The scouting that I do may be different from the 50 or so other scouts that were in attendance. Most wanted to chase down recruiting information or update their top 100 rankings. My reason for evaluating there is to rate the top 50 or so players that would have a chance to play at the pro level in the next 4 years. Its very important to try to catch players in their natural high school environment where the games really matter to evaluate them at their best. Another great thing about this event was for the most part the matchups were very good and their were very few true blowouts.
The importance of this event for me is to keep track of the Nation’s top players to make sure that I get an early look at their development. Its important to do this especially for players that may be only attending college for one year and making a jump to the NBA. Part of the services that we provide is draft information to NBA teams to keep an eye on players before they get to college so once they are there information has already been gathered for them. As the culture and landscape of high school basketball continues to change (not necessarily in a good way) its really important to try to watch players in a setting where they compete. I can sit here for days and tell you what is wrong with high school and college basketball, but I’d be here for 6 months just on the first chapter. With so much pressing/trapping on defense and wild isolation 14 dribble before you shoot offense it is very tough to get a true evaluation these days on players. When you try to ask people who are involved in the high school game they want to give you these scripted catch phrases like “second jump rebounder, great motor, he can score the basketball, and my personal favorite he runs like a gazelle”. Players need to be in an environment where pride is on the line. It used to be for team things like conference/state ranking or rivalry. Now I guess when rankings are on the line or ESPN is filming players would tend to rise to the occasion.
Players with big reputations tend to disappoint me when it is time to see them live. The one negative about the internet age is that you get so much information and footage of players at such a young age when it is time to finally watch them you are sick of hearing about them. When I evaluate players the first thing that comes to mind is what skill to they posses that can get them in a high level game. After that size and length at their position as well as athletic ability. The last two things that come into play is their character and competitiveness. When my evaluation is done I try to place an NBA player’s name in the evaluation where this player will become by the time they are 27. This gets a little tricky, but it is important to try to figure out where players will be when they are at the top of their progression.
Shabazz Muhammad 6’5 SG Bishop Gorman (Nevada)Definitely lived up to his reputation as the Nation’s top player. He is a highly competitive scorer that can score from many spots on the floor. He was impressive to me because he was very efficient and didn’t waste time or space when he wanted to score. His stroke needs a little work as it’s a little tight and mechanical, but at this stage of the game it goes in and he is confortable and confident that it will go in. At 6’5 he can score in the post and elbow as well as come off pin downs and spot up. He’ll need to develop his range a little bit, but his stroke isn’t broken by any stretch of the imagination. He can put the ball on the floor not as a blow bye isolation player, but to pull up off one or two dribbles and pullup. He has long arms and good athletic ability as he knows how to use his body and get to the free throw line. His best trait is that he loves to win and loves to compete something a lot of players today lack. He reminds me of Jason Richardson or possibly James Harden at some point. Usually when a player is rated the #1 player in the country in the senior plass that player doesn’t fail as an NBA player. That doesn’t by a long run guarantee them stardom in the NBA, but usually that player has a serviceable NBA career.
