Thursday, April 25, 2013

Exhaustive List of Ranked 2014s at Boo Williams EYBL This Weekend

The first ranking number is ESPN followed by Scout then Rivals

#1 (#2, #1) C Jahlil Okafor – Mac Irvin Fire
#2 (#1, #3) PG Tyus Jones – Howard Pulley
#3 (#3, #2) PG Emmanuel Mudiay – Texas Pro
#4 (#4, #4) C Trey Lyles – Indy Spiece
#6 (#6, #9) PF Chris McCullough – Team Scan (Syracuse)
#8 (#5, #5) C Cliff Alexander – Mac Irvin Fire
#9 (#13, #6) SG Rashad Vaughn – Wisconsin Playground
#10 (#9, #10) SG Justice Winslow – Houston Hoops
#12 (#14, #21) PG Joel Berry – E1T1 (North Carolina)
#13 (#18, #15) SF Theo Pinson – CP3 All-Stars
#14 (#10, #14) F Justin Jackson – Houston Hoops (North Carolina)
#15 (#17, #12) SF Stanley Johnson – Oakland Soldiers
#16 (#12, #17) PG JaQuan Lyle – Indy Spiece
#17 (#25, #30) SF Jalen Lindsay – Southern Stampede
#19 (#23, #23) SG Devin Booker – Alabama Challenge
#21 (#35, #48) PG Shelton Mitchell – CP3 All-Stars (Wake Forest)
#22 (#42, #49) SG Dion Wiley – Team Takeover
#24 (#11, #22) SG D’Angelo Russell – E1T1
#25 (#27, #26) SG Ahmed Hill – Southern Stampede
#26 (#38, #25) SF Jakeenan Gant – Southern Stampede
#28 (#49, #67) SF Victor Law – Meanstreets
#30 (#22, #37) PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright – Cali Supreme (Arizona)
#34 (#47, #71) LJ Peak – CP3 All-Stars
#35 (#55, #76) Phil Booth – Team Takeover
#36 (#39, #32) SG Grayson Allen – Southern Stampede (Duke)
#38 (#41, #52) Payton Dastrup – Cali Supreme
#40 (#95, #41) Reid Travis – Howard Pulley
#43 (#60, #27) Kelly Oubre – Houston Hoops
#45 (#49, #46) Trevon Bluiett – Indy Spiece
#47 (#68, #47) James Blackmon – Indy Spiece (Indiana)
#49 (#31, #39) Kameron Chatman – ICP Elite
#50 (#76, #145) Keith Pinckney – NY Lightning
#51 (#34, #31) Shaqquan Aaron – Seattle Rotary (Louisville)
#52 (#52, #73) Jae’Sean Tate – All Ohio Red (Ohio State)
#53 (#79, #50) Abdul-Malik Abu  – Expressions Elite
#57 (#45, #70) Obi Enechionyia – Team Takeover
#58 (#29, #43) Paul White – Meanstreets

Guys only ranked by Scout/Rivals (ESPN only ranks top 60) Rivals rankings are again the final column with Scout in the middle

UR (#51, #85) Khadeem Lattin – Houston Hoops
UR (#54, #63) Larry Austin – STL Eagles
UR (#58, #57) Jared Terrell – Expressions Elite
UR #62 (#60) JaQuan Newton – Team Final
UR #63 (#117) Therence Mayimba – Team Takeover
UR #66 (#93) Anton Beard – Team Penny (Arkansas)
UR #74 (#68) Zylan Cheatham – Cali Supreme
UR #75 (#83) Jordan Barnett – STL Eagles
UR #81 (#82) Kevin Zabo – CIA Bounce
UR #86 (#62) Vincent Edwards – All Ohio Red
UR #88 (#121) Tre Campbell – Team Takeover
UR #90 (#95) Chris Sandifer – Cali Supreme
UR #100 (UR) CJ Thurman – Southern Stampede

Below are guys only ranked by Rivals (their list ranks top 150)

#64 Lourawls Nairm – Mokan Elite
#69 Tyler Ulis – Meanstreets
#79 Tyquone Greer – Wisconsin Playground
#91 Justin Coleman – Georgia Stars
#92 Donaven Dorsey – ICP Elite
#94 Khadeen Carrington – NY Lightning
#96 Isaiah Wilkins – Georgia Stars
#99 Mikal Bridges – Team Final
#100 Josh Cunningham – Mac Irvin Fire
#101 Boubacar Moungoro – E1T1
#109 – Marial Shayok – CIA Bounce
#111 Edmond Sumner – The Family
#123 Shep Garner – Team Final
#131 Jordan Cornish – Team Louisiana
#135 Dwayne Foreman – Boo Williams
#136 Elijah Cain – NJ Playaz
#138 Lance Tejada – Southern Stampede
#139 Alec Brennan – Expressions Elite
#144 Josh Martin – Seattle Rotary
#147 Jerrelle Deberry – Wisconsin Playground
#148 Silas Melson – ICP Elite

