A few weeks ago, I posted my Way Too Early NEC All-Conference Teams thoughts. Given the turnover and roster youth in the NEC, narrowing down my top 15 players of 2015-16 was rather difficult. In particular, one player heading into his senior season, St. Francis Brooklyn’s Tyreek Jewell, wasn’t really considered as a candidate by yours truly. But after interviewing head coach Glenn Braica nearly two weeks ago, I’m starting to have serious doubts.
Especially after Braica told me this: “To me, if Tyreek shoots the ball fairly well or at least average, he’s a first team all-league player. I really believe that.”
A first teamer, as in a top five NEC player? How can we consider Jewell who struggled with his shot — producing an underwhelming 44.4% 2PT/20.9% 3PT/63.0% FT shooting line — in his first go-around at the Division I level? Well, let’s start by looking at Jewell’s impact for his team when he was on the floor. Courtesy of John Templon’s number crunching:
- With Jewell: 109.7 points scored per 100 possessions, 95.2 points allowed per 100 possessions
- Without Jewell: 99.4 points scored per 100 possessions, 99.4 points allowed per 100 possessions
That’s quite an impact on both sides of the ball! Of course, Jewell is one of five Terriers on the floor at any given time, and the sample size of Jewell being on the bench (346 out of 1,363 possessions) may not be substantial, yet the metrics certainly love the former JUCO guard.
Braica and his staff obviously knew the importance of number-0, playing him for 73.1% of the Terriers available minutes last season, a high percentage for a newcomer. Jewell’s defensive contributions likely led to far more playing time than expected, since Braica wasn’t expecting him to emerge as an elite defender.
“I know I’m biased, but he guarded all of the best perimeter players in the league, and there are some really good ones,” Braica gushed. “We didn’t know he could do that because in junior college (Tyreek’s team) had limited talent, so his coach played a lot of zone. Now we knew he had the athletic ability to do it, we didn’t know that he could (defend at a high level) on an in-night basis. I was shocked at the way he guarded last year and I think that really made our team good.”
In 21 games versus league competition, the best perimeter scorers of the NEC, including players like Dyami Starks, Marcquise Reed, Cane Broome and Marcus Burton, averaged just 11.7 ppg on 36.5% shooting when facing St. Francis. While Jewell wasn’t guarding those players each and every minute, there’s no doubting his overall impact on those players’ final scoring line.
Paired alongside NEC first teamer Brent Jones, a very good defender in his own right, NEC opponents also didn’t attempt many three-point shots. The Terriers limited opponents to a league best 27.1% 3PA/FGA. Because of limited open looks on the perimeter, opponents were forced to find many of their scoring opportunities inside the arc, where the Terriers’ splendid frontline lingered. With the NEC Defensive Player of the Year Amdy Fall, Jalen Cannon and Chris Hooper lurking, opponents could only convert 42.0% of their 2-point attempts and saw a staggering 15.0% of those shots — thanks mainly to Fall — swatted away.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how St. Francis Brooklyn collectively finished second in defensive efficiency at 96.3 points allowed per 100 possessions. Jewell certainly played a big role in that.
On the other side of the ball, Jewell will need to improve his scoring efficiency if he wants to be mentioned along with the Rodney Pryor, Byron Ashe and Daniel Garvins of the NEC. He can break most opponents down off the dribble, so I’d expect Jewell to attack the rim far more as a senior. Last season only 34.1% of his shots came near the rim, a curiously low number for a player who possesses terrific athleticism. He’ll need to utilize his athleticism and quickness more in order to prevent defenders from crowding him on the perimeter. Less two and three-point jumpers should lead to a more efficient scoring line that mirrored his time as a Division II JUCO All-American. In his year prior to joining St. Francis, Jewell made a very respectable 39.0% of his three-point attempts.
Braica and company are fully cognizant of this and plan to put the senior in positions where he can better attack the defense and find his way into the lane.
“I look forward to him having a great senior year,” Braica said. “We have some seniors that are pretty hungry and are looking to prove that they continue this and keep going.”
Given the data and Braica’s comments, it’s likely that Jewell will be among my top 10-15 players when it’s time to select our preseason all-conference teams. With Jewell’s significant contributions in most facets of the game, not to mention his 3.7 rebounds per game last season, which for a 6’1” guard is fairly impressive, an improvement on the offensive end should easy catapult Jewell into the all-conference discussion.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride