Last week, the Flames conclusion of their season marked the end of Joseph Venzant and Brody Peebles’ Freshman campaigns. It is only fitting that we take some time to review, appreciate, and predict what I anticipate for these two guards in the coming year.

Joseph Venzant

Venzant is a 6’3” defense specialist two-guard from Midland, Texas. He was a three-star recruit and number 51 shooting guard in his class of 2021. Now with the Flames, JV averaged 21.2 minutes per game, 45.5 percent from the field, 16.1 percent from three, 79.6 from the free-throw line, and .9 steals per game. He competed in 33 games this season.

Here are my takeaways from Joseph’s first season as a Flame:

  • He averaged a good field goal percentage. Shooting above 42 percent is a good mark for any shooting guard, especially a freshman. Coaches always love seeing those numbers in the high 40s, and I don’t anticipate it will take too much for Joseph to get that number higher. This is especially true given that Venzant does not take many mid-range jumpers. He is an aggressive, slashing guard, which means we want to see him shooting right around 50 percent if most of his shots inside the arc are going to be close to the basket. Still, nearly 46 percent on 40-88 attempts is solid for a freshman.
  • His three-point percentage will improve. Every basketball fan knows 16 percent from three for a shooting guard is not ideal. I’m sure Venzant knows it. I anticipate he will be working effectively this summer to smooth out his shooting motion and get the timing of his release down. Once you miss a few, it’s easy to start aiming, trying to force the ball to go in. It’s necessary to note that JV only shot the three 31 times and connected on five of those. No player should be judged permanently after just 30 shots, so I’m not concerned about his percentage. I expect him to raise his percentage to around 25 percent next season, increasing each season.
  • His defensive numbers are promising. I mentioned during the season in a tweet that Venzant will likely be nationally recognized for his steal numbers when he is an upperclassman. Averaging nearly a steal a game, plus his clutch defense seen in a few games this season proves exceptional talent for on-ball defense and jumping passing lanes. As long as he stays healthy, I suspect he will surpass the defensive talent of Elijah Cuffee by the time he is a junior. I think he will be to defense what Darius McGhee was offensively in Flames history, and his freshman numbers support that.
  • He’s a good free-throw shooter. This is an important point because of JV’s offensive play-style. He attacks the rim and that means he will shoot free throws often. If he can knock down an average of 80 percent from the line his whole career, he will be able to average a consistent eight to 10 points a game with ease. I anticipate that percentage will rise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shooting 85 percent with ease in a future season.

Joseph stole every Flames fan’s heart with his unselfish defensive effort this season. It takes a team-first mindset to be sold out to the defensive effort every time you lace up. Venzant is helping to embody the culture of the Flames as a grind-it-out, we-before-me mindset.

Brody Peebles

There is one thing that we can already see for sure about Brody Peebles, and that is the truth that this young man is simply a bucket! Let me be even clearer, any player that puts up more than 3,000 points in high school is a problem (and it’s really noteworthy because he did it at the 6A level. That’s insane!). You’re not slowing that guy down in high school. The 6’3” Alabama-native sharpshooter played 16.6 minutes per game, shot 44.7 percent from the field, 39.73 percent from three, and averaged 5.4 points per game in his first year as a Flame. Like Venzant, he played in 33 games this season.

Here are my thoughts from Brody’s first season:

  • He’s an obviously good shooter. Like I mentioned before, he’s hitting those ideal averages for a scoring guard (greater than 40 percent from the field, at least high 30s from three). That’s a good indicator that his scoring game is going to translate at the D1 level. He also had multiple double-digit scoring efforts throughout the season, and he is efficient when he puts up high numbers. His efficiency can be attributed to the simple fact he doesn’t force shots. He is a high IQ scorer who knows his game and sticks with it.
  • His free throw numbers will increase. Peebles shot 67.9 percent from the line, but that was just off of 28 attempts. Why? Shooters who get to the line infrequently and are playing sporadic minutes will not feel comfortable with their free throws. As he sees more minutes, gets more shots up throughout the course of a game, and has the ball in his hands more, he will find his rhythm at the stripe. I expect he will jump to the mid-to-high 70 percent range during next season.
  • Peebles was not a defensive liability. He is still learning the packline, but he was good at playing within the defensive scheme. He appears to still be getting a feel for the speed of the D1 level, specifically on the defensive end. He took a number of charges this season and was deceptively capable of staying in front of his assignment. Look for him to continue to fit in comfortably with the packline next season.
  • Peebles is nothing if not a crafty scorer. He is exceptional at making offensive moves efficiently, at his own pace. He is good in tight spaces and doesn’t need a lot of space to finish. Also, he plays unique angles, which often surprises defenders. Steve Nash would often “over-dribble,” meaning he would pass up a contested lay-up for a more open layup if he simply took an extra dribble or two. He would get layup opportunities that provided an odd angle or the ability to make the extra pass. I see Brody doing some of this, using his basketball IQ to get the edge on more athletic defenders. I think we will see some sensational offensive highlights from him during his collegiate career thanks to his crafty offensive ability.
  • The bouncy hair, the grin…Brody does a great job of not taking himself too seriously while at the same time competing at a high level. Peebles brings humor, levity, and keeps fans engaged because he will play with creativity.

Peebles has fans itching to see him let loose. I look forward to the days when he is able to get a quality 10 to 15 shot attempts each game. If he continues to hone his shooting accuracy, he will light up opponents consistently as he sees more playing time.

Ultimately, Flames fans were spoiled this season. Rarely do freshmen make such a positive impact outside of Power Five teams. This speaks to the savvy of the coaches’ recruiting. Let’s continue to support these young guys as they develop and give their best to the program and fans each year.