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Know the Prospect: Jeremy Sochan

The Bear with curious hair is a defensive machine!

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Sochan is a 6’9”, 230 lbs forward with a 7’ wingspan whose resemblance to Dennis Rodman goes beyond a shared affinity for Manic Panic hair dye.

Initially, the 19-year-old one-and-done freshman was not pegged as a lottery pick, but his fervent play this season has caused many scouts to sit at attention. Coming off the bench, the big fella from Baylor demonstrated a Worm-like appetite and aptitude for defense, finishing with a sterling 89.8% defensive rating, good for fourth in the Big 12. Plus, he rated eighth in the conference with an average of 6.4 rebounds and tenth with a 2.9% steal percentage on 1.3 thefts per game.

Who doesn’t want a handsy baller who can guard all five positions? The Polish-American with the cockney accent played 30 games for Baylor, starting only one and averaging 9.2 points and 1.8 assists. In his reserve role, he still made the Big 12 All-Freshman team, was named Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, and received an All-Big 12 honorable mention.

While I try to recall what I had accomplished by age 19, enjoy these highlights:

Jeremy plays with passion and aggression, and when he makes a mistake, he becomes visibly upset with himself. New Yorkers respect that kind of accountability. (Cut to a clip of Julius Randle berating a ref.)

The Bears finished with a 27-7 (14-4, 1st in Big 12) record and held the top seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing an overtime thriller in the second round to North Carolina. In the final game of the season, Sochan scored 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting in 34 minutes, grabbed 11 rebounds, and went 6-for-8 from the charity stripe. He grappled and dove and played with lots of heart but could not prolong Baylor’s season.

Fake comebacks? That’s a Knicks’ specialty! Anyway, if British accents ring your bell, enjoy this:

Sochan has demonstrated a good feel for the game, decent passing, and strong handles. He’s quick enough to stick with guards and tough enough to battle bigs, and his long arms are active in passing lanes, deflecting this or stealing that. Although he’s not a ball-handler of Ben Simmons’ caliber, you won’t gnash your teeth if he grabs an offensive board and charges up the floor. Like so:

When needed, Sochan busts out a jerky step to fake out his man and create breathing room. He has a promising spin move, too. All that’s great…making his shots is the problem.

Opposing teams do not necessarily fear the Sochan’s offense, although he did finish the season with a 111.7% offensive rating. His shot selection creates a balanced pie chart with 30% taken at the iron, (converting 75%), 31% for 2-point J’s, and 38% from deep. Jeremy shot 47% from the field, and 30% from three.

You can blame his sub-par shooting on a flat shot and a slow release. Usually, when a young player shoots poorly from the floor, I look for signs of hope in the free-throw stats. In Jeremy’s case, he shot…59% from the line. Yeesh.

Fortunately, he has the speed and size to penetrate the lane against mature competition. Working the pick-and-roll with NBA-level teammates, he could catch the pass to rock the rim or dish out for a corner three. He also has the potential to draw a bunch of fouls, but remember…59%.

Staying positive! Here’s a video that focuses on his D:

And here’s another that focuses on his defensive work against Iowa State:

Sochan fits the model of the modern NBA forward, and I believe in his potential. Over the past five years, he’s played basketball in England, Poland, Indiana, Germany, and Texas. Certainly, a few years of consistency—in the same system, in the same city—will quicken his development. Time with a trainer in the weight room would only help, too. Call me crazy, but I could see this kid making an All-Defensive team one day.

He’s been compared to Kyle Kuzma and Boris Diaw, but I like his shades of Draymond Green. Like Green, and although Thibs would never go for it, Sochan could play the small-ball five. Golden State’s utility man has been inconsistent in this year’s Finals, and at 32 years old, after a decade in the league and many deep playoff runs, one has to question how much tread remains on Draymond’s tires.

My bonkers prediction is that the Warriors, recognizing that Green is beginning to decline and seeking to capitalize while there’s still high value, find a way to swap him for a high lottery pick that becomes Jeremy Sochan. If this Baylor Bear’s production carries over to the NBA, Golden State would essentially have a one-to-one replacement. (Note: I said it was bonkers.)

Here’s his Pro Day workout:

Is there a place for Sochan on the New York Knicks? Perhaps, but they currently have two power-forwards on the roster, Julius Randle and Obi Toppin. If New York felt Obi was ready, they could elevate him to starter, draft Sochan to be his understudy, and package Julius in a splashy deal. But…I don’t see it.

If they keep the 11th pick, I expect the Knicks to choose the best player available. Currently, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer puts 12 guys ahead of Sochan. That seems about right. If Jeremy can correct his shot, though, we might all look back on him as the steal of 2022. Peace til next time.