Scouting Stefan Nastic

C Stefan Nastic

Not a lot is known about Stefan Nastic, the Canadian big man who becomes the sixth member of the Cardinal's 2010 class, a.k.a. Stanford's Super Six. Here, we take a look at his highlight tapes and break down just what Cardinal fans should expect over the next four years.

It's said that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the Internet 2.0 have changed the world. While this author finds that claim debatable, there is no arguing that technology has dramatically affected recruiting. On Facebook, recruits post their latest thoughts and often break news in the process, and fans implore future stars to come to their campus. Via Twitter, coaches and players alike have now cut out the media middleman and break news directly to their fans. And on YouTube, in a trend perhaps not as well-known but every bit as important to modern-day recruiting, thousands of college hopefuls post their video, and coaching staffs and fans are left to sort through it all. Fuzzy footage and blaring rap lyrics notwithstanding, we can report with 100 percent certainty that Stanford's football staff uses YouTube to evaluate recruits, and we imagine the Stanford basketball staff and thousands of staffs around the country log on to check out prospective players too.

Thus, with no video in Scout or Rivals on Nastic, it's to YouTube we go:
Here are his January 31 highlights. (Nastic is No. 4)
Here's the first half of his highlight tape. (Nastic is No. 22 or No. 9)
Here's the second half of his highlight tape.

Here's the Dwight Powell tape we reference.

Strengths

Nastic is a complete, versatile, do-it-all player. He looks remarkably polished for a high school senior and you can see why he might be able to play at a high-major level right away. There's no one part of his game that you can point to as sub-par, and even in the short highlight tapes we have, you get to see Nastic do it all on the court:

Blocking – check out 1:05 on the Jan. 31 tape, 1:21 on that same tape, 4:40 on that tape. He shows great timing and patience on defense.

Outlet passing/passing in transition – 2:31 on the Jan. 31 tape. 5:01 and 5:20 on that same tape. I think his outlet passing is probably his single greatest strength – reminds me of Kevin Love. 0:37 on the Part I highlight tape is simply sublime.

Rebounding – check 1:15 of the Jan. 31 tape, or 4:11 of that tape (which, by the way, ends with a sick outlet pass).

Creating room and finishing – check 1:40 on the Jan. 31 tape, 2:11 on the same tape, 3:15 on the same tape. At 1:09 on the Part I highlight tape, he uses his shooting ability to get room with a nice pump fake defenders have to respect. We see that same upfake several times in his highlights.

Driving – 2:25 on the Jan. 31 tape, 2:50 on that same tape. 0:48 (with a replay) on the Part I highlight tape is nice. He drives well for his size.

Passing out of the post – 4:30 on the Jan. 31 tape. This is a clear strength of Nastic's. 1:04 on the Part I highlight tape shows great court awareness and vision, as does 1:43 on that same tape.

Shooting – Another strength given Nastic's size. 4:52 on the Jan. 31 tape. 0:11 on the Part I highlight tape.

Fluidity – Look at him run at 5:30 on the Jan. 31 tape – he moves well for his size. Same at 0:18 with a nice catch and finish on the Part I highlight tape.

Nastic seems versatile – it's easy to imagine him playing at the four or the five, and with his basketball background, it's hard to imagine a spot on the court where he'd be out of place, be it on the post or the perimeter offensively or defensively, or on the free throw line. His size and skill is a rare combination, and one that should prove successful at the Pac-10 level, if not beyond.

Concerns

My biggest concern for Stefan Nastic will be his ability to adjust to the athleticism and physicality of Pac-10 play. For a lot of his rebounds, you see him simply reaching over people, and on a lot of blocks, you see him simply sticking up his hand. Will he be as dominant at the next level when he can't get away with that?

A related concern is Nastic's explosiveness. There's nothing on the tape that makes your jaw drop at Nastic's athletic ability. He's incredibly big and incredibly skilled, but contrast Nastic with, say, Dwight Powell, another big, skilled post Stanford has signed. The last ten seconds of the Powell highlight clip linked above show Powell leaping practically from the free-throw line for an emphatic putback. Can Nastic leap out of the gym like that? He doesn't have to (and few can) to be a successful college player, but his vertical will become all the more important at Stanford, as his height advantage will no longer be as great.

Aggressiveness – Brook Lopez was another highly touted, offensively polished post who came recently to Stanford, and he drove his coaches crazy freshman year by shooting pretty 14-foot fadeaways instead of dropping his shoulder, knocking a guy over and stuffing the ball. European ball is team-first, not me-first, which is great, but does Nastic have that "next gear" he can shift into to take over a game? Can he put a team on his shoulders?
A related concern is strength, which, admittedly, Nastic is working on throughout the winter and spring, and he should see dramatic gains as his young body matures. Still, without a certain amount of strength, it's going to be hard for him to throw around his body for his team and muscle up opponents in the paint.

Conditioning – This largely comes with the territority for such tall guys, as they're rarely in as good of cardiovascular shape as point guards, and aren't expected to be. Still, we do see Nastic occasionally walking up the court, or hanging behind after defensive plays. Does he have the motor and the legs to play a full Pac-10 season?

Upside – The one downside to all Nastic's polish is that it doesn't leave as much room for him to grow. Hard to imagine Nastic becoming that much better of a passer or shooter, which is not the case for 90 percent of college freshmen, so perhaps Nastic's peers will improve more quickly over the course of their careers, simply because they have more to learn. Then again, Nastic is exceptionally young, and the physical gains he should make as his body fills out will probably be greater than those of his peers, and allow him to add the plowing-to-the-basket, nasty-attitude part of his game he currently lacks.


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