Leading up the season we are doing a countdown of the Top 100 players in college basketball. These rankings are based on a poll made up of 14 CPP writers. These writers span from UCLA to Seton Hall so there is very little bias. Each day we will release the latest player on our ranking with a small write-up. Be sure to check out the rest of the Top 100 articles!
“Ray” Raymond Spalding
2016-17 Stats (Louisville): 5.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 59.0 FG%
Why They Are Here?
Ray Spalding did not usually start for this past year’s Louisville team, but averaged about 20 minutes per game. On the court, Spalding displayed his versatility of running the court for a big man and being very physical in the paint. He brought in 188 rebounds in 34 games last year, 3rd best on the team behind both centers, and was pretty solid defensively. With Jaylen Johnson out of the picture, the starting power forward spot is Spalding’s to lose. He will undoubtedly be in the Cards starting lineup and will split time with freshman forward/center, Malik Williams. This season, Spalding will be looked upon by the Louisville staff to continue being an athletic, defensive threat in the paint, but become a threat in transition. He has shown the ability to run the floor on quick breaks and punish smaller defenders, but is not always looking to be the one to score. Louisville will need Spalding to want the ball in his hands this year,to take pressure off their guards and young freshman coming in. Being 6’10” and being as athletic as he is, Ray Spalding could be ready to have a breakout year. Teams in the ACC, be on the lookout!
Role on This Year’s Team
As I stated earlier, Ray Spalding should be in the starting rotation for the Cards this upcoming season, meaning he needs to step up to a slightly bigger role. Although he is not used as a scorer for Coach Pitino (5.9 PPG last season), he can score in bunches when he gets hot, but mainly contributes on the defensive end. If Spalding can continue to crash the glass on both ends of the court and score in transition, it would take a lot of pressure off everyone else on the team. I expect Ray Spalding to be a threat this year in transition, but could surprise everyone and be a weapon offensively. Coach Rick Pitino has a lot of options to play around with leading up to the season, so it is unknown which bigs for Louisville will play big roles, but I expect Spalding to be an impact, athletic forward.
College Season/NBA Prospect
This season, it would not be crazy to see Spalding average 8-9 PPG and 7-8 RPG. Since he is expected to see more minutes, we should all expect to see more rebounds. If Spalding continues to improve defensively and improve his rebounding, he could be the best rebounder on this year’s Louisville team. He could also play an impact this coming season by changing the tempo for Louisville. They may play at a high tempo pace of play depending on if Ray Spalding can become a better rebounder and kick the ball out in transition. From an NBA Draft perspective, I expect Ray Spalding’s stock to rise throughout the season. On my “Way Too Early” 2018 NBA Draft Big Board, I have Ray Spalding ranked #78 and as the 14th best power forward. Spalding’s stock is all based upon his potential and if this is the breakout year Louisville has been waiting for and needs, Spalding will fly up draft boards. If Spalding has a similar year as last year, then I would expect Spalding to return for his senior year and salvage his draft stock with his senior year. This is a big year for Ray Spalding and his Louisville Cardinals, but also for Spalding’s draft stock as a whole.
Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Top 100 player.
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NBA Draft Analyst/Louisville Basketball
(Photo from 24/7 Sports)