was stronger than Marshall's, as he saved 5.81 points per 100 minutes.
The defensive number is something you would like to see higher (both Damian Lillard and Scott Machado were over 8 points per 100 minutes), and that could make Rosen a better candidate for longer minutes in the league.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Speed is not something you have to worry about with Rosen. At the few draft camps he attended, he consistently impressed with his end-to-end court speed. He also has the ability to pick up the offenses quickly, something that could have him as a strong 10-day contract candidate for several teams in the league if he doesn't latch on somewhere.
He is a good shooter, and has the ability to play defense well given his speed.
There are some concerns about his ability to play long minutes in the NBA, and his defensive numbers in the Ivy League could be seen as a negative against him -- if he was really as strong defensively as he shows in drills, why don't the numbers show it?
He also lacks the premier jumping ability that you would like to see from someone at his position.
DraftExpress proclaimed after the New Jersey workout that Rosen attended that he has an outside chance of getting picked by some team. To add to that, it would be late, late on draft day.
That isn't to say that Rosen won't get some preseason camp invites should no one claim his rights on draft day. He is too smart and too good of a shooter and floor leader to not at least bring in for some workouts. He definitely improved the game of Tennessee Tech's Kevin Murphy in the workouts he played with him.
That type of skill is something you can't teach. Rosen just has it.
At worst, he is a third point guard at the end of the bench in the NBA. At best, he could develop into a strong second string point who gets between 10 and 15 minutes per game. He won't hurt you shooting, or handling the ball, and should improve defensively as he gets more workouts in the league.
All he needs is the chance.