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Forecasting the star of next season: Terrence Shannon Jr.

Amidst a very talented roster, no. 1 looks like he can be the leader.

Kentucky v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Terrence Shannon Jr. is coming off a good freshman campaign. In the 29 games he played last season Shannon averaged 9.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 1 APG. Pretty decent numbers - good enough to secure a place on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. The value of Shannon isn’t just in his numbers, but especially in what he offers outside the box score. His efficiency when he’s on the court is incredible - recording a 21.6 USG% and a 18.6 PER (2nd on the team in both metrics). He could be trusted with the ball on the wing, owning the 2nd lowest TOV% (turn over percentage) on the team.

The thing everyone seemed to knock Shannon for is his three-point shooting. If you were at a Texas Tech Basketball game this past season, you understand. Every time the ball was in his hands behind the arc, he received a ton of groaning and “shoot the ball!” complaints from the crowd. For the record, I don’t really understand why you’d yell at a 25% three point shooter to take more shots. But kudos to Shannon, he didn’t listen to the grumbling. During conference play, the most threes he shot in a game was TWO. I don’t know if his lack of shooting is due to confidence, coaching, or ability - but what I do know is that his offense survived without it. Shannon finished with a TS% of 56.8 and shot 82.9% on free throws, showing a lot of potential for that three-point shot to possibly improve.

Since he hasn’t hit a rhythm with the deep shot yet, Shannon needs another move to be able to score. If you re-watch the broadcast of the Kansas @ Texas Tech game you’ll hear Dick Vitale screaming, “SHANNON! HE’S A DRIVER AND A SLASHER!” This couldn’t be more true. As you can see, essentially all of Shannon’s offense relies on getting the ball to the basket.

Via Synergy Sports

When the ball is in his hands outside the 3-point line he’s crafty in using his feet to create space. Shannon’s arsenal of ball fakes isn’t the most diverse, but his speed is what makes everything so lethal. His first step is so quick that if the defender bites on a ball fake, even the slightest bit, he’s going to dust them on the way to the basket. Shannon showed some ability on pull-up mid-range jumpers and floaters, but I like his offense most when he’s focused on getting to the basket.

Via Synergy Sports

Shannon’s two most efficient areas shown above (considering volume) are on cuts and ISO situations. The cutting numbers are no surprise (you’ll see in the film) and are already at such an elite level. Despite how good the ISO numbers are, they can improve. I’ll explain how later.

When he is off the ball, he knows exactly where and when to cut to the basket. If Shannon gets space on the baseline against you, you’re better off just moving out of the way. Contact doesn’t seem to phase him at the rim. His frame actually causes refs to miss a lot of fouls committed against him since he goes up so strong.

Despite the incredible offensive ability - my favorite part of Shannon’s game is his defense. If you rely on his averages to judge his defense, you’ll be left disappointed. He averaged less than a steal and less than half a block per game. Despite the lackluster box score numbers, the film on Shannon’s defense is very encouraging. He has one of the highest defensive IQ's I’ve seen in the Chris Beard Era. My favorite thing about his defense is his vision for passing lanes. One second he’s down on the block, the next he’s intercepting a pass at the top of the key. His head is constantly moving. He has the rare ability to have awareness of where the ball is at all the time but doesn’t let that distract him from his assignment. When watching film on Shannon, I rarely saw him have a defense lapse where his assignment got an easy bucket.

There big “what ifs” in determining Shannon’s true ceiling for next season is his shot. What happens if his shooting improves? Shannon becomes an offensive powerhouse. Last year, teams (that watched their film) backed off Terrence when he had the ball outside the arc and dared him to shoot. He didn’t. An improved shooting ability makes Shannon more potent offensively because, obviously, he’ll be able to shoot. Maybe even more importantly, this makes Shannon a much more lethal threat in ISO situations. Defenders will be forced to guard him closely on the perimeter, giving him more opportunities to use his first step to blow by a defender.

With a Texas Tech roster that’s getting better by the week, it’s easy to lose sight of the guys who played last season. Make no mistake about it though - if Shannon is on his game next season, he has a chance to be not only the best player on this team, but one of the best players in the conference.