De'Aaron Fox: Junior Primer

Dallas has been hot on the grassroots scene for awhile, and freshman guard De'Aaron Fox emerged in 2013 as another potential star.

How he got here

Coaches never struggled in their evaluations of De’Aaron Fox. They recognized big-time talent upon first impression, which explains why more than two years ago Fox accumulated offers from Texas, Baylor, SMU and Kansas State, with many more to follow.

Even at that early stage, we regarded Fox as a combo guard — a designation that continues to exist. He makes plays both on and off the ball, the one commonality being that he loves to attack.

Fox’s playing style fits his surname perfectly

Fox competed at national events as a rising sophomore — including a tour of the EYBL circuit with the Houston Hoops — and brought that experience with him back to Texas. He posted big scoring numbers as a sophomore and entered the 2014 travel season as one of the most ballyhooed guards in the Class of 2016.

He suited up once again for the Hoops and elevated his production impressively. Fox averaged 13 points per game and averaged a whopping five rebounds per contest as well, an indication that he combines both athleticism and scrap at just 6-2. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, he dished out four assists along with two steals per contest as well.

Following his summer, Louisville, Texas, Florida, Kansas, NC State and others stepped up their pursuit. Fox doesn’t appear to be in a hurry, nor does he need to be. Currently ranked No. 18 in his class, he’ll be a marked man and featured attraction as he hits the road over the next several months.

His junior season has been abbreviated due to a toe injury, but he should be completely healthy by spring.

To 2015. …

Fox’s speed is among the very best in the junior class, but he brings much more than that to the court athletically. He changes directions sharply and explodes high above the rim for surprising dunks. That’s also partially why he’s such a tough rebounder.

In other words, the more he gets into transition, the better. Fox is a dynamic force on the break because he possesses so many spontaneous options by which to put the ball in the bucket. And if he’s covered, he’s capable of slick passes to teammates for layups of their own.

I’m also not overly concerned about his ultimate backcourt role. With that much speed and quickness, he can play on the ball at least some of the time, and at 6-2 he plays taller and can defend either guard spot. He’s too talented to get hung up on his position. It’s the non-scorers for whom the lack of a clear spot can become problematic.

That said, Fox must address his efficiencies. He shot only 40 percent for the Hoops last year and a woeful 23 percent on threes, taking a lot of them. He also connected on just 62 percent of his free throws, so clearly shooting remains his most pressing need for improvement.

He should continue to fill out and mitigate his current lack of strength, so that doesn’t pose too much concern. This year, we’ll be looking for him to take better shots, hit more of those he takes and to continue to be an all-around terror with the ball in his hands.

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