Chances are if you’re a college basketball fan, you either watched the entire North Carolina vs. Iowa State game this year in the NCAA Tournament or caught the highlights on SportsCenter.
For those who didn’t, let me set the scene.
Tie game, 15.7 seconds left on the clock. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year inbounds the ball to the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound senior guard takes the ball and dribbles it up the court.
Seconds tick off the clock.
He pauses shortly after crossing the half court line, then signals for a ball screen. It comes at the right wing, but the defense hugs the big man and allows the on-ball defender to get under the screen without getting caught up.
Now there’s five seconds left. Crossover dribble between the legs to the middle of the lane. A couple dribbles and one, two, possibly three strides. Five feet in front of the hoop now.
Shoulder into the defender. Elevate. Shot up. High off the glass for two points and the win!
Big time players make big time plays.
For the past month or two, I’ve read up on a lot of stuff regarding Kane and Melvin Ejim’s chances of getting drafted. Basically every source had something along these lines in their conclusion about Kane:
Great stats yadda yadda yadda, questionable attitude yadda yadda yadda, OMG HE’S 25 YEARS OLD!!
Because apparently, ladies and gentlemen, 25 years old to NBA draft scouts means you’ve already booked a room to the nursing home and you’ve got 911 written down on a post-it note next to your rotary phone just in case you forget the number.
“Limited upside” is a term I’ve seen thrown around a lot due to Kane’s age. Supposedly the older a player is, the less likely they are to improve their game. Scouts wonder if Kane has already reached his ceiling of potential.
Who made up the theory that players can’t improve after they’ve hit a certain age?
Lebron James, the greatest player in the world (as much as it pains me to say, being a Kevin Durant fan), added a repertoire of new post moves to his game courtesy of Hakeem Olajuwon’s tutelage a couple years ago. This made James an even bigger matchup nightmare on the court.
And guess what, he did it in his late twenties. GASP.
James has also worked hard to make his jump shot more consistent in the past few years. This was evident when the Miami Heat won the 2013 NBA Finals. The Spurs dared James to make jump shots for the whole series. He responded by nailing jumper after jumper and it ultimately ended up being a large part of why the Heat took home the title.
DeAndre Kane is NBA ready RIGHT NOW. And there’s still a chance he could get better if he commits himself. Yet, the doubters are still out there.
“He only put up the stats he did because he was playing against kids that were 3+ years younger than him.”
Well, there might be some truth to that. But look at what Kane did when matched up against the number six overall pick in this year’s draft, Marcus Smart:
@OSU (3OT): 26 PTS, 9 REB, 9 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO.
@ISU (OT): 27 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST, 1 BLK, 2 STL, 3 TO.
And take a look at Smart’s totals from the same games:
@OSU (3OT): 20 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO.
@ISU (OT): 27 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK, 4 STL, 2 TO.
So let’s add those up:
Kane: 53 PTS, 16 REB, 17 AST, 1 BLK, 3 STL, 5 TO.
Smart: 47 PTS, 10 REB, 8 AST, 1 BLK, 7 STL, 5 TO.
As you can see, the stats are pretty even across the board, with an edge to Kane for points, rebounds and assists in the head-to-head matchup.
Look me in the eye and tell me that Smart is just a “kid.” I bet you can’t. That guy’s body is built more solid than a 1999 Nokia cell phone.
Los Angeles picked Kane up for their summer league team the day following the draft. It’s fitting that Kane and Smart, two former Big 12 rivals, ended up on opposite sides of the oldest rivalry in the NBA (for now).
But how could someone whose stats so closely compare to those of a lottery pick from the same conference in college go undrafted?
Because the year Marcus Smart was getting his driver’s license, DeAndre Kane could legally purchase alcohol.
Kane will make the doubters pay, though. The “kid” he scored the winning bucket on against North Carolina (J.P. Tokoto) was an inch taller than Kane and weighed the same. Tokoto was also a four star recruit out of high school, with offers from UConn, Duke, Indiana, Kansas and many more notable programs.
You can watch the play in the video below.
Not bad for an old guy, huh?
Kane’s stellar performances against top ranked teams and individuals are why he is one of the most NBA ready guards in this year’s class. Even if he’s 25 years old, you only have to look as far as the 2014 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to see a team that is getting great mileage out of older players.
Tim Duncan: 38 years old. Manu Ginobili: 36 years old.
Take note NBA executives… DeAndre Kane has plenty of time to develop into a NBA player. You missed out by not drafting him.
I understand though, why draft a guy who averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 5.9 APG in the toughest conference in college basketball?
Get ready NBA summer league: DeAndre Kane is coming, and he’s got something to prove.