Mikhail Torrance Just a Big, Pure Point Guard
Mikhail Torrance does not.
"I'm a pure point, so don't call me a 'combo guard,''' he said with a smile last weekend after a recent workout. "If I was 6-2, there would be no discussion, but just because I'm bigger, people want to call me a 'combo guy.' I've been a point all my life. And I love the position. I was made for it.''
Torrance is a late-blooming, 6-foot-5 point guard from the University of Alabama, who didn't become a full-time starter until his senior year when he really displayed some NBA skills.
Both his size and his ambidexterity have made him an intriguing prospect as the draft approaches. Most draft boards now have him being picked in the early-to-middle second round, although recent workouts might be pushing him toward the end of the first.
"A combo guard is just a shooting guard in a point guard's body,'' he said. "I'm a strict point. I can lead a team and deliver the ball. I'm proud of my game, and I don't have anything to hide. It's why I'm working out for anyone who wants to see me.''
Torrance, who has spent much of the past six weeks training at the IMG Academy, played in camps at both Portsmouth and Chicago. He has had private workouts in Indiana, New York and Detroit. He was in Miami Monday, and he has 14 other stops scheduled before the NBA Draft at the end of the month.
The Heat are thinking he might be available for their second-round pick at 41, although the Knicks have two picks earlier in the second round, and they are unlikely to let him pass through. The Magic, with the 29th pick in the first round, also have their eye on finding a young and mature point guard to serve as a backup to Jameer Nelson, and Torrance makes perfect sense.
As a senior, he averaged 15.6 points and 5.1 assists at Alabama, showing an ability to attack the basket and create for teammates. His size, strength and foot speed should make him a good defender in the NBA. Although he was a career 86 percent free throw shooter, the knock against him was an inability to shoot with range.
"I'm a great pick-and-roll point guard. I can knock down shots. I'm good in the open court. I can defend at 1, 2 or 3,'' he said. "I'm very confident in what I can do, but I'm also very humble.''
At Alabama, Torrance was known as a real student of basketball, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of every player in the Southeastern Conference. He has spent hours studying tape of Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams, a big point guard who has become arguably the best in the NBA.
"I don't want to sound far-fetched, but he's my favorite player. He's big and thick like me,'' he said. "But I also could see myself like a Jason Kidd, who doesn't have to score to affect a game. I'll rebound, get assists and defend. They said I couldn't shoot, but I've worked to become one of the best shooters in this draft.''
Torrance, 21, shoots right handed, but more often attacks the lane to his left, making him somewhat unpredictable. His shooting in college was streaky, and some scouts question his shooting form.
"Maybe not all of his skills are perfect now for the position, but he understands how to empower his teammates on the court. They don't teach that in college. It's a natural trait to want the ball in your hands but want to share it, too,'' said Dan Barto, NBA Player Development coordinator at IMG. "The veterans will like that. And at Alabama (not starting), he has a history of being able to navigate adversity.''