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Preseason Player Profiles: Jamal Bey

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Is Jamal Bey in store for a breakout year in his sophomore season?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Washington vs North Carolina Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Bey; Sophomore; Las Vegas, Nevada

6’6, 210 lbs. Class of 2018: 4 stars, #109 overall (247 Composite)

2017-18 Stats: 6.2 minutes, 1.0 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 45% FG, 40.0% 3pt, 53.9% FT

Italy Stats: 21.9 minutes, 12.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 48.5% FG, 21.4% 3pt, 0/3 FT

When Jamal Bey committed to Washington he was viewed as a low 3-star recruit and maybe a way to get access to the Bishop Gorman pipeline before some higher rated classes behind him. That quickly changed as Bey had a breakout senior year and earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors in Nevada averaging 22.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. The rapid development of his game bumped him up to a fringe top-100 recruit in the final rankings.

Last season it was clear that Jamal Bey was the most ready to contribute of any of the freshmen but was also playing at the most packed position. Bey started the year behind Jaylen Nowell, Matisse Thybulle, Naz Carter, and Dominic Green for playing time at the 2/3 spots. But by the end of the season he had gained the coaching staff’s trust as he earned double digit minutes in each of the Huskies’ last 3 games after cracking that mark just 3 times the rest of the season combined.

Offensive Game

Bey was the offensive alpha dog for Bishop Gorman but his offensive game is more well suited for a supporting role. At the beginning of the season it was clear that Bey was in his own head about his place within the offense. He wasn’t taking open shots when they were there and instead passed it back out. I’m sure the coaching staff appreciated that Bey was willing to defer to players like Jaylen Nowell but if you don’t take a wide open 3 when it’s there then you’re getting yanked out of the game. It hurts the spacing too much if defenses don’t have to guard you at all.

Bey eventually figured it out though. After attempting just 7 shots in his first 119 minutes of playing time he put up 11 shots over his last 67 minutes. Still a minuscule usage rate but he at least made the defense guard him. And the results were solid for a true freshman when he did get off a shot. Bey finished with an offensive rating of 106.1 (where 100 is average) last year and a points per possession figure that ranked in the 43rd percentile.

The 3-point shot should be the most important part of Jamal’s game this season. The strength of this Husky roster is in its big men so floor spacing will be key among the guards. As a 6’6 shooting guard Bey has a long enough wingspan to get his shot off against the vast majority of defenders that will be guarding him. He has a nice release and consistent form that should allow him to be an above average shooter. Bey made 40% of his 3’s last year in a very small sample size but it’s hard to imagine that number falling below 35%.

In Italy Bey’s shot wasn’t fallen so he instead primarily played the role of a slasher and transition scorer. Jamal repeatedly beat opponents’ down the floor after turnovers for dunks or layups ahead of the pack. The Washington offense didn’t see much in the way of cuts and dives to the rims but that might have been partly a function of lack of personnel from both the passing and cutting spots. Bey should be extremely effective as a slasher if Quade Green/Elijah Hardy are able to find him streaking to the rim. He has the body control and wingspan to finish amidst traffic with his momentum headed to the hoop.

Briefly in Italy the team experimented with Jamal Bey as the de facto point guard in a true jumbo lineup. There’s no question that Bey’s passing is better than Dominic Green’s and likely better than Matisse Thybulle’s but making him a primary ball handler might be a bit of a stretch. For a few possessions when the Huskies really need a stop it might be an acceptable option in a defensive-oriented lineup but in general I think Bey should/will be the 2 on offense the vast majority of the time he’s on the floor

Defensive Game

With Bey’s dimensions it’s clear the coaching staff views him as the spiritual successor to Matisse Thybulle. Let me be clear that there is no way that Bey comes close to ever having Thybulle’s impact. Matisse was a generational talent and there’s no player that can come close to his timing and feel on defense. But Bey has the athleticism and measurements to at least be a poor man’s version of Thybulle.

We won’t see the same reach from behind blocks or ridiculous baited cross court steals but Bey will fulfill all of the standard things you want from someone playing up top in the zone. Bey had a steal rate of 3.7% and a block rate of 2.6% in conference play last season albeit in limited minutes. We were spoiled by Matisse but that steal rate would’ve been a top-40 number in all of college basketball had it come in enough minutes to qualify and the block rate was higher than Noah Dickerson.

I wouldn’t necessarily call Jamal Bey a defensive terror at this point but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end up on a Pac-12 all defensive team by the end of his senior season. It probably isn’t going to happen this year but there’s a good shot Bey will rank among the top players in the conference in steals and will be one of the conference leaders in blocks for players 6’6 or smaller.

Expectations for 2019-20

The subtraction of the upperclassman/Jaylen Nowell core of the roster have opened up time for Jamal Bey to play but I don’t think he’ll suddenly see 32+ minutes per game. In my mind Bey is either the 5th or 6th best player on this team when everyone is available which means whether he is part of the starting or finishing lineup will depend upon the matchup. I’m expecting usage patterns similar to Dominic Green who didn’t start but was usually the first guy in off of the bench.

Per Game Projections: 24 minutes, 8.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 49.5% FG, 35.2% 3pt, 76.3% FT

Catch up on our other preseason player profiles on: Nahziah Carter, Jaden McDaniels, Hameir Wright, Nate Roberts, Bryan Penn-Johnson, Sam Timmins, and Isaiah Stewart.