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Scouting With the Mavs: Arizona State at SMU

The Mavericks front office spent the off-day at Moody Coliseum to study some under the radar prospects

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 07 Arizona State at SMU Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks brought their brass out to Moody Coliseum Wednesday night, sending their director of scouting, a lead scout, and their shooting coach out to see SMU star guard Zhuric Phelps.

In addition to the Mavericks, the reigning champion Golden State Warriors were in attendance to watch Phelps.

For the season, Phelps is averaging 19.6 points per game, four rebounds per game, three assists per game, two steals per game, and half a block per game on 42% shooting, 33% from three, and 70% from the free throw line. Against Arizona State, Phelps recorded 19 points on 41% shooting, with one rebound, two assists, two steals, and four turnovers.

Phelps has the skillset of a modern guard in 2022. He can score at all three levels, he has great strength that he uses on both ends of the floor. Phelps also is comfortable driving and absorbing contact, resulting in a high volume of free throw attempts per game. Against Arizona State, Phelps only shot three free throws, which is lower than his average of six attempts per game. This was in part because of Arizona State packing the paint and making it hard for SMU to get open shots, or even one-on-one shots, at the rim.

Phelps’ handle was also on display, despite only two assists to four turnovers. He is ambidextrous with the ball, unable to be forced to one direction to negate his strengths as a scorer. He also has a deep bag of shot creation moves, but was unable to capitalize on turning space creation moves into points, either for himself or others.

Defensively, Phelps didn’t get many opportunities on-ball, but he was active away from the ball. Phelps often sees plays before they happen, and can force turnovers rather easily because of this. He also rotates well, and can stay on track defensively in the stingy scheme SMU runs. In an NBA where shooting matters more than just about anything else, being able to limit shooters’ effectiveness while also not getting burned by cutters are key traits that Phelps possesses.

The worries for Phelps from this game are that his shot selection and turnover count were less than desired. It also is alarming to see multiple bulldog mentality players in Jaelen House & Frankie Collins, both smaller than Phelps, undermine Phelps’ game and play-style this season at home. While this can partially be attributed to SMU’s struggling roster & overall performance, Phelps needs to take over more games and establish himself as the alpha dog. This means not backing down from the challenge at any time, and not letting players who face-guard him get in his way of doing his job as a first option.

Overall, Phelps was underwhelming in a game with key players in the scouting department for Dallas. With the Mavs at so many games just a few miles up the road, this shouldn’t hold significant weight, but this game will be in the back of scouts’ minds during the season. Phelps still hit his season scoring average of 19 points, but lacked the takeover ability scouts were looking for. The Mavs know about Phelps being one of the best hidden talents in the country, and will be back multiple times to witness big outings in person in the future.

Look for The Mavericks to be at Saturday’s DFW matchup in Fort Worth of SMU/TCU, where Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Mike Miles will matchup with Zhuric Phelps.