Jeremy Sochan is a 6-foot-9 forward with flair in his game and intensity on defense. The NBA Draft prospect is also the most versatile in the class with both uniqueness in his game and in his background.
The term “position-less” is often overused when discussing the modern NBA, but certain players deserve the title, thus leading to being overlooked by the ideas of wingspan and vertical leap when it comes to the draft. Few prospects genuinely deserve this title more than Jeremy Sochan (So-Han). There is a reason he has been one of the biggest risers in this draft class, and that upward trend will likely consider heavily in the month leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23rd.
Unique will be the most common adjective used to describe Sochan as a prospect. There will be a few reasons that he is classified differently than his peers: his look, his background, and his game.
The advice given to Jeremy Sochan by his mother when he was a child, as referenced in his profile in The Athletic, was “be cheeky.” That might sound a little odd for a prospect playing basketball in the states, but Jeremy Sochan’s path to the NBA is unlike many of his peers in the draft, as well as the NBA. Although Sochan attended a high school in Indiana before helping lead Baylor to a one-seed, he did not get there in a traditional pathway. The Baylor Bear refers to himself as a “citizen of the world” and has certainly earned that title. While his parents met at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, his mom was originally from Poland. Even though Sochan is a Polish citizen and represents them in international play, he was raised in the United Kingdom. Though he originally started his high school career in La Lumiere in Indiana, he also played professionally in Germany before heading to Waco.
As much as Sochan stands out because of his game, he stands out even more because of his unique style. His hair color will change with the wind, whether for a social issue, to represent his team, or just to show off. Early in the year, it was impossible to miss his floppy blonde hair, but it stood out even more after the cuts. Whether it was bright platinum, blue, or pink, it is certainly unique. During the draft combine, Sochan has already talked about keeping his hair a surprise on draft night. Fans should expect his style and flair to draw quite a bit of attention to the Polish wing on draft night, no matter where he lands.
— Niki Lattarulo (@NikiLattarulo) March 10, 2022
While his hair and background differ from his peers, it is what the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year did on the court that has NBA front offices frothing at the mouth. With that being said, let’s break down what makes the 6’9″ wing such a rare prospect. Jeremy Sochan’s name will not be mentioned in the draft season process without his defense being brought up.
Jeremy Sochan is going to be referred to as the best wing defender in this draft class, but what you are going to hear about most when discussing his defense is his versatility. At 6’9″ with above-average athleticism, Sochan looks like he could be designed in a lab to guard wings physically. However, it is his additional traits that make him special on that side of the ball. With a seven-foot wingspan and insane lateral quickness, the decorated Big 12 freshman was able to switch 1-through-5 at Baylor.
The switchability that projects to translate to the next level is insanely enticing to NBA teams. The off-ball defense is so disruptive to opposing offenses. At the college level, Sochan was able to single-handedly end offensive possessions with absurd activity and awareness and switching between the post and the perimeter. He has a brilliant basketball mind that brings (hyperbolic) comparisons to Draymond Green and nowhere is that more apparent than his defensive awareness. At times when watching Baylor on defense, it seemed like Sochan would know what the offense was doing before they did.
What makes his defense so appealing is the combination of a hyper-aware, brilliant basketball mind, with elite physical tools, and nonstop levels of activity. Each of those traits is as impressive as the next, and all are sure to draw attention to what he is doing on that side of the ball. It is impossible to say what is more impressive between the way that Sochan can use his strength and length to guard bigs in the post or the way he can switch and stay in front of guards on the perimeter.
Without a doubt, the Jeremy Sochan intrigue starts with his defense. He’s very agile and light on his feet for his size. Sochan plays with an incessant energy and often takes the best angle to shut off drivers on the perimeter.pic.twitter.com/BfdV3RcsI0
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) May 25, 2022
It remains to be seen how Sochan will match up defensively against smaller guards outright, but there is no question he will be able to switch and guard players on the perimeter. There was no better example of this than the NCAA tournament game against UNC when Tar Heel point guard R.J. Davis, who finished with 30 points, was switched onto Sochan in the final possession of regulation and did not come close to creating separation between him, failing to score. Not only did the freshman come up with the defensive stop, but the whole world collectively assumed he would due to his defensive presence and reputation.
Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan really showed off the kind of defensive versatility that makes him a potential lottery pick. Just 18-years-old, Sochan can bang with bigs, guard multiple P&R coverages, and guard the perimeter. The kind of wing every NBA team covets. pic.twitter.com/rgfXb0ZvLX
— NBA Draft Dude 🤙 (@CoreyTulaba) March 20, 2022
The North Carolina tilt in the Round of 32 is a pretty good indicator of everything that Sochan does that impacts a game. He will be tagged with titles such as a “winning player” as well as more negative terms such as a “pest” or “agitator.” There are reasons that the Polish prospect draws comparisons from rarified air such as Dennis Rodman and the comparisons expand beyond the exuberant hairstyles. He is an extremely high-energy basketball player that is very aggressive on both sides of the ball, with hard physical screens and expressive reactions to everything happening on the court. There may also be a flop or two that draws ire from opposing teams, but it’s an effective tool in his arsenal.
The eccentric freshman is a divisive player to watch solely because of what he does on the court. There is no better example of a player you love if he is on your team, and you hate if your team is playing against him than Jeremy Sochan. Not only will he use every trick under the sun to help his team, but Sochan will garner negative reactions from his opponents on top of that. There is nothing like seeing a player do something underhanded and celebrating it at the same time unless it is a player for whom you are rooting.
Sochan is more than just cheap tricks and a big personality, he is an elite playmaker on both sides of the ball. He uses his defensive playmaking and ability to rebound and run to start instant offense on the other end. The other major game that will get discussed in how he translates to the Association is his upset win over Kansas in Waco. This was a wildly impressive performance where Sochan was not only switching between future first-round pick Ochai Agbaji and dominant big man David McCormack, but he was shutting down entire defensive possessions.
Jeremy Sochan was so good in a win over Kansas that I decided to make a 5-minute breakdown on his performance + how it translates to the NBA. One of the most versatile players in the NCAA. Have really enjoyed watching his progression since the U16 Euros (B Division) in 2018. pic.twitter.com/hccBLEs0Fb
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) February 28, 2022
Watching Sochan guard the 5 on defense and immediately run the offense as a point guard will never not be impressive. It remains to be seen how much on-the-ball work he would have on the offensive side of the ball, but his playmaking chops are impressive for someone his size. Sochan’s ability to grab and go with rebounds and lead fast breaks is something that will certainly help whatever team drafts the big wing. He is a good passer and throws impressive outlet passes, and as an impressive rebounder, that creates significant opportunities for his team to create easy buckets.
“Point-forwards” are another common trend in the NBA along with “small-ball 5s” and Sochan has the unique ability to fulfill both of those possessions. That is a massive strength and where the “position-less” idea comes into play because Sochan will truly be able to fill whatever role asked of him on either side of the ball.
Offensively there are a few more concerns with Sochan that mostly center around his jump shot. However, he does have significant positive traits on the offensive side of the ball as well. The agility and quickness Sochan possess, allowing for fluid movement on defense, also give him added traits on offense. He has a great handle for a wing and can create space with quick and quirky dribble moves. While the jump shot is questionable, his dribble-drive ability allows him to attack closeouts at a high level. If he can improve the jump shot, he could become a potent offensive player with the rest of his skill set.
The future first-round pick’s biggest area for growth is certainly his catch-and-shoot ability. That is a place where he shot just 31.7% from deep at Baylor, and that is something that will need to improve in the NBA. Even if he is never an elite shooter, he needs to have the threat of a jump shot so opposing defenses cannot just leave him open. The other indicators are a mixed bag with a very lackluster 57.5% from the free-throw line. While the release is slow, the mechanics are not bad with a high release that is tough to defend.
