Jonah Radebaugh’s story is one of patience and hard work finally paying off. The former walk-on sat out his first season as a redshirt, and for the next three seasons, he served as the team’s defensive stopper, while occasionally contributing outside shooting and crashing the boards on both ends of the court. Over that 99-game span, he averaged nearly as many rebounds per game (5.9) as he did points (8.4 per game).
In the first game of the 2019-2020 season, on November 5 at Texas, it appeared that Radebaugh would have a similar role, but as fate would have it, everything changed three days later, when starting point guard Sam Masten would miss a game due to a concussion. In Masten’s absence, Radebaugh effectively played at the point, dishing out a career-high seven assists in a 22-point win over Incarnate Word – he would go on to surpass that assist mark ten times on the season, establishing his career high of 13 vs. Idaho in late January.
With the ball in his hands, Radebaugh improved his numbers nearly across the board in his senior season, especially increasing in terms of field-goal percentage, points and assists per game, and assist-turnover ratio (A/T). The 23-year-old averaged 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, with excellent shooting splits of .495/.443/.789 and an outstanding A/T ratio of 2.59. He ranked 12th in Division I for assists per game, and finished in the top 10 of the Big Sky conference in numerous categories, including true shooting percentage (58.7), assist percentage (34.3), defensive rating (93.4), player efficiency rating (26.0), win shares (7.1), and plus-minus (7.3).
For his efforts as a senior, Radebaugh was named a first-team All-Big Sky selection, and became the only player in conference history to be named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year three times (2017, 2019, and 2020). He finished his career as the conference’s all-time leader in minutes played (4,684). He also ranks third in the Big Sky for career win shares (17.0) and fourth for career defensive rebounds (632).
|Position:||CG||Team/Class:||Northern Colorado (Sr.)|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
- Great speed, quickness, and agility, especially in terms of changing direction
- Unselfish passer, with excellent ball security; this season, had an assist-turnover ratio of 2.59, and ranked 12th in the country with 6.5 assists per game
- Despite lacking previous experience, proved to be very effective running the pick and roll this season, ranking above the 90th percentile for both points per possession and points plus derived offense per possession
- Proven outside shooter; ranked at the 96th percentile for PPP on jumpers off the dribble this season, and had a career 3-point percentage of 39.5
- Uses a very quick burst to drive into the paint with regularity
- Tireless defender; a three-time Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, who ranked in the top 10 of the conference for defensive plus-minus for four straight seasons
- Outstanding rebounder for his size, averaging at least six boards per game for three straight seasons
- Durable and has terrific stamina; a four-year starter, who played in 130 games while averaging 36 minutes per outing
- Excellent intangibles; transformed from a walk-on as a freshman to one of the nation’s most productive players as a senior
- Lacks great size, length, and vertical explosiveness
- Can struggle around the basket; made just 52.1 percent of his shots within eight feet this season
- Predictable as a driver, favoring going left, and doesn’t seek contact around the rim
- Struggles as a mid-range shooter, making just 35.3 of his jumpers inside the 3-point line this season
- Offers little as a shot blocker, averaging just 0.2 per game this season
- Upside may be limited due to his age; turned 23 on June 17
As noted above, Radebaugh’s offensive role dramatically changed as a senior; playing significantly more on the ball, he proved to be a true triple threat. In terms of points per possession (PPP), he ranked at the 82nd percentile overall and at the 99th percentile for points-plus-assists per possession. Handling in the pick and roll (PNR) accounted for 44.3 percent of his possessions (91st percentile for PPP), while 34 percent of the rest of his possessions came via spot-up (70th percentile) and isolation plays (73rd percentile). Last season, spot-ups accounted for nearly 51 percent of his possessions, while the PNR accounted for less than 9 percent.
As a passer, Radebaugh has good vision and makes smart decisions, but he is not the most creative or dynamic playmaker. He lacks some of the nuances that elite playmakers display, such as having the patience to consistently draw defenders toward him so that a play can fully develop. He is also not adept with one-hand, cross-court passes, especially with his left hand. However, when considering the brief time that he had as a lead guard, his overall numbers were extremely impressive. In terms of derived offense (the results of passes included), the Northern Colorado product ranked at the 91st percentile for PPP on PNR plays, and at the 77th percentile on isolation plays, with a very low turnover rate in both categories. In fact, among players with at least 100 possessions while handling in the PNR this season, his turnover rate of 12 percent ranked at the 75th percentile, tied with Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, among others.
Radebaugh has very good speed and quickness, a solid handle, and good shooting mechanics, and he makes liberal use of all three. In the half-court, his shots were nicely distributed between jumpers (43% of the time, 89th percentile for PPP) and attempts around the basket, including floaters, runners, and post-ups, which he converted at a modest rate of 52.8 percent.
