Strengths: Early is a versatile combo forward with a natural inclination for scoring (16 PPG) ... He’s a terrific athlete at 6’8 with clean movements, good quickness and explosive vertical bounce ... An active mover without the ball, he uses that athleticism to slash & finish around the bucket ... While offensive rebound output is down (2.3 to 1.4), it’s unquestionably an area he can impose his presence ... Early is comfortable receiving the ball with his back to the basket where he can elevate over defenders (high release) or utilize a quick spin baseline ... He’s advanced his shooting range – 1.7 makes and 3.5% jump in accuracy – but still a mid-range weapon first and foremost ... 85% free throw shooter. No apparent fundamental flaws in his release, but does bring the ball from low to high ... Most effective off catch & shoot, can serve as floor stretcher off pick and roll ... He’s playing with improved confidence and game in, game out consistency as a senior (two single-digit efforts, both in blowouts) ... Possesses all the tools to be a solid perimeter defender when fully engaged; moves well laterally and doesn’t gamble ... Product of a winning program and coached up right by Gregg Marshall ... Early raised his game under the bright lights of the Final Four, posting a 24/10 (zero turnover) line against Louisville’s elite frontcourt.
Weaknesses: To occupy the 3-spot at the next level, Early needs to beef up his off-the-dribble dimension ... Ball handling and willingness to attack are on the incline, but he’s far from secure ... He avoids dribbling into tight quarters and creativity is lacking ... Not the best decision maker with ball in hand (2 TO); lacks a feel for passing. Range shooting is steadier at 35%, but he shouldn't be attempting 5 three's per game in college. At 220 pounds (tops) with a 6’9 wingspan, defending against NBA 4’s is a bit of a pipedream ... He’s bulked up some since arriving from JC – particularly core and lower body strength. More hard yards are required in order to stand firm in post defense ... Tendency to get caught watching the action (when not the primary defender) is disconcerting. Awareness and focus can be suspect. Early has a plethora of skills, but a few major limitations have earned him the label of tweener ... He’ll turn 23 in April putting a cap on his physical upside. Nevertheless, as Wichita keep winning, Early keeps climbing draft boards.
Adam Ganeles 2/17/14
Notes: Measured 6'7 (in shoes) 207 lbs, with a 6'9 wingspan at the 2013 Kevin Durant Skills Academy