Jaden Ivey is a combo guard who just finished his freshman season at Purdue. Ivey grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and played his prep ball at La Lumiere, a basketball factory half an hour away from South Bend. Coming in at 6’4, 200, with a 6’7 wingspan, Ivey bears a lot of physical similarities to Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.
He comes from a strong athletic bloodline. Both of Ivey’s parents starred at Notre Dame at the turn of the century. His father, Javin Hunter, went on to get drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and play five seasons in the NFL. His mother, Niele Ivey, led Notre Dame to the 2001 National Championship before being drafted by the Indiana Fever. During her rookie year with Indiana, Niele found out she was pregnant with Jaden and continued to play, starting 26 games and averaging 22 minutes. Niele went on to play five seasons across the WNBA, and was recently named head coach of her alma mater Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team.
There’s a real track record of athletes with pro parents being more ready emotionally and mentally for the big stage. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker come to mind.
Ivey started just over half of the games in his freshman season, having come off the bench in their first 11 games of the season. He played no more than 21 minutes in each of his first 10 games before a 27-minute showing in his last bench appearance led to getting 25+ minutes in every following game but one. Once Ivey was starting (12 games), he only scored single digits twice.
Numbers off the bench
Numbers as a starter
Ivey has rare levels of shot versatility for someone who had such little usage as a freshman. He shines in play types that translate well to the NBA, being especially adept at spot-ups, pick-and-rolls, and cuts. That versatility will help him find minutes, even on NBA teams with solid wings, since Ivey can play so many different roles. Having already established himself as an elite wing prospect off the ball, solidifying his game on the ball will be the determiner between role player and All-Star.
The first video we’re spotlighting doesn’t need much explanation; it’s more worth marveling at. In Purdue’s final Big Ten Tournament game, the Boilermakers were needing a spark at the start of the second half, and they got exactly that: in the form of Jaden Ivey. In just under two minutes, Ivey went on a 9-3 run by himself, and all of those points came on spot-up three’s.
Here’s another example of Ivey spotting up, doing so quickly, cleanly, and quietly. The stuff that will give him easy minutes in the Association.
Elite defensive promise
When Ivey is fully locked in, he’s everything you want from a perimeter defender: athletic, smart, tough, pesky, and relentless. He doesn’t quite get there in time on this chase-down attempt, but to even be in position is so encouraging.
On this play, Ivey comes out to switch and is just relentless with his on-ball defense. He throws herky-jerky head movements and hand checks at the ball, all while having great feet and hips. This allows him to recover when needed, but his length is such that the ball handler just has no chance.
Here’s an example of that length and athleticism helping to recover to get the difficult block.
Here, Ohio State’s CJ Walker really does all he can to get rid of Ivey and despite Ohio State forcing Ivey to go around four screens, Walker’s efforts are futile, and he’s forced to get rid of the ball.
Ivey shows flashes every now and then of someone that can be an elite, go-to scorer and someone the other team has to center their game-plan around. Here’s an example of those flashes, with space creation oozing out of his handle.
There really aren’t many wings with arms as long as Ivey’s who can still handle the ball well. He shows that handle here with a behind-the-back dribble to get to the rim and get to the line in the process.
This is one of the more impressive pick-and-roll possessions from any freshman in the country this season. Not many guys have the smarts of how to use the space around the screen that Ivey does here. He tops it off with a little push pass that shows his rare level of touch on passes.
The more you watch him, the more you realize Ivey has such control over his length and knows how to leverage it to his advantage. He does so here, along with the crafty finish.
By all accounts, Jaden Ivey is planning to stick around for at least another season with the Boilermakers. I had a late first-round grade on him had he come out in the 2021 draft. He should have a higher usage in a full season of starting next year, and Purdue should be one of the premier teams in the country. It could be a perfect storm leading to Ivey pushing himself into lottery territory for the 2022 draft.
Follow Damon on Twitter: @IAmDamonAllred
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Categories: NBA Draft