Looking Back: Heading into the 2012-2013 season, DeAndre Daniels was labeled a jump shooting wing player that was reluctant to take the ball into the paint. 50 of his 91 shots were from beyond the arch in 2011 and he only averaged 3 points per game in his sparse 12 minutes of playing time. With nearly 17 minutes more of court time, Daniels quickly showed a more versatile game. While his jump shot still was his major weapon, he took less three pointers, 68, and displayed a variety of ways to score the basketball. Every aspect of his game improved from scoring around the basket, becoming UConn’s best rebounder and also the number one shot blocker on the team. By the end of the season, he was chosen by the fans of this blog as the Most Improved Player of the Year and it wasn’t even close.
The Good: Daniels upside is tremendous. He has shown the ability to use both hands to get to spots on the floor where he can hit shots. He has an above the rim game and can use it on the break or attacking the rim off the dribble. Over the season he developed a hook shot, though not a major weapon, it is progressing. His intangibles like rebounding, 40 more than anyone else, and blocking shots, 45, also have improved, leading the team in both categories.
The Bad: His jumper needs to soften up a bit and it isn’t as consistent as it needs to be. He also needs to work on his post game. Daniels feels more comfortable when facing up his opponent instead of backing him down. For his ability to work in traffic, he doesn’t get to the line as much as he should. He only had 88 attempts last year which is far below what it should be. It might have to do with his size right now. He needs to add a bit more muscle to be able to create space and finish through contact. His turnovers are also a problem, 50. He needs to limit the unforced errors that lead to easy points the other way and kill momentum.
Looking Ahead: If DeAndre continues to progress the way he has then this might possibly be his last year with the team. The NBA loves upside and Daniels has plenty of that. He has set the bar pretty high for himself but he possesses all the tools to be a UConn star. If he can soften up his jumper, get to the line more, limit his turnovers and have the confidence in himself then he’ll live up to those expectation and be that next great wing to play for UConn.