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Scouting Report: Rob Dillingham

Rob Dillingham is a Cat! He joins Reed Sheppard in Kentucky's 2023 recruiting class and is the current centerpiece of next year's team.

Rob is one of the highest ranked prospects and guards in his recruiting class by every major recruiting site. ESPN has him ranked #5 (#1 SG), Rivals has him #6 (#3 PG), and the 247Sports Composite has him #7 (#1 PG). As Kentucky fans, we know that a high ranking or a five star rating does not always translate to productivity at the college level. However, certain skill sets do. After taking a deep dive into the film of Dillingham, three key skills stand out that show me that he will indeed be one of the best guards in college basketball.

#1 - Ball Handling

You want to know the best part of Rob Dillingham's game? Look no further than his twitter handle "@robwitdashifts", because Rob is easiestly the "shiftiest" player in high school basketball. It is not crazy to say that Rob's ball handling can remind you of all time greats like Kyrie Irving or Allen Iverson because of that trait.

By "shifty", I mean that it is damn near impossible for a defender to stay in front of him because of his ability to accelerate, stop on a dime and change directions, while keeping a tight handle on the ball. In the first three EYBL sessions, I have yet to see a single defender that can keep their feet in front Dillingham in isolation situations. Whether it be him flying past his defender to get his feet in the paint, or beating his defender to his spot to be able to pull up for a jump shot, Dillingham gets wherever he wants on the court with ease.

While Rob can use his ball handling to create shots for himself, he can just as easily create open shots for his teammates as well. Because defenders cannot stay in front of him, double teams and help defense are used on him quite frequently. He is able get create open jump shots, cutting lanes and lobs for his teammates. This trait alone is why I believe Dillingham can be THE centerpiece of a Kentucky basketball team. He has the ability to be one of the best scorers in the country, but can also play well with other talented players and other talented players can play well with him, an expectation at Kentucky.

#2 - Athleticism

On top of being the shiftiest player, Rob Dillingham is also the fastest player in the class. This is a big reason why his ball handling is so effective because as soon as he can create just a little bit of daylight, he is able to accelerate and leave his defender in the dust. His speed also makes him really effective in transition, similar to what we saw from De'Aaron Fox or even Sahvir Wheeler at Kentucky. When an opposing team missed a shot, Fox and Wheeler were so effective at getting open down the court with some momentum to create easy layups or threes in transition, a trait I also see in Dillingham's game.

I also love how Dillingham is barely tapping into his athleticism. Dillingham, at 17 years old, is listed at 6'1" 160 lbs. It is very possible he grows an inch or two, and he should most certainly put on another 15-20 pounds before playing his first game for Kentucky. With as well rounded as his game is for his age, he has the luxury of spending extra time in the weight room and continuing to grow his already elite athleticism.

#3 - Shooting

As good as the point guard play has been at Kentucky under Coach Cal, there have only been two point guards who have shot 35% from three on at least 3 attempts per game: Brandon Knight (2010-11) and Tyler Ulis (2014-16). In April of 2024, I would be very surprised if Dillingham wasn't our third.

Whether it be a side-step or step-back three pointer, or a pull-up midrange jumper, Dillingham has a high level jump shot that he has no problem relying on. He has good form, a quick release and can shoot very effectively off of the dribble. It is somewhat common to see a player be able to score with high volume. It is very rare to see someone who can score with volume and efficiency, but that is just who Dillingham is.

Player Comparison:

A player who reminds me a lot of Rob Dillingham is another former SEC point guard Darius Garland. Garland averaged 16.2 points and 2.6 assists on 53.7% shooting from the field and 47.8% from three for Vanderbilt over only 5 games before getting injured, and then being selected 5th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Draft.

While Garland was also slightly undersized (6'2" 175 lbs), he relied on his speed and elite ball handling to score on all levels, but especially with his jump shot. I can easily see Dillingham being one of the best guards in the SEC and all of college basketball, and end up being a top 5 pick in the draft.



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