Height/Weight: 6’9, 225 lbs
Penny Hardaway brought in a top recruiting class in 2019 that was headlined by James Wiseman (who has since left the program) but many including myself were excited about a 6’9″ forward from Montverde Academy named Precious Achiuwa.
The biggest strength for Achiuwa as a prospect comes in the form of his athleticism. It’s elite…outlier level elite. He is big, strong, fast, and can explode off the ground as a leaper. Athleticism is only good if you know how to use it though so let’s walk through the various ways Achiuwa uses his athletic gift.
Achiuwa is quick and can really run the floor for a power forward. He loves to get out and run on fast breaks with opportunities to finish easy lay-ups or lobs.
His quickness can also be attributed to the half court where he likes to flash to the high post, turn, and attack defenders off the dribble. His length also helps him in these situations as well. When he attacks from the perimeter he uses a couple cross-overs or between the leg dribbles to shake a defender. His ball handling is not perfect, but advanced for a forward.
Achiuwa likes to get a lot of garbage buckets and his strength allows for him to establish good position. His explosion allows for tip-ins, put-back dunks, and easy layups on missed shots.
On the defensive end, Achiuwa can bring a lot to the table. His versatility will attract a lot of teams when it gets close to draft time as he can guard four and fives effectively on his body and has the quickness to keep up with some wing players. This can be further enhanced by his lengthy wingspan. When guarding bigs, Achiuwa looks for weak-side block opportunities. He looks to slide across the lane to contest opposing teams’ attackers. He has good, but not elite timing on his jumps.
A lot of Achiuwa’s weaknesses come on the offensive end. The first is his jump shot that has seemed to approve since arriving at Memphis; it still needs a lot of work. Achiuwa looks very uncomfortable when he faces up and only attempts the occasional mid-range jumper. His free throw percentage has never been a plus to his game and could worry some NBA teams about his development.
Due in part to the mentioned shot issues above, Achiuwa struggles to create in the half court. Achiuwa finishes well around the basket, but he struggles to create his own look or get to a certain spot. The most we will see out of him is a spin move into a layup or a face-up drive resulting in a floater. This creative issue is troublesome especially when he is on the perimeter where he rarely looks to shoot and often just looks to pass the ball immediately.
While Precious has a plus handle for a forward, sometimes he can be extremely sloppy with the ball. Ball control is an issue for him when he forces the issue too much, but that can and will be changed with NBA level coaches around him.
The last weakness I see from Precious Achiuwa is when it comes to the rebounding aspect of the game. Achiuwa is a fairly good rebounder especially on the offensive end when in a cluttered lane he has the ability to go up and grab boards, but more often than not he tries to tip the ball out or make a tough tip in. His hands may need to get a bit stronger to really bring down boards.
The physicals are going to have NBA teams split. Some could really buy into athleticism and believe they can further develop his shot and creativity in the half court while others may accept him for the get out and go forward he is. I think his game will benefit from the pace and space nature of the NBA and he would excel more on a team that likes to get out and run and could even use him as an occasional small ball five. I think the offensive concerns are legitimate and it may drive him down draft boards.
Precious Achiuwa definitely has the physical tools to stand out at the next level, but I think we will see him go anywhere from the mid to late first round depending on how different teams see him. Look for him to really work on his confidence shooting the ball and if he can develop the shot, he could become an even more intriguing prospect.