Earlier today, Memphis landed one of the most talented players in the nation in ESPN 100 SF Kuran Iverson, an addition that will significantly bolster head coach Josh Pastner’s roster as the Tigers head into Big East play.
Memphis is sure to encounter plenty of NBA prospects in league play, a tough prospect that could lead less talented squads to slip to the bottom of the standings fast. But recruiting has never really been a problem for Pastner -- despite succeeding John Calipari -- and the Tigers have assembled an outstanding class (ranked No. 3 by ESPN) that will ease their transition into the new-look Big East.
Iverson could be the centerpiece of this class. A blend of power forward size, super athletic abilities and an array of skills puts Iverson at the top of the category in terms of players with upside.
From a pure physical standpoint, Iverson has great agility, length to score or rebound and natural speed to beat his defender. It’s scary when you break down his scoring abilities as he can go virtually anywhere on the court and produce points. On the perimeter, he knocks down shots behind the arc, confidently drives into the midrange area and pulls up with size and a soft touch. Iverson also has a knack for getting all the way to the rim. What most people don’t know is he displays good court vision and is an underrated passer. He also plays with a good understanding of who to throw the ball to and when to dish it.
“He finds people when they are open," says Ed Huckaby, Iverson's coach at Fishburne Military.
Defensively, he can be utilized to cover post or perimeter threats. He could develop into a player whom you use to be quicker and more mobile on other post players or small forwards. Put him on a shooter and his length will make it difficult to shoot over him. In zone defenses, his wingspan will take away passing lanes and lead to deflections.
As with all talented players, there are some weaknesses and a learning curve to overcome, and Iverson is no different. He must learn to change from what I like to call “a feel like it player” into an everyday player -- someone who competes on a consistent basis. Young players who penetrate at will and score must learn when to use a jump stop and pull-up jumper to avoid charge calls. Growth in this area will be essential if he is to become an efficient scorer.
The road for Iverson has not always been smooth, but he now appears to be heading in the right direction.
“As a freshman he was considered top-three in the country,” says Vince Baldwin, director of scouting for Nike. “Then he stopped working and his priorities changed and he fell off the map. Now he has rededicated himself to the game and being more of a worker. We invited him to our camps this summer and he was outstanding as a person. There has been growth in his game and character. I am excited for him.”
And his trajectory should only continue to ascend with former D-I coach Huckaby looking to maximize his star’s potential this winter. “Kuran has an NBA skill set, but more importantly he has been a great teammate and very coachable,” he says. “Fishburne Military is not for everyone, but here you can get the discipline one needs to maximize their potential in all areas of life.”
Iverson's versatility and tools make him a standout on the floor. He is confident enough to create a bucket for himself or a teammate, and with a solid basketball IQ will step into the lane and score when he knows he has the advantage. A scorer, facilitator and rebounder all wrapped up into one prospect, now it's up to him along with the assistance of his coaches to turn potential into a college-ready player.