Nerlens Noel 6’9 C Tilton(New Hampshire) Showed that he can dominate on the defensive end. By fart the best shotblocker that I have ever seen at the high school level. He times his jumps very well and keeps the ball in bounds when he blocks it. As a rebounder I’ll give him a B/B+ as he can rebound at a high level, but doesn’t isn’t a dominant rebounder yet. On offense he will have an impact with his ability to be a rim runner, hard roller on screen and roll, and offensive put backs. He is very active in going after the ball when it comes off the rim. On offense he has hooks with both hands with no issue and is a terrific passer. Tilton’s coach uses him like Kentucky uses Anthony Davis as a high post ball handler. This shows some of his versatility. When I ask people about him as far as the player he reminds them of I get two answers of Bill Russell and Patrick Ewing. First off its hard to compare anyone to one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform and Patrick Ewing was such a dominant payer as well. I think he has some Tyson Chandler in him with his ability to block shots and rebound at a high level. Nerlens has more offense than Chandler , but also lacks Chandler’s size. The thing that bothers me about Nerlens’s game is his very skinny legs. Physicality could be an issue with him as he moves on with is career, but at this stage he is the nation’s top big man prospect in the 2013 class
Jabari Parker 6’8 SF Simeon(Illinois) Jabari didn’t have the dominating performance that the top two players had, but he did show a lot of promise of being a high level player. He is effortless in getting his shot basically anytime he wants it. At 6’8 he can go down in the post as well as raise up and shoot from the perimeter over high school defenders. He had a tough time because of all the isolations that he was in trying to score and keep his team in the game. I think if you take him off the ball and put him in more kill spots the better he will be. Its important to post him up, run him off screen roll, as well as use him as a screener force a switch and roll him in the post on the point guard. He can play both wing positions as well as some power forward. Jabari reminds me of Caron Butler/Paul Pierce. The reason for the comparison is because of his ability to score, physical body, and effortless movements to get his shot. I think in 3 years or less he will be the best player here, but like most young talents he still has some developing to go through. The biggest difference in Parker and Muhammad was that Muhammad got the ball in so many different spots on the floor especially on post ups to get him to the line where Parker’s game was mostly isolations. As a wing player it is very tough to be an efficient scorer with the ball in your hands from 30 feet and trying to isolate every possession. I compare it to being like Barry Sanders trying to find a hole in his offensive line spinning and turning until he finds daylight. This is not an efficient way to dominate the game. You are too easy to guard with this.
Tyler Lewis 5’11 PG Oak Hill Academy(Virginia) Probably the most entertaining high school player in the country to watch. Unlike most high school point guards that I see Lewis has total control of the game from start to finish. He has very good juice off of the dribble to get in the lane and create. When he gets there he’ll force defenders to help off his teammates to stop his drives and then find open shooters/cutters. He has a very high IQ at his position enabling him to pick defenders apart. He has deep college 3 point range where now defenders have to chase him all over the place. He has great court vision and is just a winner. He plays hard on both sides of the ball and has a great competitive fire to his game. His game on Saturday night was a blowout , but thought he was easily the best point guard that I saw from the event. His ability to control the game with the basketball was something special to watch. He’ll be a great player for NC State with this basketball IQ and ability to score as well as set up his team.
Grant Jerrett. 6’11 C LaVerne Lutheran (California) It was sort of an up and down evaluation to tell you the truth because it took him so long to get out of the starting gate. He showed very little energy off the bat and didn’t want to touch the ball on the block. Usually indicators that you have a false alarm on your hands. In the second half he showed a lot of fire and hustle as he scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. When he was wired in on the game there was no stopping him. His ability to run the floor and have an effect on the game with his activity and size it was game set and match for his opponent. He has a high skill level. Can shoot the ball from 15-17 feet and protect the rim as an above average shot blocker. He has legitimate size and length to have a long career. What will derail this is if he plays with low energy and refuses to get on the block and be a threat. Low energy jump shooting big men usually have issues being great. Arizona has a good player in Grant, he should help them.
It’s great to have an opportunity to go to games and see young players play. Comparing them to players of past is challenging. One thing that they don’t know is that this whole process is one big Groundhog Day. Next year there will be 40 more teams here with a whole new group of players in it. Young players today fail to take a grasp of the present and continue to just live in it and don’t leave. Players fail to get better and want to live on their accolades of their high school years. They think that they will be seen in this light forever and it doesn’t work that way at all. There’s a whole new group of players competing to take their spots next year. For many players they star the same from this point to the time they graduate college which is sad. I’ve heard the definition of insanity is when someone does the same thing over and over gain and expects a different result. It’s sad that players don’t take charge of their careers and lives and does something to improve themselves.
