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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round- Villanova vs Purdue

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2019 NBA Draft Profile: Eric Paschall, Villanova University

Is Villanova’s versatile glue guy the next PJ Tucker?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Paschall - Villanova

Power Forward 6’8” 254 lbs 22 years old

44.7% FG%, 34.8% 3P%, 74.6 FT%

36.1 MPG 16.5 PTS 6.1 REB 2.1 AST 0.5 BLK 0.7 STL 2.3 TOV

Defensive switchability is king in the NBA right now. Pashcall’s defensive versatility is a big plus, if you ask his college coach:

“Many times in the huddle, late in games, we’ll say ‘E, this guy’s got it going on. You’ve got to get him,’ ” says Villanova assistant coach Kyle Neptune. “Coach [Jay Wright] always wants Eric to check the other team’s hot hand. It doesn’t even matter what position it is.”

Some question whether Paschall -- whose name has been turning up in the first round of some mock NBA Drafts -- can be that effective a defender at the next level. The men who have coached him the last four years, counting a valuable redshirt season after Paschall transferred from Fordham in 2015, scoff at the naysayers.

“It’s preposterous,” Neptune says. “We’ve had elite defenders here -- Josh Hart, Mikail (sic) Bridges ... Donte Divincenzio was a good defender -- but I’d put Eric with any of those guys. The NBA is so much more isolations and making plays. I think Eric would be very good defensively in the NBA, right away. I don’t think there would be any lag time.”

In the mold of Draymond Green and PJ Tucker, Eric Paschall is the big-bodied, versatile, “glue guy” type of player that NBA teams are desperate to find at the power forward position.

Strengths

Paschall has excellent court vision for a power forward, and solid shooting form (career 76.5% from the free throw line in college). He has a smooth dribble-drive game reminiscent of Paul Millsap. He’s an unselfish player who will set good screens both on and off the ball, and he’ll make the right basketball play with the ball in his hands. He’s a phenomenal leaper for his size, and has impressive vertical explosion (38” max vertical). His thick frame and excellent strength (18 reps on the bench press at the combine) should allow him to hold his ground in the post.

Watch the plays at the 0:19 mark and the 0:35 mark of the video below. At the 19-second mark, Villanova is clinging to a 2-point lead with 4:31 to go in the first half. Providence brings defensive pressure and doubles the ball handler in a half-court press. The coach calls out to his team, and Paschall slides up to the top of the key, opening himself up to give his teammate an easier pass. Paschall catches the pass, turns with the ball, reads the defender closing on him, and slips a nice bounce pass to his teammate cutting to the rim from the short corner. Beautiful basketball.

At the 35-second mark, Eric Paschall is the ball handler in a pick and roll. His defender cheats the screen and the screeners man preps to ICE, so Paschall rejects the screen and drives the other way. The corner shooter’s defender is in position to swipe at the ball, but Paschall tucks the ball in his arm like a running back with a football, and in two quick strides he’s at the rim for an easy layup. Not many 6’8” 255 pound basketball players can make plays like these.

Weaknesses

He doesn’t have great length, with a wingspan just under 7 feet at the NBA combine. This could cause him problems on the defensive end in the NBA. For a guy with his strength and explosive leaping ability, he should have been a better college rebounder. That weakness would only be pronounced at the NBA level (though it could be hidden by a dominant rebounder at the center position...)

Age is a factor here, as Paschall is a 5-year college senior. He’ll turn 23 about a month into the NBA season this year, and that definitely limits his NBA upside.

While Paschall’s shooting form is decent (76.5% from the stripe in college), his spot-up shooting from deep hasn’t been nearly as efficient. If he’s going to get consistent minutes at the next level, his three point shot will need to improve. Recently drafted players like John Collins have developed three-point shots in the NBA - but Paschall is already 23, and so improvements to his jumper are unlikely at this point.

