Jordan Schakel averaged fourteen minutes per game and didn’t get a start last season, acting as a rotation player for the Aztecs behind Malik Pope and Max Montana.
This season, Schakel is an everyday starter, showcasing a deadly jump shot, timely rebounding, and solid defending.
Schakel’s primary strength is his shooting. His release is incredibly quick. At :32 from the Aztecs’ game against Texas Southern, you get a really good look at that.
He brings the ball straight up in one fluid motion from the floor off the feed from point guard Devin Watson. Additionally, the fluid motion allows him to quick catch and shoot opportunities when the defense isn’t ready, like at 1:34. The Tigers defender was a step too late and that’s all Schakel needed. Between his wide base and high release point, Schakel gets plenty of arc on his jump shot, resulting in a lot of made baskets.
He finds excellent space in transition as well. Here, from their game against BYU, he finds space at the top of the arc to fire a quick three-pointer over the hard closeout at 19:44.
Schakel’s value to the Aztecs goes beyond just shooting the ball though. He averages over four rebounds per game, and he does so because he puts himself in excellent rebounding position consistently. Arguably, this has been the facet of his game that has experienced the most growth from his freshman to sophomore seasons. At 1:07:00 in the game above, Schakel gets back and plays solid transition defense. Secondly, he understands that his responsibility is protect the trailer and grab a potential rebound. He secures inside position and does just that.
He does that same thing on both sides of the floor. Schakel has at least one offensive rebound in nine of the team’s fourteen games. At 38:42, Schakel sees the miss coming from Watson’s three-point attempt. He slithers and slides his way between Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws and grabs the offensive rebound.
At 1:11 against Jackson State, Schakel flies in from the corner, seeing that both defenders have collapsed on Nathan Mensah. No rebound results, but it’s another example of Schakel always putting himself in the right spot.
It’s a trait that he exhibits defensively as well.
Even as a freshman, Schakel was a solid on-ball defender, with a good understanding of pick and roll defense and switches. His lean, 6’ 6” frame allows him to guard multiple positions and he uses that to his advantage. This tape below from his freshman season exhibits these from 1:30-1:45.
The positioning and understanding that adds to his rebounding game is also apparent defensively. At 0:02 in this clip from their game against Brown, Schakel recognizes that he has become the lone defender in the post and anticipates the pass coming out of the double team. Schakel does a great job of putting himself in great defensive position, but somehow contributes a little less than average, according to advanced metrics.
The reason for this is that Schakel can get caught ball watching, and other players have been able to take advantage. At 1:35, Schakel got caught watching the double team and wasn’t able to cover down fast enough to prevent an easy lay-up. Twice below, at 1:00 and 2:00, Schakel begins the possession in excellent position, only to be victimized by a cut behind him, resulting in eventual Bronco baskets.
At the 1:00 mark, Schakel does an excellent job closing out on Justinian Jessup and forcing him to go right. Jessup gets to the lane and Mensah steps up. Knowing this, Schakel immediate pivots and tries to recover on the cutter he knows is coming. Unfortunately, fifth-year senior David Wacker beats him to the spot and picks up the basket and a foul.
At 2:37, with the Aztecs playing zone, Schakel does a good job covering his space and denying the swing pass to Derrick Alston with the shot clock running down. Jessup swings the ball to the high post and Schakel gets caught watching the ball, allowing for Alston a back door cut for a basket.
None of this is to say that Schakel isn’t a great player, especially because he’s one of the best true shooters in the country and is quite valuable offensively. His rebounding has been excellent this season and he puts himself in great position every game. Defensively, he still has some things to learn, but he is only a sophomore, so there’s plenty of time to get there.
The sophomore from Torrance, CA has become quite the weapon for Coach Brian Dutcher and the Aztecs and it will be interesting to track his continued development for the red and black throughout conference play.