Assessing Grant Riller

April 18th, 2020

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch College of Charleston’s senior point guard, Grant Riller play in a CAA basketball game against Northeastern that took place on January 16th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via Jayman Lucht.  Riller has been mentioned as a second round prospect, and he has posted one of the highest PERs amongst prospects that are in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

He played in relative obscurity this season, as he played on a Division I team that was neither a power conference school nor a mid-major, so there will be questions about if his level of competition and if he can successfully make the jump to the NBA.  After seeing him play, Riller seems to have some noticeable strengths but he also may have some considerable weaknesses in his game.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

College of Charleston’s 6-3 senior point guard, Grant Riller could be a second round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
(Photo: College of Charleston Men’s Basketball, via CofCsports.com.)

Grant Riller is a strong, physical combo guard that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he can certainly fill up the stat sheet.  He is an adequate shooter that can knock down pull-up threes shortly after bringing the ball up, and his ability to make long-range shots with ease forces defenders to be up on their toes to guard him.  He also was able to dribble to his left to make a pull-up, mid-range shot another time.  Sometimes though, he can tend to take rushed, contested outside shots that can lead to misses, and he also had a tendency to settle for mid-range jumpers too often.

He also showed a decent ability to get scores on strong drives to the basket.  Riller can finish plays using either hand, and he possesses a good first step, as well as the strength and balance to score and finish through the contact to draw extra fouls on his defenders.  Sometimes, he will try too hard when attempting to draw fouls, which can lead him to miss on awkward floaters when he doesn’t get those calls.  He also will occasionally use off-ball motion to get scores, as he was able to score on a backdoor cut off of a give and go play once.

Riller displayed adequate playmaking skills in this game.  He had the ball in his hands very often, and sometimes he would throw timely passes to find cutters and teammates down the court to set up scores for them.  Riller is a patient player that has solid court vision, and he can find open shooters and teammates on the break to get them the ball.  On the downside, he also committed plenty of turnovers on offense.  He had a tendency to over-dribble into traffic, as he would be prone to losing the basketball or getting balls poked away from him, and he also committed a charging foul on another possession.  Other times, he can be prone to throwing hasty passes, and early on, he had one pass that was picked off that led to fast break points the other way.

Also, Riller did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He had a way of getting to balls to collect defensive rebounds, as he possesses a keen nose for the ball, and he would always bring the ball up to help create early offense for his team afterwards.

Riller is an active help defender that excelled at collecting steals, but he will need to improve his on-ball defense to be a more focused position defender.  For the positives, Riller showed a knack for back-tapping balls from behind to get steals, and he also would intercept passes to collect additional steals.  He also was able to run in to intercept a lob pass that was intended for a cutter to force one turnover.  Also, he was able to rotate to contest a floater to get a stop for his team early in this match.

On the downside, he tended to get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would either not hustle back on defense or contest shots, which would allow his opponents to get open looks to score the basketball.  He also would sometimes be caught ball watching and forget to guard his man, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on jumpers.

In general, Grant Riller is a smart, skilled combo guard that can help his team in a number of ways when he is on the floor, and he was able to notch a triple-double in his team’s loss to Northeastern.  He is a patient, versatile scorer that has a solid pull-up game, and he also can score on strong drives to the hoop. 

He is also an above average athlete that can grab plenty of rebounds and steals when he is on the court.  On the downside, he can sometimes be prone to taking some questionable shots, and he also can be too careless with the ball at times.  He also will need to improve his on-ball defense, as that can make him an even better defender to complement his solid ability to get steals in games.  Right now, he projects to be a second round prospect, and he could end up being a solid rotation player similar to former veteran point guard, Shelvin Mack in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Northeastern’s 6-1 senior guard, Jordan Roland excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He is an agile playmaker that did a good job of knocking down jumpers, as he can do so off the catch or dribble, and he also would tend to score on quick drives in transition.  He also managed to score on a put back after getting his own miss.  However, he struggled to score more on half-court drives, and he struggled to score more when he would take shots in traffic.  He also would sometimes be prone to taking contested jumpers, which would lead to misses.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Though he looked to score often, he can quickly get into the lane and kick the ball out to a shooter to set up scores for his teammates.  On the downside, he would occasionally struggle to handle the ball in traffic or when facing heavy ball pressure.  As a result, that would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.

Roland was quite active on the glass, as he would crash the boards to get rebounds.  He also showed a penchant for jumping passes quickly and for jumping on loose balls to collect a plethora of steals, and he also blocked a shot to a teammate when defending in the post.  He would also actively contest jumpers to force misses.

Overall, Roland played very well in his team’s narrow win over Charleston, and he is a skilled score-first combo guard that can make shots in a variety of ways, and is also a rangy defender that can get steals.  He will need to show that he can reliably run the point at higher levels, and he has ever averaged over two assists per game in any college season.  Still, he may be an underrated prospect as he is a crafty scorer with range, and is an active help defender, and he is a player that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime in the near future.

College of Charleston’s 6-9 senior big man, Sam Miller is a skilled offensive player that excelled at making open spot-up threes off the catch to provide his team with ample floor spacing in this game.  He also excelled at making long-range jumpers off of pick and pop plays, and he also was able to find cutters to notch a pair of assists.

Plus, he also played good position defense inside the paint, as he was able to block a couple of shots in this game.  On the downside, he didn’t grab many rebounds, and he only seemed to be an average athlete at best, which may make it difficult for him to effectively score or defend on one-on-one situations at higher levels.

Overall, Sam Miller played very well, as he is very effective at knocking down three-point shots to help his team stay in this contest.  His best skill is his ability to shoot the basketball, as that could potentially help him compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime down the road.  In a favorable scenario, he could find a way to make it to the NBA, as he could end up being a backup big man in the league similar to former Atlanta Hawks’ center, Tyler Cavanaugh in the association.

Northeastern’s 6-6 senior point forward, Bolden Brace also played well in this game, as he did a good job of making open, spot-up threes, and he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He managed to score on a tip-in as well as on a backdoor cut.  He also drove in and used a spin move to score on a drive in transition while getting an extra free throw on that play.  He didn’t take many shots, but he was very effective in making them when he would hoist them up.

He also did a decent job of moving the basketball, and he is a good passer off the dribble, which enables him to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  Sometimes though, he can be a bit careless with the basketball, as he had a ball poked away out of bounds to nearly commit a turnover, and he also threw an inaccurate bounce pass that got intercepted late in this contest.

Brace also did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor afterwards.  He also played solid defense, as he would get his hands on balls to get steals, and he would actively contest shots in the paint to force misses.

Overall, Bolden Brace is a versatile player that can help a team in a number of ways, though he may not initially stand out, as he possesses only average physical tools.  Still, he is a smart player that can make solid plays with or without the basketball.  He doesn’t look to score very often and he won’t usually command for the ball, and his lack of assertiveness on offense can make him an easy player to forget about at times.  He might not end up in the NBA right away, but it seems that he might have the skills to succeed in professional basketball, even if he does not end up making his way to the association.

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