Cougfan.com reported Thursday that WSU has picked up a verbal commitment from junior college big man DJ Shelton out of Citrus College in Azusa, Calif. What kind of player are the Cougs getting?
Shelton, at 6-foot-9, joins 6-8 high school recruit Greg Sequele to fill an immediate need. The frontcourt has developed into a mess over the past three years, thanks to a transfer (James Watson), injuries (Steven Bjornstad and Fabian Boeke), as yet unfulfilled potential (Brock Motum) and a general lack of ability to recruit quality big men. When your starting 4 is 6-7 and 200 pounds ... well, that should tell you all you need to know about the state of the program's forwards and centers.
(Of course, this is to say nothing of the very real possibility that the program's only quality, two-way big man is leaving the program at the end of the year.)
Shelton isn't particularly thick -- listed at 220 pounds -- but he's long, rangy and athletic, if pretty unpolished offensively. His story is an interesting one, and it's tough to tell whether we should interpret it as full of red flags or simply read it as a kid who knew he was in a bad situation and needed to get out.
He is the nephew of former Seattle SuperSonic Lonnie Shelton and cousin of former Washington Husky Marlon Shelton, and he originally enrolled at Cal State-Fullerton. After spending a year on the bench, he transferred to Citrus. Because of the redshirt at Fullerton, he'll have three years to play three seasons.
It's unclear why he left Fullerton, but if you're to believe these guys, he was either just not good enough or squeezed out by an impatient coach. It's a message board, so take it for what it's worth. It's also not clear why Shelton was still uncommitted and unsigned at this stage of the recruiting game. This is not the sort of thing that inspires confidence that WSU is picking up an impact player
His measurables are certainly there, though, and you can see the athleticism. Here's a video from his senior year of high school. Don't fall too in love with the jump shots and such - it's pretty easy to splice together some good looking clips and leave out the ugly stuff. Look at how he moves:
Impressive, right? Well, if you want to see the rare video where a guy isn't lighting it up, check this one out -- you can get a first-hand view of Shelton whiffing on a couple of blocks and bricking a dunk. He does look good running the court, though!
I kid. But I appreciate that video because it should help temper your expectations a little bit. He's got tools, but he's also got a fair amount of developing to do, too.
Shelton was productive at Citrus -- his counting stats read 12 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 23.7 minutes per game. But, of course, we want to take a look at his tempo-free stats. I've included his team's stats for context:
|TO Rate||20.2%||TO Rate||24.7%||OR%||12.0%|
|FT Rate||48.5%||FT Rate||39.9%||DR%||22.4%|
A couple of things stick out to me. First, Shelton was an excellent rebounder at this level. If he were to put up those percentages at WSU, he'd be far and away our best rebounder -- DeAngelo Casto leads both categories at 8.9 OR% and 17.9 DR%. Of course, it's unlikely Shelton can sustain that kind of production against the bigger players he'll see next year. I'd also caution against reading too much into that offensive rebounding percentage. Look at his team's pace (80.7, blisteringly fast) and team OR% (38.9 - elite Division I teams are above 35) and understand that at least some of his production in that area is due to team philosophy.
However, there's evidence to suggest that rebounding is one skill that almost always translates between levels. So while it's not reasonable to expect him to maintain rebounding percentages of greater than 10 and 20 percent, it's reasonable to believe he's probably better in that department right now than anything else currently on the roster not named Casto.
I also love that effective field goal percentage, which was built almost entirely on 2s (he only took three 3s all season). Given that his team took 3s on nearly 40 percent of their possessions, that tells you exactly what his role was. I would imagine a fair amount of that percentage is dunks, but that can't explain all of it. Again, he'll find the going rougher against larger defenders, but it's encouraging to be adding a big man to the fold who apparently has at least a bit of touch around the basket.
The bottom line is this. Shelton's probably not going to come in and set the world on fire next year, but he'll make the team better immediately just by being big and being able to go get some rebounds. And that's not a bad thing.