Monday, September 16, 2013
Biancardi's Breakdown: Riley LaChance
By Paul Biancardi
When we first spotted him in the spring, ESPN 100 Riley LaChance's offers were from all mid-major programs. By way of strong performances with his Ray Allen select AAU team in the summer, LaChance's recruiting has skyrocketed to all of the power-six conferences. LaChance has taken official visits to Vanderbilt, and Creighton and plans to visit Baylor, Iowa and Minnesota soon.
Let’s break down his game and see what he does best and where he still needs to improve.
Not blessed with over whelming athletic traits such as speed, power or strength, LaChance is making the most out of what he has. He has put on some muscle and is now up to 180 pounds, standing at a 6-foot-2. Getting stronger will happen over time as he continues to hit the weight room with dedication. He shows quickness with his hands and footwork as he is active in coming up with deflections, and he uses a short, quick jab-step on his drives. LaChance is not a high-level athlete, but it does not stop him from producing in high-level games.
2014 point guard Riley LaChance continues to see his recruitment rise thanks to his exceptional shooting skills.
LaChance has very good peripheral vision during the flow of the action with an ability to see how the possession is developing and who is open. Whether it’s a throw-ahead pass in transition or hitting a teammate coming off a screen, when LaChance passes the ball you know the decision was sound and for the good of the team. He plays the game with a savvy when passing the ball, as he will use a pass fake to get his defender to drop or raise his hands to create a passing line. When he is executing a ball-screen action, his mindset is to attack and separate from the defense. He does this by playing with his head and eyes up while feeling his man on his hip, seeing the big man jumping out and reading the backline help defense all in one sequence. He makes everyone around him better because he is looking to pass the ball when a teammate is open and ready to score.
LaChance is an elite shooter, because as a coach when he releases the shot you are surprised if he misses an open look. The strongest part of his game is shooting -- especially as a spot-up shooter. His range and accuracy have improved to where he is now consistent beyond the college 3-point line. When he is in his shot mode, he alerts any defense to closeout hard and give him attention. I have seen him utilize a shot fake to lift a defender off his feet and out of position and then score. He's not just a stationary jump-shooter, as one of the best parts of his shot-making talent is the dribble pull-up shot. He hits the gaps without going all the way to the rim and exhibits a soft touch with the precise distance. Knowing he could have trouble finishing at the rim, LaChance has developed a jump-stop floater and a one-foot runner to allow him to drive and score deep in the paint or kick it out. He's one of the better free-throw shooters in his class. I have witnessed him make game-winning free throws as a crunch-time performer from the line. In his last season in high school, LaChance's percentages were outstanding, as he shot 52 percent from the floor, 45 percent from the 3-point line and 85 percent from the free-throw line -- which adds up to a 182 shooter -- and that makes him special.
This is an area that needs improvement if he wants to play at the level he is being recruited at. When he is on the ball, LaChance does a solid job of not allowing his man to blow by him, but where he struggles is in setting a tone defensively with hard ball pressure on opposing point guards and making it uncomfortable for them to set up their offense. He needs to pick up his man deeper in the backcourt and turn him a time or two to get into a defensive habit of being a pest on the ball. Off the ball he is alert and displays good anticipation to fall into steals while being in a solid help position. LaChance is tough and competitive, and as he becomes physical stronger it should enhance his defensive game.