Monday, April 22, 2013

NBA Mock Draft - Post Draft Order Edition

Round 1
  1. Orlando Magic - FR Nerlens Noel, F/C, Kentucky
  2. Charlotte Bobcats - FR Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers - SO Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
  4. Phoenix Suns - JR Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
  5. New Orleans Hornets - SO Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
  6. Sacramento Kings - FR Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
  7. Detroit Pistons - 1993 Sergey Karasev, SF, International
  8. Washington Wizards - SO Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
  9. Minnesota Timberwolves - FR Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UNLV
  10. Portland Trailblazers - SR CJ McCollom, G, Lehigh
  11. Philadelphia 76ers - SO Alex Len, C, Maryland
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder - FR Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
  13. Dallas Mavericks - FR Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor
  14. Utah Jazz - SO Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
  15. Milwaukee Bucks - JR Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Gonzaga
  16. Boston Celtics - 1994 Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, International
  17. Atlanta Hawks - SO Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
  18. Chicago Bulls - JR Allen Crabbe, SG, California
  19. Atlanta Hawks - SR Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
  20. Cleveland Cavaliers - 1992 Rudy Gobert, C, International
  21. Utah Jazz - SR Erick Green, G, Virginia Tech
  22. Brooklyn Nets - JR Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
  23. Indiana Pacers - FR Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
  24. New York Knicks - 1993 Dennis Schroeder, PG, International
  25. Los Angeles Clippers - JR Reggie Bullock, G/F, North Carolina
  26. Minnesota Timberwolves - 1994 Dario Saric, F, International
  27. Denver Nuggets - SO BJ Young, G, Arkansas
  28. San Antonio Spurs - 1994 Mouhammadou Jaiteh, C, International
  29. Oklahoma City Thunder - SR Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
  30. Phoenix Suns - JR Jamaal Franklin, G/F, San Diego State
Round 2
  1. Cleveland Cavaliers - JR Cory Jefferson, PF, Baylor
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder - 1993 Livio Jean-Charles, F, International
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers - SO Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
  4. Houston Rockets - SR Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
  5. Philadelphia 76ers - JR Tim Hardaway, SG, Michigan
  6. Sacramento Kings - SO Adonis Thomas, SF, Memphis
  7. Washington Wizards - 1993 Alex Abrines, SG, International
  8. Detroit Pistons - SO Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
  9. Portland Trailblazers - SR Richard Howell, F/C, North Carolina State
  10. Portland Trailblazers - 1992 Lucas Nogueira, C, International
  11. Memphis Grizzlies - SR Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
  12. Philadelphia 76ers - SR Erik Murphy, F, Florida
  13. Milwaukee Bucks - 1991 Glen Rice, SF, NBDL
  14. Dallas Mavericks - SR Michael Snaer, SG, Florida State
  15. Portland Trailblazers - SR Brandon Paul, G, Illinois
  16. Utah Jazz - 1991 Nemanja Nedovic, G, International
  17. Atlanta Hawks - JR Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
  18. Los Angeles Lakers - JR Phil Pressey, PG, Missouri
  19. Chicago Bulls - 1992 Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
  20. Atlanta Hawks - 1992 Bojan Dubljevic, F/C, International
  21. Orlando Magic - JR Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit
  22. Minnesota Timberwolves - SR Trevor Mbakwe, PF, Minnesota
  23. Indiana Pacers - JR Deshaun Thomas, F, Ohio State
  24. Washington Wizards - SR Carrick Felix, SF, Arizona State
  25. Memphis Grizzlies - SR Ryan Kelly, PF, Duke
  26. Los Angeles Clippers - SR Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona
  27. Phoenix Suns - JR CJ Leslie, PF, North Carolina State
  28. San Antonio Spurs - SR Matthew Dellavedova, PG, St. Mary's
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves - 1992 Marko Todorovic, C, International
  30. Memphis Grizzlies - SO Jarnell Stokes, PF, Memphis

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Scouting Report: Steven Adams

Steven Adams came over from New Zealand halfway through the high school basketball season in his senior year, joining Notre Dame Prep School. From the beginning, it was very obvious that Adams' had a long way to go in terms of getting use to the level of competition, and it was even more apparent when he began play last fall at Pitt. Adams, a consensus top 10 recruit, didn't dominate right away - or at all even, in his one season of college basketball and for long stretches struggled to even make an impact. But as the season progressed, he showed considerable progress as a basketball player. That progress still hasn't put him anywhere close to contributing in the NBA, showing just how raw he was at the beginning of the season.

Adams background is very interesting. The youngest of 18 siblings, all of which are over 6-5 inches tall, basketball has ran in his family. His brothers are all at least 6-10 and 6 of his siblings played basketball for New Zealand. His half sister is an Olympic Gold Medalist in the shot put. When Adams was 13, he lost his father however and took to the streets. So while Adams had a good basketball background, he lacked the teaching needed to develop. It took his brother to get him back on track and set his down the current path he is on. Jamie Dixon discovered him early and quickly sold him on both playing basketball for Pitt and getting an education. Having seen his brothers struggle to make something of their basketball careers, Steven Adams went to Pitt with the goal of also getting an educational. However, with his family needing money, Adams decided it was best to declare for the NBA Draft after his freshman season.

Steven Adams is all about upside. He's only played organized basketball for 6 years and until recently, hasn't had a chance to play against the best competition like his American peers. Standing at at least 6-11 with long arms and a strong base, he has an ideal body for a center. And his ability to move so fluidly at that size is what catches a scouts eye at first glance.

Adams was able to earn minutes at first because of his sheer defensive presence, proving to be a major deterrent inside. He blocked nearly 4 shots per 40 minutes and showed the ability to not just sit by the rim and wait for drivers, but also get block shots away from the rim. Adams mobility is also valuable in defending the pick and roll, where he appears to be very comfortable guarding smaller players in space. Not only does he hedge well, but he also finds himself fairing well against guards when he is switched onto them. Adams isn't afraid to play up on guys and can move laterally to stay in front of them. He is also very good at staying on his feet, partly because he has the ability to block shots without even jumping. He fouled 3 times per 40 minutes, but most were not due to him being over aggressive on going for blocks. He picked up more fouls for shoves in the back and aggressive hedging.

Adams physical strength on defense also projects to be very good heading into the future. Along with the height and the length, Adams has a strong lower body built on genetically thick calve muscles (as seen here). As he learns to stand less upright on defense, he will be very tough to move around in the paint. Combine his strength with his patience on defense and he has all the tools to be an excellent post defender.

Adams will have to add more bulk to his upper body, but it is much easier to develop that then it is the lower body. Plus since defense is played with your feet - and he has the feet of a former soccer player - having a strong lower body is a lot more valuable. But the upper body is important and played a role in his some of his ineffectiveness on offense.