High school players don’t understand now and maybe never will that with all of the attention, hype, and coverage they are getting now for most it will be over for them after the last buzzer of their senior season. That #5 ranking in a publication is just something to put on a mantle and means nothing as far as where they ill end up in their basketball careers. A lot of the players I saw this past weekend have a lot of talent and a career to look forward to. But there was also a very big group of players that need a wake up call in the worst way. Many would walk around thinking they have made it because of a certain ranking or signing with a specific school. They need to stop kidding themselves and get on the court.
The diamonds in the rough this week were:
Roscoe Allan 6’10 Bishop Gorman Going to Stanford. Best big in this event as far as basketball IQ on both ends of the floor. Can space you out with his shooting as well as a great passer, plays with a lot of energy, and is highly competitive. Hes the ultimate glue guy on your team that will help you win. He’s a program changer with the right players around him. He wont wow you with his athletic gifts or talent, but he can do what he does against any level of talent that he will face. He’s what I call a basketball Player. Great get for Johnny Dawkins Reminds me a lot of a more athletic Brian Scalbrine.
Amadeo Della Valle 6’5 Findlay Prep Shot making wing player. Good size and loves to compete. Tough kid can play both guard spots. Anytime you have a guard that can make shots from deep like he can combined with a tough streak that loves to compete like he has makes for a great combination. I think he has a chance to play for a long time. Has a little Marco Bellinelli in him with his toughness, IQ, and shot making ability.
Josh Brown 6’3 St Anthonys Very impressed with his ability to break defenders down off the dribble and get in the lane. Has good size and great length and competes. Tough kid can score as well as run your team. I think he has a chance to be a good high major player, but can be an outstanding mid major talent
Winston Shepherd 6’9 Findlay Prep Shocked to hear he didn’t sign with anyone. 6’9 athletic wing player that can guard 3 positions. Long and athletic, has all of the ability to be a major wing defender for a team. Has a lot of talent that hasn’t been tapped yet. Average perimeter shooter, needs to improve, but you can post him up as well as play him off the ball. He doesn’t wow you with his offensive ability but can be a very good wing defender for any tem in the country.
Players With Big Reputations That I was Disappointed With
Tony Parker 6’8 Miller Grove(Texas) Had no impact on the game at all. Has a chance to be an NBA player at some point down the line and with that NFL body never showed anything during the game that he is an elite player in his class. In basketball even if you hare having an off night scoring or not getting the ball, you can help your team in other ways. I thought he could grab 15 rebounds or set screens and play with energy but didn’t show much. Saw him play a couple of weeks ago and was impressed. This event not so much. Has a chance to be Michael Sweetney with his size, strength, and good hands. Showed no life or chip on his shoulder.
AJ Hammons 7’0 Oak Hill(Virginia) Probably has the best NBA ready body in the event by far. Great frame can rebound and block shots and score on the block on deep post touches. Played with no energy or life. Should have more impact on the game even with his defense and shot blocking ability. Didn’t show me much, although he has lost weight since the last time I’ve seen him. Has a chance to do big things in the Big 10 if he can play with passion and energy. The bench is a lonely place as there have been 100’s of players with his body that are out of basketball by the time they are 25.
Karon Iverson 6’9 Northwest Catholic(Connecticut) There’s not much more to be said about him. Has all of the ability to be a dominating player. I’ve heard from so many sources that cover this region of how good this kid is. All I saw was bad body language, bad teammate, plays selfishly and no sense of urgency. Actually his team made most of their runs when he wasn’t playing and on the bench. He needs a wake up call or he’ll find himself out of the game. Which is a shame because he has so much ability with his size ability to put the ball on the floor and finish above the rim.
Julius Randle 6’9 Prestonwood Christian Academy(Texas) He actually didn’t play that badly in my opinion. What I was disappointed at is with all of his ability to be a factor on the block he drifted out all game and wanted to shoot jumpers and put the ball on the floor. His value strongly diminishes when he settles for jumpers. Heres a news flash. Big men don’t go to the free throw line when all they do is shoot from the outside and try to be a small forward. With all of the gifts that he has with his good hands and skill level he needs to get down to the low block and mid post area and operate from there.