By Paul M. Banks
After a sophomore year that was pretty close to 20 and 10 per outing, 6-10 Iowa State forward Craig Brackins decided to return for his junior year. Since most 2010 NBA mock drafts have him any where from the lottery to the mid/late first round, it’s not likely he’ll stay in Ames after this year.
I recently had an exclusive with him during the Chicago Invitational where I asked him what he’s focusing on to take his game up a notch. “Working on taking more contact, finishing on contact plays, my defense, rebounding, there’s a lot of things I need to work on, so I’m just trying to work on everything”
According to his profile on Draft Express:
“The biggest changes we noted physically focused on the tone he showed in his body and how the drop in body fat had helped him move. That much was and still is apparent as Brackins has significantly more energy on the floor, particularly on the defensive glass (something we have noted) where he hauls in a great percentage of his rebounds simply by outworking opponents. He also looks visibly quicker off the dribble both on the perimeter and in the post, something that helps immensely against defenders who have a distinct strength advantage over the still thin junior. There is no question though that he still needs to put up a good amount of bulk onto his body to effectively compete at the next level.
“A very nice skill set for a face up power forward, and his improved rebounding ability makes him a lot more attractive despite his defensive shortcomings. What it comes down to now is fine tuning a lot of the finer points of his game: improving the consistency of his stroke as he moves towards the perimeter, handling added defensive pressure better and anticipating better as a perimeter defender. Brackins is always going to wind up making some poor offensive decisions while he is at Iowa State, given the fact that he must single-handedly carry that team.”
I also asked Brackins if there’s anyone specifically that he looks up to in the NBA.
“I like a lot of guys in the NBA, I like Kevin Garnett, his leadership, his passion for the game, that’s something I’m trying to do, just play with a lot of passion. Sometimes Garnett has a bad game, but he still impacts the game,” he responded. I also inquired into who his favorite league players (past or present) might be:
“Michael Jordan, like all kids I followed basketball a little when I was younger, and he was one of the few players I knew. And now it’s more like Carmelo Anthony, he’s one of the best scorers in the league and he’s one of my favorite players.”