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Scouting With the Mavs: Providence vs TCU

Damion Baugh and Bryce Hopkins draw a crowd

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Texas Christian Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing the Scouting With the Mavs series, the Dallas Mavericks, along with seven other NBA teams, were in attendance Wednesday night at TCU as they hosted Providence. TCU had another promising win as they campaign back towards the top 25 rankings after being a preseason top 15 team, but now unranked following a slow start against low-majors, and an upset loss at home to Northwestern State. Since the loss, TCU has been dominant, and they have been drawing the eyes of NBA teams every single game.

While Mike Miles’ first home game in over two weeks was part of the draw, the other players that attracted NBA teams were Damion Baugh & Bryce Hopkins. Miles missed some time in mid-November with a foot injury, but returned to action over Thanksgiving weekend.

Mike Miles continues the trend of his season: impressive slashing, almost impossible to stop getting to the rim despite being 6’1, and finishing well, but needing to improve jump shooting. Miles’ free throw shooting has started off slowly, and will need to improve along with his 27% from three.

Miles still gets to his spots at all three levels, but the major fix scouts want to see from him is more consistent high-level shot making. At six foot one, he must be able to shoot the ball consistently and at a high level. Right now, there is only about one unproven shooter at that size or shorter that has stuck around: TJ McConnell. TJ has made a living in the league by being a floor general and one of the best defensive pests in the league, which is a very niche combination. In order for Miles to stick, he will have to have his jump shot come along at a high level and improve from the career average of 32% from three over two seasons and five games this season.

Scouts were also in the building for what was a big night to see Damion Baugh for the first time this season. He served a six game suspension for signing with an NBA agent that was not NCAA certified during his pre-draft process before ultimately returning to TCU. Baugh’s secondary ball-handling, good athleticism, and energy on defense make him a desirable prospect, both overseas and as a G-League candidate.

Baugh stood out to scouts; he logged 31 minutes with 10 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals on four of seven shooting (57.1%). Baugh did all of this despite what appeared to be a pretty rough cramp in the second half, when he couldn’t stand up off the floor, but ultimately returned. In those minutes, Along with a visible passion from Baugh, his energy was contagious, particularly on the defensive end. Baugh’s strong nose for the ball helps him be the natural turnover-forcer he is. Offensively, Baugh was given more freedom than Miles, while also being pressured less than Miles, allowing him to dominate the pick & roll and to find shooters with ease.

Baugh did play a bit out of control at times, which is something scouts want to see how he can adjust to. Can he pick & choose when to play fast, when to play slow? This is something scouts will be monitoring, and something that the G League could help answer, which is a likely route I see Baugh going after declaring for the NBA Draft.

As for Providence, Bryce Hopkins was someone scouts were at least a bit intrigued by, since he was a top 40 recruit. At six feet seven inches, with a seven foot wingspan and an overall good frame, Hopkins is a bit of a tweener. He plays too much like a traditional power forward and lacks dynamic or advanced ball-handling moves, and he doesn’t have the size to play as a primary two point scorer without a great first step or mid range jumper. While Hopkins can finish through traffic and contact, he must become either a true creator or a lethal shooter. However, his jumper is far away from approaching the lethal label, which could be an obstacle in the impatient modern NBA.

Hopkins finished the game with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, and four turnovers on 50% shooting. The outlook for Hopkins goes down two or three paths: A breakout in-conference play in the Big East, allowing for him to declare, or a breakout season as an upperclassman in the coming two seasons before declaring for the NBA Draft. Exploring the G League route, which may become more popular among players in limbo in college basketball, could be another intriguing option after the season.

Lastly, Micah Peavy has turned some heads over the last week since his play at the Emerald Coast Classic, averaging 12 points per game, nearly seven rebounds per game, two assists per game, and over a block and steal per game. Peavy is the best wing/guard defender in the Big 12, which will automatically get him some looks when he declares for the draft. This is clearly evidenced by his two steals plus blocks number, which is outstanding for a wing. His offense is still lagging behind, but with a strong start to the year at the free throw line (79%), there may be optimism that his jumper will one day come along. He still is hesitant to shoot jumpers and lacks confidence on the perimeter, which will be key in determining his pro fate.

TCU will continue drawing NBA scouts, most notably the Mavericks who still feel their pains of missing on Desmond Bane in their backyard. Look for the Mavs to be at nearly every home game of TCU’s, especially come conference play when there are other NBA caliber players going against Mike Miles and Damion Baugh every game.