TENNESSEE BASKETBALL: An in-depth look at Chris Ledlum
By: Jordan Moore
Senior Staff Writer
The All Vol Call In Show
One of the top priorities for Rick Barnes & his coaching staff during the transfer portal window was Chris Ledlum, a six-foot-six-inch 225 lbs forward from Harvard University. How big of a priority was he?
Not even twenty-four hours after the Vols were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, he received a visit from the coaching staff in Boston. Coming out of the high school ranks, not only was Ledlum considered to be one the best basketball players in the country, but he was also highly recruited to play football as a tight end. According to Rivals.com, he was ranked as a four-star player & the 80th-best prospect nationally, winning the 2019 Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year award in basketball. He had multiple power five scholarship offers including ones from the ACC, BIG 10, BIG 12, & the SEC. How did a player of this caliber end up at Harvard? Ledlum took academics seriously when choosing his college destination as he only took official visits to three colleges: Yale, Georgetown, & Harvard.
As a freshman at Harvard, Ledlum was used in a reserve role coming off the bench, as he only averaged 16.1 minutes in 29 games. Given the context, he played well as he averaged 7.3 points & 3.8 rebounds while shooting 42.1 % from the floor, 27.3% from three, & 61.8 % at the free throw line. He scored in double figures ten times.
His sophomore season in 2020-2021 never got started as the Ivy League decided to cancel its basketball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his junior season, Ledlum was poised to break out. However, Ledlum never got the chance, tearing the labrum in his hip. He tried to play through the injury during the first 13 games of the season, averaging 16.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, & 1.7 steals while shooting 42.8% from the floor, 31.5% from three, & 69% from the free throw line. Unfortunately, the injury got worse, eventually leading to a sports hernia & groin tear that ended his season.
Ledlum would bounce back from his injury in a big way during his senior campaign earning First Team All-Ivy League honors while averaging 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 blocks, & 1.8 steals a game. He shot 47.3% from the floor, 29.4 % from three, & 63.6% from the free throw line.
When you turn on the film of Chris Ledlum and see his physical frame along with how he plays the game of basketball, Grant Williams comes to mind. I’m not saying Ledlum will end up the SEC Player of the Year, or that he will even be a first-round NBA draft pick, but he is going to surprise a lot of Vol fans next season.
As a senior, 61.1% of his shot attempts came inside the painted area and he made 56.6% of those, close to 5% above the national average. On the surface, his three-point percentage isn’t great (29.4%), but with a closer look, you see that from 22-25 feet (the college three-point line distance is 22 feet) he made 34.1% on 82 attempts. Outside of 25 feet, he shot an abysmal 22.7% on 42 attempts.
When looking at Shot Quality, he ranked in the 62nd percentile in points per possession at 1.11. His possession percentage was considered “great” at 38% & his rim/three rate was 90%.
Ledlum is also considered one of the best rebounders in the country, averaging 8.5 per game which put him at 60th nationally. An underrated aspect of Ledlum’s game is his ability to draw fouls, he was in the top 200 in free throw attempts at 173 which would have led all Vols this past season. When digging into his offensive game, you can clearly see where Rick Barnes plans to utilize Ledlum in his motion offense which is predicated on getting the ball inside early & often. I look for him to start at the four spots in this offense & be the consistent post scorer the Vols have been lacking in recent seasons.
On the defensive side of the floor, his metrics aren’t great but he did lead the Crimson in defensive BPR (Bayesian Performance Rating; quantifies how effective a player is, using advanced box-score metrics, play-by-play data, and historical information) at 1.30, this would have ranked ninth on the Vols roster this past season.
The best aspect of his game is his ability to create steals & deflections. He was 76th nationally in steals per game. Ledlum also has the ability to block shots, recording 31 swats. That would've put him second for Tennessee last season. Ledlum also pulled in 165 defensive rebounds, 32 more than the best defensive rebounder for Rick Barnes, who prides his teams on being great rebounders. There is clearly room for improvement as a one-on-one defender but where he lacks in that aspect of his game he makes up for in hustle plays.
Photo above | Yahoo Sports
Shot charts | CBBAnalytics