University of Kansas

What recruiting target Joe Cremo could potentially bring to KU

Albany guard Joe Cremo (24) attempts to drive past Louisville forward Deng Adel (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 70-68.
Albany guard Joe Cremo (24) attempts to drive past Louisville forward Deng Adel (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 70-68. AP

Kansas did not get a commitment from top-10 recruit Romeo Langford on Monday, meaning the coaching staff's search for a shooter will have to continue over the next few weeks.

KU has one scholarship available (two, potentially, if Udoka Azubuike remains in the draft), and it's no secret at this point that Bill Self would like to add some immediate perimeter help for next year.

That's why Jeff Goodman's report from Monday made a lot of sense.

Goodman tweeted that Joe Cremo — a graduate transfer from Albany — would be visiting both Villanova and KU this week.

One number sticks out about Cremo immediately: He was a 46 percent three-point shooter last season, making him a potentially valuable player for whichever team he picks.

What else should you know about Cremo? Here's a quick look at his strengths and weaknesses, based off data from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and Synergy Sports Technology.

Strengths

Outside shooting

Among qualified players (40 percent of minutes played and at least two threes attempted per game), Cremo's 45.7-percent outside accuracy was 28th nationally, according to KenPom. He's an elite shooter, and with that kind of success, he probably could be asked to attempt a few more given that efficiency.

His Synergy numbers were impressive too. Cremo was in the 93rd percentile on points per possession on three-point shots, and he was especially strong on "guarded" spot-up jumpers, ranking in the 95th percentile there.

Cremo was asked if he considered himself a three-point shooter on a recent interview with 104.5 The Team in Albany.

"Yeah. You know, it's funny. Just because now, on a lot of scouting reports and stuff, 'Oh, he's a shooter. He's a shooter,'" Cremo said. "My entire life it's always been about getting in the lane and getting people shots."

Which brings us to ...

Passing

Cremo is more than just a spot-up shooter.

His 22 percent assist rate each of the past two seasons was in the top 350 nationally, and that number would have easily made him the second-best passer (behind Devonté Graham) on last year's KU roster.

Self often urges his players in practice to "Drive to kick," and Cremo appears to be a player whose natural playing style is in that mold.

Drawing fouls

Self loves players who can get to the free-throw line, and this has been an area in which Cremo has thrived all three seasons. His free-throw rate last year was basically identical to Graham's, meaning he has a knack for creating contact when he's on the floor.

That often resulted in two points for Albany too. Cremo was an 82 percent free throw shooter last season ... and that number is actually lower than his career percentage at the line (85 percent).

Weaknesses

Defense

Though it's often difficult to evaluate players defensively, Cremo's Synergy numbers from last season were not great.

Overall, Cremo allowed 0.94 points per possession, which put him in the 29th percentile nationally. Though he was excellent in Iso situations, he was well below average when it came to closing out on three-point shooters and also defending the pick-and-roll.

Albany primarily played man defense, so it's unlikely that Cremo's numbers were the result of teammate failings or miscommunication. He's proven to be a strong defensive rebounder over his three years, but even with that skill, it's likely his next school will focus most on defense when he arrives.

Finishing at the rim

Those who look closely at Cremo's stat line will notice this: His three-point (45.7 percent) and two-point (45.4 percent) numbers were almost identical.

A big reason for his struggles inside came because of an inability to finish at the rim. Cremo had 51 percent of his shots there according to Hoop-Math (60 percent is average), and from a brief look at his highlight video, he appears to sometimes rush shots inside while trying to avoid shot-blockers.

Cremo is able to finish close shots with both his left and right hand, which is a nice skill to have. He'll face a lot more size in his next conference, so becoming more efficient close to the basket could be a focal point for him this offseason.

Bottom line

It's not surprising so many teams have interest in Cremo. An elite shooter is a valuable commodity in today's game, and the fact that he also can create off the dribble and find teammates is an added bonus.

There are questions about his defense, yes, but as far as graduate transfers go, it's hard to think that any player will be in higher demand than Cremo, who will basically be a free pickup for any program that has a scholarship open.

KU's coaches won't be lying to him when they make their pitch. Though the Jayhawks are overwhelmingly the pick to be next year's preseason No. 1, they also have a not-so-subtle deficiency when it comes to spacing the floor.

Cremo, then, would be a great fit.

But he'd also be that for a lot of other schools as well.

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