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2019 NBA Draft Profile: Eric Paschall

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Can Paschall make it three-straight years in which a Wildcat has been selected in the first round of the NBA Draft?

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

He made a quick stop at Fordham before arriving at Villanova in 2015, but it feels like Eric Paschall has been a Wildcat all along. After sitting out during the 2016 National Championship run, per NCAA redshirt transfer rules, the 6-foot-8 forward ascended from being a contributor off the bench to a full-fledged leader by the time he left, quickly picking up the nuances and responsibilities that came with his transition to a ‘big man’ role. He made his mark in Villanova lore during the 2018 Final Four showdown with Kansas, when he scored 24 points on a near-perfect 10-of-11 shooting performance that included four three-pointers. Two days after Paschall’s excellent shooting performance--and Villanova’s dominant win--the Wildcats raised up another NCAA championship trophy.

It has been quite the collegiate journey for Paschall, who finished with 1,687 career points, two NCAA championship rings, and had a part in the first-ever Big East Tournament three-peat. Will he continue to find success at the next level? What can we expect from him moving forward, and will he be able to add first-round draft pick to his list of accomplishments?

Paschall’s Career Stats

Eric Paschall’s Career Stats

Season School G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% RPG APG STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Season School G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% RPG APG STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2014-15 Fordham 27 27 31.2 5.6 13.3 0.419 1.7 5.3 0.315 3.1 4 0.794 5.5 1 0.8 0.4 2.8 2 15.9
2016-17 Villanova 36 8 21.7 2.8 5.4 0.513 0.5 1.9 0.279 1.1 1.6 0.695 3.8 0.6 0.5 0.5 1.2 2.5 7.2
2017-18 Villanova 38 38 29.8 3.8 7.1 0.533 0.9 2.7 0.356 2.1 2.5 0.813 5.3 2.2 0.9 0.6 1.7 2.4 10.6
2018-19 Villanova 36 36 36.1 5.4 12.1 0.447 1.9 5.6 0.348 3.8 5 0.746 6.1 2.1 0.7 0.5 2.3 2.1 16.5

Strengths

Offensive/Defensive Versatility

He was a skinny two-guard growing through his high school years, before moving onto college and having to bulk up into a forward. The sharp positional contrast certainly came with an adjustment period and some growing pains along the way, but Paschall handled it like a champ. His experiences in playing a variety of different positions throughout his entire basketball career has served him well, as he prepares to take the jump for the NBA.

The NBA is more welcoming to “tweeners” and versatile players that can play and guard a number of different positions, a trend that doesn’t seem to be dying out anytime soon. Paschall can play either forward position, and his time at Villanova has taught him to be unselfish as well as doing whatever needs to be done to help the team to victory. He went from being one of the leading players at Fordham, to being a role player on the bench, and then returning back to being a prominent part in his team’s success. He is not a shot hunter and doesn’t need the ball in his hands at all times to thrive. He can score from almost anywhere on the floor when needed, but he can also set a nice screen or pass out of the low block.

Defensively, he’s an energetic defender, and he’s able to guard a variety of positions. It’s developed into one of the better aspects of his play on the court. He can keep up with guards and wings, but he also has the ability to fight in the post. His improvement defensively and with his jump shot has helped make him such a versatile prospect that has a diverse array of talents.

High-Motor/Physicality

Paschall looks a linebacker when he steps onto the court, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Standing at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot wingspan, complemented by a 38-inch vertical and a 255-pound frame, Paschall has the physical tools and the athleticism to be a contributor at the next level. When you combine this with a relentless, bulldog-like mentality, and his rugged-style of play—he becomes fun to watch.

Not exactly known for his defensive abilities when he first arrived at Villanova, Paschall improved with each passing season as he grew more accustomed to playing as a big man, before demonstrating that he can be a bruiser on both ends of the court. He’s a physical player that isn’t afraid of contact and is more than willing to fight for position in the post. He’ll lower his shoulder and push his opponent around, exhibiting an admirable type of toughness. He evolved into a player that took pride on the defensive side of the court and embraced having to face off against bigger competition. His motor is evident whenever he takes on a defensive assignment, but even more so when he’s fighting for rebounds and loose balls. He has great rebounding instincts on the glass and is solid on the boards.

Weaknesses

Shooting Consistency

There’s no doubt that Paschall has the ability to score from almost anywhere on the floor. However, he needs to improve on his shooting consistency, especially when it comes to the mid-range all the way out to the perimeter. It’s no secret that he is a powerful finisher, but he needs to iron out the kinks with his jump shot.

He’s definitely capable of cashing in from mid-to-long range--knocking down catch-and-shoot opportunities, pulling up off the dribble, or turnaround jumpers--but his efficiency in converting was a bit rocky at times. According to The Stepien, Paschall shot a combined 41-of-113 (36.2 percent) from the mid-range. Of those shots, he was only 16-of-52 (30.8 percent) for mid-range attempts taken from at least 13 feet out.

Fortunately for Paschall, he didn’t have a three-point shooting drought like the one he had for the first half of the 2017-18 season. He shot a respectable 34.8 percent from long range this past season--which isn’t bad at all--but what will happen when the three-point line moves a few more feet back in the NBA? The good news is that this streaky nature associated with his jumper is certainly fixable, as he’s shown a huge amount of growth as an overall scorer since he first arrived at Villanova.

Ball Handles

As one of the seniors at the forefront of the Wildcats this past season, Paschall got to see the ball in his hands a lot more than previously shown. There were more opportunities for him to create and score. We saw Paschall drive and attack the basket numerous times. There were moments he was successful, finishing strong at the rim. There were other times he struggled, losing control of the ball and getting stripped en route to the rack.

Teams started to figure him out, greeting him with a high-pressure double team down low. Sometimes they would cut him off and forcing him to pick up the ball and make a decision. He had a career-high 82 turnovers this past season (2.5 per game), and most of them came from getting stuck in the paint or losing the ball while he attacked the basket.

Outlook

Last year, our very own Jake Gofman called Paschall “Villanova’s Draymond Green, minus the attitude.” LeBron James called him “Baby Millsap” in reference to Paul Millsap. He’s also drawn comparisons to a 3-and-D big wing like P.J. Tucker, who can play the ‘3’ or the ‘4.’

He’s contributed to Villanova’s recent success over the last few years in a variety of ways, whether it was providing solid minutes of relief off the bench or shouldering a bulk of the responsibilities as a senior captain--where it felt like sometimes he and Phil Booth did everything but drive the bus. Regardless, Paschall handled being a role player, starter, and captain with the same intensity and effort each time, and this will help provide for a smooth transition, as he will be in a familiar position in trying to prove himself and establish himself in the NBA from the ground up.

Paschall is currently slated to be a late-first round to early-second round pick. He’s worked out for a number of teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, and Boston Celtics. His standing within the various mock drafts has fluctuated throughout the year, but it seems like he’s projecting back into the first round.