A key going forward for Steven Adams will be rebounding. Based purely off his physical gifts, Adams was a great rebounder this year - pulling down 11.6 boards per every 40 minutes (pace adjusted as always). Adams is also fundamentally sound in this area, always looking to put his body on a man. But moving forward, his sheer size and fundamentals won't put him in the top echelon of rebounding bigs in the NBA. Adams will need to show more aggressiveness and the ability to rebound outside his area moving forward. Right now, he gets a lot of rebounds but leaves a lot more on the table. You'd like to see him develop more of a mean streak and use his strength for. There shouldn't be any times where a player is able to rip the ball from him, but it happens with him far too often.

On occasions where Adams does safely secure a rebound, he shows the presence of mind to look down the court and find an outlet. The good thing about coaching Adams is he hasn't picked up any bad habits and is basically a blank slate for a good big man coach to mold. Thats why finding the right situation in the NBA will be pivotal for him. His first few years he may be overwhelmed by the speed and physicality of the game, but it will be important for him not to be discouraged and realize he has a lot of room to grow. During the interview process, talent evaluators will definitely look at his mental makeup closely and see if he has what it takes to deal with such struggles.

He has shown the ability and eagerness to want to learn and improve so far. Interviews like this one by Draftexpress, make you realize that he's still very much a kid and one that hasn't grown up around this atmosphere. Given that he didn't have a father figure or any guidance during his teenage years, there are additional reasons to question his mental aspect and will to be great. Kiwis generally are known to be laid back people which is not the personality you want to see from a defensive center. He'll likely have to be coddled during his early years in the league, and it will be important for his team to understand that and give him the attention he needs to thrive. If not, there is no sense in drafting him.

Offensively, Adams has a long way to go but shows some interesting things. Against Notre Dame in February, he had a steals and took it the length of the court through traffic and finished with a dunk over a defender. All while looking extremely natural at doing so. The less Adams thinks out there on the court and just does what comes naturally to him, the better he seems to do. The problem is he's still learning the game and trying to understand things, so he does think a little bit too much out there. But that will change once he gets more comfortable and he'll start relying on his instincts more - which seem pretty good.

Right now, his main source of offense is on the glass. Here Adams has a nose for the ball and does a good job coming crashing in for boards. He displays great touch and body control, allowing him to get many tip-ins near the rim.

Like his defense, Adams potential on this end of the court is intriguing because he can be good in both the pick and roll and in the post. Starting with the pick and roll, Adams uses his body well to set wide/effective screens. He rolls off these screens so fluidly and keeps his hands up, always looking for the pass. Adams seems to have a good natural feel how to get open off these plays and knows when to break off his route to the rim and when not to. At times, Adams will come off the roll and stop at the foul line for a ten foot jumper. His body control is so ridiculously good for his size that he makes this look way more easy than it is.

At other times, Adams will roll all the way to the basket and look to catch the ball on the run. He is able to catch the ball in motion using soft hands and avoids picking up charges. He does a good job of moving, catching, and scoring the ball all in one fluid motion.

The third option Adams uses in the P&R game is to get a smaller man on his back and look to establish easy post position. Adams has taken a liking to play with his back to the basket and has look comfortable doing so, which is a great sign moving forward.

Basically starting from scratch in basketball moves at Pitt, he slowly been molded into a post player - adding more moves to his arsenal as the season progressed. At first, Adams was extremely passive when catching the ball in the post. His first instinct was to pass. And that was if he was even able to handle the ball. While Adams originally does a good job establishing position, he caused many turnovers by failing to keep his defender on the back and allowing him to be more aggressive in going for the post entry pass. In time, Adams is slowly learning he has to go and get the ball - not wait for it to come to him.

It also hurts him that he appears a little shy to use his strength to bully guys at times. Its not to say he plays soft - it just seems like he feels it would be too easy to dominate if he fully took advantage of his physical tools. Instead, Adams has shown some emerging skill level in the process. That includes good patience in the post, passing skils, soft touch, quick post moves to either side, a step through move, and enough handles to take the necessary dribbles needed to complete a move. He also displays a good use of pump fakes.

When Adams does catch the ball in the post, he weighs his options, gives teammates time to make cuts to the rim, and if nothing comes open he then chooses to go to work himself.

Besides pick and rolls and post ups, Adams also does a good job moving in space and finding ways to get open. He is a very good cutter for someone his size, a skill that goes along with his ability to crash the offensive glass and score off rolling to the basket after setting a screen. Body control is one of his biggest assets.

Shooting wise, Adams only shot 44% from the foul line, but it seems to be a mental thing 100% of the way. In practice, he is said to be a very good foul shooter. And his mechanics look good - in fact, he almost shoots the ball like a guard with his elbow perfectly tucked in. Unlike most big guys, there seems to be a level of skill to his shot instead of just a flat footed attempted at the rim. He does a really good job getting squared up, as shown on his ability to shoot stopping on the dime while coming off setting a screen. His great mechanics likely go back to the fact that he had no bad habits when he started playing organized basketball.

There are times where Adams misses the rim badly though. He can hit shots all the way out to 15 feet, but does so with a lot of inconsistency. Again, it seems more of a mental things. The guy can shoot as long as he relies on his instincts and doesn't put too much thought into it. Thats a big part of his maturation level - as he learns the game, that will allow him to trust his instincts more.

As I said earlier, getting stronger in the upperbody may be more important to him on the offensive end and that is because he tries to muscle up too many shots right now. And he's usually unsuccessful of even getting the ball up through the rim via contact.

Even though Adams is known as a below average offensive player right now, he has a promising combination of physical tools, lack of bad habits, and willingness to learn the center position to be success. Adams can shoot and has some skill, but you never saw him trying to dribble the ball around or stretch his range out to the 3-pt line. Seeing a player eager to learn how to play in the post is refreshing.

Moving forward, there is no doubting Adams' potential and it is impossible not to see what he could bring to the table down the line. But teams are going to need to do their homework on him and understand what it will take to get him to reach his potential. In terms of sheer potential, Adams has as much of it as anyone in this draft and thats not an exaggeration. And if a team knows what they are doing with him, then I don't think it is out of the question to take him in the lottery or even closer towards the top 5. Patience, some coddling, and a pressure free environment will be key - but the dividends could really pay off in the end. Adams is not for everyone, but he could end up making every team that passes him up in the draft look silly.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marcus Smart to Return to Stillwater

In a weak draft like the one expected this season, the decision to take the easy money has been, well, easy for some guys. Basically every fringe first rounder has put their name into the draft so far, including all of the lottery guys.

