In many ways, the play of Jarell Eddie embodied Virginia Tech's 2013-14 basketball season. At times he was beyond impressive draining turn-around three pointers off a curl like few can. Other times, well, he just disappeared.
For the season Eddie averaged 13.3 PPG and 5.4 RPG, both team highs. He also led the Hokies in three point shooting percentage (37.6%) while both attempting and making twice as many threes as second place Ben Emelgou.
But that's not the whole story. Eddie was terrific through the first ten games of the season putting up 19.3 PPG including his best all-around effort in Tech's win at Miami. Jarell set the pace with 24 points and eight rebounds in 43 minutes to lead the Hokies to a 61-60 overtime victory over the Hurricanes.
Tech was sitting atop the ACC Standings at 1-0 in conference play and there was hope that the team might just be able to put together a decent campaign. Then Eddie hit a wall and so did the Hokies.
Jarell scored in double figures in just 10 of the Hokies' remaining 21 games. That included games with 4, 6, 3, 2, 2, 9, 5 and four games with seven points.
Eddie's three point shooting percentage fell to 30.5% and his overall shooting dropped to 29.4% in ACC play.
The easy answer is that Jarell has always fallen off once ACC teams filled the schedule. That's true looking at past performance, but why is that the case?
During a number of games I took a few possessions to watch Eddie specifically. The defense focused almost exclusively on him, knowing Jarell was Tech's only major scoring threat. He was forced to work very hard without the ball to get any open looks and he expelled lots of energy trying to shake defenders.
Combine that with Eddie's tendency to become frustrated and get in his own head and you've got the recipe for a troubled sharpshooter.
Still, there's no overestimating how important Jarell Eddie was to Virginia Tech's team. People tend to focus on his shooting ability and that's understandable, but it's Eddie's rebounding that sets him apart from your average outside threat. At 6'7", 220 Eddie has the size to mix it up in the post and he just seems to have a knack for tracking down wayward shots in a way that many of Tech's other post players have yet to show consistently.
When he played well the Hokies stood a strong chance to win, but he was put in a difficult position at Tech. Eddie is too streaky as a shooter to be a reliable No. 1 scoring option. He's best suited as a second or third guy in a group of capable scorers.
His best shooting season came as a sophomore playing alongside Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson. That season Eddie shot 44.3% from three and 42.5% from the field in 900 minutes. Compare that to 970 minutes as a junior and 1011 as a senior. He didn't play significantly less, just more effectively because the defense had to respect the other scorers.
This season was a bit of a struggle, but remember that without Eddie's scoring outbursts and consistent rebounding the Hokies probably don't win nine games.
Jarell Eddie will have a long professional career overseas and if he can develop a short memory regarding missed shots, he could become a terrific swingman. It will help immensely when he doesn't have to work so hard to do what he does best. Shoot.
Overall Grade: B
Jarrell Eddie was the weakest #1 offensive option of any team in the league. When the defenses ratcheted up and geared their defenses to stop him, he had no answer. If he couldn't sloppily run his man into the screen, no shots were created, and we drained shot clocks looking to get him open against quicker defenders. He certainly wasn't the prime bail-out option, because when Adam Smith was healthy, he was the best option at the end of the shot clock; either that or a Wilson drive to the cup during which we attempted to draw a whistle. It certainly wasn't Jarrell's fault we had few other outlets offensively through which to run things.
Jarrell Eddie was the very best we had to offer this year. And when he performed well, it usually meant the games were going to be competitive. It was an unfortunate burden to bear for a guy who should be an excellent complementary player. Had Smith and Ben Emelogu stayed healthy, and maybe if Dorian Finney-Smith or Montrezl Harrell are available, Eddie gives us those same exact numbers of 13 ppg and 5 rpg (approx) and has a way healthier impact on the game, as he overmatches other teams third or fourth best option; rather than performing inefficiently as a number one option forced out of his comfort zone.
I used to view him as a poor man's Allan Houston, as they are both long and languid, and perhaps a step slow for the two guard (particularly on defense). But guys who could fill it up quickly and get you those points back. With all the slapdash C Raines/C.J Barksdale early season roster nonsense and untimely injuries, Eddie did a good job convincing some of us that an NIT bid was possible with him as the lead dog in the pack. He had four triple doubles, including back to back to back efforts against Seton Hall, Radford and Furman. He did a good job clearing the defensive glass.
But then came conference play: Despite the excellent conference opener against Miami that Justin mentioned above, his scoring average in the ACC was just 10.7 ppg. In fact, Eddie reached double figures just eight times in the 18 regular season games. For a top-20 usage guy at 24% that's extremely inefficient. One of the glaring stats that stands out is Eddie's inability to finish his two-point efforts. Considering most coaches will bench you for shooting two point shots outside the paint nowadays due to analytics dominating gameplans, most of Eddie's misses were right there in the paint, in transition, moments that finishers finish.
His 3pt numbers dipped to 30.5%, while his 2 pt attempts clocked in at 29.4%. That is astounding. In baseball, they have BABIP (which means batting average for balls batted into the field of play, it's a number to tell how lucky you are essentially, if balls are falling in where fielders aren't. It's not perfect but it's telling nonetheless). If Jarrell Eddie's 2 point attempts were measured in BABIP, the poor guy would be batting less than .100. The fielders would have caught everything. It's non-pareil.
Eddie's tenure in Blacksburg was checkered with moments of promise, a few heroic efforts, and a whole lot of just being there. Thanks for being there Mr. Eddie, while the record might reflect otherwise, you conducted yourself as a winner in the toughest game of all, dealing with life's adversities as fate so bestows them upon us.
Grade: D+ (grading him as a number one option on the worst team in the ACC)
Grading on a Curve: B- (I have to grade these guys on a curve, because I watched all the unnecessary suffering, and know that in their proper roles, all would have had the opportunity to excel, thank you Jim Weaver)
We will back shortly with more player grades. Let us know what you think below.
Nuestro Cassell es su Cassell......