Name: Jake Layman
Weight: 205 lbs
Position: Small Forward
Jersey #: 10
High School: King Philip Reg (Wrentham, Mass.)
As A Recruit: 4-star by 247Sports.com, 64th ranked player in class of 2012
90’s Hip-Hop Comparison: “Go Ninja” – Vanilla Ice
Career Highlight: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals against Virginia Tech on January 5th, 2013. Layman started off his ACC career with one of the best first-half performances I’ve ever witnessed up close and personal. Layman connected on nearly all his attempts, and helped the Terrapins blow out the Hokies in Comcast 94-71 to bring the Terps to 13-1 on the year.
2012-2013 in review: Jake Layman’s freshman year was decidedly one that showed off a whole lot of promise right from the start. Very well regarded as a prospect coming in, no one quite knew what to expect out of Layman other than that he had great hair and great form on his shot. What we found out as the season progressed was that Layman was capable of doing great things scoring the ball, and while he remained inconsistent, would definitely become a proven commodity as he gained more experience.
Layman’s game against Virginia Tech (in his first ACC game, mind you) was an embodiment of his entire season as a whole. In the first half, he could not miss; because of his length and high release point, when Layman’s shot is falling it’s borderline unguardable. Layman scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half, and couldn’t hit at thing in the second half. That was a freshman disappearing act, but it makes you sate at the thought of what he could do if he ever put it together for a full season.
The best part about Layman though, is that while he wasn’t particularly great at anything, he was solid at just about everything. Sixth on the team in points, assists, rebounds, free throw percentage, and 3-point percentage; seventh in turnovers; second in blocks; fifth in steals. There’s no doubting what Layman was to the team: glue guy, sixth man. Those are the guys you need on the team, and Layman filled the role admirably.
The best part is that he could and should have been better. He was one of the worst shooters on the team, ahead of only Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen in field goal percentage. For a guy who was supposed to come in and be a great shooter, the evidence suggests that Layman was awful. Too many times he waited in the corner and missed an open three pointer rather than attempting to take the ball to the basket (where he was surprisingly effective) and use his size as an advantage. For many, that was a very disappointing facet of his game.
Then there was his defense. Most people have mixed feelings on Layman as a defender. He has all the requisite size to excel against smaller opponents, but his lateral quickness is disastrous. He may not be a traffic cone, but there were times when Layman looked like he was wearing lead shoes. Part of that is adjusting to the speed of the game, but another part is just learning the position. Layman became a better help defender as the season progressed though, and he ended up being one of the more important defenders on the team. But against athletic wings? Layman struggled mightily.
If there were one player on the team who I would peg to have a breakout season, it’s Jake Layman. Players with his kind of pure shooting stroke are rarely going to shoot poorly for long. He’s got length, he’s athletic enough to get around defenders, has passion, and he moves well without the ball. All those attributes strike me as someone who will end up being an elite player for years to come. NBA scouts see it, analysts see it; now the court just has to see it.
The good news is that I’ve already seen a few glimpses of it. Summer scrimmages mean nothing to most people (this one included), but they do provide you a little comfort in players. Last year, I saw Dez Wells for the first time during Maryland’s Red-White scrimmage and immediately declared him the best player on the court. This year? The two most impressive guys on the court during that scrimmage were Jake Layman and Roddy Peters.
Layman looks bulked up and has considerably more confidence in hoisting his shot. Talk with his teammates, and that’s the one thing they’ll all tell you: he’s so much more confident. For a shooter, confidence is the name of the game. Layman being able to have faith that anything he puts up will go down means he’s going to be a much better player in the long run. It’ll also give him confidence to just create his own shot rather than waiting for it (something he was horrible at last season). Layman should have better point guard play regardless, so as long as he continues to find open space on the floor, those guards should be able to find him for clear looks.
One of the things that’s tricky about Layman is that he has the size to play a lot of different positions, but not the athleticism for all of them. Layman’s height suggests he’s a power forward, and his ability to run the floor like a guard gives him a huge advantage on the offensive end. Unfortunately his smaller frame makes him a bad option on the defensive end against post players. If you throw him at the three, his length becomes a major advantage (another reason he was so good at blocking shots last year) on the defensive end, but he loses two key advantages when he moves over. The first is that he can’t stay in front of athletic wings; the second is that he can only shoot over them and not blow around them.
For Layman, the solution was simple this offseason: get stronger in the weight room, and continue to improve on that shooting. Very few small forwards in college basketball have the requisite athleticism and length to stop Layman from shooting over them or posting them up. His added strength and speed will make him a matchup problem for most opponents. That added strength will also let him hang tougher in the post. Layman won’t be nearly as much of a liability, and that could bode well for his minutes when Turgeon decides to change the lineup a bunch. No matter what lineup you employ, penciling Layman in at the 3 or 4 is a no-brainer.
Allen, Faust, Wells, Layman, (insert big man here) for rebounding. Allen, Wells, Layman, Smotrycz, (insert big man here) for stretching the floor. Roddy, Allen, Faust, Wells, and Layman for small ball. It all works, and all of it involves Layman. It’s his versatility on the defensive end (because of that added strength) that leads me to believe Layman is going to have a major impact on this team.
New haircut, new role.
Up Next: Roddy Peters