Film Don’t Lie: Jarace Walker, Roddy Gayle Jr., Kel’el Ware

Detroit Bad Boys

With a new NBA season about to dawn, it is a great time to take one final deep breath of the summer offseason and think about the not-so-immediate future. More specifically, I’m talking about the 2023 NBA Draft prospects. We don’t know how the Detroit Pistons season will unfold. It could be the play-in tournament, or it could be vying for one of the following names. It makes sense, then, to at least be familiar with what the 2023 NBA Draft has to offer.

This will be the 5th of a multi-part series where I will break down three possible prospects for the 2023 NBA Draft. For my series, I will not be looking at any players that were in college last season, though our own Steve Pelletier may have those breakdowns for you in the future. I will instead focus on a few players taking the nontraditional route to the NBA and the crop of HS seniors.

To continue this series I will be looking at Houston’s Jarace Walker, Ohio St. Guard Roddy Gayle Jr., and Oregon big man Kel’el Ware.

For these breakdowns, I will give just a paragraph or two of my overall thoughts on the prospect accompanied by my video breakdown on each. I do want to make a note that with ALL of the prospects in this series, I had varying levels of access to stats, information, and film. I try to highlight and note where I got stats from, if I had access to one game, just HS film, or maybe access to other leagues they played.

I also want to emphasize that these breakdowns are solely my evaluation of these prospects as players but not specifically for the Detroit Pistons. We have no idea how some of the Pistons’ young core will develop or where they will land in next year’s Draft. I simply wanted to give fans and readers of DBB a little insight into who these prospects are right now with the understanding that they have almost a full year of growth ahead of them.

Jarace Walker

6-foot-8 – Houston – 19 Years Old (Turns 20 on Jan. 1, 2023)

STATS (The Season Ticket) – (15 Games) 15.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.9 TOPG, 1.0 SPG, 2.1 BPG

  • 67% FG – 4/10 from 3 – 68% FT

Offensively, I think there will be some obvious questions that have to be answered at Houston in terms of how Walker gets his buckets in the half court. He is not a post-up type player, and the shot still needs to improve, although I didn’t think the form looked bad at all and he made some really tough mid-range jumpers that are intriguing. I like him best in the half court where he is able to catch and drive downhill which also opens up opportunities to flash some really nice passing chops. I will say that based on the archetype of player he projects to be, he will have to show some improvement while at Houston in the areas of finishing around the rim, outside of dunks, and tightening up his handle.

Defensively, he is another one of these 6-foot-8 forwards you can see having a ton of versatility. I saw multiple examples of him defending ball screens including drop, switch, and hard hedge/blitz. I would have liked to see him stay in front of the ball handler a little better at times but he looked to be a young player who relies on almost letting the offensive player going by and then getting the block from behind. I was very impressed by his communication off the ball and then maybe more than any player I have scouted so far in the 2023 class, I LOVED the way he attacked the defensive boards.

Check out the Video Breakdown for my Full 2023 Preseason NBA Draft Player Profile

Roddy Gayle Jr.

6-foot-4 – Ohio St.

STATS – (11 games via inSTAT) – 13.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG (0.9 “O”), 3.4 APG, 3.6 TOPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG

  • 41% FG, 36% 3PA (3.3), 77% FT

Offensively, it starts with the shooting package for Roddy Gayle Jr. He looks very comfortable taking and making shots off the bounce whether from 3 or in the midrange. I would have liked to see him running off screens, but I was very impressed by his “subtle” off-ball movements to create passing lanes for open shots. The other aspect of his offense that immediately impresses is his passing. He is definitely one of those offensive connectors who always keeps the ball moving and is ready to make the next pass. The biggest area of growth for Gayle Jr. will be in terms of attacking the basket in isolation or just simple self creation. The turnover numbers are a major area that must improve while at Ohio St. and a lot of those came from having a loose handle or not being able to play through contact.

Defensively, I had a hard time really honing in on where Gayle Jr. was at on the ball because his HS team was playing a matchup zone. What this did do was force him to guard a multitude of players which could really serve him well going forward. Off the ball was hard to judge for the same reasons but in general I will say that he lacked consistency. At times I felt like he showed a lack of awareness tracking shooters while at other moments he displayed some really nice defensive rotations.

Check out the Video Breakdown for my Full 2023 Preseason NBA Draft Player Profile

Kel’el Ware

7-foot-0 – Oregon – 18 Years Old (Turns 19 on April 20, 2023)

STATS (via inSTAT) – 15.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG (3 “O”), 0.8 APG, 1 TOPG, 1.5 SPG, 2.2 BPG

  • 61% FG – 0/3 from 3 – 8/10 FT
  • 19 MPG (6 Games) – FIBA U18

Via Oregon Website – Averaged 21.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 5.7 blocks in HS

Offensively, Ware gives you all the things you would expect from a 7-footer who moves well for his size. He is going to have awesome lob gravity and be a play finisher in the dunker spot, transition, offensive boards, etc. There is talk of upside with his shot, but it is just not something I believe in right now but will definitely be watching out for during his year with Oregon. Outside of that, I am not sure there is a lot to be excited about offensively. He didn’t flash a ton of passing. His post-up game is limited to his left shoulder, right-hand hook shot that he does do a decent job getting position for out of the pick and roll.

Defensively, I left my film study feeling a little bit conflicted on what to think. I liked the fact I saw him put in a position where he had to defend ball screens in several ways, compared to Lively II who was just asked to hang out in the lane. The issue was it wasn’t something he did extremely well and I am not sure he will be successful doing it against high level college, and eventually, NBA talent. My biggest area of focus when I update my scouting during the season is his overall rim protection. He is obviously going to be disruptive with his size and length but I do have some questions right now with how he goes about it.

Check out the Video Breakdown for my Full 2023 Preseason NBA Draft Player Profile

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