Tomas Woldetensae – Scouting Report by Ian Riaf and Alex Brown

By: Ian Riaf and Alex Brown

Age – DOB: 23.2 years old, 4/30/1998

Class – School: Graduates in 2021, Indian Hills Community College 2017-19 and University of Virginia 2019-21, Victory Rock Prep High School

Measurements: 6’5″, 197lbs, similar size and physical profile to Josh Richardson.

Position: Off-Guard/Wing

Agent: TBD

Injury Report: Reported wrist injury at Indian Hills in 2019, causing him to miss the season’s final four games. This injury also lingered until his time at UVA. There is a notable uptick in three-point percentage past December of 2019 when his wrist appeared to have fully healed. This wrist injury was a primary cause for early shooting struggles, and the numbers back up this claim.

Personality Notes & Background: Born in Bologna, Italy, as an only child to a single mother, Tomas Woldetensae has overcome several difficulties to get to where he is today. He credits his mother, Zaid, as inspiration and even has a tattoo dedicated to her. He plays basketball for her so that one day he can create a better life and allow her to rest. As is the case with a select number of former NBA players such as Kris Humphries and Tim Duncan, Woldetensae came from a swimming background. After transitioning to basketball, Woldetensae was not a sought-after high school prospect. He chose to attend Victory Rock Prep High School in Florida as it was the only school that “responded to his emails” – Cavalier Daily. After two years at Victory Rock Prep, Tomas was offered a Division I scholarship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. However, due to unspecified NCAA violations, he could not attend this school and was re-routed to Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. Woldetensae was not just an athlete at Indian Hills as he made himself available to help out with youth sports in the community.

“Woldtensae’s individuality proved alluring. Instead of playing video games and crashing parties, he spent much of his free time attending Six Pack practices and hanging with Crouse-Spurgeon’s family, whipping up authentic Italian cuisine.” – Daily Progress.

He was a prolific scorer during his sophomore season at Indian Hills, Tomas was named a JUCO All-American. Doing much more primary ball-handling, Tomas was still seen as a team-first player, as Coach Hank Plona noted how “he loves being a team player, even a distributor.” After an impressively efficient sophomore season, Tomas transferred to the University of Virginia during the summer of 2019 and suited up for Cavaliers that same year.

More than just an athlete, Woldetensae is a studio art major with a concentration in photography and an interest in sculpture with aspirations to becoming an architect/designer after a professional basketball career. He also has an interest in social media and authentic Italian cooking. In an interview, he noted that he watches basketball as a student, not as a fan. Tomas appreciates his Coach Tony Bennett’s calm demeanor and draws inspiration from Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. He doesn’t mince words when discussing post-game mistakes but always has the next possession, next half, next game mentality. On camera and in interviews, Woldetensae has a dry sense of humor, seems laid back, friendly, mature and professional. Overall, I get the sense that Tomas is a trusted and poised competitor with a multitude of interests but with a love for basketball.

Athletic Profile: I wouldn’t categorize Woldetensae as a quick twitch, hyper-explosive athlete, as he is much more of a skill-based, below-the-rim type of player rather than a raw athlete. While Tomas can create a decent space advantage off the catch, these are more strategic, read-and-react type of moves rather than just getting by his defender on pure explosion. Again I wouldn’t call him a bouncy athlete but more of a strategic athlete. Suited for more of a European game from an athleticism and pace standpoint, Tomas has great anticipatory skills as a defender and stays on the balls of his feet when isolated. He demonstrates tight footwork when making circle cuts, both defending and coming off screens, with above-average judgment reading the situation at hand. With a wiry but strong physical profile, he primarily guards movement shooters and jumbo guards. Woldetensae hasn’t been tested that much down low. He appears strong but struggles to finish with contact at the rim. On offense, Tomas plays within himself and rarely seeks out contact going to the basket. With a much higher usage role, at Indian Hills, Woldetensae was not shy about getting to the basket.

Projected Roles: Defensive specialist with emphasis on guarding movement shooters and bigger lead guards. On offense, lower usage spot up and movement shooter with a high-end outcome of becoming a tertiary initiator.

Projected Draft Landing: Undrafted. Overseas signing at an initial mid tier competitive league. Likely a strong fit in Lega Basket Serie A in his home country.

