Summer Flyer: FGCU Men’s Basketball NBA Comps

As the off-season churns on and fresh news becomes sparse, we at Screecher Report want to keep the ball rolling with some fun content. Throughout the years many players have come through the program and brought excitement to fans. For us, it has always been fun to give out NBA comparisons (comps) to FGCU players of the past and present. Some of our favorite comparisons of old were Demetris Morant & Clint Capela, Brett Comer & Jason Williams/Mike Bibby, Antravious Simmons & Zach Randolph, Chase Fieler & prime Chandler Parsons, and my personal favorite, Zach Johnson & Dwyane Wade. Others have been tossed around to varying degrees of accuracy but the fun is always present. For this article we decided to give NBA comps to the 7 FGCU players on the roster that are returning from last year. We will give a current NBA comp based on their recent production as well as a potential NBA comp that they could very well earn through their play this upcoming season and beyond.

Jalen Warren

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  • Current: Ish Smith
  • Potential: Tony Parker

Last year, as Jalen Warren began acclimating himself to D-I ball, he became known for several things. 1 of those things was the ability to drive to the basket and finish with a deadly floater. At 6’3″ and about 170 pounds, Jalen has a slight build but deceivingly wide shoulders. This affords him the speed and strength to get around defenders, survive contact, stop on a dime and finish with a soft touch. One NBA players who has made a career out of this is Ish Smith. Smith is the definition of a journeyman in the NBA. He has been on 11 different teams in his 10 years. He struggled to gain solid footing in his first few seasons but for managed to do enough to stick around the league. Over the last 5 seasons or so, Smith has developed into a reliable player who consistently averages about 10+ points and 5 assists per game. Jalen posted similar numbers last year while having a similar skill set, making this a fair NBA comparison.

In addition to a deadly floater, Jalen has also shown a knack for coming up big in clutch situations. Because of this, the legendary Tony Parker makes a really good potential NBA comp for Jalen. Parker has a similar build at about 6’2″ / 180 and they share a strikingly similar skillset. For almost 2 decades, Parker manned the point for the dynastic Spurs teams. He did this through his ability to control the pace of the game, find open teammates, and score on his own driving to the basket. Parker was a master at contorting his body to avoid contact and find an open space to toss the ball up for seemingly effortless points. He was a king of deception in regard to knowing when to release the ball from his hand and this was, in large part, due to his lethal floater. Perhaps a greater skill of Parker was the uncanny clutch gene that he possessed. No moment ever seemed too big for him and he thrived in those situations. In addition to these similarities, Warren and Parker also don’t boast the best 3 point shooting but have the ability to get hot from time to time. Jalen came up big a few times last season when his team needed him. If he does so a few more times this year and increases his numbers overall, he could really be a difference maker and leader for the team on a level similar to Parker for the Spurs.

Qwanzi Samuels

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  • Current: Bruno Caboclo
  • Potential: Danilo Gallinari

Qwanzi had an interesting freshman year. He has a unique skillset but it was evident that he needed more time in the program to earn minutes and have subsequent success. Qwanzi is long at about 6’9″ and could stand to add some mass to his 195 pound frame. Even with all that height, he has been advertised an athletic stretch 4 who can play the 3 somewhere down the line. He posesses fair ball skills for a player his size. Because of his raw athleticism, size and untapped/unproven potential, Qwanzi can easily be compared to current Houston Rockets forward, Bruno Caboclo. Caboclo entered the NBA out of Brazil as a 19-year-old with minimal game-ready skills and gobs of potential. Now, after 6 years in the league, Caboclo has shown flashes. In the 18-19 season, he played in 34 games (19 starts) for the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging about 8 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 43% from the floor and 37% from 3. Outside of that year, Caboclo is yet to put it all together. For his career he is averaging 4 points and 3 rebounds while shooting 40% (32% from 3). With only one season under his belt, Qwanzi hasn’t yet come into his own so the Caboclo comparison is valid for now.

As he enters his second season, Qwanzi is sure to receive an increased workload and get the opportunity to show what he can do. His length, coupled with fair ball skills, gives him a lot of versatility and a very high ceiling. With that said, Danilo Gallinari could be a good comparison for the potential player that Qwanzi can grow into and model his game. Gallinari has spent most of his career with the Nuggets but currently suits up for the Oklahoma City Thunder. At 6’10 / 230, he is a bit bigger than Qwanzi but possesses a lot of similar qualities. Gallinari stretches the floor with a deadly 3 point stroke and possesses good enough ball skills and athleticism to dribble around his man for an open shot. These skills are invaluable as evidenced by Gallinari being a regular starter since the age of 21. Over the last 5 seasons, he has averaged nearly 20 points and 5 rebounds per game while consistently shooting well above 40% from the floor and about 40% from deep. If Qwanzi can fill out his frame and successfully acclimate to the speed and competition of D-I basketball, his skills and athleticism should begin to shine, giving him a chance to earn this comparison.

Sam Gagliardi

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  • Current: Ryan Arcidiacono
  • Potential: Bogdan Bogdanovic

When Sam arrived at FGCU, he was dubbed as a 3-point specialist. He quickly proved he could be a bit more than that as a serviceable defender and a guy who’s willing to risk his body to make hustle plays. For this reason, Ryan Arcidiacono makes a fine comparison. Most may not know who this is, let alone what type of payer he is. As a Chicago Bulls fan, I’ve seen him over the last couple seasons and he’s an extremely fun guy to watch. That’s saying a lot, considering how bad the Bulls have been recently. Arcidiacono is a point guard with good passing, ball handling, and general playmaking ability, where Sam is a shooting guard that has sometimes struggled with the ball in his hands. But beyond their dissimilarities, these players have a lot in common. They both weigh about 195 pounds and stand within an inch of each other. Additionally, Arcidiacono can shoot the lights out from 3 when he’s hot and is generally a consistent 3-point shooter. Last season he shot 39% from downtown. On the year, he averaged 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. For Sam, the 3-point reputation that preceded him wasn’t always present in his first year at FGCU. However, based on his quick, clean stroke and several games throughout the season where he got white hot, Sam proved that he is absolutely a threat to take over a game any given night. He averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds as a part time starter. Beyond shooting prowess, these 2 are most similar in the way they’re willing to play defense. As a Bulls fan, one of the few enjoyable parts of watching them play is seeing Arcidiacono hustle and be totally relentless on defense (seriously watch his highlights https://youtu.be/bfJXj-kD-SM). He catches opponents sleeping with regularity and won’t hesitate to run through a brick wall to save the ball from going out of bounds. Similarly, one of Sam’s most memorable moments last season came at the expense of his own body when he dove for a loose ball, colliding with an opponent and ultimately concussing himself. This may not seem like that big of a deal but it is extremely rare for a 3-point specialist to be solid defensively and willing to put his body on the line. Based on what we saw from Sam last season, this is a solid comparison.

While Sam definitely showed flashes last year, his effectiveness came in spurts. He’d blow up and have a few good games then have a few where his shot just wouldn’t fall. Consistency evaded him and is really the only thing preventing him from a much more favorable NBA comp. With his commitment and hustle on defense and more consistency from game to game, Sam would compare more closely to Bogdan Bogdanovic. Hailing from Serbia and having played professionally since a very young age, Bogdanovic has only spent 3 years in the NBA. In that span, he quickly proved the could not only survive in the NBA, but thrive. He was an immediate scoring threat and showed that he was more than a catch and shoot guy. Like many European prospects transitioning to the NBA, his defense remains a work in progress. At the same time, while he might not be able to stay in front of everyone he defends, he is a willing defender (half the battle) and hustles for loose balls. Additionally, his game has improved every year. Bogdanovic recently finished his 3rd NBA season (all with the Sacramento Kings) and averaged 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Sam has the talent to perform this way and there are many factors that will decide how close he gets to achieving these heights.

