The first time I watched Shake Milton, early this year, I didn't really know who he was. A fan of Mo-Kan sitting nearby kept telling "Shake" to do things, but in a way that first, vague impression indicated the type of player he has become.
Milton is a shooting guard at 6-4 with long arms — he has a wingspan of nearly seven feet — but possesses the handling and passing skills of a point. He played a multi-faceted role for a team that lacked elite playmakers, a responsibility he carried out well but one that also caused his own efficiency to suffer and thus made his numbers appear less effective than they could be in college.
Following the July live period, in August Milton cut his list to four: Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois and SMU. Prior to that he'd also received offers or serious interest from Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, Creighton, Wichita State and Oklahoma State. Clearly, major coaches saw the same thing we did in the four star guard.
He committed to SMU in mid-October and will be a fantastic addition to the Mustangs' lineup.
Milton is a fine handler at 6-4 who keeps his head up on the dribble and delivers passes nicely to teammates. He uses his length to score on drives, including short pull-up jumpers and finishes all the way at the rim. He doesn't rely on quickness as much as he does a knack for reading defenders and utilizing high ball screens to shake (ahem) loose.
|Milton sees the whole floor and has a great head for the game|
He also should become an outstanding defender due to his length, and he contributes on the boards as well. Milton's averages in 21 total games included 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. While nothing stands out as eye-popping, he clearly took on a variety of duties for his club — which outfought more talented teams to earn a berth into the Peach Jam.
Milton improved almost all of his numbers from 2013 to 2014, an encouraging sign going forward. And as much as anything, he earned his coaches' trust as the go-to player and calming factor in summer games that can become chaotic.
He's a good athlete from a control perspective, but Milton lacks great quickness or leaping ability. He doesn't finish above the rim often and instead relies on length and craft to score around the hoop. Fortunately, he possesses both of those traits in ample measure, but in the long run he'll have to address questions positively in order to dispel concerns.
His jump shot also failed him at times on the travel circuit this year. Though, as mentioned above, he improved considerably on the stat sheet from 2013 to 2014, Milton's shooting accuracy tanked. He hit 44 percent on threes (27-62) in 2013 but just 27 percent (15-56) in 2014.
The sample size is small enough that even a few shots going in would have made a huge difference, but still, it's worth noting. His form actually looks fine, however, and he's an 83 percent free throw shooter — which proves he has good touch.
Milton looks to me like an outstanding four-year player. He has established talent, versatility and leadership, qualities that serve any player well. He can be the glue and alpha simultaneously, and given years to grow and become more consistent, he could be a fixture and something of a coaches' pet nationally.
Brown didn't need long to transform his club into a stout one defensively, and from that perspective Milton should push for early playing time.
His professional future appears less certain due to athletic limitations, but it's not like he's a sloth. He simply needs to perfect his already-impressive knowledge and instincts for making the most of his available tools. His blend of tangibles and intangibles make him among the more gifted and mature prospects in the Class of 2015.