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Mizzou Hoops Player Preview: DeAndre Gholston

The Milwaukee transfer struggled in an ill-fitting role last season. Providing Missouri with reliable shooting is the sturdy wing’s best chance to move up the pecking order at his position.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 22 Milwaukee at Cleveland State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over 13 installments, this series will dive deep into the 12 known scholarship players that make up the 2022-2023 Missouri basketball roster. Some installments might be more in-depth than others, if only because of the data and film available. In addition, evaluating players with multiple years of experience is more straightforward than younger peers.

The pieces read like a birds-eye scouting report. They skew more toward the offensive end of the court for two reasons. First, a player’s offensive metrics are more reliable than defensive data and less team-dependent. Second, it’s considerably easier to describe a player’s qualities with more well-known offensive statistics. As always, we encourage interaction from our readers. Please drop us a comment or find me on Twitter @DataMizzou.

The Player

DeAndre “Dree” Gholston comes to Mizzou after spending the past two seasons at Milwaukee. The native of Gary, Indiana, was named the Independent High School player of the year his senior season after averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds a game. Gholston signed with Kent State out of high school but saw little of the floor, logging playing time in roughly half of the Flashes’ games.

To reboot, Gholston transferred to Tallahassee Community College, finding his footing by averaging 11 points and shooting 44 percent from 3-point range. That caught the eye of Milwaukee coach Pat Baldwin, who was trying to rejuvenate a program that had enjoyed success under Bo Ryan and Bruce Pearl. While the Panthers limped to a 10-21 mark, Gholston put up almost 17 points per game and was relatively efficient (104.4 offensive rating) along the way.

Adding Pat Baldwin Jr., a top-10 recruit who bypassed bluebloods to play for his father, raised hopes last season — an experiment went poorly. When Baldwin wasn’t hurt, he struggled as Milwaukee’s focal point. And it fell to Gholston to fill the void. In terms of raw production, Gholston did just that, averaging 14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on a 10-22 squad. Having to play on the ball and initiate juiced his usage, but Gholston’s efficiency cratered to 92.4 — almost 12 points per 100 possessions worse than his junior campaign. So now, he’s using his extra year of eligibility to help jumpstart another rebuild.

The Numbers

DeAndre Gholston | Fifth-Year Senior | Wing | 6-foot-5, 215 pounds

Year Team Min % Ortg Usage eFG% OR% DR% Ast% TO% FTR% FT% 2PT% 3PT%
Year Team Min % Ortg Usage eFG% OR% DR% Ast% TO% FTR% FT% 2PT% 3PT%
2022 UW-MIL 78.8% 92.6 26.6 42.9 2.3 11.8 15.2 14.7 24.4 78.0 38.8 32.5
2021 UW-MIL 80.8% 104.4 24.2 51.9 1.8 16.2 8.6 13.8 29.8 80.2 48.8 37.4
2019 KENT ST 4.0% 82.9 21.0 53.9 8.8 12.1 7.8 33.1 23.1 33.3 70.0 0.0

Gholston’s usage over two seasons at Milwaukee proved relatively stable. But how the wing couldn’t have been more different. As a junior, almost 41 percent of his touches came in spot-ups, and he only ran pick-and-rolls 9.7 percent of the time. More than a third of his shots were catch-and-shoot jumpers, which he drained at a 38.5 percent clip. That jumper allowed him to drive the ball against closeouts, and he proved a decent shooter coming off screens.

Last season, though, was a radical departure. Once rarely asked to create off the bounce, Gholston’s ball-screen usage tripled as a senior. Add isolation touches to the mix, and Gholston initiated (25.6%) almost as much as he played off the catch (30.0%) in Milwaukee’s offense. It was a matter of necessity. Injuries limited Baldwin to just 11 games, and his father shut down the freshman in February, ending an underwhelming year. As a result, Gholston’s role expanded, but he finished with a 42.9 effective field goal percentage — the result of a 10-percentage point drop in 2-point shooting. Both seasons saw him prove his worth on the glass, especially as a perimeter player.

This contrast matters. Despite a ton of offense coming from spot-ups, Gholston graded out exceptionally well, especially as a catch-and-shoot threat in both seasons. And on film, I found his post-up game to be a potentially underutilized aspect of his game. There’s a valuable player here — if you strip out less-efficient touches. His struggles scoring off the bounce might come from a rough finishing package. And his efficiency as a shooter plummets after he puts the ball on the floor.

That’s not to say Gholston can’t improve in these areas, but it hasn’t been shown as a strength. Unfortunately, those are the things Gholston was asked to do in Baldwin’s absence, which came at the cost of what he does well.