That is, except for Marcus Smart.

Earlier tonight, Chad Ford reported that Smart would be holding a press conference tomorrow during lunch time in the student union area. Lots of Oklahoma State students would be present, so there quickly became some hope for fans that maybe he would defy logic and come back next season. Certainly he wouldn't pull a LeBron James and hold a press conference in front of his fellow students, only to end it by ripping their hearts out...right?

It wasn't long after that thought that Adrian Wojnarowski, the king of sources, had the official scoop that Smart indeed was going to opt for a second year at Stillwater. And when Wojnarowski reports it, it might as well be fact.

Smart's decision has already been subjected to much criticism and he's likely to hear more throughout next season. The general thinking is - weak draft, guaranteed top 5 pick, potentially a historically strong draft next season - he would be stupid to risk it all for another year in college.

But ultimately it is Smart's decision to be made and as long as he made an informed decision, I have no problem with it. This decision is a little look into just how different Smart is. He's special. Smart isn't a guy who is going to worry about his draft stock. He's confident in his abilities. What he wants to do is win. And he's done that at every level up until college and I imagine after the loss against Oregon he felt he had some unfinished business to take care of.

Maybe it just wasn't natural for Smart to spend a season with a team and leave after not accomplishing anything. He has multiple HS championships, AAU banners, and even lead U18 USA Team to a victory in the FIBA Americas last summer. Returning to school, likely as the Big 12 favorites, Smart will have one thing in mind and it sure won't be how is draft stock is looking. He'll be looking to win a NCAA title.

This decision also put Smart in a position where he would leave his best friend, longtime teammate, and practically brother - Phil Forte behind. Smart grew up with his family and the thought of abandoning Forte after one year may have not sat well with him. Knowing the kind of player and point guard Smart is, he may not feel his job is done as a leader until he elevates both of them to professional prospects.

Smart also sat in on the USBWA awards dinner on Monday and listened to Tom Izzo talk about how much Trey Burke improved between his freshman and sophomore years. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said he was "all ears".

Whether or not Smart's draft stock remains as a top 5 pick next year is certainly debatable. He has holes in his game that could be exposed farther the same way Sullinger, McAdoo, Willie Warren, Zeller, and others fell victim to in recent years. But there is more to a player's life than where he gets picked. All we know about player's are their basketball lives, but there are other factors. And as far as I'm concerned, experiences are greater than 3-5 pick difference in the NBA Draft. College life only comes around once.

And if Smart ends up a good NBA player - which as a player, there should be no other thought than that - then a couple years from now, nobody will even talk about this decision. And if he is terrible and flames out of the league in a few years, at least he will have some more memories in college to fall back on.

In the end, Smart is a competitor and its hard to ask him to be competitive, but at the same time consider the fact of failing by coming back a season. If Smart did that, Marcus Smart wouldn't be Marcus Smart. Part of what makes Smart great is his competitiveness, confidence, and intangibles. You can't just ask him to change his way of thinking. It why he is a great athlete and we all are just commenting on his decision - different mind sets.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Scouting Report: Marcus Smart

Coming out of high school, Marcus Smart was considered among the top players in his class (#10 on both ESPN and Rivals, #13 on Rivals) and lead his team to a 115-6 record in 3 years of varsity ball, including 2 state championship titles in which he stepped up big when it counted the most. He did this with Oklahoma State teammate and best friend Phil Forte by his side for every game.

On the AAU side of things, Smart proved to be a winner as well and carried his AAU team to the Adidas Super 64 (the premier event on the Adidas summer circuit) title where he defeated Shabazz Muhammad behind a 29 point, 18 rebound performance.

For most of the time, Smart was the primary ball handler on his teams but was still considered as a shooting guard prospect by most recruiting analysts when he signed at OSU. This summer however, Smart started all 5 games alongside future UNC PG Nate Britt at the U18 FIBA Americas and ended up leading the team in assists. It was during this time that his coach during the tournament, Billy Donavan RAVED about his leadership ability and toughness.

Heading to Oklahoma State, Marcus Smart stepped in at point guard immediately. He didn't just find himself there by default - he became the leader of the team from day one and completely changed the culture of the team. This coming from a freshman - and a very young freshman at that - one that was only 18 until this March.

Oklahoma State went from a 15-18 team in 2011-12 to the second best team in the Big 12 with Smart, earning them a 5th seed in a NCAA Tournament. In the tournament, Smart and the Cowboys were ousted in the first round by Oregon and that is the final memory in Smart's college career.

Against Oregon, Smart was unable to handle defensive pressure very well. He committed quite a few turnovers, but more importantly, he was forced to work off the basketball more. Smart couldn't handle the pressure and control the tempo of the game, but still padded the statsheet by helping out in other areas.

While Smart has all the intangibles to be a point guard, there are some concerns that need to be addressed with ball handling and quickness off the dribble. Smart is only an average ball handler at point guard and it showed this year with quite a few turnovers. Smart gets by with his dribbling by using his size to shield the ball and create space, but that won't be as easy at the next level. His left hand needs work and he needs to tighten the dribble up a lot.

Smart isn't the type of point guard that can iso a fellow point guard and get all the way to the rim with a quick move. Instead, he uses a combination of power and a change of speeds - both which he knows how to use very well. But even with that, there are times where you can minimize Smart's effect at the top of they key with the ball in his hands.

We saw it this season at Oklahoma State. There were times, the Oregon game being one, where Smart had to give the ball up once he crossed halfcourt and then look to get the ball back coming around a down screen.

