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NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas

Joseph Yesufu Scouting Report

The Cougs add a much needed, veteran PG

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars have made a big splash this offseason by getting Kansas transfer Joseph Yesufu. WSU beat out some notable names for the PG.

Yesufu is a true combo guard. He simply gets buckets and is comfortable hitting tough shots. He specializes in floaters and touch shots and, when they go in, they are an absolute thing of beauty.

Yesufu is most comfortable hunting floaters off two-feet because it helps him stop quicker. He’s always going 100 miles an hour downhill, so jump-stopping on two allows him to stop on a dime and get this shot off over taller defenders.

It’s somewhat worrying that Yesufu relies so heavily on these shots. Even good floater scorers struggle to take them efficiently, and it’s indicative that he struggles to get all the way to the rim or to make plays.

However, part of why he takes so many floaters is that he was usually playing in cramped spacing. His floater is a shot he can get almost all the time, and that safety valve could be huge for WSU’s offense.

Yesufu is perhaps most known for his explosive, above-the-rim finishing. He is listed at 6’0, though he is a bit smaller than that, which makes his highlight dunks even more impressive. He’s a two-foot leaper who needs some space to load, but when he gets a chance he will put it on someone’s head.

His size hinders his at-rim finishing when he doesn’t have the space. He struggles to explode off of one-foot, so he relies on these looping hook finishes to try and beat contests in the paint- and it rarely works.

He is athletic enough to get to the rim when he has space, and he could have some improved driving angles when playing with WSU’s shooters. He could improve as a rim finisher by getting to the line a little more. He’s never had a super high free throw rate despite his athletic tools, but he is a good free throw shooter and he has the upside to be a good foul drawer.

The major question for Yesufu’s fit with WSU is how well he can run pick-and-roll. Last season, the Cougs went away from the pick-and-roll heavy scheme that they ran with Mike Flowers at the PG, but having a true ball-handler back on the roster as well as someone with strong spacing and a good roll-men, they might want to reconsider.

A lot of his pick-and-roll possessions result in floaters. This is both a good and bad thing for reasons already discussed, but it is a solid weapon for him.

His passing out of pick-and-roll is a bit hit or miss. He’s inconsistent in that realm and his passes rarely stand out. However, he does execute basic reads well and he sets up plays.

He also does a frustrating thing where he jumps on almost every pass. This limits his passing windows and forces him to throw some off-target skips and kickouts.

Part of why Yesufu gets labeled as a combo is that he’s a reactive passer, rather than a proactive one. His passing is rarely horrible, but it is also rarely elite. Notice how he misses the roll-man on this play, instead reacting to the dig and throwing a kickout. WSU has had success making combos into true points before, but it’s far from certain.

If the passing and pick-and-roll play is not as strong as it could be, then Yesufu will have to play some off-the-ball. The jumper numbers leave a lot to be desired, as he is a career 31.7% shooter. However, his best season was a 38.4% year on over 4 attempts a game. WSU could use a return to his sophomore year numbers.

Yesufu’s mechanics are funky for a player his size. He cheats for power by having a strong angle in his hips with his right foot way out in front of his left, and he jumps way off the ground on his load. It’s this type of jumper that seems high-variance on aesthetics alone, and that bares out in the numbers.

His top-notch touch sometimes translates itself into some tough outside shots off-the-dribble, and perhaps playing with more freedom in Pullman should give him the confidence to take and make more shots like this.

Yesufu is not the type of true rim-pressure, playmaking point that fans were hoping for, but he is a great portal get for staff. He brings a veteran presence with upside as a scorer, and some comfortability running pick-and-roll. With improved spacing, Yesufu could be in for a big year.

The roster is rounding into place now, with Yesufu helping to complete a guard room that was the Cougs’ biggest question. WSU still awaits draft decisions from Mouhamed Gueye and Justin Powell, but everything else is done. There could still be some shenanigans- and if Gueye leaves, he will need to replaced, but it feels like the roster is mostly set.

Jeff Nusser

Yesufu steps in as the starting point guard next to Powell in the backcourt, and that fit makes sense. It will be interesting to see if Yesufu can be more of a playmaker in the spacing that WSU will provide, but that would take development from him. There is a chance he comes off the bench as a 6th man eventually, but that would depend more on Kymany Houinsou and Myles Rice than him.

Smith getting Yesufu has absolutely raised the floor of this team. He is experienced and proven with the ball in his hands. However, the ceiling still feels more reliant on players like Powell, Houinsou, and Rice when it comes to playmaking at the highest levels.

Welcome to the Palouse, Joseph!

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