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Florida State Guard Can Do It All on Both Ends of the Floor
Not every prospect coming into the Draft puts up eye-popping numbers. College games are shorter, the opportunities fewer and players’ games simply aren’t as refined. Then there are guys who play for Leonard Hamilton.
Florida State’s head coach, who just wrapped up his 19th season with the ‘Noles, believes in a balanced system, and his 2019-20 squad had talent to go around. But do-it-all swingman Devin Vassell still stood apart – catapulting himself into the first round of this November’s Draft after a stellar sophomore season.
Not heavily recruited after a prolific scoring career at Peachtree Ridge in Georgia, the 6-7 Vassell led Florida State – and all ACC freshman – in three-point shooting percentage in his first season in Tallahassee. As a sophomore, he led the team in scoring (12.7ppg) and rebounding (5.1rpg).
Long three-and-D wing players are a coveted commodity is today’s game, and Vassell is currently one of this year’s Draft’s fastest risers.
Vassell shot over 40 percent from deep in both of his seasons at FSU. His game-tying bomb against Virginia Tech in the 2019 ACC Tourney got scouts’ attention and this year he solidified his standing with big outings against Miami and Virginia.
But Vassell is much more than just a shooter. In fact, his versatility might be the most appealing aspect to his game. An ACC All-Second Teamer last year, the 20-year-old started all 30 regular season games for the Noles – and aside from leading the quad in scoring and rebounding, also finished second on the squad in assists (49), steals (42) and blocked shots (29).
Vassell is a smart young man – on the floor and in the classroom. He’s one of the Draft’s better athletes, an explosive athlete who does some of his best work above the rim and has an improving offensive arsenal – nearly tripling his production from his freshman to his sophomore seasons.
On the defensive end, he’s just as impressive – combining his athletic skills with a dogged competitive streak.
NBA squads are always on the lookout for athletic wings who can defend. Throw in Vassell’s documented success from deep and skills around the bucket and you’re talking about a top 10 pick in just under a month.
STRENGTHS From a purely physical standpoint, Vassell has the ideal length for a wing player – standing 6-7 with just under a 7-foot wingspan. He’s also a dynamic vertical athlete who can elevate over opponents. His highlight film is littered with massive dunks off the lob and on put-backs.
Vassell was an efficient shooter at Florida State – shooting nearly 42 percent from long-range over the course of his career and canning 48 triples as a sophomore. He also showed great improvement in his mid-range game last year. Still, he’s been tweaking his jumper in anticipation for next month’s Draft.
In terms of getting his teammates involved, Vassell is an underrated and willing passer with an outstanding basketball IQ and feel for the game.
Despite his wiry frame, Vassell is a very good rebounder and is willing to mix it up in the post. Defensively, he excelled at the collegiate level and looks to be a plus defender as a pro. He’s a tough kid with a competitive streak.
WEAKNESSES Going back to his slight frame, Vassell will need to add upper and lower body strength at the next level. For as aggressive as he can be around the rim, there are questions how much he likes contact – attempting just 2.2 free throws per game as a sophomore.
And going back to not posting huge numbers – there are questions exactly what Vassell’s upside will be at the next level. Despite anchoring FSU’s offense, he posted six single-digit scoring games last season, including a pair of outings late in the schedule.
Vassell’s jumper wasn’t mechanically perfect through two seasons with the ‘Noles and scouts who’ve seen it aren’t sure his new tweaks are an improvement. He’s far from a finished product, offensively.
HOW HE'D FIT It’s not a huge secret that the Wine & Gold could use some help on the defensive side of the ball. And in today’s NBA, you can never have enough athletic wing players – another area where Cleveland could use a reinforcement or two.
Unlike some of the 2020 Draft prospects, there’s not much of a mystery to Devin Vassell. Scouts can argue about his floor and ceiling, but at least the proof’s been in the pudding; he’s showed his stuff against some of, if not the best competition in the country in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Cavs went with point guards as their top pick in back-to-back Drafts and bulked up their frontcourt at the league’s Trade Deadline last February. Their wing players headed into the upcoming seasons are Cedi Osman, Kevin Porter Jr., Alfonzo McKinnie, Dante Exum and Dylan Windler.
Could FSU’s athletic three-and-D wing join that group when Cleveland’s on the clock on November 18?