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Men’s Basketball Preview Part II: Starter Profiles (James Jensen)

2011-12 stats: 30 GP, 6 GS, 17.3 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 11 STL, 15 BLK, .510 FT%, .459 FG% 

James Jensen is Middlebury’s Jack of all trades in the front court. He’s an incredibly long defender — Tayshaun Prince is a good comparison — which allows him to guard a variety of different guards and forwards. While Jensen’s defense makes him versatile on one end of the court, thus far in his career his offensive game has been relatively limited. He has an effective mid-range jumper, but his range disappears after about 18 feet. He has good athleticism, however, and finishes well around the hoop, using his length and jumping ability to finish over and around defenders. Where Jensen needs to make the biggest improvement this year is his free throw shooting. He was the worst free throw shooter on the team last year, shooting just 51% from the charity stripe and it came back to haunt him in the NCAA Tournament loss against Scranton when Jensen shot 2-10 from the line. James has a high-arching, knuckle ball free throw shot that is particularly unforgiving when it hits the rim. From what we’ve seen in practice, it appears that he has worked hard in the offseason to improve his mechanics and should be improved from the line in the 2012-13 season.

With Dylan Sinnickson’s pre-season injury and the absence of Ryan Sharry, Middlebury will be relying on Jensen to play a big role this year, either in the starting lineup or as the first player coming off the bench. He will need to be more comfortable with the basketball in his hands and play a more nuanced offensive game this season as he’s had a tendency at times in the past to play hot potato or put his head down and drive the paint with little in between. Physically, however, Jensen has all the tools to be a key cog in Middlebury’s season and could have a Jamal Davis-like impact on both sides of the ball if he puts it all together.

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