James Gist is a member of the ever-growing group of tweener forwards that have crowded the NBA Draft conversation as of late. Too short and skinny for a prototypical NBA power forward, he seems most suited for an NBA small forward with his quickness and athleticism. The problem? Hes clearly got some work to do in the skills department. However, his potential is undeniable and he should do some serious damage in the paint next year with the graduation of Ekene Ibekwe
Standing a legitimate 68 and weighing around 225 lbs, Gist enjoys the athleticism, mobility, and speed to be labeled a physical specimen, even by lofty NBA standards. He runs the floor very well and has the explosiveness needed to finish contested dunks or layups on fast breaks. He doesnt have great ball-handling ability, and looks fairly mechanical trying to create offense for himself. He shows decent form on his set shot, though, which has college three-point range. He also has a turnaround jump-shot and a jump hook in his offensive arsenal.
Off the dribble, Gist can shoot, but it does not look quite as natural at this point because he shows a tendency to pause before going into his shooting motion. In the post, he is a completely different player. He uses his strength and athleticism to dunk just about anything around the basket and get offensive rebounds, but is a bit limited trying to do much more than that. He doesnt show the greatest touch near the basket, but, as witnessed through his percentages (53% FG, 42% 3FG, 71% FT), Gist is an effective scorer at the college level.
Gist has all of the physical attributes and athleticism to be a good college post-defender. He blocks shots all over the floor at a good rate (2.1/game) and can stick with most collegiate players. He is a good defensive rebounder (5/game, 6.6/48 min) that could get even better with a better understanding of fundamentals under his belt. However, its all about effort with Gist. He just has to stay focused on the defensive end to be effective. On the perimeter, he gives his man too much space, but it is simply a matter of undeveloped instinct rather than a lack of effort. It will be important for him to work on his defense this year, because without the equally long and athletic Ibekwe, any inadequacy will be more visible. His potential, though, is quite promising. He has very long arms to go with his athleticism and shows good enough lateral movement to make the transition in the NBA.
However, he must show that he is comfortable playing on the perimeter and creating his own offense. At this point in his career, he is an undersized post player with limited perimeter abilities. To become a true NBA combo-forward prospect, hes going to have to develop this kind of offense.
This being said, there is a chance that James Gist
will see some kind of big-league paycheck. His combination of skills, athleticism, size, and effort is coveted in the NBA. Without Ibekwe in the post and with improvement at the point guard position, a big season is expected out of Gist and the Terrapins. He could be a sleeper in the NBA draft game, and with another breakthrough season under his belt, it is not a stretch to imagine him sneaking into draft conversations.