Career Projection:

Lands a contract in Lega Basket Serie A for a team looking for added shooting and defense to avoid relegation. Becomes a trusted 3-and-D player on a mid-tier italian team (or perhaps somewhere like the Adriatic League). He will be overseas throughout the duration of his career. On offense, it would require a melding of his Indian Hills career as a creator off the dribble while maintaining his ability to convert on difficult movement shots and defend as he has shown at UVA.

Offense

Strengths

3pt Shooting

  • Spot Up: Tomas has a beautiful lefty stroke from deep. Currently shooting 42.6% from deep on 1.26 points per possession, Woldetensae is an efficient deep threat that can torch you for a couple threes per game off the catch. On film, he has solid shot preparation, footwork, balance, extension, and wrist action that would make me believe in his shot being good even if it were in the low 30% range this year. Furthermore, he found his spots effectively as he could in Virginia’s offense, and should be a positive relocator.
  • Off-Movement: The 1.25 PPP off screens certainly speaks to Woldetensae’s proficiency off-movement, and the tape backs it up. He maintains his balance and the fundamental (valuable) attributes of his shot, which make him a lethal player to run off a myriad of off-ball screening actions.
  • Pull-Up Potential: There is room to build a solid pull-up game for Woldetensae, as the movement shooting shows that he can effectively operate in non-stationary shooting situations whilst maintaining his touch and balance. If he can translate that into more off-the-dribble execution from deep, then he could certainly see a larger role and more P&R initiator reps. That 2.33 PPP in isolations is obviously overstated due to very low volume.

Unselfish Ball Mover: While par for the course with Virginia, it is worth noting that Tomas will move the ball unselfishly when his spots are unavailable. He plays within the flow and remains patient throughout the slow pace. He is capable of making and executing on basic reads that should keep the offense in flow for his role, and does not turn the ball over often.

Feel: I endorse Woldetensae’s feel for playing that linking 3&D off-guard role, as he plays within himself and makes decisions that help the team win. He passes the eye test as a decision maker, ball mover, and system player.

Improvement Areas

Finishing & Drive Creation: Tomas has been very poor as a finisher, only finishing 8/24 shots over 50 games in the restricted area. He does not have the touch, physicality, or feel to be a notable interior option that should be attacking the rim often outside of open cuts and transition. The advantage is not there, and should be a major point of emphasis with his development moving forward. Furthermore, his rim frequency is quite, quite uninspiring. The extremely low volume around the rim is quite a hindrance. If he cannot get anything going downhill, it becomes a lot easier to mitigate him on the perimeter.

Free Throw Generation: Naturally when you are lacking in the aforementioned areas, it becomes quite difficult to get to the line often. In over 1000 minutes played, Tomas only has 20 free throw attempts (18/20). While he does execute at the line, the lacking generation is one less form of efficient offense he can bring you consistently.

Off the Dribble Creation: Tomas does not give you much as an off-the-dribble scorer or creator, and struggles to find any of his spots in these scenarios. His pull-up passes the eye test as something worth developing, but other than leveraging ball screens and shooting gravity to get to that pull-up I do not see how you would use him as an on ball threat. Unless he can add a reliable pull-up to his offensive game, he will be a solely off-ball offensive player. This is obviously a ceiling hindrance for his overseas projection, but not something that should make him get written off as an impact player.

Defense

Strengths

Guarding movement shooters (lock and trail)

Woldentensae does an outstanding job of getting his work done early, mitigating the initial off-ball action and closing up the off-ball space off floppy sets before they get wider. Thus, he tends to force his matchup to make a difficult catch, causing the opposing offense to start further from the basket than intended. While he gets called for the occasional off-ball over physical foul, in general, he stays connected to his opponent’s hip and applies just enough pressure to be felt when making his way through screens. I wouldn’t categorize Tomas as extremely quick with his feet, but rather he is efficient and decisive when taking routes to guard his opponent. He anticipates where he needs to be when defending an Iverson Cut and does an excellent job of getting skinny through off-ball screens and navigating his way through an early dribble pitch action. On a limited sample this season, when guarding his opponent’s air space, they shot below 25% as Tomas forces the right shots. He doesn’t take himself out of possessions with errant contests and he rarely commits a landing space foul.

