BYU player profile: Kanon Catchings

BYU basketball's versatile new recruit will add a wide skill set to the Cougars' roster.
Catchings fighting through defenders as a high school senior in Indiana
Catchings fighting through defenders as a high school senior in Indiana / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Much has been said about the newest member of the BYU basketball family, Kanon Catchings. As a four-star recruit and a dynamic athlete, Kevin Young and the Cougs were wise to pick him up when he de-committed from Purdue University. Catchings will be another fantastic pickup for a school that has undergone a significant shift in the status quo of recruiting, and fans are anxious to know what this kid will bring to the table

Catchings is a legacy hooper; his aunt, a WNBA MVP and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, was a fantastic player in her day. Not to mention his grandfather, Harvey Catchings, who was an 11-year veteran in the NBA or his mom, who was a WNBA draft pick herself. Kanon was raised in a basketball culture, and his relatives certainly passed their love of the game onto him.

As I alluded to earlier, BYU was not Catchings' original plan. It's hard to blame Catchings--or any highly-coveted recruit--for overlooking the Cougars. After all, before Coach Young filled the head coaching vacancy, BYU hadn't had any connection with the 6'8" forward out of Brownsburg, Indiana. After requesting a release from Purdue, the Cougs pounced at the opportunity to pick him up.

Matt Painter, head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers, had some blunt words to say about Catchings following his release from his NLI. "He asked out of his letter and we granted it, so it's not that big of a deal," Painter shared with local media. "he was concerned about his role and just wanted out of his letter. Went back the next day and said everything was good, and was just like, nah, probably better if we just part ways [...] I think every freshman coming in has those uncertain thoughts. But you compete and earn your way into a role. I can't anoint a role to somebody out of thin air."

Sour grapes from coach? Perhaps, but quotes like those are nothing new from Painter. Catchings, a projected first-round pick in this upcoming draft, was concerned about his role on the team and Painter was quick to drop the incoming freshman at the first sign of doubt. For BYU, this is great news. Thanks, Purdue!

Catchings flashes NBA talent

Kanon Catchings
Kanon Catchings celebrates as his team dominates in the state championship game / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Standing at a 6'8" frame with athleticism in his bones, Catchings is a dynamic scorer and a corrective defender who will have no trouble finding a role with the Cougars. Though a bit of a late bloomer, Catchings' ability to play above the rim should be a breath of fresh air for a program that historically relied on--for lack of a better term--white guys who possess below-average athleticism.

Catchings is a long and fluid athlete. He's the type of player that has become more abundant in the recent era of long wings with size--moves like a guard but finishes like a big. Plenty of bounce in his stride carries into his leaping ability, and the kid can get up when he attacks the rim.

Projected to be a first-round selection in next year's NBA Draft, Catchings has the size and tools to fit the modern NBA game. Though still relatively raw, his game shows plenty of promise. If Kevin Young can back up his declaration that he can prepare young players for the NBA, Catchings will be a great place to start. At BYU, he'll need to develop a bit more to be truly ready to take the next step in his career.

Pardon our dust

Kanon Catchings
Catchings goes up strong for an inside shot against a regional foe / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Despite all the promise that Catchings has displayed, he's still a work in progress, and has some improvements to make on his game before he can truly be "NBA ready".

Starting with his jumper, there's plenty to like. His form is solid and it reaches the basket softly, despite what a glance at his 3-point percentage may indicate. He shot below 30% from beyond the arc, which isn't ideal for a forward who'll need to be a real threat from deep for BYU to space the floor effectively with Catchings on the court.

On the flip side, though, he shot 80% from the free-throw line. When a player struggles to hit jump shots with consistency, you can often look to his free throw efficiency to project future development. In Catchings' case, success at the line projects well for his jumper to improve.

He's comfortable putting the ball on the floor, but doesn't possess a "fly by" first step to get the edge on quick, athletic defenders. If he gets the ball while already in motion, his handle looks comfortable and solid. Adding strength to his frame should be a priority this season to help him use his size to create looks at the basket when he can't slip through defenders.

Catchings thrives off-ball--both on defense and offense. A promising catch-and-shoot player and a dazzling lob-threat/putback slam artist, he often comes out of nowhere to throw it down before the defense even knows what happened. On the defensive end, Catchings has shown strong instincts to get his long arms into passing lanes or use his bounce to erase shot attempts.

With the Cougars, Catchings will give fans plenty to get excited about. Kevin Young continues to build a strong cast of players for his inaugural season at the head of the program. Catchings is one of many players who should not only draw crowds (as if the Marriott Center wasn't filling up last season), but provide exciting basketball for Cougar Nation. BYU basketball is exciting again.

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