Chase Budinger, 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, Arizona, sophomore.
The player. Few professional prospects simply have "it," that rare combination of a great feel for the game and the ability to make difficult plays seem easy. "It" is seen plenty in NBA games, yet it's notably absent from the collegiate ranks, where players possess some elements of greatness without the ability to put it all together.
Budinger definitely has "it." A versatile talent, he can use either his keen passing ability to fit in with teammates or manufacture offense with great simplicity. While Budinger has a smooth and sweet shooting stroke from the perimeter, he also can create offense off the dribble using his fine athletic ability to exploit defenders.
Despite a lackluster effort against UNLV earlier this week, his season averages stand at 15.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
His overall field-goal accuracy is a less-than-impressive 43 percent, but his three-point shooting is a healthy 42 percent. He is hitting 75 percent of his free throws.
Will he be able to defend NBA-caliber wing players? Is he more shooting guard or small forward, or does that even make a significant difference? Will he eventually rely too much on his perimeter shooting, or will he be a versatile offensive threat? Will he be a factor on the glass? Does he have the drive to be a great player, or will he end up being a great complementary player?
Although only a sophomore, Budinger will have to decide whether to enter the 2008 draft, as he surely will be considered a lock for the lottery. His style of play is suited perfectly to the NBA game, and his high basketball IQ and unselfish tendencies should go far in earning him the respect of future teammates.
Assuming he remembers the importance of defense, his adjustment to the NBA should not take long.