McCaw announced his pro intentions with a statement:
“No matter where this journey may take me, I will always be a REBEL!” So thankful for the past two years … UNLV ❤️ pic.twitter.com/uzt3Wlpg9v
— Patrick McCaw (@22gang_) April 4, 2016
McCaw, a sophomore, enjoyed a stellar 2015-16 season that put him squarely on the NBA radar, leading UNLV in minutes (33.7 per game), points (14.7), steals (2.5) and 3-point percentage (36.6 percent).
He’s now the second player from the 2015-16 Rebels to announce for the draft, following freshman Stephen Zimmerman. He’s also the fourth player to leave the team, along with Zimmerman and transfers Dwayne Morgan and Jordan Cornish.
A few quick thoughts on McCaw’s career and his decision:
Two years ago, McCaw came to UNLV as the fifth man in a five-man recruiting class that also featured Rashad Vaughn, Dwayne Morgan, Goodluck Okonoboh and Jordan Cornish. But the skinny guard made an immediate impression with his defensive skill, his outside shooting touch and his overall smarts. He steadily climbed the depth chart as a freshman, and by the end of the 2014-15 season he was UNLV’s best overall player.
Entering this year, McCaw was expected to turn it up a notch as a sophomore, and he delivered. He turned into one of the best defensive players in the country, finishing fourth in the nation with 2.5 steals per game, and he led UNLV in scoring and 3-point shooting. His advanced stats reflected his stature, as he led the Rebels in offensive win shares (2.7), defensive win shares (2.2) and box plus/minus (8.4).
Considering the way McCaw rose from the bottom of the depth chart as a freshman, then improved to one of the country’s best two-way players as a sophomore, don’t be surprised if he climbs the draft board just as quickly.
Time to run
Looking objectively at McCaw’s situation, it’s hard to knock him for choosing to jump to the NBA now. He was on the fence after the season ended, and all the offseason upheaval at UNLV surely nudged him toward the draft. Transferring was not an option, as it would have forced him to sit out the 2016-17 season as a redshirt, and staying at UNLV wasn’t a safe choice either, as a bad fit under the new coach could have led to a poor season and torpedoed his draft stock. That left him with one smart option—striking while the iron is hot and declaring now.
Will it work out for McCaw? It will probably depend on how well he works out for teams leading up to the draft. Most mock drafts have him pegged as a second-round type, but his physical profile and skill set are huge positives that could entice NBA scouts once they start taking a closer look at his game.
The NCAA relaxed its draft rules to allow players to test the waters without hiring an agent and still retain college eligibility, but it’s unclear if McCaw will go that route. He didn’t say whether or not he’s hiring an agent, but his statement sure made it sound like he’s closing the book on his career at UNLV.
Tough to replace
More than any other player, McCaw would have given Chris Beard a major building block next year had he chosen to return. He could have excelled in Beard’s scrambling defensive system and also provided good ball movement and lights-out shooting in his motion offense, and Beard no doubt expressed those views during his meeting with McCaw last week.
Now, it’s just another hole for Beard to fill as he starts to construct next year’s roster. With four underclassmen leaving the program and two seniors graduating, he’ll have to bring in at least six new players. And there are still players who could decide to leave, such as freshman forward Derrick Jones, freshman guard Jalen Poyser and redshirt senior center Chris Obekpa. Beard is going to have to start recruiting fast in order to bridge the gap for the 2016-17 season.
McCaw had his share of highlights during his two years at UNLV. I think these video clips are representative of how he’ll be remembered by Rebels fans:
You will NOT believe how regulation ended between Nevada and UNLV. pic.twitter.com/K2bJzBzf4C
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 21, 2016