So now that we have cringed through the title, let me yell at you about my favorite player. He's not the leading scorer, he's not the tallest, he's not the fastest, he's not even a consistent starter. But he's perfect in every way and you are wrong if you think otherwise. He's not as flashy as George King, or as silky as Josh Fortune, but Tre'Shaun knows how to get it done. The Condor is spreading his wings and flying.
Let's look at the defensive side first. Fletcher is the team's most versatile defender, as the wing position belongs to him. It's telling that Boyle puts him on the opposing team's best perimeter scorer all the time. His freakishly long arms find their way into passing lanes constantly and help keep some of the faster players in front of them, and they also help close quicker on three point shooters. Moreso then Fortune, he has the frame to take some of the bigger guys out of the game, and moreso than King, he has the attitude to make it happen. In terms of team defense, Tre is one of the best at funneling the shooters to the ridiculously good interior defenders Wes Gordon and Josh Scott, and he also gives a lot of weakside help on dribble penetration, something the Buffs have seen way too much of.
Go back and watch the highlights from the Portland game, Tre's best game thus far. Around the two minute mark, you'll see a sequence that makes me giddy each time I see it. A Portland guard drives in, and gets an almost uncontested layup attempt. Tre covers a ridiculous amount of ground quickly and sends it back into the waiting arms of Josh Fortune. The next sequence shown is a block by J40 (what else is new), and a fast break is set. Fletcher beats EVERYONE down the court and gets an easy layup. Two easy points made entirely by his hustle.
I'm not a basketball writer by trade, or a very informed fan, so I found someone who is way above my ability to write about how good he is, especially offensively. If you don't already follow James Lucas (@CUGoose) on Twitter, you're silly and you should feel bad.
Quick question - outside of Josh Scott, who on the Buffs that gets regular minutes (sorry Brett) is leading the team in Offensive Rating? Is it George King, the electric swingman who is averaging 15 points a game? Is it Josh Fortune whose outside shooting (40%+ from 3) is opening things up down low? Is it Wes Gordon who doesn't touch the ball often, but usually is able to convert?
Nope. It's Tre'Shaun Fletcher. But you probably know that considering the topic of this article. The thing that is truly impressive about that is the fact that he's doing it without being truly dominant in any one category. In fact, on KenPom, the only number other than ORtg in which he's in the top 500 for is FT percentage (in which his 82.4% is 264th in the nation as of Thursday afternoon). So how is he getting it done? By being good in LOTS of categories. He's a low possession player (only 16.8%) who has a solid Assist Rate (10.4%) and is a good shooter. He also gets to the line regularly.
Honestly, his low possession and his overall calmness (last Sunday's 5 fouls aside) is why I think Fletch is a perfect part for the 5th starter on the team. Dom is the PG, Jelly & Wes are down low, so we have King, Fletch and Fortune fighting for the last two spots. Pick your battle on which one of Fortune or King you want to start (personally, I'd go with Fortune just because I love King's enthusiasm and willingness to be an offensive juggernaut off of the bench), but put Fletch with them. Let him be calm, cool, play D and then when everyone else is drawing the attention, he's going to be knocking down the open 3.
There's a lot of good stuff in there, but to me the most important thing he does offensively is move the ball, as evidenced by his assist rate (10.4%). There have been times when I think he's the best passer on the court for CU this season. The ball never sticks on his hands and his penetration and interior passing is top-notch. The way he shoots, people are going to close out hard, and once he beats that guy off the dribble, Tre is able to take it all the way in or draw a defender and dish to an open man. Another important thing Goose mentioned is his low possession rate. He doesn't need the ball a lot to be effective, and he thrives as the third or fourth option in an offense. He slots in perfectly as the 5th starter on this team, someone who will clean up the messes left by the primary scoring options and give max effort on D.
His name is Tre'Shaun Fletcher, in case you forgot. He may have been easy to lose given King's outsized personality and scoring ability and Fortune being the new guy in school who instantly becomes more popular than pretty much everyone, but Tre likes operating in the background. He'll close out on shooters hard, rebound the miss, do your taxes, and get the transition bucket at the end of the play. His arms seem to be longer than Mr. Fantastic's, and based on this last Fantastic Four movie, he might be a Reed Richards than anyone in Hollywood. The Condor came here to eat Illegal Pete's and bomb threes, and he's all out of Pete's.