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Cal Basketball

2020 Cal Hoops Player Reviews: D.J. Thorpe

June 11, 2020
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Earlier this week, we kicked off the series by evaluating freshman point guard Joel Brown. Today we take a look at the next highest recruit in Cal’s incoming 2019 class, D.J. Thorpe, the young big man out of Texas.

It’s pretty well known in college hoops that most young frontcourt players need time to adjust. Most college big men don’t play against other skilled and athletic big men in high school. And when they begin playing in a league like the Pac-12 it can take a bit of time to learn how to play against many other talented frontcourt players.

So it’s not really a surprise that D.J. Thorpe first struggled to find his place in Cal’s rotation and then averaged a little less than eight minutes and 1.6 points per game. 

Player 2PT% 3PT% FT% Reb Ast Blk Stl TO Points
D.J. Thorpe 50.00% 0.00% 37.90% 1.7 0.1 0.4 0.2 0.5 1.6

Thorpe’s highest-scoring game this season was a nine-point outing at USC. In that game, he went 3-of-3 from the field and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line in just 15 minutes. He also scored eight points against Duke in mainly garbage minutes. 

Thorpe shot decently from the field, going 17-of-34 (50%) on two-point attempts. He missed his lone three-point attempt in the game at Washington. But like his fellow frosh, Joel Brown, Thorpe struggled mightily from the free-throw line, shooting just 37.9% (11-of-29).

On defense, Thorpe did a fairly solid job of helping shut down opponents’ frontcourt players. Big men like Washington’s Isaiah Stewart and Stanford’s Oscar da Silva both struggled at times against the Bears this season and a lot of that was team interior defense that included the services of Thorpe.

Player Minutes/Game %Poss %Shots 247 Ranking
D.J. Thorpe (Cal) 7.8 16.50% 12.10% 203
Jacob Germany (University of Texas at San Antonio) 15.9 16.80% 17.00% 201
Jesse Edwards (Syracuse) 6.9 13.40% 11.40% 198
Mahamadou Diawara (Stetson) 25.7 29.20% 25.30% 188
Tyrese Samuel (Seton Hall) 11.0 18.50% 18.90% 184
Drew Pember (Tennessee) 5.5 15.80% 14.70% 209
Sammy Hunter (Mississippi) 11.3 16.40% 16.70% 212
Mikael Jantunen (Utah) 23.2 14.20% 12.40% 219
Deandre Wilkins (Wagner) 6.3 7.40% 4.40% 224
Averages 12.6 16.50% 14.80% 204

The table above compares Thorpe to similarly ranked power forwards/centers on other teams. As you can see, Thorpe was basically right where the rankings projected him to be. At 7.8 minutes per game, he averaged slightly less than the 12.6 average of all nine players (although that probably skews higher because of Mikael Jantunen and Mahamadou Diawara that seem to be outliers). 

Thorpe’s 16.5% possession rate is the exact same as the average of all nine players. And his 12.1% shot rate is slightly lower than the 14.8% average.

Player ORtg eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate FTRate 247 Ranking
D.J. Thorpe (Cal) 80.8 48.60% 46.10% 9.50% 16.90% 1.9 24.8 82.9 203
Jacob Germany (University of Texas at San   Antonio) 104.9 53.40% 54.40% 7.60% 22.60% 3.6 14.8 30.5 201
Jesse Edwards (Syracuse) 128.1 79.20% 75.70% 8.60% 17.80% 0.0 17.9 79.2 198
Mahamadou Diawara (Stetson) 99.3 58.30% 59.40% 14.70% 16.20% 7.4 25.6 55.9 188
Tyrese Samuel (Seton Hall) 91.7 46.60% 46.60% 9.20% 16.60% 6.3 19.1 28.4 184
Drew Pember (Tennessee) 101.1 39.60% 47.30% 10.00% 11.20% 8.0 15.6 58.3 209
Sammy Hunter (Mississippi) 91.1 41.50% 46.50% 5.30% 8.80% 7.1 17.2 38.0 212
Mikael Jantunen (Utah) 124.2 68.20% 69.90% 10.20% 14.30% 9.2 20.3 49.6 219
Deandre Wilkins (Wagner) 102.5 75.00% 62.80% 3.50% 11.60% 5.8 24.9 125.0 224
Averages 102.6 56.71% 56.52% 8.73% 15.11% 5.5 20.0 60.9 204

Thorpe’s offensive rating was lower than his peers. This is likely due to lower shooting percentages, lower assist rates, and higher turnover rates. However, he out-performed other players in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates as well as free-throw rates. Again, similar to Brown, the high free-throw rate doesn’t matter much if you’re missing more than half of your attempts. That’s something to work on in the off-season.

Also similar to Brown, Thorpe had a pretty average season for a frosh. There were games where he seemed invisible and games where he showed some exciting flashes of the player he could grow into. Cal’s success over the next few seasons will hinge on players like him, Brown, and Lars Thiemann continuing to develop and turn into solid role players or potentially significant contributors.

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