With Smart struggling to get to the rim at times, he has to settle for far too many off balanced jumpers - a shot that he hasn't been able to hit efficiently yet. He has a reputation as a bad shooter and that is fair given that he shot only 29% from 3 this season. However, his poor numbers also have a lot to do with bad shots and highly contested ones as well. He also took plenty of threes from well beyond the arc and was able to connect at a decent rate. Some of these were by necessity, others were because he was in need of finding a way to generate offense.

Still, he shot 35% on 2-pt jumpers is OK and given the degree of difficulty of most of these shots, that number is even better than it looks. There are some tweeks Smart can do to improve his shot, but for the most part, Smart's shot is fine. His mechanics are broke and he doesn't have poor touch which seems to be his reputation. Also, Smart shot 78% at the foul line on 6.5 attempts per game. So his shooting shouldn't be the biggest concern.

Once again, the biggest concern will be his ability to get to the lane and create. If he can't do that, then yes, shooting will become heavily relied upon to the point where he has to be able to knock down 3-pters at a good clip.

As a creator, Smart is able to see the entire court and does a good job finding open teammates. He does a good job when he gets in the lane to not just look for kickouts, but also to find teammates underneath the basket for easy shots. He is able to get into the lane, stop around the foul line and have the threat of both a pullup jumper or a pass over big men. He attacks the pick and roll aggressively by splitting the defenders, although with handles it does result in the occasional turnover. In the lane, Smart is able to remain under control, using his body to create space and allow him time to move at his own pace. He has the ability to navigate through the paint with his dribble, using his size and hesitations to his advantage moreso than any advanced handling or speed advantages.

Smart is also a fantastic rebounder for a guard - or forward for that matter - and is able to start a lot of breaks that way. While he isn't fast in transition, Smart does a good job keeping his head up and finding teammates. He's aggressive pushing the ball and relies on his passing to do most of the work.

Smart also has shown signs of a post game and this could be a big development for him moving forward. Being able to take advantage of that strength in the post could give him a go-to move to make up for his lack of quickness. Smart is perfectly capable of developing a good turnaround jumper, and already has a natural fade and good elevation on his jumpshots. He already knows how to get low post position and was able to get easy layups from taking advantage of his size on multiple occasions this year.

Smart also isn't the most explosive guy at the rim and a lot of that has to do with the fact that he is primarily a two feet jumper. As a guy with a bigger body, he takes some time to gather himself before going up to the rim. Smart is able to finish through contact very well and certainly can throw down some powerful dunks. Smart has developed a nice jumpstop which is a useful tool for him as a less explosive guy. He would do himself an even better service to continue to work to develop a reliable floater off of one foot. Right now he has more of a fall away floater that takes him away from the basket and towards the baseline. Adding a better floater to his arsenal will allow him to score in the paint without getting all the way to the rim.

Overall with Smart, you have a guy with all the intangibles needed from a point guard and also a guy who is a very good passer. He has the size that can make him special at the position and is used to playing with the ball in his hands. He knows how to score the ball as well and has always been the main ball handler on the team. But there are also concerns with his quickness and ball handling that may make it best for him to play next to another ball handler to take pressure off of him, at least during his first couple of seasons in the NBA. Smart has shown this year that he can work off the ball just as well by coming off screens, posting up, hitting the offensive glass, going backdoor, and even setting screens for others. Smart keeps his head thinking of how to make an impact at all times. While you'd much rather be able to play him at point guard, if he has to play some shooting guard at the next level, he can be successful there as well.

Once you get into the defensive size of things, there is plenty of more stuff to like about Smart. Smart was one of the best defenders in college basketball, making a huge impact as a defender from the point guard spot. He racked up plenty of steals, but his forte at point guard wasn't just at creating turnovers.

Smart managed to get involved on every play on the defensive end, something that you may see from a great defensive center, but not a point guard. With his tremendous instincts, size, strength, and BBIQ he was able to play plenty of helpside defense while still keeping his man in check. He was active and attentive at all times on defense, keeping constant tabs on both the ball and his man.

Smart was also an extremely versatile defender and was able to switch on basically all screens. Even when he was matched up against big men, Smart more than held his own in the strength department. Smart has some huge hands as well, and the force and easiness in which he swipes the ball from defenders hands is impressive. Its rare to see a guy be able to pluck point guards as cleanly and easily as he makes it look.

There is no questioning his team defense, as it is as good at it gets at the college level. Moving on, there will be questions about how well he can keep some of the quicker NBA point guards in front of him. But then again, there are few in the NBA who even have a chance of staying in front of the top tier guys. Also, his pick and roll defense may need some changes as he will have to fight through screens instead of switching all the time. Knowing Marcus Smart, this shouldn't be a problem at all. His pick and roll defense should actually be great given his versatility to switch at times and the strength he has to fight through screens.

As it stands now, Smart looks like a near lock for a top 5 pick barring any bad workouts. His agent will most likely play it safe and refuse any one on one workouts, which will eliminate the possibility of him struggling in that setting. Smart should thrive in the interviews and athletic testing/workouts and will only raise his stock that way. Smart could also earn some more believers with those infamous empty gym shooting sessions where he can show he can make shots when being guarded by a chair. An outside shot at #1 overall pick isn't out of the question at this point depending on who gets the top pick.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Portsmouth Invitational Team Previews - Norfolk Sports Club

Maurice Kemp - Kemp is a athletic wing with legit size at 6'8. He already takes advantage of his physical tools on the defensive end, showing lock down abilities. Kemp plays with good effort on both sides of the ball. He can cover both forward positions at the college level, although his slight frame will force him out on the perimeter full time in the NBA. While his calling card is defense, Kemp scored over 20 points per game in each of his last 9 career games. Kemp isn't much of a shooter, but does a good job attacking the rim. He plays under control and picks his spots carefully. He doesn't have elite explosiveness or any advanced ball handling moves, but he is fundamentally sound on his drives. He doesn't overcomplicate things. Kemp is every bit the team player and could eventually help at NBA team after improving in the D-League.

