What does Jaedon Ledee bring to SDSU?

Jaedon Ledee recently committed to San Diego State University. He is a 6’9″, 240 lbs. big man who is transferring from Texas Christian University. At first the commitment was a bit of a head scratcher, as the Aztecs had previously gotten a commitment from another big and are in desperate need of a wing player. Ledee does not fit the mold of a wing player. Shortly after Ledee’s committment was announced, fans and analysts pieced together that Ledee would likely have to sit out a year, either due to NCAA requirment or just to develop his skill set.

Coach Dutcher had mentioned in a previous interview that the team was recruiting a player who would likely have to sit out a year. Ledee is likely that player. So the Aztecs won’t have a huge logjam at the big positions. Ledee will sit a year, and according to Mark Zeigler, work on his game to become more skilled. At TCU he was used as a center and given very specific responsibilities, but he wants to be more than a back-to-the-basket big. At SDSU he’ll be given more free reign. The recent comparison to make is Yanni Wetzell. Not because they have similar skill sets or play styles, but because Yanni transferred from a program that was using him incorrectly. It made him look worse than he was. There is a lot of that in Ledee’s tape as well. He has some skill, some things are pretty inconsistent, but it’s not hard to see that the coaches have found a player they can help mold and develop into something special in the future.

What does Ledee bring on defense?

Ledee is pretty mobile. He’ll be the next in a line of Aztec big man that can move their feet well. That mobility helps him play good positional defense. He can move sideways to shut off driving lanes or contest shots. He’s not a rim protector though. He boasted a 0.9% block percentage last season. For reference, Matt Mitchell’s was 1.0%. He tends to get to his spot and stay down rather than jumping to contest shots at the rim. There are times where this is the smart choice and times where it isn’t, but in the tape I’ve seen Ledee has rarely jumped to contest a shot. When he did it was jump shots on the perimeter after a switch or hedge.

In terms of defensive rebounding, his numbers don’t stand out. His 16% defensive rebouding percentage last season would’ve put him between Matt Mitchell and Lamont Butler, and way below Nathan Mensah and Keshad Johnson who are both 22%+. He didn’t attack the boards at TCU, and would sometimes lose focus and get pushed off his spot when trying to box out.

He also makes other mistakes, like here where he gets himself out of position going for what looked like a loose ball, then tries to get back in position but ends up ruining the double team in the process by taking a bad angle.

Overall, Synergy has Ledee as a 50th percentile defender, which means he gives up an average amount of points. Other stats fluctuate between positive and negative impact. Defensive PIPM has Ledee as a negative defender, while defensive win shares has him as slightly positive. Sitting a year to work on his game will really help in that regard, as will playing in the proper role and position. Ledee is tall, stroing, and mobile, but he’s not a rim protector. TCU asked him to be and it didn’t work out great. Ledee has a surprisingly good spot up defense efficiency. It’s on a small sample, but would indicate that he would be better used chasing perimeter players off the lone rather than protecting the rim. That’s the type of adjustment the coaching staff is likely looking to make.

What does Ledee bring on offense?

Similar to his defensive game, Ledee looks like an unfinished product offensively. He has shown more on the offensive side of the ball though. He can finish pretty well within 10 feet of the basket. He has a hook shot he likes and can hit occasional jumpers as well.

He also draws a lot of contact around the rim. Ledee had a free throw rate of 54.9% last season. For comparison, Matt MItchell’s free throw rate last season, when he lived at the line, was 55.2%. Even better, Ledee is a career 71.8% shooter from the line. So unlike the other bigs who can draw contact but struggle to hit the free throws, Ledee can really punish a team by getting them into foul trouble and getting points as well. One of th ebiggest plays of Ledee’s career was the clip below, where he attacks in transition, draws contact, hits the shot, and caps it off with a clutch free throw to give his team a 3 point lead with 2 seconds left.

I personally am a sucker for guys who can draw contact within the flow of the game. A guy who can hit the free throws after drawing the contact is a wonderful bonus.

Every once in awhile though he would make a play that showed he has a skill set that the coaches at TCU wouldn’t let him use. It was never anything major. Maybe a jump shot that looked smooth. Maybe he’d drive past a guy and finish a layup. The best was this clip below. The play was for Ledee to take a dribble or two and flow into a handoff. Instead Ledee hits a between the legs crossover, dribbles the other direction, then hits a guard on a back cut for a layup. It’s just one possession, but it shows he has some ball handling ability. Especially for a big man. Plus he was able to make the pass through traffic. The skillset hasn’t shown up consistently, but given a year off to work on his game, Ledee will have time to improve them.

Summary:

Ledee is in a weird place right now. He was forced to play a style that didn’t suit him well, and has other skills that he can work on. The coaching staff has a better trained eye than I do, plus they have access to a lot more tape than I do. Ledee seems like a player that would benefit greatly from taking a year to develop, and thanks to the Covid waiver the NCAA granted to all players, Ledee should still have two years of eligibility left after sitting out this next season. In the meantime, by all accounts he’s a gym rat, and seeing as he’s used to playing against power conference competition he’ll be a great asset to have in practice for this season.

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