Devin Vassell, one of the most dependable and consistent players in this draft class, dramatically improved himself from his freshman to sophomore year. Playing 28.7 minutes per outing as a sophomore, the Florida State wing averaged 12.7 points, 1.6 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.4 combined steals and blocks per game, with shooting splits of .490/.415/.738. Those numbers may not seem elite, but he led FSU in scoring, rebounding, and three-point percentage, and finished second for steals, blocks, and assists per game. Among Atlantic Coast Conference players, he had the best plus-minus rating (10.9 — 13th in Division I), finished in the top 10 for true-shooting percentage (58.5), block percentage (4,1), win shares (4.9), and player efficiency rating (24.3), and ranked 12th for steal percentage (2.8). Vassell was a second-team All-ACC selection, named to the top-15 for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, and was a top-10 finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward award.
In May of 2017, Vassell, a lanky two-guard out of Suwanee, Georgia, changed his fate by making a verbal commitment to Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton. In Suwanee, Vassell played for Coach Keith Arrington at Peachtree Ridge, where he asserted himself as a senior to become the school’s second all-time scorer. At that point, he was a three-star recruit, listed at 6’5’’ and 170 pounds, according to 247 Sports. Vassell was ranked 47th among shooting guards nationwide and eighth among shooting guards in Georgia. Hamilton saw something in this wiry kid that few others did.
|Position:||Wing||Team/Class:||Florida State (So.)|
|Wingspan:||6-9||Vertical:||33’’ standing and 38.5 max|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
During his freshman year at FSU, Vassell was often referred to as a ‘plug-and-play’ player. He did not start any games in the 2018-19 season, but he was an essential cog in Leonard Hamilton’s wheel. That year, Florida State finished with a 29-8 record and ranked 10th in the nation, and made it to the “Sweet Sixteen” in the NCAA Tournament.
In October of 2019, Bob Ferrante interviewed Vassell about his versatility within Hamilton’s system: “I was just trying to focus on getting a lot stronger to be able to guard one through four (point guard, shooting guard, small forward or power forward). Coach (Leonard) Hamilton, that’s the type of defense he likes being able to use, just interchange with everybody. So just focusing on getting stronger and conditioning myself and just being able to be ready to play whenever my number’s called.”
A large part of why Hamilton wanted to take on Vassell was because of his defensive versatility and tireless work ethic. Vassell earned every minute his freshman season due to his tenacity on defense. He’s always in the right place, whether it’s rotating from the weak-side, switching on picks, or diving for a loose ball.
Through his two seasons at Florida State, Vassell improved just about every statistical category. Traditionally, as the player’s role increases, his efficiency decreases; however, for Vassell, this was not at all the case.
|Games and Starts||33, 0||30, 30|
|FG%||43.7 (52-119)||49.0 (144-294)|
|3P%||41.9 (26-62)||41.5 (44-106)|
|FT%||67.9 (19-28)||73.8 (48-65)|
|OReb & DReb||13, 38||38, 114|
|PFs per game||0.9||1.9|
|AST & APG||21, 0.6||49, 1.6|
|TO & TOPG||12, 0.4||23, 0.8|
|BLK & BPG||10, 0.3||29, 1.0|
|STL & SPG||18, 0.6||42, 1.4|
|MIN & MPG||353, 10.7||863, 28.8|
Vassell defines an all-around contributor, but his detractors like to focus on his shooting mechanics and his slight frame. The Suwanee wing is now listed at 6’6’’, 194 pounds with a 6’9’’ wingspan, and he made 42 percent of his threes for his FSU career. This past season, he ranked at the 80th percentile on spot-ups, averaging 1.039 points per possession (PPP), with an adjusted field-goal percentage of 52.9. He also ranked the 87th percentile for PPP on catch-and-shoot attempts.
Vassell has made steady changes to his shooting form since his high-school career. Back at Peachtree High School, his shot was elevated in front of his head and his elbows were pointed out, which tends to mess with the shot alignment. Once he got to Florida State, the release location remained at roughly the same spot, but he narrowed his elbow positioning. Most recently, he tweaked the jumper even more, where he is bringing the ball back behind his head like Dirk Nowitzki. This fundamental change could either have a detrimental impact on his shooting consistency or it will unlock another aspect of his offensive game that would not be possible without such an extreme release.
Vassell’s game features so many positives, including athleticism, intelligence, and effort, and he will undoubtedly be a lottery selection. Concerns about his shooting mechanics are reasonable, but how many prospects at the top of this class can claim that they made better than 40 percent of their threes for two straight seasons while playing against high-level competition?
- Defensive awareness — always in the right place to alter shots, to pick up unguarded offensive players, or to apply effective double teams.
- Vocal leader — Communication is essential for any elite defense, and Vassell understands this. He recognizes the value of matchups, directs teammates towards certain spaces or offensive players if they are out of position.
- Defensive playmaker — produced 3.3 combined steals and blocks per 40 minutes this season, without fouling (1.9 fouls per game and no disqualifications).
- Versatile — has the size, athleticism, and aggressiveness to guard multiple positions. Can definitely guard bigger point guards and wings going forward, and has the ability to hold his own in the post against bigger players.
- Hustles — competes for offensive rebounds and loose balls; even though he’s skinny, puts his body on the line. Led FSU in rebounds per game at 5.1 this season.
- Catch-and-shoot efficiency — on guarded attempts, he shot 38.5% (75th percentile, 1.103 PPP), and on unguarded attempts made 44.2% (80th percentile, 1.326 PPP).
- Shooting form — quick, compact, with a high release; shot should translate immediately. New form could be an X-factor.
- Potential as a pull-up shooter — at the 68th percentile on half-court dribble jumpers (0.852 PPP, 38.3% on 81 possessions). Dramatically improved numbers from his freshman season, when he had only 12 recorded dribble-jumper possessions (1 of 11). Most of his pull-ups missed short this season, but were on line, which leads me to believe that there’s even more untapped off-dribble shooting potential.
- Overall Efficiency — though he averaged only 1.6 assists per game this season, he was second on Florida State for that stat, and posted an assist-turnover ratio of 2.13, which is outstanding for a wing. Makes basic, low-risk passes. Also, his true-shooting percentage of 56.5 was sixth best in the ACC this season, and in terms of overall PPP, he ranked at the 94th percentile.
- Elite in transition — this season, averaged 1.211 PPP (94th percentile), with 76.8 adjusted FG%. Should be noted that FSU ranked 12th in the nation for steals per game, so there were plenty of transition opportunities.
- Athletic — displays above-average speed, quickness, and vertical explosiveness.
- Shot creation — lacks elite dribble moves to create his own shot; ranked at the 44th percentile for PPP on isolation plays this season. Also, rarely attacks the rim in the half court, resulting in a low number of free-throw attempts (2.2 per game).
- Playmaking — has the ability to make basic reads, and can kick out vs. double teams, but will not be a secondary initiator behind a lead guard; ranked at 27th percentile for PPP, including the results of passes, as a pick-and-roll handler (0.728 PPP on 114 possessions).
- Free-throw shooting — in his two seasons at FSU, shot 67.9% and 73.8% as a freshman and sophomore, respectively. Given the correlation between free-throw percentage and three-point shooting, these percentages raise questions about whether he’s really an elite floor spacer. Could also be due to his ever changing shot mechanics.
- Thin Frame — more than most, his game would benefit from additional muscle.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Some background information was courtesy of Florida State Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.