DJ Cooper - Cooper may have been the best passer in college basketball this season, putting his craftiness on complete display. He is able to deliver passes in a multitude of ways and does a good job seeing the court and keeping his head up at all times. Cooper looks to push the ball whenever possible and is able to maintain complete control of the tempo. In the halfcourt, Cooper can struggle at times to get by his man as he is only an average athlete and he will settle for NBA 3s past his range too much. At 5-11, Cooper doesn't have the athleticism or shooting ability to overcome his shortcomings which will most likely keep him from being drafted.

Scott Wood - There isn't a whole lot to explain about Scott Wood's game. He played on a loaded NC State team and was their 3-pt specialist. With so many athletes surrounding him, Wood wasn't asked to do anything but shoot - something he has always does very well. He is an elite shooter with effortless mechanics and plenty of range to adjust to the NBA line. However, Wood will need to find other ways to contribute to teams if he wants to separate himself from other shooters that have came and went.

Vander Joaquim - Athletic big man who came up through the program "Basketball Without Borders" and has experience playing with the Angola National Team. He is an opportunistic finisher at the rim with quick leaping abilities. Joaquim can also hit the outside jumper and has done so more and more over his career, to a point where he efficiency saw a hit this season due to his tendency to play on the perimeter. Joaquim is better off playing inside, working on his post game, and taking advantage of his athleticism in the paint. He still needs a lot of work to ever make the NBA, but he's the kind of player the Portsmouth is made for.

Jack Cooley - Cooley is one of the best rebounders in the country, making good use of his girth and toughness on the inside. Cooley is best described as a lunch pail guy who quietly does the dirty work without complaining, but he attempted to take on more of a leadership role this season. His defense has improved and he's looked lighter on his feet, but this is still an area of concern. Cooley finished the season with a rough stretch of games, often disappearing for long stretches.

Will Clyburn - On a team that was centered around 3-pt shooters, Clyburn was the guy who did everything else to help Iowa State win. He is a solid defender with versatility to cover multiple positions, good rebounder, and an explosive leaper capable of finishing strong at the rim. Clyburn is also stronger than he looks and is good at generating contact at the rim. He's a solid ball handler as well - capable of getting all the way to the cup. He struggled with his mid-range game this year - not converting many jump shots while looking tentative in no-mans land as well.

Momo Jones - Jones may be best remember for his tournament against Duke in the NCAA Tournament while playing with Arizona. Jones ended up transferring to be with an ill family member, but his scoring never slowed down. He was 3rd in the NCAA in scoring this year playing in the up and down style of the Iona Gaels. While Jones is a great scorer, he doesn't show much hope as a point guard and at a generously listed 6-0, he is a long shot to even get a sniff at the NBA.

DJ Richardson - Richardson is a 6-3 shooting guard who contributed four years at Illinois due to his solid role playing abilities. He is a great shooter, strong defender, and capable playmaker for his teammates off the dribble. However, Richardson doesn't do anything great and never really made a name for himself in the Big Ten. He has a chance to step up his play here at the PIT, but he hasn't "wowed" scouts during his 4 year stint at Illinois. Solid player, but not NBA worthy.

Most likely to be drafted?

This is a rather weak roster that I wouldn't be surprised to have 0 NBA draft picks, but Jack Cooley will get late second round looks due to his rebounding ability.

Summer League Invites?

DJ Cooper can run an offense and get the ball to his teammates hands in good positions, which is valuable in a camp where teams want to see what their draft picks can do. Maurice Kemp and Will Clyburn may also get a chance to show what they can do depending on what they show in the next few days at the PIT.

Overseas Bound?

The rest of this roster will need to start out at a smaller level European team, but Scott Wood has the shooting ability to work his way up through the ranks. DJ Richardson can be a solid pro as well.

2013 NBA Mock Draft - Post NCAA Tournament Edition (w/ Commentary)

1. Charlotte Bobcats - FR Nerlens Noel, F/C, Kentucky

I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, so I cant give an opinion on how alarming his ACL injury should be going forward. Team doctors will have the luxury of checking him out and drawing their own conclusions. If they are worried, then maybe Charlotte would look at Ben McLemore here. If not though, Noel should be the pick. While Im not a doctor, I do feel qualified enough to say Noel has the highest upside and talent in this draft and produced admirably when he was healthy. Injuries withstanding, he should be the #1 pick in this draft.

2. Orlando Magic - FR Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

This pick could get interesting with Trey Burke's performance in the NCAA Tournament. I was always a Burke believer, but after his tourney run, a pick in the top 5 doesn't sound like a stretch anymore. And as for Smart, there are legitimate concerns about his ability to make handle pressure and make plays consistently with the ball in his hands. While his work ethic, defense, and body make him a seemingly safe pick, you may not be getting the natural point guard you want. With Burke on the other hand, you know you will be getting a guy who can run the point effectively.

3. Phoenix Suns - FR Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

The Suns have been the floor landing spot for every mock I've done the past couple of months and it does seem like a perfect match. Phoenix desperately needs help at shooting guard, particularly from behind the arc. McLemore needs to go somewhere without a lot of pressure to be a star, and Phoenix is generally laid back. McLemore is still coming into his own in terms of both as a basketball player and a young man, having been a late bloomer in high school, and needs to get use to all the expectations around him. Coming in, McLemore can make an impact immediately as a shooter and grow into a bigger role as he gets more comfortable.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - SO Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Cleveland's front office has used steals as a big indicator for feature success in the draft recently and Porter averaged 1.8 per game this season. Porter's lateral quickness is rather weak, but his excellent anticipation skills (not just playing passing lanes but denying drives before they can even start) and 7ft+ wingspan make him a valuable team defender moving forward. Porter is also a good passer on offense and can be a distributor for the Cavs when they need Irving to step up more as a score. Overall, Porter will be a solid fit for any team and has a very low bust rate.

5. Detroit Pistons - SO Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

This pick comes down to Burke and Oladipo and just like award voting this year, I see Burke getting the edge. Burke to the Pistons would bring a lot of excitement to the local fan base, but more importantly, it would fill the role of point guard for years to come. Unlike Brandon Knight, Burke is already ready to lead an offense and could take over the starting job from Day 1. With Drummond and Monroe inside, being able to lock up another position - especially at point - will be big for the franchise moving forward.

