Jeremy Sochan enters the draft with unique life experience at just 19 years old.
He was born in the US to his Polish mom and American dad – both college basketball players – and spent his early years living in England. He played the equivalent of high school basketball in England, enrolled at prep powerhouse La Lumiere (La Porte, Indiana) but COVID cut his year short. So, he went to Germany and played basketball club and then played for the Polish national team, helping Poland qualify for Eurobasket 2022 – just before enrolling at Baylor for his freshman season in 2021-22.
“Traveling all over Europe to play, I think has really opened up my eyes and really I’ve seen a lot of coaches, different types of experiences,” Sochan told USA TODAY Sports. “I’ve learned from it and it’s quite cool. for me. I think it’s fun to experience all these different cultures and I think it’s really impacted me on the court and off the court. ”
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Sochan is an expected lottery pick who could go in the top-10.
“For me, it’s just getting drafted to the right situation,” he said. “But on the other hand, you can’t control the draft or what happens on draft night and you can only control yourself. So wherever I get drafted all I know is I’m going to work hard and get myself better every day and then also help the people around me get better. So just being able to stay in the present is important to me. ”
In his one season at Baylor, the 6-9, 230-pound Sochan was the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year who played starter minutes. He averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds and on a balanced team where not one player averaged more than 13.8 points.
He possesses several tools NBA teams seek in a forward: size, length, quickness, ability to defend multiple positions. He is able to score inside the 3-point line but needs to improve his 3-point shot. To that end, he focused on his shot and ball-handling during his pre-draft preparation.
“I think it translates really well,” Sochan said. “First of all, I think the big word for me is versatility. Defensively, offensively I feel I’ll be able to impact the game really well. Defensively, I’m going to be versatile and be able to switch one through five. … Then offensively, I feel I can impact the game, playmaking for myself or for others, and then just doing the right thing to shoot, rebound, pass, dribble. ”
If you watched the NBA playoffs, versatile defenders were instrumental in how far their teams advanced. Think Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. There are so many talented offensive players and teams run pick-and-rolls to create favorable matchups, it requires elite defenders to limit those mismatches.
“This is one of the most important positions right now in the NBA,” Sochan said.
He has spent time talking to NBA players and preparing for the mental and physical grind of an 82-game season. Sochan also works on his spiritual and philosophical side. In May, he was in the middle of reading Paul Coelho’s “The Alchemist” – a favored book among NBA players – and had just purchased a hard copy of “Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee,” by Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee.
“I think it’s just I have a big personality,” Sochan said. “I think I bring a lot of joy to the table, to the fans, to the team, to my teammates, to the coaches, the organization … My goal in life is to help others as well. So I feel with the NBA opening up to me and having the chance to play in the NBA, I feel I’ll be able to bring a lot of communities together. ”