In his four years at the University of Wyoming, Justin James has made a name for himself with his prolific scoring. He finished his collegiate career with 2,061 points, the fourth most in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) since 1985 and third all-time in school history. He earned Second Team All-Conference in the MWC in his senior season while averaging 22.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 41-30-74 shooting splits.
Playing for a shorthanded Cowboys squad that finished the season with an 8-24 record, James carried the load offensively this past season, and he averaged a career-high in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game. That said, he also recorded a career-high in turnovers per game (4.2) and his field-goal and three-point percentages were career-lows. In his sophomore and junior seasons, James shot 46 and 47 percent from the field, respectively. His three-point percentage peaked at 42 percent in sophomore year, and his career average from deep is 34 percent.
The lowly shooting splits from James’ senior season are forgivable because he was every defense’s focus, and he often took tough, contested shots in the half court. It also should be noted that he doesn’t appear to have major flaws with his shooting mechanics, and for the last three seasons, he shot better than 74 percent from the free-throw line.
Drawing much of the opponent’s attention this season, James spent a great deal of his time as a pick-and-roll ball handler to create space between himself and the defenders. Pick-and-roll plays accounted for 31.1 percent of his possessions, and he ranked at the 64th percentile for points per possession (PPP). James played a slower, more methodical style of basketball, effectively controlling the pace of the game, while making plays as a passer, driver, and shooter.
Despite being a primary ball handler and a solid athlete, James relies a great deal on screens for his offense, and he struggles in isolation. He does not have the strongest handle, and favors driving to the left despite being a righty. He also is not a consistent shooter off the bounce, ranking at the 53rd percentile for PPP this season and at the 35th percentile last season.
In terms of defense, James’s athleticism allows him to keep up with opponents and stay attached to his assignment. At 6-foot-7, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, James has the ability to guard multiple positions on the perimeter. The concern is his lack of bulk (183 pounds) and strength when guarding bigger and stronger opponents.
James’ athleticism, length, and all-around ability to make plays on both ends of the court are very appealing. The main concerns are his struggles from deep and an inability to consistently create his own offense. A late second-round pick may be used on James for his two-way play, but as of now, it seems more likely that he will be fighting for a two-way contract midway into the 2019-2020 NBA season.
|Wingspan:||7-1||Vertical:||29.5 inches (standing)|
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- Good scoring around the rim in the half court (not including post-ups); ranked at the 60th percentile for PPP, and also ranked at 63rd percentile with runners
- Scored well as the pick-and-roll ball handler; ranked at the 64th percentile for PPP
- When including passes, he was even better as the pick-and-roll ball handler; ranked at the 70th percentile for PPP
- Very good when scoring via handoffs and cuts; ranked at the 66th and 71st percentile for PPP, respectively
- Incredible rebounding wing, averaging a career-high 8.5 rebounds per game this season and ranking at the 99th percentile for PPP on put-backs
- Had efficient shooting numbers with a less significant role; 47-31-73 as a junior, 46-42-76 as a sophomore
- Good overall and isolation defender; ranked at the 64th and 77th percentile for PPP, respectively
- Can guard positions 1-3
- Solid athlete, and performed well at the Portsmouth Invitational, including posting a time of 3.09 in the 3-quarter court sprint
- Struggled in half-court catch-and-shoot situations; ranked at the 19th percentile for PPP
- Inefficient senior season due to increased role; 41-30-74 shooting splits
- Favors driving left despite being a righty
- Struggles to score in isolation
- Slower style of play is not typical in today’s NBA
- Turnover prone; for his career, averaged 2.5 turnovers per game, with a modest assist-turnover ratio of 1.05
- May initially struggle against bigger and stronger defenders due to a thin frame; needs to add bulk and muscle
- Has trouble dealing with screens, and struggled defending handoffs and off-screen plays this season, ranking at the 23rd and the 20th percentile for PPP, respectively
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology and RealGM.com, and occasionally from Hoop-Math.com and Sports-Reference.com. The photo was courtesy of Wyoming Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.