Part 1: Who is Jay Scrubb?
Although he might not have any games nationally televised or have the opportunity to play in March Madness, JuCo product Jay Scrubb is a big-time talent regardless of college level. He’s currently a sophomore at John A Logan. Although he’s committed to Louisville, he will have the option to test the draft waters and be the first player drafted out of a junior college since the Atlanta Hawks selected Donta Smith out of Southeastern Illinois in 2004. With the NBA possibly on the horizon, Scrubb currently sits at 28 on our 2020 NBA Mock Draft.
How did Jay Scrubb end up at a Junior College?
Jay Scrubb didn’t have the offers coming out of high school that you would expect from a draft prospect. He described his interest from other schools as “very little out of high school. I would say Winthrop, Samford, Youngstown State, a lot of low major D1 schools,” said Scrubb, “I struggled academically my first years of school, but I got back on the right track with hard work, dedication.” He also credits a growth spurt of about four or five inches as a sophomore for his late blooming, which allowed him to add a more advanced offensive game in the post.
Scrubb isn’t only looking out for himself but wants to start a path for all JuCo players and the advice he gives to players who didn’t get the offer they wanted or didn’t academically qualify to their dream school is to “just keep grinding, stay in the gym, and if you’ve got the talent, they’re going to find you wherever you’re at,” said Scrubb, but if he could do things differently, he stated he would “listen in school. Definitely would’ve listened in school but like I said it’s been a great learning experience and I love it; I love the grind. I love being a JuCo product with the expectations, the fulfillment, and the requirements, I love it all.” So there’s no regret with the path that Scrubb is taking and he’s confident he will be where he needs to be. He also mentions family as a motivation for his basketball success, stating “just seeing how much my family needs me and needs me to provide for them. That just pushes me every day.”
Can Scrubb play against big-time competition or is he just standing out in JuCo ball?
Scrubb provides an advanced skillset as a scorer, creator, and a high-level athlete that can translate to the NBA level. There will be more on his in-game analysis later, but in addition to an exceptional season last year, he played in high profile events this summer, showing out at the USA Camp and Nike Skills Academy. “It was big personally for me, going to USA and Nike Skills because it showed me where I fit in with all the ranked guys, the five-stars, and the guys already committed to the big schools. It showed me my place and where I fit in,” said Scrubb, “I feel like I played my role. I’m a scorer so I didn’t really have to do too much getting my teammates involved. I just had to score the ball and that’s where I feel comfortable.” As for JuCo competition, he’s ranked #1 for a reason, “I’m a dog. I come out here every night, I compete, I bring the dog, and I try to bring the best out of my teammates, so I guess that’s why I think I’m the best,” said Scrubb, but he also acknowledges areas of improvement, stating “I feel like I can improve on my ball handling, communication, and leadership skills. All of them things.”
Scrubb isn’t worried about proving himself to anyone and is focused on the team for this season. “I already know what I have accomplished as a player but just getting everybody else their achievements and making them feel comfortable. That’s the main thing,” said Scrubb, “I’m not trying to prove anything to no one. I’m just trying to play basketball and provide for my family.”
Who does Scrubb resemble in the NBA?
Anyone who follows our site knows that player comparisons come with the analysis, so who does Scrubb resemble? He mentions Kevin Durant as his favorite player, “Kevin Durant, that’s my favorite player. I don’t try to emulate him, but I just try to take little bits and pieces from his game. If I try to emulate him too much, that can throw your game off,” said Scrubb. Of course, standing at 6’6 he’s not much like KD in that regard. To me, he shows a resemblance of Terrence Ross, but Scrubb’s ability to create and break down the defense seems more natural at a similar stage.
Part 2: Coach’s Perspective
John A Logan’s coach, Kyle Smithpeters, describes Scrubb as “a very versatile player. He’s extremely gifted offensively but I think the most underrated thing about him is his defense. When he wants to sit down and guard people, he has great length and great lateral quicks. He has the ability to guard multiple positions and being able to do that especially at this level, let alone the next level, it’s very, very important.”
How has Scrubb improved since arriving on campus and what were Coach Smithpeters’ first thoughts when recruiting him?
