At the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, Admiral Schofield was a finalist for the Julius Erving Award that goes to the top small forward in the nation, and with good reason. In his senior season, the 6-foot-6 forward hit a number of career-best marks. Schofield’s awesome individual season played a big part in Tennessee’s run to the Sweet 16.
With three players invited to the NBA Combine, @Vol_Hoops is tied for the most players selected of any program in the nation.— Tennessee Stats & Info (@Vol_Stats) May 9, 2019
Admiral Schofield is one of only five seniors who received an invite. pic.twitter.com/lSXqNxtzmp
Among the career-bests for Schofield this season were: 47.4 percent shooting from the field, 41.8 percent from the 3-point line and 16.5 points per game.
Schofield shot 476 attempts from 3-point range at a 38.7 percent rate over his four-year NCAA career, more than enough for us to determine that his accuracy from deep is no fluke. Since he was a four-year player, every opponent knew that he was hunting for 3-point shots. When Schofield’s man committed to getting a hard closeout on the drive, they risked getting dunked on.
The scarcity of elite, 3-and-D wing players make Schofield an incredibly enticing prospect due to the fact that he already excels as a physical defender and has a nice 3-point stroke. His 6-foot-10 wingspan gives him the potential to guard up a position and he will fight in the post to hold his ground against bigger players.
By no means is Schofield a defensive playmaker, but he doesn’t need to rack up a ton of steals and blocks to be effective on D. He is usually in solid position to provide defensive help from the weakside, and theoretically, should be free to be a much more aggressive defender with an NBA shot blocker behind him.
Schofield’s stats are very similar to Otto Porter’s career numbers during his two years at Georgetown. His steal and block rates are lower than Porter’s, but Schofield has a much larger sample size when it comes to projecting his 3-point shooting to the NBA level. I have great confidence that Schofield will come into the league shooting between 34-to-38 percent from 3-point range.
It took Otto Porter three seasons in the league to become a solid 3-point shooter, but Schofield obviously has more experience than Porter had coming into the NBA Draft. He is one of the safer picks in the draft in my opinion because of his experience. The fact that he is a prospect with a clearly defined role and who also understands his limitations will likely make him a coach’s favorite should he stick on a roster.
The fact that Schofield has more turnovers than assists in his career (188 vs 177) and doesn’t possess much in terms of offense off the dribble limits his offensive upside greatly. We already talked about how he can attack a closeout with a straight line drive, but he is not going to break his defender down off the dribble in an isolation situation.
Being a player that relies so heavily on his jumpshot for offense, it is extremely worrying that he doesn’t get to the free throw line much.
Schofield has attempted only 2.1 FTA per game for his career. In the 2018-19 season, his free throw attempt rate was a career-low 17.1 percent. On top of that, he is about 6-foot-5 without shoes on, so despite the long arms he can have serious problems finishing over length in the paint.
When Tennessee took on Auburn in the SEC Championship, they lost by a whopping 20 points behind an awful offensive and defensive effort. Schofield was by no means the main issue, but he was a large part of the problem. He went 1/8 from the field, which included 0/2 from 3-point range, 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
Schofield also had four personal fouls in 33 minutes in the SEC Title game. The point of highlighting this specific performance is that it perfectly encapsulates all of the main concerns that surround him as an NBA prospect. Auburn’s defense was extremely physical and ranked 36th in the nation per KenPom.com. They were able to limit his 3-point attempts and challenge him to finish at the basket. And on the defensive end of the floor, Auburn forced Schofield to guard, attacking him whenever the chance presented itself. Depending on the team he gets drafted to, NBA defenses may be able key in on Schofield, forcing him to drive into the paint.
The fear is that if NBA defenses can take away his catch-and-shoot game, Schofield doesn’t possess enough offensive versatility to make an impact, especially when the intensity rises in the postseason.
Long term outlook:
In the NBA, teams will try to do what the Auburn Tigers did to Schofield, except they are even more equipped to frustrate him with rangy wing players. But nonetheless, he has proven that he is a legit shooter who is absolutely money on catch-and-shoot attempts. In the 2018-19 season, Schofield shot 51.5 percent on his shots classified as “short midrange” attempts per The Stepien’s shot chart tool. If he can score that efficiently on short midrange shots at the NBA level, it could be a nice counter to hard closeouts when can’t get all the way to the rim.
He is built like a tank, so he has a strong case to be a durable player who can log heavy minutes if need be. Every team in the league could use another strong perimeter shooter with the potential to be a solid switch defender down the line.
In the case of Schofield, he brings an extremely high-motor and has shown that he can be part of a winning program, the exact type of prospect that we have seen the Bulls front office prioritize over the years. If Schofield can tighten up his ball handling and start to make better reads on offense, he can quickly work his way to being a starting SF in the NBA, rather than a solid bench wing, a much more likely outcome.