6. New Orleans Hornets - JR Victor Oladipo, G/F, Indiana

New Orleans actually had a middle of the pack offense this year, but one of the worst defensive teams. Pairing Oladipo with Anthony Davis could quickly turn that around and push New Orleans into respectability. Hopefully they'll start to push the ball more as well to take advantage of Oladipo's physical gifts.

The Hornets could also look at Shabazz Muhammad here. If they were willing to take Rivers last season, then another selfish, high usage, pampered high school player shouldn't bring up red flags to them either.

7. Sacramento Kings - FR Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

Half of the game of basketball is defense. Of the 8 worst teams in defensive efficiency this season, the Kings are the 7th of the group the come up already in this mock draft. Yes, 8 of the 9 worst defensive teams in the league also happen to be the worst teams overall as well. So it should make sense to the Kings that in order to get out of the lottery every year, they may need to start making some picks that could make an impact on that end. Because of this reason, Cody Zeller makes a lot of sense here. But by the same token, the Kings also have their choice of offensively gifted guys like Alex Len, Isaiah Austin, Shabazz Muhammad, and Anthony Bennett. Thats why - knowing them - I have them going with one of the latter choices.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder - 1992 Rudy Gobert, F/C, Cholet

The Thunder have more room to take a risk than most. Sam Presti has no reason to be in fear of losing his job, their roster doesn't have any extreme pressing needs, and they have had a good track record of developing talent. Therefore, I would put Presti and the Thunder as a prime candidate to take a guy like Steven Adams, Giannis Adetokunbo, Isaiah Austin, or Rudy Gobert. Right now, Gobert seems to be the most highly ranked, but the order could easily reverse in the coming months.

9. Washington Wizards - FR Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

For the longest time the Wizards have been featured in the top 5 of mock drafts, but after a winning streak spearheaded by John Wall, they now find themselves just barely inside the top 10. John Wall has proven to be worth being built around during this stretch and the Wizards should look for players that can compliment him. A skilled power forward like Bennett who can stretch the floor and get down up and down in transition would be welcomed. Wizards played surprisingly effective defense this year, getting a offensive weapon down low would be great.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves - SR CJ McCollom, G, Lehigh

CJ McCollom picked a good year to be a senior. Even with an injury, he is kind of the defacto scoring guard pick for a team picking in this range. Besides him, you're mostly likely looking at a big gamble with Archie Goodwin. A gamble I may not be opposed to, but I don't think any team is comfortable picking him this high at this point. Maybe workouts and interviews will give a general manager enough confidence to roll with Goodwin in the lottery - the place where his talent level suggests he gets picked.

11. Philadelphia 76ers - SO Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana

At this point in the draft, Zeller should be considered a steal. I can understand if you don't want to take Zeller in the top portion of the lottery because of his upside, but you can't pass up him here. Zeller will do much better playing in the NBA with a more spread floor and his lateral abilities and IQ on defense will make him a solid defender right away. Put him in a better role than he was put in at Indiana and he will look like a much better player.

12. Portland Trailblazers - FR Mitch McGary, F/C, Michigan

In general, I don't think the tournament ultimately helped many guys. It will all balance out in the end and a lot of things that were seen are things that GMs would discover later on once they dissected the regular season tape more. One thing they wouldn't see on the tape is anything to suggest the breakout "March" McGary had during the tournament. He is one guy who used the tournament to showcase skills that folks just didn't think he had. McGary has the size to play both positions inside, is light on his feet, plays very hard, has a NBA body, and showed off a surprising ability to hit mid-range jumpers. He looks like a glorified Nick Collison - or the Nick Collison who played on the Thunder around 2007 (a very valuable player).

13. Dallas Mavericks - SO Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

The Mavericks could use help everywhere, but there seems to be a consensus among fans that they want a point guard. Do you get a point guard in Michael Carter-Williams? Personally, I don't think so and Im not going to rehash all the reasons why again and again. No matter what I think, there is surely a team out there that will find the idea of a 6'7 point guard intriguing enough to take in the lottery. Maybe it will be the owner who also wants to bring in Brittany Griner for a summer league spot.

14. Phoenix Suns - SR Mason Plumlee, C, Duke

I've been saying all year that Plumlee is overrated and ranked much farther ahead of Dieng, Withey, and other centers for no reason. With Louisville winning the championship, Dieng seems to be finally getting attention and that train of thought may be finally getting ready to chance. If I had my way, Plumlee wouldn't be close to the lottery. I just don't see any intrigue at all. Maybe the Suns gamble and go with a Steven Adams here since this is their second draft pick in the lottery. For now, I'll put Plumlee in this spot but simply as a placeholder. The time is coming where he will be relegated to where he should be drafted.

15. Milwaukee Bucks - FR Glenn Robinson III, sF, Michigan

Milwaukee gets up and down the court, creating a lot of possessions, but doesn't score the ball efficiently. Glenn Robinson III isn't a game changer, but he will be able to take advantage of opportunities in transition created by Brandon Jennings. Robinson III is an explosive athlete that runs the court well and can also hit jumpers from all over the court with ease when left open. He wont create much off the dribble for himself beyond a simple pump fake, but that is what a slashing point guard like Brandon Jennings is for.

16. Boston Celtics - 1994 Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Filathlitikos

Ainge is no stranger to taking risks nor is he afraid of losing his job. He recently went out to scout the "6'10 point guard", who will most likely end up playing the small forward role in the NBA. Adetokunbo has point forward skills, but the most intriguing part of him is his physical gifts. He glides around the court in similar fashion to Kevin Durant and possessing oven mitts for hands. He will likely spend a lot of time in the D-League as he plays on a low level team in Europe, but he could be better than just about anyone in this draft if he turns out.

