Joel Berry II – North Carolina
CPP Big Board Ranking: #78 Overall (#21 PG)
Weight: 185 lbs
Age/Birthday: 23 (4/1/95)
Hometown: Orlando, FL
High School: Lake Highland Prep
(Grant Kobrin – 2/24/18)
Joel Berry II has had quite the journey as the point guard for North Carolina over the past four years. He has been a key contributor, and more importantly, a primary leader for the Tar Heels during each of his four seasons thus far. Joel Berry II returned to Chapel Hill for his senior season this year, after a more than impressive junior year where he lead the Tar Heels to their sixth national championship in school history, as well as being named the MVP of the 2017 Final Four. His return to UNC was quite the surprise to the college basketball community, but Joel Berry II made it clear that he intended to return to compete for another national championship, and to earn his degree. It is also worth noting, that Joel Berry II was not predicted to be drafted in the 2017 draft. However, Joel Berry is arguably having his best season for North Carolina this year in his senior year, and is working towards showing NBA scouts that he is an NBA-level draft prospect. Overall, Joel Berry II has been a phenomenal and exciting player to watch over his career at North Carolina, and he has a legitimate chance of playing in the NBA next season.
Strengths: Joel Berry II is an aggressive, athletic, and strong point guard. He has an incredibly high level of confidence, which makes him effective in leading a team from the point guard position. His greatest strength from the offensive end of the court is his jump shot. Berry is a strong threat from beyond the three point line and has a smooth and quick release, which allows him to shoot over and around bigger defenders. He excels shooting off of the catch and off the dribble, and has shown the ability to make big shots at the end of games. He also has a very strong mid-range jump shot, which he probably will need to utilize more at the NBA level. Regardless, Berry can space the floor, and create his own shot when he needs to, making him a threat when playing with or without the ball. Joel Berry has well above average ball handling skills for a point guard, and uses his strong handle to push the ball up the court, and to get through double, and sometimes even triple teams. He plays with a fast tempo and always is looking up the court to find teammates for open shots, and is especially good at feeding teammates inside the paint.
Overall, he has good court vision, which will translate to the NBA level. He is a great athlete for a guard, as mentioned above, and this allows for him to get into the lane with ease, and either finish through contact, or feed his big men in the paint. Berry II is a decent defender, as he has averaged about a steal a game throughout his college career. But, he needs to improve in this part of his game, as we will discuss later on. Lastly, due to the ball being in Berry’s hand so often, he draws more fouls than almost any other player, especially in crunch time. Joel Berry is one of the best free throw shooters in college basketball, which makes it hard for Carolina Coach Roy Williams to put him on the bench, even during games that may seem out of reach for the opposing team. Joel Berry II is a talented and highly skilled point guard, with many attributes of his game that should translate over to NBA competition.
Weaknesses: Joel Berry II is undersized, it’s really as simple as that. However, many undersized point guards have had great careers in the NBA including Chris Paul, Nate Robinson, and even the 5’3” Muggsy Bogues. Nevertheless, he will have a hard time getting his shot off against NBA defenders, which is arguably one of his greatest strengths at the college level. Besides being undersized, Joel Berry is a streaky shooter who sometimes shows poor shot selection, and seems to be too much of a scoring point guard. He does have good court vision, as shown by averaging over three assists a game at the college level, so he does have the potential to be more of a facilitator. Going back to his shot, it is a smooth and good looking shot, but it is definitely a low release and seems to be different than the way that other guards shoot the ball. Despite being known as a clutch and knockdown shooter, his shooting percentages are significantly lower than they should be from the field, and even the three point line to some extent. This is something he needs to clear up before the end of his college career. On the defensive end, he may have some issues at the NBA level due to his size. This has been seen over the past few years with smaller guards, like Isaiah Thomas. Although to be fair, Joel Berry II is a few inches taller than Isaiah Thomas. Joel Berry has also always found himself in some foul trouble issues. Although, since he most likely will be playing fewer minutes at the NBA level, this shouldn’t be much of a concern. Overall, Joel Berry II has a few things to improve upon in his game, but certainly does not have any glaring weaknesses.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Fred VanVleet
Joel Berry II appears to be somewhat similar to Fred VanVleet as an NBA prospect. Both players are undersized, strong, quick, decent facilitators, and can shoot the basketball. Fred VanVleet was undrafted, but has quickly become one of the best backup point guards in the league for the Toronto Raptors. However, Fred VanVleet largely went undrafted due to the fact that he player mid-major college basketball and did not play against the competition that Joel Berry II does on a regular basis. Fred VanVleet certainly should have been drafted looking back at that draft class, but even at the time he should have at least been a mid-to-late second round pick. Joel Berry II will likely be drafted in that range.
Expect Joel Berry II to be picked towards the end of the second round at some point. However, if he is not drafted, he will have the opportunity to prove himself in another team’s summer league team and training camp. Fred VanVleet did just that to get to the point where he is now. Joel Berry II should be in the NBA next season, but needs to prove to NBA scouts that his size will not hold him back against stronger competition. Regardless, Joel Berry II has had an outstanding college career, and will be heavily considered in the upcoming draft and even beyond that.
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