Admiral Schofield is built differently.
In an age when many NBA prospects are criticized for scrawny frames, the 6-foot-5, 241-pound Schofield is built more like a linebacker than a small forward. He’s plenty capable of bulldozing his way through opponents, but it’s the skill and mobility he pairs with that strength that has led some analysts to project him as a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft. His 2.87 Shuttle Run at the 2019 NBA Combine was the best result among forwards, a fact made all the more impressive when you consider Schofield was the seventh-heaviest prospect in attendance.
Oh, and the dude can play, too. Last season, Schofield was one of just three NCAA D1 players to average 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists per game while also shooting 40% or better from deep. Playing as a two-guard, Schofield earned first-team All-SEC honors and led Tennessee to 31 wins, tied for the most in the program’s 110-year history.
“I can do a lot of things because I’m very versatile. I can post up, I can shoot the three, I can drive the ball, I can pass the ball,” Schofield recently told STACK. “There’s not really a lot of holes in my game, there’s just things I can get better at.”
His agility is one of his most enticing traits, as Schofield has the tools to realistically defend 2-4 at the next level. While his game was formed by thousands of hours of hard work, he also points to a particular period during his childhood as being pivotal in his development—the 3 years he played youth soccer.
“I also played soccer which was actually my favorite sport believe it or not. Soccer alone really helped me, my footwork, that’s why I have good feet and (can) defend different guards. And even at this size, to be able to play the guard position, you’ve gotta have good footwork. It’s because I played soccer and I had to do those footwork drills in practice and those different things growing up,” says Schofield, who played the sport from ages 8-10 before becoming a three-sport athlete (football, track and basketball) in high school.
“A lot of kids these days are so focused on training instead of just going out and playing,” he said. “Me growing up, I would just go outside and play different sports all the time with people in the park or people in my neighborhood. A lot of kids aren’t that fortunate now. Everything is different in this day and age. Most of the skills and stuff that guys in my generation learned was just from playing in the park, playing outside. Training is good, it really is. But sticking to one sport, that’s not bad later in your career when you’re winding down and your window is closing and it’s time to focus on trying to get to college at the D1 level…But if you’re young and you’re in middle school or elementary school, why not experiment? Football taught me toughness, it taught me how to be physical and how to use my body. It gave me a different edge out there. You can take little things from every different sport and apply it to (another) sport. I just think if you don’t experience that you won’t be able to add to your toolbox.”
Schofield’s comments get to the heart of some of the biggest problems in youth sports today, namely a startling lack of free play and a troubling increase in early specialization. When basketball became his sole focus, he was all in. Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has said Schofield worked as hard as any player he’s ever coached. But by spending his childhood/early teens engaging in a wide-range of activities in both formal and informal settings, he avoided burnout and ultimately became a more dynamic athlete.
Photo Credit: The Player’s Tribune