Defense at the nail

While defense at the nail may be a niche and specific strength for Tomas, it’s one of his best traits as a team defender. Simply put, he owns this space as an off-ball defender. He knows exactly when to help and closes necessary driving gaps, as demonstrated with his well-timed stunt game. Virginia’s Pack Line defense allows Woldentensae to freelance at times when positioned at the nail. He mucks up the passing lanes with high hands and active arms, makes well-executed digs, but also understands when to retreat onto his man after the initial stunt. Woldentensae is the type of player I could see excelling in a 3-2 zone concept at the next level. Guarding the top of the zone his size paired with his recovery instincts and general activity would create havoc for opposing back-courts.

Help instincts

Outside of his tremendous work guarding the nail, Tomas is also an adept help defender within a team concept. He strategically positions himself off the ball and knows when to sink to the paint level when necessary. While it’s a small sample size, many of his tracked steals per InStat come

from off-ball anticipation where he sees the play ahead of time and jumps the passing lane. Always pointing out his man, Woldentensae is in constant verbal communication with his teammates and involved in the action, he does the little things. Whether they be a well-timed rotation or forcing a long skip pass. Tomas makes winning plays off the ball, at times, plays not accounted for in the traditional box score slash line.

Point of attack defense

While often beaten by quicker downhill speeds, Woldentensae actually does a great job of reading his opponent’s hips, almost in true-cornerback fashion. The numbers on Synergy or InStat may not back up the case that Tomas is an elite POA defender. That said, the film suggests that a number of these makes are simply difficult shots in the contested floater or midrange department. Again, Tomas understands the right shots to give up when attacked in isolation. One

could describe him as an analytically savvy defender. He keeps tight footwork and maintains a wide defensive stance even though he is not always on the balls of his feet. Woldentensae is more of an off-ball defensive specialist who can guard the POA in spurts. I would advise against him in a POA setting against jitter-bug, Yogi Ferrell-type guards, and more physical larger Jae Crowder-type wings.

Weaknesses

Strength and ability to guard up (physical wings)

Rarely tested in the post, Woldentensae guards down the positional spectrum much more than guarding up. It’s not as if Virginia needs him to guard up with three very tall (6’9+) starters in the frontcourt, as less than 3% of defensive matchups come in the post. That said, there are instances where Tomas gets bodied down low and needs to commit a bail-out type of foul where he initiates contact with his chest rather than absorb it. In an ideal situation, Woldentensae would have more bases covered when it comes to guarding up. Even guarding someone with a bigger physical profile, his teammate Sam Hauser (6’8″ 218) is a good measure of what teams may want him to do at the next level. I’d use Royce O’Neale as a possible example. O’Neale, a 6’4″ wing with considerably more heft can guard power wings but also has enough foot speed to challenge jumbo initiators. At the moment, Tomas is more in line with the Josh Richardson physical molding. Still, I could see more interest at a higher level if Tomas would be willing to add a bit of strength, enabling him to guard a much more comprehensive array of players on the positional spectrum.

Rebounding and willingness to crash more often

While I commend Tomas for not going after irrational rebounds and completely taking himself out of possessions, there are occasions where he runs away after an initial shot, perhaps too early. While clearer on the offensive side of the floor, if teams see Woldentensae as more of a stretch wing capable of guarding up, he will need to improve his attention to detail on box-outs and to general aggression on the boards. The numbers may not support sending more than one offensive glass crasher to the boards, but I’d like to see more engagement and willingness to help out on the glass.

General fouling issues and ‘handsy-ness’

Overall, Tomas does a great job of not fouling on both jump shots (landing space/ pump fakes) and when he keeps his man in front of him. I think he falls victim to a lot of bad, ticky-tack whistles. Still, I think he can be more strategic in this department. Once beat, he’s shown the ability to funnel his man into a big man helper, but there are instances where Tomas makes the problematic plays – ‘he beat me off the dribble, so now I must foul’ type of play. A lot of these calls come 35 feet away from the basket and result in hand-checks that appear unnecessary. Limited frustration fouls will be necessary when advancing to the next level. Also, when beat off the dribble, he will tend to foul with his body, which allows his opponent to get off a potential and-1 opportunity. These are more of the sneaky, hand-on the waist type fouls. I’d like to see more willingness to make up ground with his long defensive strides rather than commit an errant chest-bump type foul at the basket. At times, he underestimates his ability to recover and thus sees fouling as the next best option.

