Fall 2020 Scouting Report
Miles McBride is one of the most underrated players and prospects in the NCAA. The sophomore guard is an all-around elite player with impressive shot-making, quickness, and size. He needs to work on his offensive decision making and point guard skills to maximize his game, but he is poised to be one of the best returning college players in the country.
McBride stands out on the defensive end. He is an elite defensive player, especially among players his size. He excels in the ability to stick with opponents both on and off the ball. He is constantly applying pressure at the point of attack and fighting over screens with a great understanding of body angles.
His mental toughness and intensity is on display when watching him defend one on one. He smothers opponents and mirrors them step by step when they attempt to drive to the rim. His timing of contesting shots, as well as his quick reflex feel for placing his hand on the ball without fouling, is elite. He successfully defended top Big 12 guards like Devon Dotson and Jahmius Ramsey last year and also had some success against talented mid-major offensive players such as Loren Jackson of Akron and AJ Green of Northern Iowa.
While some of his success defending on the ball can be attributed to the excellent help defense of teammates, McBride was also extremely impressive when guarding away from the ball. McBride’s off-ball defense starts with his ability to stick with opponents and deny them the ability to even catch the ball at a spot from which they would have comfort attacking from. He forces the players he is guarding as far away from the basket as possible while remaining in ideal guarding position and ready to contest any shot or provide help for teammates.
On the rare occasion he is not guarding the opponents top perimeter option, McBride remains active and disrupts passing lanes by using his excellent anticipation to force turnovers and muck up opposing offensive actions. His overall feel for the game and understanding of positioning was indicative of impressive basketball intelligence, wise far beyond his freshman year experience.
While McBride’s defensive play in the half-court is doubtlessly impressive, he is perhaps most outstanding for his incredible defensive play in the open floor. He can recognize and recover during transition possessions more quickly than any player in the country. This mental fortitude allows McBride to constantly disrupt open floor passes and shot attempts. Even defending 1 on 2 or 1 on 3 among other disadvantaged situations, McBride manages to sniff out exactly what opponents are trying to accomplish and cause havoc or otherwise prevent the opposition from getting an easy look at the rim.
This is a special and unusual ability that helps McBride pop among other prospects and gives a glimpse into the potential natural basketball ability that can eventually translate into other parts of his game. Despite leading the country in offensive rebound percentage, West Virginia managed to hold opponents to just 0.841 points per possession in transition according to Synergy Sports, the 11th best mark in the nation. McBride undoubtedly played a large part in that.
Miles is one of the absolute best pull up shooters in the country, boasting an effective Field Goal percentage of 44% on over 100 pull up attempts – the only player born in the 2000s in the country to surpass those marks. There are not very many players in his age group that can legitimately be called better pull up jump shooters as he statistically stands alone above them all. Guards typically make a significant leap forward shooting off the dribble during their second college season and if McBride can do so, he will hold a place among the very best dribble jump shooters in college basketball, period.
McBride has proven himself as a consistent threat with the ball in his hands to make shots from all over the floor. He forces defenders over screens with his shooting and disincentives them from attempting to play him solely as a driver and a passer. This opens up opportunities for McBride to attack the rim, allowing him to show formidable straight-line quickness and burst.
He has a relentless mental approach when attacking the rim and drives hard with reckless abandon. His intensity and motor are displayed in hustle plays and his uncanny ability to come up with a disproportionate number of 50/50 loose balls.
McBride has proven himself capable of running the West Virginia offense and executing basic reads. While he is not an elite playmaker, he does a good job making post entries and is particularly effective lobbing passes over the top of defenders attempting to front in the post. West Virginia’s offensive scheme is somewhat atypical in modern college basketball. The team tries to set up post-ups and mid-range looks, not putting its point guards in position to create for teammates as much as the majority of other college/professional teams.
The spacing around McBride was not ideal and this surely limited the opportunities he had to execute passing reads in the half-court. West Virginia was one of the best defensive teams in the country (3rd in the nation in opponent adjusted defensive rating) but struggled at times offensively in the half-court (294th in offensive points per possession according to Synergy Sports).
McBride was often expected to take on the role of a primary initiator when he came off the bench and attempt to individually create and make shots. In a more lush and high-yielding context, McBride’s playmaking would likely be more apparent both for himself and his teammates. Nevertheless, his advanced footwork, balance, and touch as a pull-up jump shooter was a beam of light shining through and combined with his quickness and feel for the game makes up for a strong, shrewd foundation for his future development as a versatile two-way player.
Areas for Improvement
While McBride’s impressive basketball instincts and feel for the game provide a strong foundation for his future development, there are still several ways he can improve upon his game starting with his ability to hit shots off the catch. It is rare to see a player shoot a better percentage off the dribble than off the catch, but Miles shot 36 percent on three-pointers off the dribble, yet only 33 percent when spotting up last year. He does not get great lift when he jumps in the air and seems to lack rhythm on the wind-up.
Due to his tendency to move his hands and the ball toward the back of his head and away from the rim at the top of his release, he often ends up with poorly timed and inconsistent mechanics. NBA teams expressed a desire for McBride to focus his energy on his strengths as a defensive player and to play away from the ball more offensively. This makes his spot-up shooting an important part of his future success.
McBride can still use work on his point guard skills as well. Defenses are able to goad him into forcing up shots which leads to missing open teammates inside or on the perimeter. His timing and accuracy as a passer are also inconsistent at this stage. Some of this can certainly be attributed to West Virginia’s older fashioned offensive scheme, but McBride can certainly stand to continue working on his playmaking and ability to run the offense.
His ball-handling is a bit high and loose. Tightening up his dribble as well as getting lower to the ground when changing direction or attacking the rim can help McBride better utilize his first step and straight-line quickness. Right now, McBride’s initial lunge move toward the basket when he attacks out of crossovers, turns and other changes of direction is a bit hampered by his lack of ideal ball control while dribbling.
Finally, while McBride is tough and physical, his body control and strength can still use some work. When finishing at the rim he at times has trouble going up around defenders and can be displaced or otherwise disrupted by contact. Being able to find ways to get the ball into the rim from various angles and with opponents draped on him, can help McBride become a more dangerous half-court offensive player.
McBride will need to continue to make strides as an offensive player, while keeping up his defensive impact, to prove himself as the sort of talent capable of being an eventual NBA starter. McBride can be one of the biggest risers on big boards between now and the 2021 draft and legitimately be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft if these improvements are made.