Back on December 4th, this site had a piece breaking down three mid-major prospects that I had my eye on during the opening week of the college season. That trifecta of college athletes profiled included: Ohio point guard Jason Preston, athletic Marshall wing Taevion Kinsey, and sharp-shooting guard Javonte Perkins from Saint Louis University. As the wait for the upcoming G League season continues, the devouring of film on ballers through difference mid-major prospects will push forward with this piece.
Kessler Edwards - Pepperdine
Way back in early July, I started a series breaking down the twenty mid-major prospects that could receive two-way deals during the 2020 off-season. One of the twenty players featured in that series was Pepperdine guard Colbey Ross, who entered the draft pool after a strong junior season where a 20 point, 7 assist, and 5 rebound on a 54% True Shooting Percentage season pushed the young guard to the West Coast Conference First Team for the second consecutive season. Despite that tremendous season, the 6’1 guard decided to return for his senior year.
While Ross has used the first few weeks of the season to continue where he left off, he hasn’t been the most impressive player on that team. That honor belongs to 6’8 junior Kessler Edwards, who has used the first few weeks of the season to further establish himself as a standout 3-and-D prospect. From a statistical standpoint, that’s seen by him putting up 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, .9 steals, and 1.4 blocks on 51% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 4.8 attempts per game. Those shooting percentages have pushed him to currently maintain a 63% True Shooting Percentage.
Although he’s definitely excelling from a statistical standpoint, they don’t tell the full story of how excellent he has been this year. When you watch film of Pepperdine, it’s easy to overlook the big wing with how he can blend into the background with how the fireworks that you can witness whenever Ross is working with the ball.
However, the 6’8 wing’s skills become apparent as you go through the full 40 minute marathon as you start to witness moments where he can work both on-ball and as a help defender, making it rain from 3 as a catch-and-shoot threat, attack closeouts, use his 210-pound frame to post up inside, or make quick finds as a facilitator. For this segment, let’s give a spotlight on his facilitating skills. That knack is shown in the clip below as he throws a great bounce pass to a cutting Colbey Ross while moving in the opposite direction. This play both shows his vision to spot the guard at the right time and is able to deliver the precise dish.
Isaiah Ross - Iona
Ever year during the NCAA Tournament, there’s always an unknown prospect from a mid-major school that excels during an early round game with how he’s able to excel on offense through being make it rain from deep. If there’s one player that fits that description among players during the 2020-21 season, it would Iona guard Isaiah Ross. During the first seven games of the season, the senior is exhibiting those sharp-shooting bona fides by averaging 21.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.3 steals on 52% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. Those numbers are currently allowing him to maintain an outstanding 65% True Shooting Percentage.
As was the case with Edwards, you need to look at more than numbers to truly understand how great he’s been so far this year. Because while his statistics have been great, they should seem to be even more impressive when you watch film and see the difficulty of some of the shots that he’s taken. A recent example of that is seen from a recent Iona game against Rider where Ross hit a couple of huge off-the-dribble 3’s to push Iona over the top in a key conference game. One of those shots is seen in the clip below, where he uses a slick step-back to create separation from his man and nail a 3 to put his team up 5 with four minutes left in regulation.
Ross was able to combine that great work as an off-the-dribble shooting with also being a knockdown catch-and-shoot threat. Currently, the senior guard is shooting a jaw-dropping 56% on catch-and-shoot looks, according to Synergy Sports. That tremendous percentage starts to make more sense when you see clips like the one below, where he’s just quick between the process of catch-and-release, which allows him to put up a corner three before the Rider is able to close out.
Kellan Grady - Davidson
The first two players featured in this piece, Kessler Edwards and Isaiah Ross, have been able to use perimeter shooting to stand out during the first month of the college season. However, that’s not the the case for our current subject as the Davidson senior shines as one of the mid-major elite through being a Swiss army knife that is able to help the squad in a variety of different ways.
Given that he’s averaging a team-best 17.7 points per game with a 55% True Shooting Percentage, that versatility is most seen on the offensive end. Over the course of a single game, you can see him make an impact through multiple means that include: making off-ball dashes to the rim, shooting off-the-catch or off-the-dribble, facilitating, or driving to the rim. Among those skills, Grady has probably been most impressive as an on-ball driver.
Although he isn’t the quickest player that can just blow by his man, the senior guard has learned how to effectively utilize screens to create separation from his perimeter defender. Once there, he can change of speed moves to push the help defender to get off-balanced, and then make a clean drive to the rim. A great visual example of that is evident in the clip below.