The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and the 2020 NBA Draft is only days away. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s profile focuses on athletic guard Jay Scrubb. The Kentucky native thrived at John A. College, earning him the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year Award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
- Height: 6’6”
- Weight: 215
- Wingspan: 6’9”
- Shoots: Left
- Position: SG
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 31-55
- PTS: 21.9
- AST: 2.7
- REB: 6.8
- FG%: 50.1
- 3P%: 33.3
- FT%: 72.7
Don’t let Jay Scrubb’s small-school billing fool you, he possesses a top-level blend of athleticism, size and skill. That trio of gifts are on full display when Scrubb is slicing through defenses on the way to the rim. The Kentucky native’s downhill attack starts with his explosive first step. Once Scrubb blows past the first defender, he is a threat to launch into a monster dunk off either leg. When he isn’t gliding to the rim, his fully developed pull-up game allows him to score from all three levels. Off the ball, Scrubb is an active and instinctual cutter. He utilizes off-ball screens effectively and has the innate ability to catch his defender sleeping during backdoor cuts. In transition, Scrubb is a flashy above-the-rim finisher.
Defensively, Scrubb maximizes his length and quickness to smother opponents and invade passing lanes. Physically, he boasts one of the most NBA-ready frames in the entire 2020 class.
Scrubb was an absolute force at the JUCO level, but the athletic advantages he enjoyed there will diminish at the next level. Outside of that jump in competition, Scrubb needs to clean up the little things in his game. He too often settled for contested shots on drives—bypassing open teammates as two, sometimes three, defenders collapsed around him.
Don’t dwell on Scrubb’s 33.3 percent shooting mark from beyond the arc; he connected on 46.4 percent of this three-pointers as a freshman. His lack of catch-and-shoot experience could limit his effectiveness when he is asked to space the floor off the ball, though. He isn’t a bad catch-and-shoot operator, but he does not possess a large body of work in that department.
Offensive efficiency aside, Scrubb will face a considerable learning curve on the defensive end of the floor. He must tighten his footwork on closeouts—his athleticism won’t be a cure-all approach against NBA-caliber perimeter players.
Fueled by Scrubb’s exploits, John A. Logan College reeled off an impressive 28-5 record. That overall record included a pristine 18-0 conference record. Scrubb’s production caught the attention of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the University of Louisville. Prior to deciding to enter the NBA Draft process, Scrubb earned the NJCAA Player of the Year award and was a centerpiece in Louisville’s recruiting class.
If you transplant Scrubb into a bigger conference, with bigger audiences, his draft stock would rival those of other top-tier prospects. But that was not the case for Scrubb last year. Without a conventional pre-draft process to work off of, teams must rely heavily on their scouting departments when evaluating Scrubb’s upside. In 2010, Jae Crowder took home the NJCAA Player of the Year Award. The main difference between the two: Crowder put two years of film together at Marquette prior to becoming a second round pick. That said, the 20-year-old guard has the physical attributes and the scoring profile that NBA teams covet. Make no mistake, Scrubb fits the mold of a project player, but that should not deter teams with proven development programs.
Judging by all the pre-draft noise, the Blazers are one of the teams interested in Scrubb. The Blazers have met with him more than once, and The Athletic’s John Hollinger suggested in his recent mock draft that Portland is tied to the promising JUCO star.
I know what you’re thinking: do the Blazers really need another shooting guard on their roster? On the surface, that answer is no. But looking past next season, Portland would be wise to have another viable young guard in the pipeline. Gary Trent Jr. and his future contract situation looms large—especially when you take a peek at the Blazers’ projected tax bill moving forward (Jusuf Nurkic’s extension is closer than you think). Adding Scrubb’s favorable ceiling to the mix at a modest draft slot is a smart long-term move for Portland. With Scrubb’s stock on the rise, the Blazers might have to consider moving up from pick No. 46 to secure his draft rights.
Thank you to coach Kyle Smithpeters and the Athletic Department at John A. Logan College for quickly supplying the image in this post after we reached out.