Craig Victor: Evaluation

A New Orleans native with size and skill, few possess his admirable work ethic.

Introduction

Winning came naturally, and early, for Victor. As a freshman at New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine, he helped lead his crew to a state championship and posted a triple double (13 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks) in the semifinal.

He acquired serious collegiate attention right off the bat, including from such national suitors as North Carolina and Georgetown. Following his performances as a rising junior, on the 2012 travel circuit, he spoke to colleague Brian Snow and updated his recruitment as follows:

"My phone blew up man, it blew up," said Victor with a laugh. "Kansas, Ohio State, Baylor, Alabama, LSU, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Connecticut, a lot of schools."

By mid-winter, LSU — behind a high energy approach from Johnny Jones — and Arizona both had begun to elevate themselves into his first tier of schools.

Back on the court, Victor continued to impress with his tireless work ethic. For a guy with a long-standing national reputation, he entered the 2013 travel circuit with a chip implanted firmly on his shoulder. He at least matched expectations generally and then exceeded them at the Pangos All-American Camp in June, placing himself in contention for a spot among the country's top 15 rising seniors.

He didn't close his summer quite as well as he would have liked, struggling at times this past July in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, he remains a strong candidate for McDonald's All-American honors and unquestionably is a blue-chip prospect.

Before he finalized his recruiting decision, he first decided to make the move to loaded Findley Prep for his senior year. That heightened visibility certainly won't damage his chances to achieve postseason honors, and he'll enjoy a season of high intensity both in practices and in games.

He narrowed his list of schools to LSU, Arizona, Louisville, Oklahoma State and Kansas. In mid-August, ending the suspense before it could ratchet up any further, he selected the Arizona Wildcats.

Assets

At 6-8, 225 pounds, the word you'll most frequently see attached to Victor is "sturdy." That description doesn't speak only to his height and weight; he's very well-proportioned and plays the kind of game that underlines a team's collective effort.

If an electric point guard or dynamic wing scorer were the lead man in a rock band, Victor would be the bassist. His limitless energy and conscientious work on both ends can go unnoticed, but in their absence those qualities scream shrilly. He assumes the role of quiet producer, an elite complementary player who may not be the first option for a championship team but could be a workhorse third option and a defensive stalwart as well.

Victor understands that strength is a major asset to his game. Though not the beefiest guy on the block, he enjoys outstanding balance and thus is able to absorb — and initiate — contact without getting knocked off his line. He's very economical with his movements and plays with an as-the-crow-flies style that enables him to get the better of less efficient athletes.

He has become a skilled face-up scorer as well. His jump shot now finds the net from 12-15 feet on a consistent basis, and he handles well enough (especially going right) to beat many opposing big men off the dribble with good quickness and skill. His determined efforts at the rim result in buckets and numerous trips to the free throw line.

Defensively, he should develop into a strong positional figure once again due to his outstanding balance and leverage. He isn't a supreme shotblocker but does possess that tool in his arsenal as well.

From an intangibles perspective, his commendable work habits should provide a worthy model for teammates to follow. That will play out this season at Findley and also translate to college.

Deficits

Steady and consistent work to describe Victor's game, whereas dominant and extremely explosive do not. He's had some huge outings, no doubt, but consistently he isn't the kind of athlete or offensive force who's going to will his team past an opponent single-handedly.

Were he 6-10, this section would read differently. It also would read differently were he more lithe and athletic. He has plenty of functional athleticism, but some of the players ahead of him in this class possess that extra burst of quickness, speed and leap.

He tends to move in a straight line, which is great in some respects (no wasted motion) but also makes his interior shots easier to time and block. Countering and using elite agility to score in traffic don't appear to as comfortably in his tool kit, at least not yet.

Outlook

Victor projects as an outstanding early contributor. He'll be ready to compete out of the box, both in terms of strength, ability and focus. He's easily tall enough for power forward in college and will be able to overpower certain foes, while being too quick for others.

Thinking long-term, NBA scouts may consider him a high floor, low ceiling prospect. That sounds like a harsher indictment than it actually is, though, given the high number of busts each year in the NBA draft. Even if Victor never becomes a star at the professional level, with good health he appears to have a great chance to ascend to the sport's most prestigious platform.


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