End of the Year Player Review: Mo Jeffers

End of the Year Player Review: Mo Jeffers

By Evan Gray

First posted on Bostoncollege.247sports.com 

2016/2017 Stats (32 Games):

20.3 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.4 TOPG, .497 FG%, No 3’s Attempted, .547 FT%, 11.5 PER, .508 TS%, .497 EFG%

2015/2016 Stats (29 Games with Delaware):

22.8 MPG, 5.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.1 BPG, 2.0 TOPG, .402 FG%, No 3’s Attempted, .560 FT%, 8.3 PER, .456 TS%, .402 EFG%

Mo (formerly known as Maurice) came to Boston College with one year of eligibility and plenty of heart. A pure bruiser, Mo was never going to win anyone over with sharp skills and finesse. Instead, Mo relied on his superior strength and athleticism to battle on both sides of floor. Mo’s very presence on the court brought a sense of hustle and passion sorely missing from last year’s 7-25 Eagle squad. Immediately slotted into the starting center position, Mo was already undersized for the ACC, standing 6’ 9” at best. The first few games were rough for Mo, and I initially gave him one of the lowest grades in my progress report earlier in the season, having this to say:

“For Jeffers, the defense is always going to be better than the offense. While his blocks per game have gone down from his days as a Blue Hen, Jeffers is able to use his superior strength to contest shots regularly, however moving backwards and forwards can still be a slow process for the big man, who we saw struggle heavily against athletic bigs on Dartmouth and Harvard. Still, Jeffers’ physicality and energetic presence have been welcome additions to the Eagles, and BC’s defense is 1.2 points per 100 possessions better with Jeffers on the floor.

The biggest issue for Jeffers this season has been his inability to stay out of foul trouble. Averaging 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes, Jeffers has been unable to stay on the floor for any consistent period of time. As a result of sloppy fouls, Jeffers has barely played in some of the most important games of the season, logging only 33 total minutes in the Kansas State and Richmond games. Jeffers undoubtedly has the physical tools to be a solid defender without needing to foul, so it is frustrating to see him foul more frequently than he did in his previous two years at Delaware, where he averaged 4.1 fouls per 40 minutes.

Offensively, Jeffers isn’t especially polished. When receiving the ball in the post, he is a bit of a black hole, with only 3 assists in 171 minutes, and he is turning the ball over in 22.9% of his possessions. Also, Jeffers is shooting a not so good 42% from the charity stripe, which needs to be closer to 60% ASAP. As a result, the Eagles are an alarming 7.6 points per 100 possessions worse with Jeffers on the floor.

Of all the players on the BC squad, Jeffers may be the most polarizing. On one side, Jeffers is a physical presence who anchors a defense in need of a rim protector. At times, Jeffers can take advantage of his high motor and muscular body to bully opposing teams’ bigs into submission. However, when he is making dumb fouls or attempting impossible turnaround jump shots, Jeffers can become a liability. Perhaps he is just getting used to Jim Christian’s system or maybe he just will always be a player sorely lacking finesse, only time will tell.”

While not all of the kinks mentioned above were worked out—Mo continued to struggle at the free throw line and he averaged 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes—Mo improved his play significantly in conference play. Finding his groove on the offensive end, Mo became much smarter with regards to his shot selection, rarely shooting jumpers and scoring a lot off cuts and offensive rebounds. On the defensive end, Mo had monster performances against UNC and Notre Dame, making Kennedy Meeks and Bonzie Colson work for every point. He grabbed at least 3 offensive rebounds in 13 games this season, also recording a 12-12 double-double on 6-10 shooting from the field at Notre Dame.

After shooting just 44.2% from the field in his first 19 games at BC—a poor number for a center—Mo finally found a nice rhythm with his shot, shooting 56.9% from the field in his last 13 games. With 3 double digit scoring efforts in the last month of season, Mo’s place in the Eagle offense finally started to make sense. Instead of forcing the ball into Jeffers on the block, which usually resulted in a bad shot or a turnover, Mo played much better in the pick and roll game, playing as a great dive man akin to a Nerlens Noel. Taking much more efficient shots, Mo was able to finish the season with 16 games of 50% or greater shooting, including a monster 7-9 performance against Pitt.

Unfortunately, as solid as Mo became on the offensive end, his high foul rate saw his minutes continually decline. Fouling out 4 times this season—including all three Wake Forest games—ACC bigs like John Collins and Amile Jefferson could eventually get Mo to bite on a pump fake or two, significantly hurting Mo’s effectiveness on the defensive end.

Best Game

The best game of the season for Mo came against the fiercest competition, UNC. A team stacked with size—Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Tony Bradley—Mo stood as the lone line of defense against one of the best frontcourts in the nation. Mo put everything he had into this game and you could see it the whole time, as he anchored a BC defense that held the Tar Heels to 12-31 shooting in the first half. In the first period alone, Mo had 2 offensive rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal. Playing 27 minutes until he fouled out, Mo was the only thing keeping UNC’s bigs at bay. Finishing 3-5 from the field with 5 rebounds and 3 blocks, this was the first game that Mo truly earned his stripes in the ACC. He went up against players likely to be drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft and fought with them tooth and nail. Being the only semblance of a rim-protector on this BC squad, Jeffers was the only reason the Eagles were in this game—the Eagles were within 3 points with 5:29 left in the game. Unfortunately, with Mo fouling out, the Eagles quickly turned to Swiss cheese on the defensive end, and Meeks, Hicks, and Bradley shot a combined 10-13 in the second half.

Goodbye Mo

Mo, more than anyone, made leaps and bounds of improvement this season. Beginning the year as an inefficient, foul-heavy bruiser, Mo transformed during ACC play into an efficient, slightly-less-foul-heavy rim protector. Mo’s improvement over the season, unfortunately, only makes his departure hurt that much more. Mo was finally starting to find his place on both sides of the ball, and now we are left with a whole in the front-court and our hearts.