“The maturity level has been a complete 180. He’s really grown up a lot and he’s a young kid. He just turned 19, people forget how young he truly is. He’s done a good job of creating a great work ethic. He’s a guy who has really understood and really fits the idea of trying to bring it every single day. There’s always stuff to work on. You can have the work ethic, you can have the tools, and you can tie them together to have the chance to be a special player,” said Coach Smithpeters and mentions his first impressions when recruiting Scrubb as “unbelievably talented. I thought he could be a very good player. He was a little overweight when I saw him at the time. He would go through the motions because he was more talented than everyone. Honestly, we put him through the workouts, he did the work. Jay has put himself in a heck of a situation because he has worked extremely hard and allowed not only himself but his teammates around him to thrive the way we’ve been able to play.” While Coach Smithpeters saw the talent early on, he states the magnitude of it all is more than expected, “we’ve had really good players before but it’s hard to predict this stuff. You can never expect this stuff honestly. You’re always excited to see someone’s hard work pay off and I think Jay’s hard work is paying off.”
How does the rest of the team respond to the attention?
The big stage of getting NBA attention can be a lot of pressure for high majors college programs, let alone much more attention than any junior college has received in a long time but John A Logan’s team has stayed grounded and focused on team success, “they’ve handled it really well. We’ve had some bright lights on our program the last year or two. Our guys have done a great job handling all that pressure and made it to the standpoint where it doesn’t seem to bother them at all,” said Coach Smithpeters, he also mentions how he can use the team to motivate and challenge Scrubb, “we’re so talented as a team, that’s the one good thing for Jay. We have a lot of really good players, so he does have to bring it every day. We try to put him in positions to work on things that maybe aren’t his strong suit; like we talk to him all the time about being a great screener, be great away from the ball, don’t just be a guy with the ball in your hands, so that’s the kind of things we constantly talk about and work on.”
Although having a talent like Scrubb can certainly benefit a college program, Coach Smithpeters requires all players to abide by “The Logan Way” or it’s not going to work out, stating “we’re going to recruit our guys. We’re going to recruit guys that understand the responsibility of being a Logan basketball player. You’re going to be on time, you’re going to have daily responsibilities, and if you can’t adhere to that then we’re not the place for you. It’s the same way I put the pitch to Jay, ‘if you want come here, be really good and us make you better, then come. It’s not easy, it’s going to be really hard. If you don’t like it being hard then just don’t come here.’ You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for responding to that because we’re very vanilla and we keep it vanilla, and that’s fine by us because our guys come in with the mindset of knowing what they’re getting into.
Part 3: In Person Viewings
Before the season started, I made my way to a pair of JuCo Jamborees; hosted by Vincennes University and John A Logan, also a scrimmage against Division 2 power University of Southern Indiana (USI).
Opponents: Cuyahoga, Danville, and Schoolcraft
Midwest Jamboree hosted by John A Logan
Opponents: Missouri University-West Plains, Mineral Area, and Triton
John A Logan won all three games in Vincennes fairly easily, getting an early lead and never looking back with their games turning into a dunk fest at times and showing their superior talent. They were played closer at the Midwest Jamboree winning two games but losing one to Missouri University-West Plains behind a big-time performance by Florida State commit Sardaar Calhoun. In those six games, Scrubb displayed his scoring arsenal and athleticism in full, showing why he’s the top JuCo prospect and projected in the first round.
University of Southern Indiana (USI)
John A Logan’s scrimmage against USI was a nice switch from the jamborees as there was more half-court offense and structure, less isolation, coaches controlled the tempo, more defensive emphasis, and more overall value in each possession. USI made it to the Division 2 Final Four last year and they enter the season ranked 20th in the nation in the Division 2 Bulletin Preseason Top 25 poll. Many overlook division 2 but they provided a nice test. Although John A Logan has more talent and athleticism, USI provided maturity as they’re the only four year school that Logan will face in any capacity this season, and it was back and forth with Logan winning the first 20 minute segment 40-34 and USI winning the second 41-31. They played another eight-minute game with Logan winning 13-8. While both teams certainly wanted to win all the games, like all scrimmages, both teams experimented with lineups and looked to prepare their teams for the upcoming season. Scrubb had to work a little more for his baskets against USI but didn’t fail to create and put points on the board in bunches.
Here’s an analysis after seven in person viewings of John A Logan’s preseason games.
Part 4: Player Analysis
Similar to watching a 5-Star recruit in high school, Scrubb brings the same presence among his peers. Although it’s easy not to show the same respect to the JuCo competition Scrubb faces each night to what most college sophomore draft prospects face on the regular, Scrubb is younger than most sophomores as he turned 19 on September 1st, and even younger than high schoolers in some cases. There’s a lot of optimism for Scrubb’s future and what he can become down the road as he matures. He can be more vocal, and leadership always has room to grow but he’s good at owning up to mistakes, whether it’s a turnover or a missed defensive assignment, he takes blame when appropriate rather than pointing fingers.