The two-point jump shot numbers are not great, but the eye test does show his ability to get his jump shot off from mid-range or three. He has a decent bag of self-creation, including a step-back three and a turn-around jumper from the elbow. Sochan does not have a consistent post-game, but he is a good finisher and uses both hands to finish at the rim. His length and athleticism help him to attack but his arsenal of spin moves and Euro steps allow him to draw fouls at a high rate.
The jump shot will be the biggest swing skill at the next level, but Sochan does enough to instill confidence without it. Nobody expects Sochan to become a lights-out shooter, but with the ability to hit open threes at a consistent clip, he will be able to more than hold his own offensively.
A detail I love about Jeremy Sochan is that he's excellent in maintaining his balance.
Receives a bad pass but doesn't lose his balance a launches a three above the break.
Luckily he was wide open with that slow release. But not something I'm too concerned with right now. pic.twitter.com/q5dqda26gi
— Ersin Demir (@EDemirNBA) May 7, 2022
The scoring you get from Sochan is a bonus on offense, but where he really shines is with his playmaking. The 19-year-old demonstrates a high level of passing at his size, which projects how Sochan can be used in the NBA. He has the ability to beat defenders off the dribble and make tight, interior passes into the post or kick-outs to open shooters. These kinds of passes allow him to exist as an effective secondary playmaker and allow open looks for his teammates in very efficient ways.
Very impressive pass by Jeremy Sochan with 3 defenders surrounding him near the rim as he finds James Akinjo open on the opposite wing for a 3 pic.twitter.com/MGmxMLRHEJ
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) March 31, 2022
With the acute awareness he shows defensively and the high basketball I.Q., it is no surprise that Jeremy Sochan has a great eye for passing. He is not the most show-stopping passer, but Sochan is an extremely effective playmaker from either side of the pick-and-roll or the dunker spot. When Sochan gets downhill, his explosiveness draws defenders in, and with this finishing ability, he can take advantage of any defense he draws in. This is a major reason for the Draymond Green comparison (despite nobody truly comparing to Draymond) because it’s undoubtedly appetizing to have Sochan and his playmaking next to shooters and elite spacing in the NBA.
Early in his career, you can expect Sochan to be an active cutter and finisher at the rim, where he excelled at the college level. He finished in the 92nd percentile around the rim and, as a smart cutter, he will be able to create easy buckets for himself. That will be the most effective use for Sochan on offense along with catch-and-shoot threes as the rest of his game starts to develop.
It is easy to see why the UK product has rapidly risen to a likely lottery pick from the end of the first round. Even if the box score numbers did not jump off the page, the eye test shines bright with Sochan. He is so much fun to watch and makes opponents’ lives a living hell while making his teammates better. It is impossible to quantify the “winning” and “leadership” qualities that Sochan brings to a team, but it is something that coaches and teammates alike consistently praise.
Whichever team drafts Sochan will almost definitely fall in love with all of the intensity that he brings to the table. The defensive activity and effort will absolutely translate and the basketball acumen and feel for the game are an absolute plus for one of the youngest players in the draft class. His growth trajectory is certainly pointing in the right direction and the draft buzz around him shows that. The more he interviews with teams and shows his intensity and personality, the more he will continue the rise.
As the 19-year-old wing continues on his journey to be the second Polish NBA player behind the Polish Hammer Marcin Gortat, he will certainly be the talk of draft night with whatever bright colored hair and suit he wears to shake Commissioner Adam Silver’s hand. For me, it is simple; any player that compares his offensive game to Boris Diaw is a can’t miss for me, but when you combine that with defense and intensity compared to Hall of Famers like Dennis Rodman and Draymond Green (in the future), you have the most tantalizing concoction of skills, size, and smarts in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Baylor's Jeremy Sochan put his energy, competitiveness and versatility on display in front of a large contingent of decision makers at the NBA Combine in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/8WFaUOg8yP
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 21, 2022