|One of these works as the other's lookalike. Fact.|Da'Shonte Riley
, Eastern Michigan, Senior, 7'0 233lbs2013/14 stats:
25.8 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 3.4 fpg, 1.6 TOpg, 48.4% FG, 67.4% FT
Riley left Syracuse, where he was getting little burn and didn't stand to get much more in light of the recruitments of Fab Melo and Rakeem Christmas, to go all the way down to the Mid-American Conference. In the MAC, he still couldn't score, couldn't stop fouling, and couldn't stand out. He is perhaps therefore an unlikely presence on what (if you've made it this far) has long since become a "players who may go on to play professionally rather than actual NBA draft candidates" list.
Nevertheless, Riley has two main skills that potentially make him a good role player at the higher levels, one offense and one defensive. The offensive skill is his passing game. A surprisingly good passer, especially considering his assist numbers above, Eastern Michigan often employed Riley in a high post and/or perimeter role whereby his job was to hand off to a driving wing man, or find cutters. He is effective at the latter, even back to his Syracuse days, and it gives him a purpose on the offensive end that is otherwise lacking. Riley can, on the few occasions he catches it down low, throw a good backdoor pass to a cutter as well. In this respect, while he merits few touches as a scoring threat, he opens up the playbook.
On the defensive end, Riley's role is clearly that of a shotblocker. The back part of Eastern Michigan's zone, Riley can be a wall around the basket, a quality rim protector with timing and instincts who also knows when to stay upright and not leave his feet who ranked amongst the best shotblockers in the country per 40 minutes. Adding to that some average rebounding numbers born out of his size advantage, and Riley meets the obligations any 7 footer has.
Everything else is lacking, however. And quite severely lacking in some cases. Riley has big concerns in all other areas of his game, due to both his body type and skillset.
As tall and long as he is, Riley is merely a decent athlete and not an explosive leaper. This would be fine if he was strong or played with energy, yet neither is true. Riley often loafs over halfcourt on offense, and although he is not called to do it much in the zone defense, he is slow to come out and recover when asked to defend the perimeter. He also is not strong or especially tough - his boxouts are ineffective, his attempts to bump off drivers are weak, and he loses rebounds that should otherwise be his. Indeed, Riley avoids contact on either end so much that he slips almost every screen. This makes for a supposed paint anchor who can be pushed out of position, outmuscled for rebounds, and called for touch fouls every time he ineffectively puts his little paws on someone. That's not an anchor at all.
There is also a lack of offensive skill. Save for easy finishes off of other player's creativity (lacking a real point guard, Eastern Michigan did not give Riley much help here) and an occasional short range J, Riley touched the ball only to pass it off. He has no shot creation abilities, and, in light of his lack of strength, is not even that good at sealing and finishing. Especially as he hasn't the best hands for catching in traffic in the first place, nor the offensive assertiveness to seek position. Riley will rather stand around at times, which is entirely believable from a player who never developed, and whose numbers even regressed slightly as a senior.
Mix it in with an injury history, and you have yourself a role player at best. But then, when did the world of basketball ever stop needing 7 foot shot blocking role players? It didn't. And thus while Riley has a lot to do, he has done enough to get his money somewhere.