Illinois State senior forward Jackie Carmichael has used his four years of eligibility about as well as anyone in the draft, improving his game every season to develop from a mid-major reserve into one of the best players in the Missouri Valley and a legitimate NBA draft prospect. At 6 foot 9 and with a strong 240 pound frame, Carmichael is a polished and versatile scorer on the block with an array of power moves. Carmichael uses his lower body strength to establish position in the post, and can make a move over either shoulder once he gets the ball. He has the strength to back his man down to within a few feet, and then does a great job of using his body to create separation for a good look at the hoop. He has the coveted combination of length and a soft shooting touch from around the basket, making him one of the more efficient scorers in the country. Carmichael plays with great physicality, and does a nice job of both drawing and finishing through contact. But while perhaps the best strength of Carmichael’s entire game is his ability to score with a variety of moves from the post, he also has superb leaping ability and can finish plays well above the rim. Carmichael also possesses a strong midrange game and can do a lot of things away from the paint, making him a very good offensive player in the half court. Carmichael displays good lift and form on a jump shot that extends out to about 14 feet. He is a high IQ player who is very good in the pick and roll, knowing when to slip a screen or float to the open space in the defense. He is a pick and pop prospect as long as his jump shot continues to improve, especially with his knack for getting open and creating a passing lane for a teammate following on-ball screens. As long as Carmichael continues to work on his midrange game, he has the makings of a smart, polished half court offensive player with an efficient and versatile scoring ability.
Even for a player whose scoring and efficiency ranks steadily improved over each of his four years, there still areas of Carmichael’s offensive game that leave room for improvement. The biggest of those areas remains Carmichael’s face-up game. While he is improving in catch and shoot scenarios from the midrange game, he struggles to attack the rim and score when he gets a face-up touch from outside the paint. He does not have great quickness, and thus has a difficult time beating his man off the dribble or using a speed move to get by his man from the block. Carmichael’s footwork in the post can still use a bit of work, as he sometimes finds himself off balance and has a difficult time finishing against length. Carmichael can be forced into turnovers against more athletic defenders, and has to do a better job of taking care of the ball. He is not much of a threat in transition and doesn’t look to run the floor very often, and seemingly would not add as much value to a fast-paced offense. Carmichael also needs to improve his free throw shooting (68.1% this year), particularly for a player that draws as much contact in the post as he does.
After leading the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding over each of the past two seasons, it’s not much of a reach to say that Carmichael’s work on the glass is his best and most translatable trait. A very good leaper, Carmichael puts forth a relentless effort in rebounding the ball. He has good instincts and an understanding of where the ball will come off the rim. He can rebound out of his space or elevate in traffic to grab a board, possessing very strong hands and great tenacity. Carmichael’s overall defensive game is influenced primarily by his great motor. Any athletic shortcoming he has, he tries to make up for with his work ethic and high IQ. He is a good one-on-one defender in the post, using strength and physicality to drive his man off the block. He does a nice job of using his length to deny the ball, and shows the quick hands to strip his man or interrupt a passing lane. Carmichael’s defensive instincts are very strong, as evidenced by his jump in shot blocking this past season. Carmichael swatted 2.1 shots per game this year, up from 1.4 the season prior, due in part to his great timing of his man’s leap and his knowing when to leave his man and rotate to help. Carmichael adds value on the defensive end for his rebounding and work ethic, and has the makings of a decent post defender with good instincts and the willingness to bang bodies in the paint.
As is the case with his offensive game, where Carmichael needs to improve defensively is in his work away from the paint. Carmichael does not have very good foot speed, and has a tough time keeping quicker forwards in front of him. He has a tough time staying in front of guards when he has to leave the paint and defend against the pick and roll, even if it is just for a few seconds before a defensive switch and rotation. Carmichael struggles against forwards that cam take him away from the basket and shoot from the midrange, because his lack of lateral quickness forces him to play off his man. And while he has been an elite rebounder at the college level, Carmichael has to box out on a more consistent basis to ensure that his work on the glass will translate to the next level.
With the frame of an NBA power forward and a polished skill set to match the part, Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael is one of the more NBA-ready prospects in this year’s draft class. Carmichael’s best overall attribute is his ability to score from the block. With an array of power moves to either shoulder, Carmichael does a great job of using physicality to establish his position and then attack the rim or draw contact against his man. He has a great shooting touch in the paint, and is also a threat to score in the pick and roll and other half court sets with screening and movement. If Carmichael can continue to improve his midrange jump shot, he can become an extremely well-rounded offensive player that can score in a multitude of ways in the half-court offense. Defensively, Carmichael is already a great rebounder and is improving as a shot blocker and one-on-one post defender. Carmichael struggles in space or against quicker players, but possess good instincts overall and is a strong help defender. Carmichael probably lacks the upside of many other prospects, because he is not an elite athlete and has already spent four years in the college ranks. But wherever Carmichael ends up, he is sure to influence games with his scoring from the block and relentless rebounding on both ends of the floor.