Though he has not participated in any pre-draft workouts for the San Antonio Spurs, there is quite a bit of Internet chatter about the possibility of Texas Longhorn star forward Damion James becoming a Spur on Thursday.
In their mock draft, The Sporting News says this:
20. San Antonio. Damion James, SF, Texas. The Spurs would like to move up to get a solid wing player like Paul George or Xavier Henry but, failing that, James would help fill their small-forward need.
For those of you that don’t bleed burnt orange, James has been a four year starter for The University of Texas at Austin. He is 6’7″ 225 lbs. with an athletic, muscular frame. Though he was a very successful small to power-forward for the Longhorns, he will be a little undersized in the NBA and doesn’t come in with a real position niche. That being said, James has made a real statement at Texas and was a genuine leader on a very good basketball team.
He has also left his mark for posterity, becoming the Big XII all-time leader in rebounding in 2010. A conference with the nation’s highest RPI last season. Not an easy feat. Last season he averaged a double-double for Texas with 18 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. In his four years for the Longhorns he has never averaged less than 25 minutes per game, so he is battle tested and has proven consistency. He has even showed a lot of success from the three-point line, shooting over 38% in the 2009-2010 season. He was the guy you want to have the ball with the game on the line if you were a Longhorn fan.
Draft Express has said this about the Texas star:
James also showed some nice flashes when attacking the basket, doing a good job of finishing through contact at the rim. He doesn’t have the greatest first step, but his size, length, and strength allow him to create good shot opportunities even when he can’t get past his man’s hip
As someone who has seen James play in person on many occasions, I can tell you he is a difficult player to evaluate outside of game situations. This is where he excels. His on the court personality is very reminiscent of Spurs’ guard Manu Ginobili in that he is the kind of individual who constantly competes and makes the big plays which often don’t show up in the stat-sheet.
Defensively, James was similarly impressive, looking comfortable defending on the perimeter, especially in pick-and-roll situations, where he showed excellent awareness. James’ lateral foot speed isn’t elite and his hips are a bit high, but he does an excellent job of bodying up and using his physicality to make up for it, showing an excellent level of effort and focus here.
James has the personality that Spurs fans have come to expect from its stars. He has no penchant for the spotlight, bypassing the NBA Draft as a junior to return to the ‘Horns for a chance to improve his game and take one more shot at the NCAA Final Four. He doesn’t pound his chest, get in fights, talk back to coaches, or make controversial comments to the media. He just plays basketball and lets his performance speak for itself.
For a fan base that has come to value personalities such as David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili I think Damion James will fit right in.