Sleeper Deep Dives: Terrence Shannon Jr.
After a solid sophomore season that had him knocking on the door of the first round last year, Terrence Shannon Jr. is out to prove himself in his junior year at Texas Tech.
Terrence Shannon Jr. entered this season as one of the best players returning to college basketball. The Chicago guard quickly earned a spot in the starting lineup for Texas Tech as a freshman, and he has continued to build on that success over the course of his college career. He had an outside chance of climbing into the first round at the end of last season due to his impressive sophomore campaign, but he ultimately opted to return to Texas Tech for his junior year.
Shannon Jr.’s junior season started off on an unfortunate note, as he was held out of the first three games for the Red Raiders due to eligibility concerns. Thankfully, those concerns were quickly sorted out—school officials noted that he was held out of those games because they were being overly cautious. While those early absences could have thrown Shannon Jr. off track, he has nonetheless gotten off to a strong start this season. He is averaging 16.5 points, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in his first four contests.
Terrence Shannon Jr. was close to being a first-round pick last season, and may well end up cracking the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. However, the No Ceilings $DRFT IPO Rankings showed that he was outside of the Top 30 heading into the season.
While he might not have the same shine on his game as higher-rated prospects, Terrence Shannon Jr. has already proven himself as a developing offensive player with a top-tier defensive skill set; he will contribute on the defensive end sooner rather than later. He isn’t a clear first-round pick right now, but he could easily end up being a player who flies further under the radar than he should. If his draft stock doesn’t go up before the end of the season, he will be a sleeper prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. So…let’s dive deep!
Offense: Shooting Growth and Fearlessness
Terrence Shannon Jr. has been on NBA radars since his freshman season due to his top-tier defensive potential. However, he has taken some incredibly promising steps in terms of his offensive game since his freshman season. That development on the offensive end will likely determine where he gets drafted, given his defensive tools and acumen.
The place to start with evaluating his offensive game is basically the same as with his defensive evaluation: Terrence Shannon Jr. is an incredible athlete, even by NBA standards. He gets up and down the floor quickly, and he has more hops than an IPA brewery. At 6’6” and 210 lbs., he won’t need a few years to grow into his body; he’s already stout enough to hold his ground against all but the biggest wings in the NBA. The lefty can and does throw down his share of highlight-reel dunks. On top of that, his speed, craft, and solid handle allow him to be lethal in transition even when he doesn’t have enough airspace to activate the rocket boosters:
So far this season, Shannon Jr. ranked in the 95th percentile in transition per Synergy Sports, and in the 90st percentile offensively overall. Those numbers are skewed a bit by Texas Tech’s easy early schedule, but he was certainly no slouch in transition when he did get chances against a much tougher Providence squad.
Terrence Shannon Jr.’s ability to run in transition has never really been in question—he’s been above-average as a scorer on the break since he arrived in Lubbock (ranking in the 68th and 61st percentile in transition per Synergy during his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively). He has become slightly less reliant on his left hand over the last few years, and he has become a more willing and proficient passer as well. Still, those minor tweaks to his game would not be enough on their own to vault him into first round consideration.
The real sign of his growth as an offensive player has been his truly remarkable development as a three-point shooter. Triples were barely a part of Terrence Shannon Jr.’s shot diet during his freshman year—he went just 9-35 (25.7%) from beyond the arc during his 29 games for the Red Raiders in the 2019-2020 college season. The shot itself looked more than a little funky, with a slow wind-up and a low release.
The form itself might not ever be worthy of instructional videos, but Shannon Jr. has gone from being essentially a non-shooter to being a serious threat from deep. He dramatically increased his shot frequency from beyond the arc as a sophomore, and did so to great effect—he went from taking just over one triple a game as a freshman to averaging three 3PA per game as a sophomore and making 35.7% of his looks from downtown.
This season, Terrence Shannon Jr. has taken his aggressiveness from downtown to another level. He has already surpassed his freshman year total for made threes with 11 triples canned in his first four games. He’s also taken 25 three-point tries already, and he has made it very clear that he is not afraid to fire from well beyond even the NBA three-point line:
Terrence Shannon Jr. showed his floor-spacing potential during his sophomore season, and the early returns on his junior year make it clear that he is even more willing to fire away than he was before. Even if his percentage from deep dips below the 40% mark, the increased frequency from long-range is a really good sign for his future potential. If he can continue to put up this many triples per game over the course of this college season and make them at even an average rate, it will be really difficult for NBA teams to pass on his 3-and-D potential in the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.
