After an unimpressive freshman campaign, USC big man Chemezie Metu exploded in 2016/17 averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while earning Pac-12 “Most Improved Player” honors. When the 6’9’’ center announced he was staying college for a third year, it was like head coach Andy Enfield had landed a five star recruit.
Though he was considered by many to be the most pro- ready prospect on the roster, Metu’s decision to stay put was wise—he still has many areas of his game to polish.
His shooting is streaky at best both in the mid-range and from beyond the arc. As a relatively undersized big man, Metu will need to develop a consistent jumper in order to space the floor in an increasingly spread out NBA game.
In addition, Metu’s court vision is lacking. He averaged just 1.4 assists last season, as he tends to get tunnel vision when holding the ball in the low post. In order to become a more versatile offensive player, Metu will have to work on kicking the ball outside and finding the extra pass.
Despite his offensive shortcomings, Metu is a very decent finisher around the rim and he tends to show up for big games.
In the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Baylor (and Jonathan Motley, a likely first round pick in this year’s draft), Metu put in his best performance to date with 28 points and a handful of highlight plays.
However, it’s primarily Metu’s defense that leaves scouts impressed. He is an excellent shot blocker who should serve as a viable rim protector at the next level, and his athletic frame allows him to guard multiple positions on the floor.
If Metu was in this year’s NBA Draft he would likely be a second round pick, as he remains raw and only possesses one season of solid tape. But, if he can continue progressing he could easily be a first rounder in 2018 (Draft Express has him at #16 for their 2018 mock draft).
As a player, I could see Metu fitting in with teams like the Utah Jazz or Memphis Grizzlies who value tough and gritty defenders who limit easy inside buckets for the opposing team. Those traits alone will likely get him to the NBA, but with an expanded offensive game Metu could have a lengthy career in the pros.