One of the more unique stories in college basketball
, Dewayne Dedmon
didn't start playing the game until four years ago, a gangly 18 year old Jehovah's Witnesses. He played just one season at Antelope Valley Junior College and then sat the following year in order to preserve three seasons of eligibility at USC. Unfortunately he was only able to play 20 games last year before tearing a ligament in his knee and being forced to sit out the rest of the season.
Dedmon's intrigue as a prospect is readily noticeable on first glance, standing seven feet tall, with an excellent frame and a long wingspan. He's also extremely mobile for a player his size, running the floor exceptionally well, and being quick off his feet, highly agile and very explosive around the rim. Simply put, players with his physical attributes are extremely rare, and typically highly coveted.
Dedmon played for one of the worst teams in college basketball last season, a USC squad that went 1-17 in a very weak Pac-12 conference, and sported the least efficient offense
in high major basketball. That surely didn't do him any favors considering it was basically his first real season of playing organized basketball, but that did probably allow him more opportunity to figure things out as the year moved on, which he certainly appeared to do.
Playing 23 minutes per game, he didn't have the skill-level or experience needed to be much of focal point for USC offensively, as he struggles to create shots for himself. While clearly being strong enough to establish position inside the paint, Dedmon possesses a very rudimentary post game, as he shows little in the ways of footwork, counter moves or a left hand. He does have good quickness on his initial moves, but can be defended fairly easily in one on one situations, as he's an extremely poor passer (dishing out just 6 assists in 465 minutes last season) and rarely gets to the free throw line.
Where Dedmon shines is as a finisher around the basket, converting nearly 75% of his looks at the rim last season, one of the highest rates in college basketball. He's nearly automatic when catching the ball in space due to his tremendous physical attributes, something that his team wasn't always able to take advantage with their extremely weak backcourt.
Dedmon is a terrific offensive rebounder, best in the Pac-12 on a per-minute basis, thanks to his terrific agility, leaping ability and wingspan.
As the year moved on, Dedmon's comfort level offensively seemed to grow somewhat, even making a couple of face-up jumpers from 10-12 feet. His shooting mechanics look decent, even if the 54% he shot from the free throw line shows that he still has a long ways to go in this area.
Defensively, Dedmon has everything needed to be a real game changer in time, as his combination of mobility, length and strength at 7-feet tall is extremely rare. He moves his feet very well for a player his size, showing very good potential hedging screens on the perimeter and recovering quickly into the paint, being very difficult to shoot over. He showed potential as a shot-blocker, but wasn't too prolific in this area, only rejecting four shots in just over 7 games in Pac-12 play.
His strong frame makes him tough to post up very effectively inside the paint, even if he clearly doesn't have very much experience guarding other players his size, and is still a bit naïve biting on pump fakes. Dedmon averaged 5.5 fouls per-40 minutes last season, which made it difficult for him to stay on the court at times. He's also a surprisingly poor defensive rebounder, second worst amongst centers in our top-100, something scouts will undoubtedly want to see him improve on this season.
All in all, Dedmon certainly looks like the part of someone who hasn't been basketball very long, which will make it interesting to see how he progresses this season with a little more experience underneath his belt. If he's able to show the type of learning curve you'd expect from a player with his experience-level, he could certainly draw quite a bit of NBA interest considering his tremendous tools, despite turning 23 a few months ago. 27-year old Bernard James
proved last year that NBA teams aren't afraid to roll the dice on older guys with rare physical attributes that are relatively new to the game.