Paschall seems like a hard working, unselfish team player with PJ Tucker lite potential - possibly a poor man’s Paul Millsap if we’re being really optimistic (the form on his jumper kind of reminds me of Millsap’s to be honest). At 23rd overall, you could do a lot worse.


Q&A with Eugene Rapay of VU Hoops

I talked with Eugene Rapay of VU Hoops about Eric Paschall. He’s been way more plugged into Villanova than I can ever claim to be. Eugene thinks Eric Paschall would be a great fit and glue guy in Utah. Responses are Eugene’s.

What strengths of Eric Paschall will translate well to the NBA?

I think the first think that stands out about Eric Paschall is his physicality. He’s built like a linebacker, and he’s got that same rugged nature to him whenever he steps onto the court. He’s a bruiser on both ends of the court, an excellent rebounder, and he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder or fight for position down in the post. Paschall stands 6-foot-8 and 255 pounds, blessed with a 7-foot wingspan and was measured with a 38-inch vertical leap at the NBA combine. He’s athletic and versatile, with the latter being the key to today’s NBA. You need to be able to play different positions and have the skills to defend other positions, Paschall checks those boxes. He can play either forward position, and he has the ability to score in a variety of ways--anywhere from down low to all the way out on the perimeter.

His scoring, attitude on defense and rebounding skills, combined with a high-motor and physicality on the floor make him a standout prospect.

What weaknesses of Eric will need to be improved in the NBA?

While he is capable of scoring from almost anywhere on the floor, Paschall will need to improve upon his shooting consistency. He’s a powerful finisher, but he needs to iron out the kinks from the mid-range and three-point line. He’s certainly shown that he’s capable of hitting those jumpers--whether they be catch-and-shoot, pull up off the dribble, or turnaround jump shots--but the efficiency has been spotty at times. This past season, he shot 34.8 percent from long range--which isn’t bad, but when that three-point line moves back a couple more feet, he might have some issues adjusting at first. He can be streaky at times with his jumpers, but definitely fixable, and he showed signs of improvement overall since the first time he took the court as a Villanova Wildcat.

Also, with the ball in his hands more this past season, we saw Paschall get to drive and attack the basket. He needs to solidify his handles and decision-making when taking this route, as he got most his turnovers this way and sometimes got stuck in the paint when a defender managed to stop his path.

On the other end of the court, while he’s a solid, high-energy defender, he’s not exactly an elite rim protector. He’ll get the job done, but he isn’t an enforcer.

What role do you see Eric being in the NBA?

He’s drawn comparisons to Draymond Green for being that small-ball big man that can do a variety of things on the court and be an impact player. Paschall is exactly the hybrid, versatile player that the NBA calls for in this day and age. While “tweeners” were frowned upon about a decade ago, Paschall will be entering an age where it’s embraced. He was a skinny two-guard for most of his life, before bulking up a ton and taking a big man role in college--learning and adapting to all the nuances that came with it too. He can play the ‘3’ or the ‘4,’ and he can be a nice supplementary player from the get-go. He isn’t the type of player that goes shot hunting or needs to have the ball in his hands to thrive. His experiences at ‘Nova has shown him the best of both worlds, as he adjusted to being a role player off the bench to a full-fledged leader by the time he left. This unselfishness and high-motor attitude will be big for him to start his NBA career and who knows where he’s able to take it from there.

Would you consider Utah a good landing spot for him?

System-wise, it’d be a solid match for Paschall and Utah. Paschall played for a college program that stressed and prided itself on defense. Although defense wasn’t a big part of his game prior to Villanova, Paschall quickly got the memo and made great strides on that end of the floor, becoming a solid defender. Combine the team-wide defensive efficiency of the Jazz with a slower-tempo style of offense Utah runs, and Paschall will be right at home. The Jazz can use a versatile player that it can run on the wing or shift over to the post. Basketball aside, it would be great to see him reunited with his childhood friend, Donovan Mitchell. They used to be neighbors, and although they moved apart and went to different high schools, they played on the same AAU teams--won a couple national championships together on those circuits--and remained tight throughout the years up until today.

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