As a shooter, Radebaugh has nice form and gets good elevation off the ground, and unlike previous seasons, he took a high number of jump shots off the dribble as a senior; in fact, nearly twice as many of his jumpers were off the bounce (96th percentile for PPP) vs. his catch-and-shoot attempts (54th percentile). Despite his success when shooting off the dribble and a career three-point percentage of 39.5, he can be somewhat of a reluctant shooter. Likely due to three straight years of mainly being a spot-up shooter, he prefers to have plenty of space when taking jumpers, and if he can, he will take a significant pause to gather himself before shooting.
As a driver, Radebaugh has a very quick first step, and is very effective with hesitation and stop-start dribble moves. He also likes to use shoulder fakes to set up his drives. He can go right or left, and can finish with either hand, but he clearly favors going left, despite his right being his dominant hand. This season, the senior had 77 drive attempts going left, with a field-goal percentage of 50.6, and had 24 attempts going right, with a field-goal percentage of 33.3. On drives to the rim (any direction, including straight), he had 74 attempts with a lackluster field-goal percentage of 51.4 within seven feet. He also tends to not seek contact around the basket, averaging just 2.9 free-throw attempts per game this season.
If Radebaugh is to be a lead guard at the next level, he will have to improve his game in the paint. His less-than-stellar conversion rate around the rim is due, in part, to a lack of length, strength, and vertical pop. However, he is also inconsistent when finishing with runners/floaters (16th percentile for PPP) and finishing with his off hand (left) in general. Additionally, he is not yet adept with quick pull-ups from short distances; he made just 36.2 percent of his jumpers within 17 feet this season. Without a consistent floater and pull-up game, he gets stuck in the middle of the paint too much, with no good place to go with the ball. Occasionally, he’ll take step-back or spinning fade-away jumpers in the paint, but he’s not very consistent with those shots from this area of the floor.
Radebaugh makes good use of his speed and agility on this end of the court, and he plays with effort and awareness. He has an extraordinary ability to stop on a dime and change direction quickly, allowing him to help and effectively recover. He does a great job off the ball, maintaining good spacing and denying at the same time, and the senior closes out in a hurry while maintaining his balance and controlling his momentum. His ability to quickly stop/start, change direction and move laterally all allow him to maintain close contact with his man when defending on the ball. He’s extremely effective preventing return passes on switches, taking away things such as rolls to the basket and pick-and-pops. When switched on bigger players, Radebaugh will scrap for position in the paint, though his lack of size is somewhat problematic around the basket. Lastly, he has an amazing nose for the ball – he anticipates how it will come off the rim/backboard, and positions his body appropriately to snag a high number of defensive rebounds.
The one defensive area where Radebaugh can improve is dealing with screens. A good portion of the baskets that he allows is due to getting stuck on picks. He needs to play with more spatial awareness and take better angles when defending screen-action plays and trailing off the ball. Improved strength would likely help him in this area, as well.
Defensively, in terms of PPP allowed this season, Radebaugh ranked at the 64 percentile overall, and ranked no worse than 56th percentile in five of the seven major subcategories. The two areas where he struggled were vs. PNR handlers (32nd percentile) and handoffs (26th percentile). The season before, he was at the 50th and 51st percentiles, respectively, in those two departments.
Intangibles and Miscellaneous
To progress from a walk-on to a conference POY candidate and a legitimate pro prospect says a lot about Radebaugh. He works hard and does what he is asked to do, without complaint, and is a leader on the court. He is also intelligent, energetic, and versatile. He played nearly 38 minutes per night this season, and at the end of games, he showed no signs of slowing down, despite barely sitting and handling the ball for the majority of the time.
His head coach, Jeff Linder, may have said it best after a late-season win at Montana: “I have a guy that most teams in the league don’t have in Jonah Radebaugh who can match his spirit and match his will.”
On the downside, we have to consider Northern Colorado’s schedule as we digest Radebaugh’s impressive statistics. The team’s four toughest opponents this season were Texas, West Virginia, Northern Iowa, and Eastern Washington (twice). In those five games, his shooting percentages and A/T ratio were significantly below his overall averages (see chart below). In the player’s defense, four of those five games were on the road, and three were among the Bears’ first five games of the season, before Radebaugh had a chance to fully adjust to playing at the point.
I believe, at a minimum, Radebaugh will make a pro team based on his abilities to defend on the perimeter and to shoot from deep. He has the speed, quickness, skills, and intangibles to succeed. He is not yet an overly dynamic playmaker or scorer, but his brief time as a point guard certainly produced very encouraging results. He needs to become equally proficient with both hands — his right hand when driving, and his left hand when finishing and passing. He also needs to seek more contact on drives, and improve his consistency with floaters and pull-ups.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Some background information, video highlights, and photos were courtesy of Northern Colorado Athletics. Special thanks to Jonah Radebaugh for giving T.J. Brown and I the opportunity to interview him on July 3. Click here to see the full interview and highlights.