Scrubb has plus measurements for a two-guard as he stands at 6’6 with a reported 6’9 wingspan. He has a good frame with an already strong build, and he uses it to play physical, initiating contact on offense. He’s an explosive athlete with a reported 40-inch vertical that translates well into game situations as he displays it in both the half-court and in transition. He jumps well off one or both feet and has good body control around the rim, adjusting to the defense in midair. He was on the finishing end of plenty of alley oops and will attack the rim without shying away from attempting to poster the defender. His first step with the ball is quick as well as his sprint when running the floor. Last season, Scrubb shot 4.9 free throws per game.
Scrubb scores in a variety of ways; as a transition finisher, creating in the half-court, and perimeter shooting. He can get to the rim against a set defense, driving to both his left and right to score in traffic with either hand. He’s a good finisher, even when he doesn’t dunk. He thrives in isolation situations, although he can try to do too much in traffic at times; dribbling into multiple defenders to get the ball stripped or dribbling off the defender’s foot when trying to squeeze into a contested area on occasions. He also settles for contested shots at times; both in isolation situations and coming off a ball screen. However, he can get hot to score in bunches. There were times he would get going and the defense didn’t have an answer to cool him off. He created plenty of scoring from scratch, as he doesn’t need a play ran for him and he breaks down the defense with his dribble. He spaces the floor well but there are times he could move more off the ball. Scoring is where Scrubb thrives and gives plenty of intrigue as an NBA prospect. Last season, Scrubb averaged 20.2 points per game at 54.9% FG%.
Scrubb’s shot has good rotation, form, and arc, with ability to shoot from midrange and 3PT range. He needs only a little bit of space to get his shot off and he can connect shooting off the catch or dribble. There are times he starts his shot before he’s squared up, looking uncomfortable with a staggered stance but overall, he has positive results from the perimeter. Last season, Scrubb shot 46.4% 3PT% on 3.7 attempts per game. Free throws are something he’s going to have to figure out and stick to a routine. Last year, he shot a very respectable 79.1% FT%. Through the first two jamborees, Scrubb had an unusual routine purposely banking in his free throws, which he claims he just started doing this year. Although I don’t have statistics he connected at a good rate. “I just felt like it was easier to bank them. If you put more on it, you just hit the bank shot. I like it. I like the different reactions I get from the crowd when I use the bank shot, so you know it’s a classic,” said Scrubb. However, in the scrimmage against Southern Indiana, he went back and forth between banking and shooting for the net, leaving a lot of points at the line. I don’t have stats for the scrimmage, but I unofficially counted 2-8.
Passing and Playmaking
Scrubb’s a good ball handler, as mentioned earlier, he uses it to create off the dribble, going either to his right or left when driving. He shows solid passing and ran the point a lot of the time but when evaluating his translatable skills as an NBA prospect, he intrigues and naturally reads the game more as a scorer. He demonstrated ability to distribute in transition, but he can have tunnel vision and over dribble at times. Sometimes he brings the ball up and settles for a contested shot without making a pass, missing opportunities to simply hit the open wing. He showed some ability as a pick and roll ball handler, but he dribbled into contested shots at times as well. He is very good at getting to the middle, almost at will, and he utilizes that ability to bate the help defender to dump off to the open teammate. He makes some very impressive passes when he stays alert for cutter; balancing out the opportunity to score and being aware of the open man when the ball in his hands may take some time. Last season, Scrubb averaged 1.5 assists to 2.3 turnovers per game, which is an area he can look to improve over the year.
Rebounding and Defense
Scrubb rebounds very well for his position, rising and securing with both hands. Last season, he averaged 2.7 offensive rebounds per game, and he utilizes his physicality to cash in the opportunity to score and reads opportunities for tip-slam on occasions. Last season he averaged 8.9 rebounds per game to lead the team. Defensively, he doesn’t lack the physicality with his size, length, and quickness as mentioned earlier. He showed good commitment on the ball and jumped numerous passing lanes to start fast break opportunities. He’s also showed he’s not afraid to take a hit and draw charges, as he showed numerous times over the seven games. There are times he loses his man when defending off the ball, getting caught on screens once the ball gets moving and he ends up chasing his man. However, he gets a solid amount of blocks, even when closing out on jump shooters as he covers more ground than you would think. Last season, Scrubb averaged 1.1 steals per game and blocks shots well for his position with 1.6 per game.
*Special thanks to John A Logan’s coaching staff; Kyle Smithpeters, TJ Cox, and Tyler Smithpeters for their hospitality and access. Also, to Vincennes coach Brian Davis.
*Jay Scrubb and John A Logan’s games will be attended by NBADraft.Net throughout the season as well.