Since he committed 8 months ago, Jack Salt has been the most mysterious member of Tony Bennett's four-man recruiting class for Virginia, which also includes BJ Stith, Isaiah Wilkins, and Marial Shayok. The New Zealand native's recruitment was conducted in secret, away from the prying eyes of various recruiting agencies, and thus what exactly Salt would bring to the basketball court has always been a bit cloudy to Wahoo fans.
The 6'9" (or 6'10", depending on whom you ask) Jack Salt finally arrived on-Grounds this week to start classes at UVA, after finishing his season in the National Basketball League (NBL) in New Zealand. Luckily for us, our friend Niall Anderson (winner of the 2013 NZ Basketball NBL Media Member of the Year) has been covering Salt for the past 2 seasons as a reporter for NZHoops, and offered to share his what he's learned with us.
Here's Anderson's report on Salt's strength's and weaknesses; if you haven't already, head over to NZHoops's website to read their full interview with Jack Salt.
Jack Salt’s Strengths and Weaknesses:
Salt is a rangy and athletic big man, with enough length to snag the "upside" tag by many evaluators. That length helps him out on defence, where, like all young players, he is occasionally caught out, but can often recover to contest shots.
Having said that, Salt’s block numbers have been less than stellar, partly due to the fact he rarely gets more than 20 minutes a game, but also due to the fact that at this stage of his development, he is more suited to contesting shots in the post, and hasn’t quite managed to leverage his abilities to becoming a rim protector against penetrating guards.
At 6’9", Salt’s value at the college level is still likely to come on the defensive end mainly, but he does have things to offer offensively also. He has a nice lefty hook shot which he utilises on both blocks to good effect, but he can often struggle with getting quality post position, trying to make up for it with smart cuts and off-ball movements when he’s not a focal point on offence.
A big body who still hasn’t quite filled out, Salt looks to set big screens rather than slipping or releasing early to try and get the ball, partly due to the fact he has no range on his jumpshot.
That lack of range is also shown in his free-throw shooting, which after shooting 65% last season from the line (32/49), he has gone 4/22 at the stripe this season, with his release looking flawed. Obviously, the bigger sample should be looked at, and the recent woes can probably be fixed to help him not become a liability on offence.
The most impressive element of Salt’s game is his work on the offensive glass, where he has averaged more offensive boards than defensive boards over the past two years. While that could be a thinly veiled critique at his lack of production at cleaning the glass on defence (Somewhat of a mystery, and unlikely to be a major problem), Salt’s effort and smarts at managing to get position for offensive boards is a huge asset for whatever side he plays for.
With Bennett set to work on refining his defensive principles, the question for Salt will be whether he can improve both his free-throw shooting and range to be an efficient two-way producer and starter in the future.
As a Kiwi, and someone who wants to see the humble, upstanding Salt succeed, best of luck with our countryman, and hopefully he can serve you well. Oh, and get your salt puns at the ready!
Thanks again to Niall Anderson for taking the time to provide us with this report! You can follow him on Twitter at @NiallGunner, and be sure to check out his colleague's full interview with Jack Salt and the rest of the NZHoops website.