Defense: Lockdown Potential
The defensive outlook for Terrence Shannon Jr. is very promising, and there are a few areas where he could fine-tune his game to push that defensive ceiling even higher—although we don’t really believe in ceilings around here. His athletic tools are even more important to his defensive outlook than they are to his offensive outlook (especially with his improved long-range game). Shannon Jr.’s numbers in transition are bolstered by his knack for jumping into passing lanes; once he's snagged the ball and found some space on the break, there aren’t many players in college basketball who are harder to stop:
Success on the defensive end is not really anything new to Terrence Shannon Jr. His defensive footwork is top-notch—especially when it comes to on-ball defense and making life hard on backcourt players. He slides his feet well to stay in front of ball-handlers on the perimeter, and he is adept at switching on defense without giving any opportunities to cutters. He is quick enough to stay in front of speedier players, and big enough to handle switching onto power forwards in a pinch.
The numbers back that up as well; Shannon Jr. ranked in the 85th percentile defensively as a freshman per Synergy Sports, and in the 76th percentile last season. In addition to his proficiency on the perimeter, he is also frequently used as a weakside deterrent in the Texas Tech defensive scheme, which leads to him being asked to cover tons of ground on that end of the floor.
That mainly shows up when Shannon Jr. has to rotate into the paint a lot on defense, which unfortunately isn’t always a positive for him. He is a bit more contact-shy on defense than on offense, and he also can be a bit too over-aggressive in help defense. His worst defensive possessions tend to be when he sags off his man to help out in the paint, leaving spaces for defenses to hit his man for open long-range looks or easy cuts to the basket.
The good news, from the perspective of Shannon Jr.’s draft stock, is that he will not be asked to rotate over and try to fill the paint on defense anywhere near as often at the NBA level. Although he could stand to improve as a help defender, most of his errors come from him trying to do too much on that end of the floor. He almost always knows where he’s supposed to be, and he makes it really difficult for opposing ball-handlers to shake him free on the perimeter.
Texas Tech might ask Shannon Jr. to cover up defensive holes in the paint, but that won’t be his primary responsibility at the next level. Improving as a help defender down low could certainly help him earn minutes in the future as a potential playmaker in smaller lineups, but that would really be a cherry on top of a great skill set; Terrence Shannon Jr. has already proven himself as a defensive menace to ball-handlers everywhere.
The early season has gone well so far for Terrence Shannon Jr., and he will have every chance to turn that strong start into a stellar college season. While Texas Tech played a light schedule to start the season, Shannon Jr. was by far the best player on the floor in the Texas Tech-Providence showdown on Wednesday night. He led the Red Raiders in scoring with 17 points despite struggling all night long with foul trouble, as he played just 23 minutes in a close game. The game-changing 15-3 Providence run to close the first half came with Shannon Jr. sitting on the bench, and the Red Raider offense looked stunted and disjointed whenever he sat (Kevin Obanor was the only other Texas Tech starter who shot better than 30% from the floor).
Even though the Red Raiders did lose their first game of the season against Providence, this was a really promising showing for Shannon Jr. against his best competition so far this season. A couple of the fouls called against him in the first half were questionable at best, yet he still strung together a great game on the offensive end. He played a key part in suffocating the Friars’ offense early in the contest, and his absence was keenly felt down the stretch of the first half as Providence clawed their way back into the game after Texas Tech jumped out to a 27-13 lead.
Oddly enough, some of the most positive signs of Terrence Shannon Jr.’s development came when he did not have the ball in his hands. Anyone who watched him during his freshman year would have been stunned by his off-ball play on the offensive end in this one. Texas Tech spaced him out beyond the three-point line and almost used him as a decoy on some possessions—and Providence’s respect for his shooting gravity left plenty of driving lanes open for the rest of the Red Raiders to exploit. They didn’t exactly excel with those opportunities, and Texas Tech might have taken this game if they had given Shannon Jr. the keys to the offense before the final 90 seconds of the game.
One could argue that Terrence Shannon Jr. has already cleared his greatest hurdle in the 2022 pre-draft process; after all, his eligibility concerns to start the season not only cast a pall on the early part of his college season, but also prevented him from stuffing the stat sheet against three inferior opponents to start the year. December will be a very different month for the Red Raiders, with their game against Providence to start the month behind them and games against Tennessee and Gonzaga on the docket before Christmas. After showing that he was the best player on the floor against Providence, Shannon Jr. will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his two-way talent when facing the likes of Kennedy Chandler, Andrew Nembhard, Hunter Sallis, and Julian Strawther in the weeks to come.
Terrence Shannon Jr. has been an elite defensive prospect for a few years now, but his offensive development will be the deciding factor in determining when he gets drafted. If he can continue to prove his growth as a shooter by taking and making more shots from beyond the arc, he will solidify himself as one of the best available 3-and-D prospects and will make a strong case for having Adam Silver call his name in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft.