Jarrett Culver absolutely lit up Northern Kentucky in Texas Tech’s 72-57 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. He somehow found a way to increase his draft stock even more, adding onto an already decorated sophomore season to kick-off March Madness.
Culver finished with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 shooting from deep, along with eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal, a block and just one turnover. It was the first 25-point, five-rebound, five-assist game in Texas Tech Tournament history.
The Big 12 Player of the Year is one of the most well-rounded players expected to enter the NBA this summer, and Culver showcased every facet of his game to push the Red Raiders into the Tournament’s Round of 32.
He can finish at the rim
Culver is listed as 6’5” but he looks like he could pass for 6’7.” He can put the ball on the floor, and when he does, he’s not scared of attacking the rim. Culver displayed that ability multiple times while dominating Northern Kentucky on Friday. He showed he can finish at the rim whether it’s taking his man off the dribble or cutting off-the-ball before finding his way to the rack.
He can shoot the 3
Culver’s three triples against Northern Kentucky wasn’t a fluke. He’s been doing this all season.
He might be shooting a modest 32 percent from downtown, but Culver has 11 games with multiple made threes this season. More importantly, he shot 38 percent from three as a freshman, with the drop-off in efficiency likely attributed to an increased workload on offense.
Culver is also hitting threes from well beyond the college three-point line, which suggests he shouldn’t have much of a problem adjusting to the 24-foot NBA line.
He has solid court vision
Just look at this bullet.
Culver has an ability to make passes many wings just aren’t capable of. He might not be Ben Simmons or LeBron James, but he’s able to orchestrate the pick-and-roll, where he’s shown poise in finding the roll man this season.
Jarrett Culver and Tariq Owens with a nice PnR here. Culver uses the screen , turns the corner on Jaxson Hayes, and follows that up with a perfect pocket pass to Tariq Owens for an easy dunk pic.twitter.com/EIHVUdzMMW
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) January 13, 2019
That passing ability will be imperative. Teams at the top of the draft will be in search for a playmaker who can get his teammates involved. Culver is an offensive Swiss army knife. If it translates to the next level, and it should, he could be a gem in a top-heavy draft class.
So how high will he be drafted?
Culver’s averaging 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He had a 26-point game in the Texas Tech’s Big 12 Tournament loss to West Virginia and a season-high 31-point night (on 63 percent shooting) in a win over Iowa State. Culver has 12 20-plus-point games this season. His production isn’t a fluke. He’s the real deal.
Mock NBA Drafts don’t know where to place him. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have Culver going seventh behind Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Ja Morant, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell has him going fourth-overall (so does Tankathon.com), and NBADraft.net has him outside the top-10 at pick No. 11.
No one knows where anyone except Williamson will be drafted in June. The only thing that’s certain is Culver’s rising stock, so long as he plays the way he has this season.