The Boston College basketball team held a practice on the main floor at Conte Forum over the weekend. Eric Hoffses was lucky enough to be able to attend and check out this year’s version of the team.
For this particular practice my focus was on the new players on the roster. Below is a short critique of each player and what I think they bring to the table.
I was pretty surprised with Jeffers and not for the reasons I thought. I think that Jeffers has been built up as the new big man on the team and the player that will step in as a replacement for Dennis Clifford. While Jeffers does have some similarities to Clifford he isn’t an exact replica by any means.
The first noticeable difference is Jeffers is only 6’9" and he probably isn’t even a smidge over that height. While he will play center this season he will be shorter than most centers that he goes up against in the ACC.
Truth be told that was the only concern I had after watching Jeffers. He plays hard, he plays smart and plays within the offense. As a bonus, he is a really good passer for a big man. I didn’t see a variety of low post moves by Jeffers so I think that it’s going to be a stretch for him to duplicate Clifford’s 9.9 points per game. On defense, Jeffers hustles and is attentive on each possession which means that he doesn’t get out of position.
After watching Tava my first thought was that he is going to be a pain in the ass to play against each night. He’s not flashy, he’s not overly athletic and he’s undersized for a four in the ACC at 6’6". However, the guy just gets it. There’s no other way to explain it.
Tava is a top level passer for a player at his position and was consistently setting up teammates for good looks. He doesn’t appear to be a threat to shoot from the mid-range or beyond and I’m not sure that he is going to be able to get his shot off consistently in the paint once conference play starts. Make no mistake though, Tava is a player that you’ll want to be on the floor.
I don't have a ton of analysis to offer on Chatman. On the court is he a no thrills role player. He's kind of one of those players that won't hurt you when he's in there but at the same time is not a difference maker that he will be a top five scorer on the team.The staff tells me that he is a leader on the court so that's obviously a positive.
Bowman is going to be a player that BC fans will and should be excited about right off the bat. From a physicality standpoint Bowman looks like a player that is in his second or third year in the program as opposed to his first. Bowman already shows that he knows how to use his physical build to drive into the paint and score buckets or draw contact. On the defensive end he shows signs that he can be a really good defender. Bowman should be able to make an impact as early as this year.
Graves came in billed as a point guard but I didn’t get to see him handle the ball much in this practice. There’s no doubt that Graves’ best trait is his shooting ability as I watched him drain shots from all over the court during different drills. The freshman will instantly replace Matt Milon as the best shooter on the team and his upside will be a whole lot higher than Milon.
At 6’11" Popovic is the tallest player on the roster. Luckily for BC, he isn’t just the tallest but one of the strongest as well. Popovic held his own banging down low against Jeffers for most of the day.
One trait which stuck out was that Popovic is very competitive. At one point in a drill, Popovic let Jeffers get better position than him to score a bucket in the post. After the coaches got on Popovic for it he yelled out "Let’s do it again". On the next possession, Popovic got the better of Jeffers.
In terms of offensive skill set, Popovic is a good passer and can sink jumpers from the outside well for a big man. He doesn’t appear to be overly athletic so it will be important for him to adjust to the speed of play when the ACC schedule kicks off.
There is no other player with a lower floor and higher ceiling on the roster than Sagay. There are times when Sagay makes athletic plays that make your eyes pop out of your head. There was one play on Saturday when Sagay drove the lane and was picked up by a 2nd defender. The freshman proceeded to make a no-look pass behind his back to an open teammate for an easy dunk. On the flip side there were times when Sagay didn’t look like he understood what play the team was running in a half court set. The potential is there but I don’t know if the staff can get him up to speed this year.