Jeremiah Francis does not bare a three-star rating and late-100s ranking because of his talent level or because of what he brings to a basketball team. Those marks are not indicative of who he is as a player nor prospect, as there’s evidence pointing toward a development curve that had the potential of vaulting the Pickerington Central star into legitimate NBA Draft conversations had he finished his high school playing career.
The 6-foot-3 point guard boasts a wide frame that hints at the potential for further physical maturation, which could make him a rather imposing physical force due to functional strength that can be applied on both ends of the floor. The defense isn’t ideal, but the size and length should make him respectable at the very least, and not a disastrous negative by any means.
He’s crafty with the ball in his hands, using patient change-of-pace moves and in-and-out dribbles to deceive the defense and manufacture driving lanes, where he shows off damn good touch as a finisher. The vertical athleticism isn’t there, which limits his potential as a finisher, but the touch and body control enable him to finish shots through and around defenders in impressive fashion. His athleticism is far from elite, but his first step, coupled with his patience working in space, is enough for him to break down defenders to create shots for himself or others.
He’s still expanding his range, but the mechanics and touch are sound, with Francis flashing the potential to shoot it both off the bounce and off the catch, making him a versatile scorer. And his playmaking, while not elite in terms of vision or skill, is polished and shows off a keen sense of time and space.
There was simply a lot to like about the guard from Ohio, but the health is the biggest obstacle standing in his way. Consecutive knee operations, including the infamous microfracture surgery, will affect who he is as a player in some way and to some extent.
We simply don’t know how much.
It’s possible that the 19-year-old guard returns to full health, be it this season or next, and that he returns to form. But, it’s also possible that the trajectory he was on isn’t indicative of what he can be in college, and that he’s a completely different player.
We just don’t know what he’ll be as a Tar Heel.
But, we do know that he was a tantalizing guard prospect as a high school freshman and sophomore, that he’s by and large recognized for his toughness on and off the court, and that he’ll do whatever he can to work his way back to full health.
Recovery isn’t an easy process, especially for someone who’s facing such a long, tumultuous journey back to full health, but Jeremiah Francis is someone to believe in.