WEIGHT: 220 POUNDS
POSITION: POWER FORWARD
PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: LATE LOTTERY TO LOW 20’S/ RISING UP DRAFT BOARDS
PLAYER SUMMARY: Leaf was a 5-star recruit who along with PG Lonzo Ball have led the resurgence of the Bruins. He has been outstanding this season and is generating major buzz among NBA scouts.
When we evaluated Leaf last year, we saw the skills that made him such a highly touted high school player. However, we didn’t think he would play as well as he has. We believed he would stay in college for at least 2-3 years before entertaining thoughts of the NBA. With his play, he has demanded NBA scouts attention.
The 6’10” PF has an exciting skill-set for a big-man. His basketball IQ sticks out to us. He really understands how to play the game. He has an outstanding shooting stroke and has range out to the 3-point line. He looks like he will be a “stretch-4” at the NBA level as he can take his defender out of the lane. Leaf has a really soft touch and combines that with a nice array of offensive moves. His surprising athleticism allows him to take opposing PF’s off the dribble. He can face-up and sports a nice little turnaround jump-shot.
Like the player he is compared to the most, Kevin Love, Leaf is a really good passer. We love his court vision that he displays. He is an above average ball-handler for his height. His ability to play both inside and outside has allowed Lonzo Ball the ability to thrive as Leaf takes his big-man away from the basket.
The freshmen is a very good rebounder at the college level, however, we believe he must add strength for the NBA level. While watching UCLA play, his motor is non-stop, which NBA scouts are sure to like. We believe rebounding is a skill that will translate to the NBA game as it a skill that is based on hustle and angles.
We have been very surprised with Leaf’s high level of play during his freshmen season. He has been phenomenal and form perhaps the best 1-2 punch in college basketball, along with PG Lonzo Ball. While T.J. Leaf has to gain strength and improve his quickness to play in the NBA, his positives certainly outweigh his negatives.
He is rising up NBA draft boards. His ability to stretch the floor on the offensive end is a major plus. As the NBA trends towards having PF’s become more of “stretch-4’s”, this helps a player like Leaf. Once he gains strength and weight, we believe Leaf has a chance to become a very good NBA player. While we thought he would be a 2-3 year college player, his play on the court has us now thinking otherwise.
T.J. Leaf offers a unique blend of skill and basketball IQ. In what looks to be a very talented 2017 NBA Draft, Leaf should be drafted in the upper half of the first round.
BELOW ARE HIGHLIGHTS OF T.J. LEAF
What are your thoughts on Leaf?
Would you compare him to Kevin Love?
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TO READ OUR FULL LENGTH ARTICLE ON UCLA’S RESURGENCE, CLICK HERE.