During the 2012 summer, rising sophomore Jeremy Hemsley first made his presence felt on the West Coast. The skinny guard had generated regional buzz thanks to his outstanding play with the Dreamvision 15-under squad, and programs such as from Arizona, Washington State, Washington, Gonzaga, San Diego State, New Mexico State, Portland, Boston College and Colorado expressed early interest.
Hemsley didn’t need long to establish himself as one of the most athletic players in his class. By the close of the 2013 summer, the now-rising junior claimed to hold offers from San Diego State, USC, UNLV, UC-Irvine, New Mexico and Boston College.
Even early, then, he appeared to be a player who might want to stay out west yet not necessarily within the Pac-12. Still, his junior year brought multiple offers from that league’s programs, including Washington and Oregon. By May of this year, he noted that it was the Aztecs and Huskies along with Arizona State and Colorado that had recruited him hardest.
But he pledged to SDSU prior to the heart of summer, in fact competing at the Pangos All-American Camp just days after his pledge to Steve Fisher’s program.
Hemsley proceeded to solidify his place in the national top 100, and in fact he’s just a few spots (No. 56) outside the top 50.
A blazing first step is what truly sets Hemsley apart. More than all but a few guards in the senior class, he explodes past defenders and aggressively makes plays as he slices to the basket. He’s simply too quick for most foes to handle, and as such he projects as a critically important component to SDSU’s offense for years to come.
|Don’t let that sleepy look fool you: Hemsley loves to attack|
Not only does Hemsley beat his man and get to the rim, he possesses the hops and above-average body control to finish in traffic. His game is so predicated around attacking that he has developed a keen eye for how big men attempt to time his shots inside. He ducks and weaves as needed, while of course hoping to finish with a slam whenever possible.
But he isn’t just a slasher. Hemsley already is a capable pull-up jump shooter from the middle areas, and he’s at least occasionally effective from distance. His style makes him slasher-first, but while on the move he sometimes drops little flip passes to big men or whips a pass through the lane to a waiting shooter. He doesn’t put his head down and drive mindlessly to the rim.
Once he gains strength — and make no mistake, he has a long way to go — Hemsley should excel on defense. His quickness and natural aggression should enable him to become a very tough on-ball defender of either backcourt spot as well as someone who can fly around to contest shooters. He also rebounds his position well, which while not a primary duty still boosts the team.
Becoming a better three-point shooter will be key. Hemsley does a lot of good things off the dribble, as a scorer, passer and pull-up scorer, but ultimately defenders are going to negate his driving somewhat if he doesn’t tighten up from behind the arc.
He also does sometimes become overly aggressive and force the action, though as mentioned above he makes a lot of heady plays as well.
SDSU tends to operate at a very slow pace, but that hasn’t always been the case during the Fisher era. Should the Aztecs decide to play at a faster tempo, Hemsley could prove to be primary conductor to achieve that goal.
And even if not, his ability to break down defenders should fit very well into a program that wants to be methodical while moving defenses and creating mismatches. Hemsley is an excellent one-on-one player and thus will draw respect from opposing coaches, who may be forced to assign their best defender to him.
Over the years we’ve observed players advancing all the way to the NBA on the basis of a great first step, a magnificent weapon for any player to have. While it’s too early to know whether Hemsley will improve enough for that level, the projection here is that he’ll become an early starter and key scorer for a program that’s already highly successful. Beyond that, we’ll have to see, but he does hold immense potential.