What Shamiel Stevenson Can Bring to Nebraska Basketball
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

What Shamiel Stevenson Can Bring to Nebraska Basketball

May 19, 2019

Now that the dust has settled, it appears (probably wise to couch this after last week’s recruiting wins) Fred Hoiberg is bringing in 11 new players for his first season as Nebraska’s head coach.

Five of those players have already played at the Division I level, giving us a better idea of what they’re going to bring to the program as opposed to the players coming out of high school or junior college (or out of France, in Yvan Ouedraogo’s case). With that in mind, Hail Varsity is going to take a look at each of those newcomers through the prism of their SynergySports Technology scoring statistics. 

First up is a look at Shamiel Stevenson, the 6-foot-6, 245-pound guard/forward from Pittsburgh by way of Nevada.

Following a coaching change, Stevenson played a total of 32 minutes at Pitt last season before transferring to Nevada and sitting out the rest of the season. His numbers from last season aren’t even worth looking at.

However, as a freshman under the coach that recruited him, Stevenson averaged 23.8 minutes with 13 starts, contributing 8.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists while turning the ball over 2.3 times per game and shooting 54.1 percent inside the arc, 37.5 percent from 3 (15-of-40) and 60.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Stevenson’s frame, length (6-foot-11 wingspan) and explosiveness (40-inch vertical) make him a fairly unique player and a fun piece for Hoiberg to play with. If the Huskers can get a waiver for him to play right away, he could play a big role as a small-ball four or even five in certain situations.

Looking at Stevenson’s Synergy page from 2017-18, he graded out as “average” on offense, scoring 0.872 points per possession (PPP), which is in the 47th percentile. Not awful, but certainly not something to get excited about.

Stevenson’s most common play type by far is Spot Up which includes primarily catch-and-shoot opportunities or attacking closeouts but does not include any play where a player used a screen to get open.

Stevenson had 102 spot-up possessions as a freshman and scored 103 points, good for 1.01 PPP (69th percentile, “very good”). The average NCAA PPP a year ago was 0.941 according to this piece on Nylon Calculus (read that piece and then come back here if you’re wanting to have a better understanding of the terminology used in this series).

Stevenson shot 36-of-69 (52.2 percent) from the field with 22 turnovers and 13 trips to the foul line. He was tremendous with his catch-and-shoot opportunities, scoring 39 points on 28 possessions (1.393 PPP, 92nd percentile, “excellent). He shot 13-of-18 and all 13 makes came from beyond the 3-point line. That bodes well for playing in Fred Hoiberg’s system.

Stevenson only took five pull-up jumpers out of catch-and-shoot situations, hitting two of them (one inside the arc, one out).

The majority of his spot-up opportunities led to shots at the rim. On 49 possessions, he scored 57 points at the basket (1.163 PPP, 69th percentile, “very good”). He was 20-of-34 from the field with four turnovers and 13 shooting fouls drawn. He’s capable of driving both left and right out of spot-up opportunities.

As a stretch four, Stevenson should have plenty of opportunities to spot up on the perimeter and attack closeouts, something he’s already pretty adept at even before seeing how he’s developed over the last year and how much more he’ll develop under Hoiberg this offseason.

Stevenson’s second-most common play-type is Cut, though he wasn’t nearly as good at it. On 51 possessions, Stevenson scored 49 points (0.961 PPP, 25th percentile, “below average”). The NCAA average is 1.121, by far the highest of all the play types.

Of those 51 possessions, 33 were basket cuts and they produced 40 points (1.212 PPP, 36th percentile, “average”). He shot 16-of-25 with one turnover and drew seven fouls. He didn’t have much success on other cut types, however, scoring nine total points on 18 possessions either flashing to the ball or cutting off screens. He shot 2-of-12 with a pair of turnovers and four trips to the foul line.

Third on the list is Transition, but it was only 31 possessions and it’s an area Stevenson really needs to improve. He scored 31 points on those possessions and his 1.0 PPP is in the 43rd percentile, classified as “average” though it is just slightly below the NCAA average of 1.040.

He shot 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) and drew seven shooting fouls but he also turned the ball over eight times. When he was the guy leading the break, he shot 3-of-5 and drew five fouls but turned it over four times. Whether it’s decision-making or his ball-handling ability, the turnover problems have to improve.

He was used as the Pick-and-Roll Ball-Handler on 30 possessions but scored just 21 points (0.7 PPP, 38th percentile, “average”). The NCAA average PPP is 0.787. He shot 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) and drew five shooting fouls but he also turned the ball over eight times. If you add his pick-and-roll passes to the equation it includes another 20 possessions. He only hit the roll man for a shot attempt five times (two makes) while he hit a spot-up shooter for 13 shot attempts (only three makes). In total, that’s 5-of-18 from the field with two more turnovers, though it’s impossible to tell how much was on the guys he was passing to and how much was Stevenson’s passes not producing great looks.

Beyond fast breaks and pick-and-rolls, Stevenson wasn’t asked to create his own offense very often. He had 19 possessions and scored 18 points (0.947 PPP, 76th percentile, “very good”). He shot 3-of-8 with three turnovers but also drew eight shooting fouls. Good results, small sample size.

He only scored 10 points on 18 post-up possessions. He converted 18 offensive rebounds in 19 points (“average”). Between Hand-Off, Off Screen and Pick-and-Roll Roll Man situations he scored 18 points on 26 possessions. Not great.

Stevenson is a dynamic athlete with a promising jumper. He does well in advantage situations, either knocking down open shots or using his length and athleticism to get to the rm and finish. However, to approach his offensive ceiling he is going to have to improve significantly in two key areas: avoiding turnovers and converting his foul shots. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball, and he’s had his fair of struggles holding onto it. As for the foul shooting, his strength and athleticism allows him to get to the line at a very good rate, but if he’s shooting in the lower 60s that skill is only so valuable.

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