Saint Bonaventure has the most underrated duo heading into the 2017-18 college basketball season. They also happen to be the best. It’s not close.
The duo is comprised of Jaylen Adams, a 6’2” senior point guard, and Matt Mobley, a 6’3” senior off-ball guard. Adams is a special talent. Last season, Adams became only the 4th player in the last 15 seasons to average more than 20 PPG, 6 APG, and 2 SPG. Mobley is a dynamic player in his own right – a pure shooter. He was one of six players last season to average 18 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.5 SPG while shooting 37% from 3.
In college basketball, a duo as talented as Adams and Mobley is beyond rare. Since 2002, only one other team had two players average more than 18 PPG, 3 RPG, 2.5 APG, & 1.5 SPG, shooting 35% from 3. The other team? The 2003-04 Saint Joseph’s Hawks with Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, who went 27-0 in that regular season under Head Coach Phil Martelli.
The Bonnies backcourt duo not only matched Nelson and West’s production in their acclaimed final year in 2003-04, but they also have one year remaining to top it. History will be made in the Reilly Center this year.
What makes the duo so successful?
Last season, according to Synergy, the Bonnies were the only team with two players in the top 30 for Points Per Possession (PPP) when shooting in ball screen situations (min. of 150 possessions). They both can score at all three levels coming off of the ball screen as they shot a combined 55% when driving to the basket, 40% on midrange 2s, and an impressive 40% from 3.
They possess elite offensive skills, which creates nightmares for defensive game plans when deciding how to defend their ball screen.
Defensively, Adams is too skilled and exploits all matchups with opposing bigs after he gets around the corner on the ball screen. Here, he displays his elite hesitation move to freeze Florida big man, John Egbunu, to get to the rim.
When watching the two of them in transition, which often stems from one of their own steals, you can’t help but see shades of Golden State basketball. Both players have a ‘green light’, coupled with unlimited range, which they use to exploit their opponent, especially in transition. Only eight D1 teams, including the Bonnies, had two players in the top 60 for transition PPP.
Adams and Mobley are at their best when Adams is finding defensive breakdowns and pushing the ball up to Mobley.
Adams notices St. Louis has had a defensive breakdown and there is only one player to defend him and Mobley as St. Louis forward, Elliott Welmer, retreats to the paint.
Another dimension of the Bonnies transition game is to push the ball up the court to Mobley for a quick spot up jumper. Adams grabs the rebound and throws an accurate pass up court to Mobley for an uncontested 3.
3’s – Volume and Efficiency:
Only two teams have two players returning who made more than 2.5 threes per game last season while shooting at least 35% from beyond the arc – St. Bonaventure and Lipscomb (Garrison Matthews and Nathan Moran).
This upcoming season the Bonnies need to push the ball up the court even more and play faster. They were 9-0 in games of 74 or more possessions and just 11-12 in games under 74 possessions. This team should be able to control the pace of every game. Playing faster will have positive compounding effects on both ends of the floor.
A duo like this comes around once in a decade. Watch them. History will be made.
Match-ups to Watch:
Maryland - November 24 - 9:30 PM – Emerald Coast Classic – CBS Sports Network
Syracuse – December 2 - 7 PM on ACC Network Extra
Saint Joseph’s – January 6th - 8 PM on ESPNU and January 24th - 7 PM on CBS SN
Rhode Island – January 13th - 11 AM on ESPNU and February 16th - 7 PM on ESPN2