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Jarrett Sutton: The Misunderstood Evaluation of Wesley Iwundu

SEC Network Jarrett Sutton writes a guest post for Ridiculous Upside where he takes a look at Kansas State alum Wesley Iwundu

Kansas State v Cincinnati Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Note: The following piece is from basketball scout and current SEC Network commentator Jarrett Sutton. You can keep up with Sutton’s by following @JarrettTSutton on Twitter.

Wesley Iwundu is as intriguing of a prospect as I have evaluated heading into the NBA Draft. From growing up in Houston, to the little apple in Manhattan, to now on the cusp of an opportunity in the NBA, Wesley Iwundu has the god given abilities to be an impact player at the next level for an organization.

He draws a lot of comparisons to Kent Bazemore and Jordan McRae, I’d also add Thabo Sefolosha defensively and Justin Anderson into that conversation. At the next level, Iwundu will be able to shine in a role that best fits his personality and demeanor. “No motor”, “inconsistent”, they say. I’m here to tell you that Wesley Iwundu is more than you think he is, it’s only a matter of time until he finds the right fit that best meets his skill set.

Iwundu is an NBA caliber athlete, with great strengths that he possess from a physical and on-court perspective. Shining on the defensive end, Iwundu shows his versatility by guarding both guards and forwards at a high level. He’s a dynamic player that can be a defensive stopper with how quick his hands and feet are. He moves well and makes terrific passes, with the ability to score in a variety of ways when he has to with his leaping ability. His success on this end of the court was shown by Iwundu being named to the Big XII All-Defensive team during his junior season.

On the offensive end, Iwundu covers a lot of ground, his handle has improved, his jump shot has improved, his slashing and finishing ability has improved, and he’s a poised player that plays hard. He’s been tough to figure out in his career at Kansas State because you see what he can be, but you don’t see it as much as you’d like. I always want more from him, and he’s capable of more. He led K-State in scoring and rebounding, ranking 14th all-time on the K-State scoring charts. He’s got the quickest hands, particularly from the weak side and in help side rotation, in the Big XII Conference.

He is a point guard at the next level. The NBA length and size at the guard position is what passes the eye test. His motor has always been in question and his knack of being aggressive has been up and down. He does a little bit of everything, this versatility is what makes him a great player. He’s grown into that role over 4 years, but still goes through stretches where he really struggles with superior athletes and more physical players. He likes to post up on the low block and back down defenders with his terrific lower body strength.

His ball skills and mechanics at his 6’7 frame have improved. He can guard multiple positions, while also flirting with triple doubles quite often this year. He improved as a shooter this year, he was great in 1-on-1 isolation situations this year for the Wildcats. The best part of Iwundu’s game is that he does not have to be a scorer to impact a game.

Iwundu is an NBA athlete with crazy length, good size and positional versatility. He can both guard and play a number of positions. Iwundu is a mediocre shooter, solid rebounder, and good passer. He typically does not force shots and only attacks when he sees an opening. Iwundu will need to improve his 3-point shot to be able to crack a rotation in the NBA. I think the D-League will really help in his development and show teams whether he can improve. Iwundu is a good mid to late 2nd round pick because he has the physical tools to become a good defender and solid rotation player.

At the next level, he looks to have what it takes to be quite effective defending the 2, and while perhaps overmatched physically at the 3, he will have the versatility to switch and at least be capable defending a good portion of NBA small forwards. Iwundu is also a good positional defensive rebounder and paired with his ball handling ability, he’s quite effective cleaning up defensive misses and pushing the ball in transition.

Regarding his ball handling, Iwundu is very good, especially when it comes to changing pace, and utilizing a quick first step. Wes often plays the role of a primary distributor for the Wildcats, and dishes out an impressive 3.5 assists per game. From a scoring standpoint, he’s definitely a drive and transition threat first, but has improved as a shooter over the years.

At the start of his college career, Wesley Iwundu was a poor free throw shooter, but has improved that number to 76%. While he projects as a complimentary offensive player in the NBA, he’s carried a large offensive burden for K-State and is currently averaging 12.9 points per game in a low scoring system, something to keep in mind as K-State lacked offensive execution consistency throughout the year.

While Wes has improved a shooter, he’s still not particularly a good jump shooter. He lacks a motor at times, while not taking on a leadership role this season at K-State that they desperately needed. That’s not his personality, and he is best suited to be a role player for an organization at the next level. He’s always been a low volume three-point shooter, and while sporting a nice 36% split as a senior, he’s attempting just 2.4 attempts per game. Although this shows improvement, the longer line projects as an adjustment that will likely take Iwundu time to become adept shooting from that distance.

Iwundu’s damage is primary done in transition and attacking the rim, so it may limit his offensive effectiveness in the NBA. At this point his upside is fairly limited. Even four-year players improve when they make the jump to the professional ranks, but Wes doesn’t have a major NBA calling card. He’s projects to be a plus defender at the two spot, but he’s still going to be overmatched by many NBA small forwards, and he doesn’t fill the role of a player who can fill it up off the bench in the scoring column. He’s good at everything, but not great at one thing.

Overall: Wes Iwundu definitely has some appeal due to his versatility, athletic ability, and his quick hands as a collegiate defender. He’s improved beyond the arc, but still has some room to grow before he’s a threat at the NBA level. His passing, and talent in transition are also strengths. The key for Iwundu will be continued development. He’ll certainly get a shot in the NBA. As a second round draft pick, or as an undrafted free agent, his progression as a jump shooter is vital in his development. This will be the difference as to whether he is an NBA mainstay, or a stay in the D-League or Europe.