Justus Rainwater

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  • Current: Kenneth Faried
  • Potential: Blake Griffin

Justus Rainwater catches the eye of everyone around with a 5-star physique and an obvious abundance of athleticism. Last year he showed it off with rim rattling dunks and blocked shots. He also showed some of the limitations in his game as he struggled to be a consistent, reliable offensive threat. Still, Rainwater was immensely valuable night in and night out, taking on the other team’s best big and being a nuisance on the defensive end. When speaking of untamed athleticism, stout defense, and inconsistent offensive production, the first NBA comp that comes to my mind is “Manimal”, Kenneth Faried. Faried’s career in the NBA started off white hot. He was drafted by the Denver Nuggets and played there for his first 7 NBA seasons. He quickly established himself as a physically imposing, athletic dunker and pick & roll man. Up to this point, Faried has found himself out of the league and playing in China, despite putting up respectable numbers. Still, Rainwater’s consistency on the defensive end and proven athleticism lends him accuracy with this comparison.

The obvious, but lofty comparison for Rainwater is Blake Griffin. They both stand at 6’8″ and have similar weights and bouncability. One main difference between these players is Griffin’s range. He is definitely not a 3 point shooter but can hit shots in mid range and has a fairly strong post game in addition to his uncanny lob catching and finishing ability. Last season, Rainwater struggled with offensive consistency under the basket and was really no threat of hitting a shot more than a few feet away from the hoop. With another off-season under his belt, Rainwater has worked on expanding his range and has also been rehabbing a nagging knee issue that apparently limited him athletically last year. Rainwater already possesses a high floor but with his kind of athleticism, his ceiling is through the roof. Only time will tell how much more of an impact he will have this upcoming season but his style and athleticism will always afford this comparison.

Caleb Catto

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  • Current: Tomas Satoransky
  • Potential: Gordon Hayward

Last season, Catto emerged as the top dog on the team through solid, consistent, and well rounded play. There is really no area of basketball that he is does poorly and this makes him a truly valuable player. At 6’5″ and about 195, Catto is long and lean at the guard spot. He has shown the ability to man the point, lead the transition, and also play off the ball. Additionally, he’s a solid defender against 1-3 and sometimes 4. This position versatility and well-roundedness lends Catto a modest but quality comparison to Tomas Satoransky. At 6’7″ and a little over 200 pounds, they share a similar body type as well as style of play. Satoransky splits his time between point guard and small forward/wing and has made a career in the NBA through versatility, high IQ, and consistency. He spent his first 3 seasons with the Washington Wizards after a professional career in Europe. Last season, he played for the Chicago Bulls and put up career numbers. He averaged 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. These averages are not too far off from those of Catto last season. Based on last year alone, this comparison holds.

Caleb flashed a lot of talent at times last year, especially in the second half of the season when it became clear that he was the top dog. Several 20 point games showed that he does not simply project as a consistent, well-rounded player, but a guy who can potentially excel in certain areas and lead a team. Coming up with a comparison for Catto based on potential proved difficult. Names like J.R. Smith, Evan Turner, and Caris Lavert sort of fit the bill but differ too much in other areas. Finally, it was decided on Gordon Hayward. Hayward is perhaps most famous for the gruesome leg injury he sustained a few years ago. Prior to that, he made a name for himself with the Utah Jazz, leading them to improbably deep playoff runs. Now, a couple years removed from the injury, Hayward has bounced back and become a very valuable piece for the Boston Celtics. He is a solid defender against 1-4, showcases good shooting ability, and enough skill to have the ball in his hands with regularity. He is 6’7″ and 225 pounds so he is a bit bigger than Catto and rebounding numbers reflect that. This past year he averaged 18 points, 4 assists, and 7 rebounds per game. Hayward shot 55% from the floor and 38% from 3. With the exception of rebounds, these numbers are ones that a player like Catto, entering his junior season, can absolutely and realistically shoot for as he develops further.

