Mounting the resurgence of Memphis basketball, Jalen Duren served as the centerpiece for the Tigers. The 6-foot-11-inch center reclassified to play for Penny Hardaway this season. The Tigers made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.
Duren averaged 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 assists per game this year. He shot 59.7% from the floor. His best game came against UCF in the AAC quarterfinal. He registered a 20-20 game with 21 points and 20 rebounds.
Height: 6 feet, 11 inches
Weight: 250 pounds
Wingspan: 7 feet, 5 inches
pick-and-roll, back-to-the-basket offense
Duren thrived in the pick-and-roll offense with Memphis this season. He worked exceptionally well with the Tigers’ guards in playing the two-man game. Working with the defensive switches, the 18-year-old excelled and was named the AAC Freshman of the Year.
He also demonstrated expertise in having his back to the basket against fellow centers. Duren is a traditional center, similar to the likes of Bam Adebayo and Ben Wallace.
“A lot of people compare him to Bam,’’ Memphis assistant coach Larry Brown said to The New York Post. “I spent time with Cal [Kentucky coach John Calipari] when Bam was there. Bam doesn’t shoot threes either. Jalen is three inches taller than Bam.
“Jalen is like when I was a head coach when he had a center and power forward in the NBA. I always teased him: I wanted him to be like [rugged former Pistons center] Ben Wallace, because he can run with anybody. He really can run. And can move his feet defensively.’’
Areas to improve:
shooting ability, youth
As the NBA becomes more driven by the outside shot, Duren does not have that in his arsenal. He attempted just one 3-pointer this season. He is in every sense of the word a traditional big. NBA front offices covet post players who can step outside and shoot from the perimeter, and Duren does not fit that bill.
Duren is also incredibly young. He does not turn 19 until November, so when he takes the floor for the first time in an NBA uniform, he will still be 18. His youth could show through as he reclassified in high school to play at Memphis this season. The Pennsylvania native will need to learn quickly as he transitions to the next level.
Projected draft range: Top-10 pick
According to NBA.com, Duren is slated to go to the San Antonio Spurs with the ninth pick. As Dejounte Murray cements himself as the focal point of San Antonio’s rebuild, Duren would fit in perfectly. He would slide right into being Murray’s pick-and-roll mate. Furthermore, with Jakob Poeltl’s contract set to expire after next season, Duren could provide a long-term solution at center for the Spurs. Having one season together, the rookie will be able to learn from the six-year veteran.