Over Extending Himself on the Perimeter

Virginia’s Pack Line defense relies heavily on allowing a help cushion for the POA defender when guarding the ball handler, emphasizing fewer shots at the rim on blow-by drives. They emphasize ball pressure as well. Tomas understands this concept and provides this on the ball, but there are times where he finds himself super far out, guarding the ball handler 35-40 feet away from the basket. This can occur off-the-ball as well. Even though he routinely guards high gravity movement shooters, there are times where he is susceptible to getting beat back door on back-cuts, cheating too far up to take away a potential triple. Although this is a minor spatial awareness issue, I could see it being a quick fix that could help conserve some unnecessary energy expended so far away from the basket and at the same time prevent the occasional back-cuts. Essentially, he can overextend himself a bit too much for the scheme.

Guarding jitterbug initiators, guarding way down on positional spectrum

Tomas does a great job of containing the ball handler with long east-west slides, active arms, and general patience. Even though a large percentage of his tracked fouls come from shot contests, the majority of these come at the basket, not on perimeter-up fakes. It’s tough to ask a 6’5″ player to guard a quicker 6’1″ guard. I believe Woldentensae has the tools to become a better one-on-one defender against this type of player. However, when late on his slides, Woldentensae’s feet can get stuck on the ground, especially against shiftier ball handlers. He isn’t necessarily loose in his hips, and while he does an excellent job of maintaining a low stance, I would like to see him be more aware of staying on the balls of his feet. He’s shown flashes of guarding quicker jitterbug style guards, but the more positional versatility, the better.

Tracked Fouls

Foul type

2019-20 (24

games)

2020-21 (10

games)

Charging (offensive)

4% (2)

0

Landing space or foul on jumpshot

6% (3)

10% (2)

Blocking

4% (2)

5% (1)

Push off (offensive)

0

5% (1)

Offensive without ball

6% (3)

0

Reach in or general contact (guarding ball handler)

42% (20)

10% (2)

Shot contests and general contact at basket

33% (16)

30% (6)

Hand check or over physical in post

2% (1)

10% (2)

Off-ball contact on defense (over-physical)

2% (1)

20% (4)

Tracked steals, up to discretion, games where a steal occurred

Steal type

2019-20 (10

games)

2020-21 (7

games)

On-ball poke/strip/dig (on-ball)

50% (11)

12% (1)

Off-ball interception/deflection/loose balls (off-ball)

50% (11)

88% (7)

Overall Outlook

Tomas Woldentensae manifests value on both ends of the floor by being a versatile perimeter defender and willing shooter. I would also call him a highly adaptable player, willing to sacrifice stats for wins. As shown with his career at UVA, he can take on the lower-usage movement shooting, defensive specialist type role despite being an upperclassman. Even though his shooting numbers from beyond the arc are attractive, his traditional box score slash line at UVA fails to tell the complete story due to the snail-like pace and designed stagnation. The three-pointers that TW gets come with a higher degree of difficulty than most teams, and manifest mostly on the move or with a closing hand nearby. Sure, he plays limited minutes on a stacked UVA team with three likely NBA players, but Woldentensae executes when called upon and buys into UVA’s system. Naturally, he has had to defer to Virginia’s Trey Murphy III and Sam Hauser at the wing spot, yet Woldetensae’s impact improved in this role.

I believe Woldentensae can impact winning at a competitive level overseas. The eye test tells this story, and the advanced numbers back this up (+1.54 wins in 2019-20 on defense alone) (BBall_Index). A plug-and-play player at the next level, rarely did I see Tomas take an

ill-advised shot or turn an offensive set into an isolation. He plays within himself, rarely forcing anything that isn’t there. I believe Woldentensae’s patience on offense is his best quality.

It is very rare to find 3&D wings/off-guard prospects in the NCAA that are unlikely to find a notably high demand for Euroleague, G-League, or NBA teams. Tomas Woldetensae is an example of this. At nearly 25 years old with only one true offensive weapon (versatile 3pt shooting), it is hard to see him contributing to a higher level team’s offense at a level worth the import.

However, for Italy’s Lega Basket Serie A (or A2 Basket, depending on relegation situation), Woldetensae may just be the perfect fit to fill a rare and valuable archetype. Finding winning role players that do not need a lot of touches to make a winning impact is so key to avoiding relegation, and a 3&D off-guard/wing could be exactly what teams are looking for.

Video Insight

Shooting Compilation:

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Assists + Turnovers:

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Finishing Cuts:

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Defensive Cuts:

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