by Ray Kuhn
A.J English has a proven track record of success in college, though that is not pointing to a guaranteed spot in next month’s draft. He is a combo guard who likely spend the majority of his NBA career at point guard, but he also has the ability to slide over to shooting guard. That scenario is a little less plausible after he was measured at 6’3” at the NBA draft combine, following being listed at 6’4’’ while in college.
The guard was a four year contributor with Iona, but his career really took off after he averaged seven points per game in 22 minutes of play during his freshman year. Over the next three seasons English was Iona’s go to player, averaging between 35.9 and 37.4 minutes per game. He saw his scoring totals rise from 17.2 points per game in his sophomore season to 22.6 in his senior year, but his game is not without warts.
To say English was a high volume shooter would be a correct observation, and at his best the guard shot 43.3% from the field last season. He also saw his free throw percentage rise from 62.5% in his freshman season to 83.6% last season. The offense ran through him and he put up a career high 6.2 assists per game last season while also grabbing five rebounds.
So while it is hard to argue about his college credentials, his future stock is a different story. English was suspended for a game following a fight during a game his junior season, but it appears that he is past that. In fact English, who Draft Express has ranked as their 62nd best season, was a calming influence in a similar situation this past season.
Since his college career concluded English has been auditioning for his future, yet to be determined, employers. He has already worked out for the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets with six more teams to follow. The former Iona star was at the Portsmouth Invitational last month and is currently in Chicago for the combine.
While the competition was tough at Portsmouth, the top players of the draft class were not in attendance. English certainly made his presence as he was the MVP of the championship team, coming through with 24 points while leading his team to victory while also scoring seven of his team’s last 11 points. Even more impressive was his 58.1% shooting from the field during the three game tournament, which included 64.7% shooting from downtown.
The main issue that he has to deal with is that team’s could be viewing him as a finished product, as opposed to a freshman or sophomore with greater potential. While the stigma has been decreasing, English also has to deal with the stigma of playing for a mid-major school.
English has experience, is a leader and has a proven track record. He has proved that he is not going to be outworked. While he doesn’t have the “wow” factor that other guards have, he is ready to contribute off the bench and has the potential to be a solid professional.
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