I came across this young man this past season in Greece while he played from PAOK and had a few stellar games. Originally a California product (San Diego State) He had a solid run in the NCAA and now is looking at being a top level pro player. He has had a good run with the Greensboro Swarm but I have a distinct feeling we’ll be seeing him more around the European circle more and more.
Here is my take on Mr. Pope:
Birthday: 7/25/96 (22)
Height: 6’10” / Wingspan: 7’2”
Hometown/College: Elk Grove, California/San Diego State University
Extremely long and skilled wing-forward – can play inside and out. Shot is mostly all upper body, has extremely high release and high arc; fades away and has inconsistent base leading to a difficult to repeat shot – puts a lot of weight on left leg and rotates base on shot. Routinely makes shots more complicated – can shoot from different angles, shooting turnarounds, off-leg shots. Can create some space off the dribble but doesn’t really use his dribble to get to the basket unless its off closeouts – really needs feet set to be a shooting threat but has difficulty knocking down open shots. Has an adequate handle, especially for his size – likes to attack off trigger step, straight line-right hand heavy driver and right hand only finisher. Extremely long but lacks strength to be a threat off the dribble, routinely gets bumped off driving lanes, struggles to finish through contact/has issues finishing. Not a freak athlete, long enough to play above the rim but needs head of steam – lacks explosion and speed. Can bring the ball up the floor and lead the break. Ball stopper – will use to initiate offense but he’s not really creating for others. Like to use on pick and pops – not a good screener – and post ups. Does good job giving wide target in the post, smart and knows when to bury defender in post on switches – does struggle gaining position due to lack of lower body strength and does get pushed out into the mid-post too easily. In the post, likes to rip right to drive or spin back and shot fade-aways over right shoulder – loves to settle for shots over drives. Below the rim player in the post. Runs the floor hard to score; does a good job of positioning himself for offensive rebounds, knowing how to disengage but not an active rebounder.
Slow and heavy footed defender, doesn’t slide his feet or move well laterally; struggles to keep man in front of him without breaking his hips. Stands up while guarding but uses his length well to disrupt shots, leads to getting beat too easily, tends to bite at everything. Gets caught in his heels, closes out very vertically and tends to close out with right hand/right foot. Gives up positioning too easily due to lack of strength and doesn’t make multiple efforts – not an active rebounder and lack of athleticism doesn’t lead to rim protection. Does good job while downing screens but struggles guarding smaller defenders and switching, has trouble recovering off hedges.
Has potential as a stretch forward who can knock down shots and post up smaller defenders, but needs to become a more consistent shooter, especially while open. If he can get a better understanding of feel – good shots versus bad shots/settling – has the chance to become more efficient scorer. Needs to become a better defender though, otherwise he’s a liability with lack of speed and effort. If he can match his enthusiasm for scoring on the defensive end, he definitely has tools to work with.