Cyrus Largie

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  • Current: E’Twaun Moore
  • Potential: Eric Gordon (among others)

Cyrus Largie was easily the biggest surprise contributor from last season. As a freshman and a walk-on, nobody really knew anything about him or expected to see him play outside of a blowout win or loss. To the surprise of everyone, Largie began receiving minutes. Those minutes increased, became regular, and eventually tuned into starts. After the season, the decision was made to extend an available scholarship to him and secure his place at FGCU long-term. On his way to earning that scholarship, Largie flashed a lot of skill in limited action. His main attributes were hustle on both ends, good ball handling skills, court vision, and scorching hot shooting. Largie has a wider frame at 6’1″ and about 212 pounds. This lends a fair comparison with a guy like E’Twaun Moore. Moore has been around the NBA for a while and has found a role providing solid minutes whether off the bench or in the starting lineup. He isn’t relied on to be the primary scorer but he always puts in the work, comes prepared, and can provide for the team in any number of areas. For his 9 year career, Moore has averaged 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists while consistently shooting well at 46% from the floor and 39% from 3. Based on Largie’s performance last year, these are reasonable goals as far as numbers go.

Largie was particularly difficult to do a potential comp with as so little is known about the trajectory and limits to his potential. As a smaller, but strong, guard with great shooting ability and a well-rounded game, his style is similar to many NBA players. Some that come to mind are Fred VanVleet, Terry Rozier, Eric Gordon, CJ McCollum, and Bryn Forbes. After looking at each player, factoring in position, tendencies, and body type, Eric Gordon seems to be the most fitting potential comparison. Gordon has had an excellent 12 year career in the NBA thus far. After being relied on as a primary scoring option early in his career, Gordon has settled into an excellent starting role player for a consistent championship caliber Houston Rockets squad. He has been a 20 ppg scorer in his career and is really just a great team player. His 6’3″ / 215 pound frame lends him the strength and toughness to get to the hoop and finish. He is also a lethal 3 point shooter. For his career, Gordon has averaged 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists while shooting 43% from the floor and 37% from deep. With an increased workload, it is unknown how high Largie’s ceiling is but reaching these heights in his FGCU career could be within reach.

Dakota Rivers

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Maybe the most difficult player to project is Dakota Rivers. As a freshman he looked and played the part of an extremely athletic shot blocker and finisher. He did so while averaging under 13 minutes per game and making 0 starts. The hype around Rivers is quite high based on what people were able to see from him in limited action last year. For this reason, we will be giving him 3 NBA comps. While unlikely, the worst case scenario for Rivers is if he doesn’t improve in any area and simply plays more minutes. For this, a comp to Jordan Bell makes sense. Through 3 years in the league, Bell has established himself as a shot-blocking, athletic dunker. This is exactly what Rivers did in his freshman season. Bell has been shuffled from team to team recently and his numbers have dwindled a bit. In his rookie year, he averaged 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 block per game. As a freshman, Rivers averaged 4 points, 2 rebounds, and over 1 block per game. If Rivers simply plays more minutes, he should easily outperform this comparison.

A much more exciting, but plausible comparison would be to Jonathan Isaac. Many FGCU fans may remember Isaac from the Eagles’ last trip to the NCAA tournament. As a standout player for FSU, he was drafted in the first round by the Orlando Magic. He has a surplus of length at 6’10” along with the athleticism to play on the wing. Since entering the NBA, he has improved every year. This past season Isaac averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. Rivers possesses a very similar body type to Isaac and also flashed the ability to knock down outside shots. With increased minutes and some more opportunity on the offensive end, Rivers could very well develop into this type of player sooner than later.

Lastly, Rivers has an immensely high ceiling. With 3 years of eligibility remaining, he has a chance to be among the best bigs to come through the program. This gives credence to a long-term potential comp with Pascal Siakam. Over his 4 years in the NBA, Pascal Siakam has reach unexpected heights and immense success. He started catching national attention playing second fiddle to Kawhi Leonard in Toronto’s 2019 championship run. This year he upped his game even more, averaging 23 points and 7 rebounds while leading his team in the playoffs. Siakam has tremendous length and athleticism in his 6’9″ / 230 pound frame. He has developed a consistent outside shot and more-than-adequate ball handling skills to go along with his elite ability to score around the basket. This is quite a lofty comparison but Rivers has shown an extremely high ceiling. If given time and opportunity, he has a shot to become a real force for FGCU like Siakam is for the Raptors.

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