Fort Myers Tip-Off - Milwaukee v Yale Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Role

Gholston will be in the mix for Mizzou’s likely 10-man rotation. How much he’ll see the floor will be dictated by what he brings to the table defensively and supply coach Dennis Gates with reliable shooting.

The good news for Gholston is that his metrics at Milwaukee point to him being an excellent defender in various ways. For example, according to Synergy data, he was in the 75th percentile nationally guarding spot-ups — the sign of an attentive off-ball defender. Additionally, Gholston’s physique — 6-foot-5, 215 pounds — is almost the same as a running back getting 25 carries a night. He’s built to withstand the rigors of SEC play.

Gholston must play to his strengths offensively: hit jumpers and keep the floor spaced. That’s a commodity MU often lacked in recent seasons. And if he can be an effective cutter in Gates’ offense, which featured plenty of those actions at Cleveland State, it would improve his stock.

But even if Gholston ticks those boxes, the roster is packed with off-ball guards and wings. And adding Isiaih Mosley means any minutes left over will be scant. In addition, D’Moi Hodge, who followed Gates from CSU, showed he could provide the same optimal mix of jump-shooting and cutting as Gholston. So how much PT can Gholston expect with two proven options and six players total?

Gholston likely won’t see much time on the ball. And with the relative lack of size across the roster, he won’t see much time at any traditional interior positions either. I’d project Gholston gets six to 10 minutes a game, at least out at the outset. His usage rate at Milwaukee will drop more towards 20% by cutting out inefficient possessions. I would expect Gholston to average 2-4 points per game. Should his outside shot carry over or even improve, I can see these numbers being underestimated.

Missouri v Temple Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

While I’m not sure if it’s the best comp in terms of production, I like the comparison to Mark Smith. Most reading this don’t need a full breakdown of Smith’s game. However, a glance at the players reveals the first similarity. They’re both 6-5 and built well. Secondly, Mark’s strengths at Mizzou were his ability to catch and shoot beyond the arc, defend consistently off the ball, and rebound effectively from a perimeter position. Those are strong parallels to Gholston’s game. I don’t expect Gholston’s minutes to mirror Smith’s, but Mark’s usage (18-20%) is what we should see from Gholston.

The Film

Gholston drilled 38 percent of catch-and-shoot jumpers in two seasons at Milwaukee. In these clips, you’ll see him knock down early clock looks, but he’s also effective on the weak side of the floor, especially on spot-ups from the corner. And at 4.4 attempts per game, there’s enough volume to reasonably say the shot tool is valuable.

Gholston’s frame is sturdy enough that you might be tempted to experiment with him burying smaller defenders by dribbling into post-ups. He doesn’t do it often, but he’s sneaky efficient when working from the right block.

If Gholston’s not camped waiting for a kick out, you want him running straight off a screen, preferably a pindown. Per Synergy data, he averaged 1.193 PPP on those touches last season and shot 46 percent.

Raw data tells you Gholston’s solid enough as a rim finisher at 1.063 PPP. But against better competition, you can see why he struggled as an isolation threat (0.368 PPP) or using PNRs (0.730 PPP) to get downhill. In particular, he struggles to finish over length and sometimes leans away from contact to improve his finishing angle. You also don’t see Gholston jumpstop and play off two feet, which might give him more options. That said, how often will Gholston be asked to do any of that in Columbia? Instead, Dennis Gates added a pair of veteran ball handlers and an elite ISO threat.

Gholston only made 29.3 percent of dribble jumpers last season, and his efficiency was below the Division I median. So this skill isn’t in his bag. And that’s just fine. An elite mid-range shooter is someone putting up more than 0.900 PPP on those touches — way below what Gholston produces spotting up.

These situations are the most acute result of Baldwin not being around. Milwaukee’s offense was collectively atrocious, finishing 346th in adjusted efficiency. Once a set bogged down and the shot clock ticked down, the Panthers would pass the baton looking for late-clock magic. Often, it produced a contested mid-range jumper. If Mizzou finds itself in this situation, it has Mosley around to conjure up offense.

Min %: This is simply the percentage of minutes played by a given player.
Usage %: A measure of personal possessions used while player is on the court. This includes making a shot, missing a shot coupled with a defensive rebound and a turnover.
eFG%: Same as traditional FG% with the added bonus of 3-point shots given 50% more weight to account for additional point.
OR%: The percentage of possible offensive rebounds a player gets.
DR%: The percentage of possible defensive rebounds a player gets.
AST%: Assists divided by field goals made by player’s teammates while on the court.
TO%: The percentage of personal possessions a player uses on turnovers.
FTR%: A rate which measures a player’s ability to get to the free throw line.
FT%: Free Throw shooting percentage.
2PT%: 2-point field goal percentage.
3PT% 3-point field goal percentage.