Jaylen Hands – UCLA
CPP Big Board Ranking: WITHDREW FROM 2018 NBA DRAFT
Weight: 179 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (2/12/99)
Hometown: San Diego, CA
High School: Foothills Christian High School
(Jonny Gee – 3/19/18)
Coach Steve Alford was able to build and bring in the sixth ranked recruiting in 2017, which was headlined by the nation’s third best point guard, Jaylen Hands. Hands was a huge addition to this year’s roster as he, alongside Aaron Holiday, were looked upon to fill in the holes left by Lonzo Ball. Jaylen began the season in the starting line-up, but bounced back-and-forth between the starting five and the bench the rest of the year. In his freshman campaign, which ended in a last-four play-in game loss to St. Bonaventure, Hands averaged just over 25 minutes a game where he scored just under 10 points, and added about 4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest. Hands is an average-sized point guard at best with his 6’3”, 170-pound body, and 6’4” wingspan. Although, what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and quickness which has him on several NBA teams’ future radars.
Strengths: Jaylen Hands is definitely still one of the rawest prospects of his class, but has some of the highest potential as well. As already mentioned, there is nothing special about the physical traits Jaylen Hands possesses; he is 6’3” in shoes and has short arms and skinny legs, but he certainly makes up for that with his extreme quickness and athleticism. Hands is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands with his tremendous ball handling skills, and ability to blow by defenders. What makes him even more dangerous is when he is placed in pick-and-roll situations where he can get inside the lane and have the option to dish it off or get to the rim where he can be a highlight reel. Although he still has a lot of polishing to do, Hands does have the qualities to be a star point guard. He has a good feel for the game and has shown flashes of being a tremendous playmaker. His jump shot is still a work in progress, as he shot 40.5% on field goals and 37% on 3-point field goals, but he has a great release that shows the potential for him to be a lethal shooter in the future. Teams love his abilities in the open court, especially in transition, and see the high upside with the rest of his offensive game, but want to see it all come together before pulling the trigger.
Weaknesses: Similar to his senior mentor, Aaron Holiday, the size, strength, and length of Jaylen Hands are all question marks for him at the next level. He will most likely be limited to guarding one position, and although his quickness gives him an advantage, his slim frame allows bigger guards to get position and score over or through Hands. He has shown flashes of being a solid defender, but has to be able to keep track of his man off the ball and not allow them to beat him to spots on the floor. On the other side of the ball, Hands’ athleticism and quickness can cause him trouble at times. He often relies too much on his ability to get to the lane, and instead of finding the open man on the perimeter or dishing it down to the post, Hands gets caught in the air and throws up lots of wild shots. He has not been great at finishing through contact, so instead, he often tries to avoid the contact all together which just turns into more wild shots. The potential to become a lethal point guard both offensively and defensively are both there for him, but a more thorough understanding of his position and physical abilities is what will take Jaylen Hands to the next level.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Malik Monk
Jaylen Hands has been able to sneak onto most NBA draft big boards, but is not present on any mock drafts. NBA scouts are aware of the freshman point guard and his tremendous upside, but still want to see him polish his playmaking abilities and defensive efficiency before drafting him. Jaylen Hands will likely test the waters, as the new rule allows players to declare for the draft and workout for NBA teams, but return to school if they did not hire an agent. Eventually, I expect Hands to return to school for his sophomore season. Interestingly the UCLA Bruins finished third in the PAC-12 conference, and lost to St. Bonaventure in an eleven-seed play in game, which has a lot of Los Angeles fans calling for coach Steve Alford’s firing. Alford has another top ten recruiting class coming into 2018, but after failing the last couple seasons with classes as equally talented, fans are not optimistic. It would be interesting to see what impact that would make on the Hands’ decision, but for now Alford is still in place and I would still expect Hands to return.
Malik Monk seems to be the most appropriate comparison for Jaylen Hands. Monk was the eleventh overall selection in the previous years’ draft out of Kentucky and is currently averaging 5 PPG for the Charlotte Hornets. Monk has the exact same frame as Hands at 6’3” and a 6’4” wingspan, but has put on a little more weight than Jaylen at 200 pounds. Monk is certainly a score-first guard who uses his serious quickness and athleticism to beat defenders to the rim. He has tremendous abilities on the ball and is most dangerous with the ball in his hands and an open floor in front of him. Monk has been somewhat disappointing in his rookie campaign, but there is still a lot of optimism and high hopes that he will develop into a star of the league. These high hopes are something that Jaylen Hands hopes to attract this offseason and in his probable sophomore season at UCLA. Following a solid second year, and if Hands is able to show strides made in decision making, finishing, and defense, I see Jaylen as a mid to late first round pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
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