#0 / Guard / Washington St. Cougars
Winter Haven, Fla.
This is the latest in our series of WSU basketball player profiles, a new one of which will hit the site every couple of days early in the season. You can read the other players' profiles here.
Scouting Report: Did you know that Marcus Capers was able to come to WSU when Taylor Rochestie volunteered to give up his scholarship? No, really! It's true!
All joking aside, that's what Capers was most noted for during his freshman season. (Well, that ... and being forced to take a potential game-winning 3 against UCLA. But I've tried to forget about that.) He was billed as Rochestie's potential backup at point guard, but it became clear pretty quickly that Capers wasn't a strong enough ball handler or passer to see very many meaningful minutes there. He contributed in other ways -- most notably on the defensive end -- but his minutes were wildly inconsistent as it was clear his offensive skill set wasn't the greatest match for Tony Bennett's system.
That why I think perhaps no player benefited more from the coaching switch than Capers. Ken Bone allowed him to play to his strengths -- most notably, his ability to move without the ball and crash the offensive glass. Capers' offensive rating shot up from 71.9 to 108.4, largely on the strength of his ability to finish around the rim. How many times last year did Capers make a back-cut and finish with a dunk? How many times did he crash the offensive glass for one of these?
It all led to a 55.9 percent mark inside the 3-point line, up from 32.3 percent as a freshman when he was more or less trying to create for himself and finish with acrobatic layups around the basket.
Capers has done what every coach hopes for every player to do: Make himself indispensable to the team by maximizing his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses. It's more clear now than ever that Capers was simply miscast as a point guard. He doesn't have that skill set, but he's long and quick and he knows it. He attacks the rim with relentless abandon, but not off the dribble -- he looks for gaps in the defense where he can catch a pass and finish. And his offensive rebounding? His OR% was easily second best on the team among those who played greater than 60 percent of the minutes. For a guy with so many offensive limitations, Capers has made himself into an incredibly efficient offensive player.
And that defense. He's still prone to occasional lapses with reading screens and sometimes doesn't keep his man in front of him, but his length and quickness bothers a lot of players. Capers is also incredible at recovering for blocks -- his 3.0 block percentage is truly remarkable for a 6-4 guard -- and whoever Capers is guarding has to be constantly worried that he's going to sneak around them with those arms to reject their shot.
Capers still has his weaknesses. To say he's not a strong shooter would be an understatement, and his free throw shooting has followed. But there are reports that the jumper is improved. That would be scary for defenses.
Best Case Scenario: Capers does what he's been doing, but has indeed improved his jumper and even his ball handling. He's selective in when he decides to use them, and becomes an even more dynamic offensive weapon. His all-around contributions lead us to declare him the unsung hero of the team.
Worst Case Scenario: Capers thinks his jumper has improved, but it really hasn't much. He also thinks his handles have improved, but they really haven't, either. In short, he falls in love with wanting to be an NBA player and hurts the team in the process.
Likely Scenario: There's just not a lot of downside here unless Capers starts shooting a lot and doing it ineffectively. There's nothing in the first two games that suggests that's going to happen. Because he's not prone to shooting slumps and his defense should continue to improve, you'll likely see another offensive rating around 110 and the rest of his numbers up across the board.