EYBL Takeout: Stephen Zimmerman

He doesn't always deliver the performances you'd hope to see from a top-five player. Ranked No. 5 in the Class of 2015, Zimmerman's play this past weekend at the EYBL Hampton event was solid, but not great.

Stephen Zimmerman averaged a modest 11 points per game and attempted only 36 total shots, and his shotblocking was a presence but not to the extent one might expect. Given that he's now a rising senior, expectations have risen and certainly everyone wants to see him address them.

But some key caveats apply to his relatively mundane scoring. He shares the frontcourt with an even more touted big man, Ivan Rabb, and the Oakland Soldiers overall are a talented and balanced team. It's difficult to pick apart his game too much given that the Soldiers went 3-1 during the weekend.

And his rebounding was outstanding. Zimmerman averaged 10 boards per contest and gets the most out of his length on the offensive glass. He doesn't have to leap explosively for boards given his reach and upper body flexibility. And yet, he definitely can jump, particularly with a running start.

His straight-up leap is just average, but with a couple steps to generate momentum he tosses down emphatic slams and snares rebounds over the top of opponents without fouling.

Offensively, he and Rabb — whose numbers also have taken a hit to accommodate Zimmerman and the rest of the team — work reasonably well together in high and low post action. Zimmerman enters the ball into the post nicely thanks to good touch and instincts for delivering the ball through traffic, and as a recipient his hands are sure and touch outstanding at the rim. He gathers himself in balance and uses the glass to score around shotblockers.

Becoming more consistent facing the bucket stands as a needed objective. Zimmerman makes some jump shots now and has the southpaw touch to cultivate those shots into a highly effective weapon, but he's very streaky. He doesn't look as comfortable with his back to the bucket — though filling out, he still lacks lower body strength — and doesn't possess the footwork of someone like, for example, Rabb.

I generally regard Zimmerman as a long-term power forward, though at this stage he's more of a center. He may not fully blossom in that regard until he reaches the professional level, but he moves reasonably well on the perimeter defensively and certainly prefers — and is capable of fulfilling — a skill role. Patience may be required, but he has ample time on his side.


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