17. Utah Jazz - FR Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor

The Jazz could be in a tough spot if things shape up this way. There is no point guard worth taking this high and there are also a lack of 3-pt bombers at the SG position in this spot either. There are a dearth of big men, but thats not necessarily what a team with Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors needs. Maybe they trade the pick, but ultimately I think its more likely we see a big man go in this spot than one of the remaining guards on the board. Isaiah Austin is a highly intriguing player, one who could be one of the best scorers to come out of this class. He makes plays off the dribble like a guard to set up jump shots, plays smarts, and reminds some scouts a bit of Dirk. He is well worth the risk at this spot.

18. Atlanta Hawks - SO Alex Len, C, Maryland

The Hawks have constantly looked for a center to allow Al Horford to play power forward full time. Danny Ferry chose to zero in on some sharp shooters last offseason and now it is time to find a true post threat so tjhey can establish an inside-out attack. Ferry comes from the Spurs organization so finding a true offensive threat in the post is a priority. He also was in charge of the Cavs when they had Zydrunas Ilgauskas - who happens to be the player Alex Len is most often compared to. While Len's offensive skills are unquestioned, teams will worry about the mental and physical challenges the NBA game will present to him.

19. Chicago Bulls - FR Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky

The Bulls needs a shooting guard and while they would prefer a guy who can shoot, Goodwin has too much upside and talent to pass over for someone like Jamaal Franklin at this point. Goodwin struggled along with the rest of the UK freshman, but he was one of the few fighting until the very last game. Goodwin showed promising fearlessness and aggressive and while it didn't translate efficiently this season, it is a good sign for his potential moving forward. He has one of the quickest first steps in the draft and combines that with a good frame and explosiveness at the rim. Give him time and he could become a great isolation threat in the league.

20. Atlanta Hawks - SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

Caldwell-Pope's decision still seems to be up in the air as he waits for more feedback from NBA teams. He grinded away on a bad team at Georgia and things aren't looking much better for the Bulldogs a year from now. It makes sense for Caldwell-Pope to leave now even though he still has some growing up to do and has much to learn as a team player. He makes a lot of silly mistakes and has questionable awareness on defense, but his ability to score the ball makes him intriguing. He combines a nice first step with a silky smooth jumper, and is able to hit dribble pull-ups with ease. He may be the most talented, well-rounded (scoring wise) shooting guard this side of the lottery.

21. Utah Jazz - SR Erick Green, G, Virginia Tech

We are still waiting to hear whether or not Myck Kabongo, Shane Larkin, and Ray McCallum decide to enter the draft. As you can see from this mock draft, after the top 3 PGs are off the board there is a hole available for a point guard to grab with some good workouts. Erick Green could sneak up on some people. He's 6'3 with long arms, is an excellent scorer, strong shooter off the dribble, pushes the ball in transition, plays hard, and is a high character guy who will impress during interviews. He has always been a scorer in college due to playing on a weak team, but he is unselfish and smart enough to adjust to being a full time point guard.

22. Brookyln Nets - JR Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville

Nets biggest need is the center spot and thats not a bad need to have at this position. Steven Adams, Jeff Withey, and Kelly Olynyk are all still left on the board. Dieng is a guy who could be the best defensive anchor of the bunch - including Withey who led the NCAA in shot blocking - and also has some useful offensive skills. He has good touch from the foul line extended area and is also a good passer from the same area. Dieng is set to graduate early and has a very interesting background that is worth checking out.

23. Indiana Pacers - JR Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Gonzaga

Olynyk has slipped far enough in this mock and the Pacers would be happy to have him as a possible replacement for David West. Olynyk is an awesome offensive player who will thrive in the pick and roll game. He will need to find the right team that can utilize him in such a role - and use him enough to make it worth having him on the court on the defensive end as well. He was one of the best stories of this college hoops season, coming off a redshirt season in which he used his time to really improve his post game.

24. New York Knicks - FR Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

When it comes to guarding a chair, Steven Adams may look better than any prospect doing so. It was odd seeing Adams come out, given his apparent desire to attend school in the USA and get an education on top of his basketball dreams. Adams was extremely raw at the beginning of the year, but got more and more comfortable for Pitt as the season went on. Still by the end of the season, he still had a lot of work to do to even become a good college player. But there is no doubt his upside is there. He has great physical tools and the biggest question with him will be his tentativeness. If he doesn't want to end up as a Hasheem Thabeet type bust, then he will need to make sure he doesn't play with the same kind of motor as him. He has to start getting used to throwing his weight around consistently.

25. Los Angeles Clippers - SR Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

Withey's block shot to foul ratio really doesn't get talked about near enough. What he did on the defensive end of the court in college was truly remarkable. Using his volleyball background as a guide, Withey mastered the art of blocking shots cleaning and most importantly - keeping them inbounds. He was Kansas's most important player for defensive reasons alone, but he also was able to score on offensive with a unblockable hook shot. Withey, for the second straight year, played a really good tournament even as the rest of his team struggled.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves - 1993 Sergey Karasev, SF, Triumph Moscow

The son of a coach, Karasev has an excellent feel on the offensive end and is also a great shooter. And while I love his game on that end of the court, his poor lateral quickness on defensive is something his NBA team will have to work hard to hide. Karasev has said already that he will enter the draft and should be a likely first rounder.

27. Denver Nuggets - JR Cory Jefferson, F/C, Baylor

Cory Jefferson had a March run that rivaled Mitch McGary's, only problem is he did it in the NIT. He averaged 21 points on 72% shooting during their 5 game run that ended in the NIT Title. Jefferson, like McGary, also had the benefit of playing with a great point guard and that is something to look at when looking for sleeper energy power forwards. While McGary and Jefferson were able to showcases their talents easier playing with great point guards, guys like Tony Mitchell, Arsalan Kazemi, Jackie Carmichael, Jarnell Stokes, and Trevor Mbakwe didn't have the same opportunity to show off their gifts. Having said that, I really like Cory Jefferson as a sleeper and I don't think late first round is a stretch for him. He's as explosive as it gets.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder - JR Jamaal Franklin, G/F, San Diego State

Franklin's upside and skills are overstated due to highlights films. He is not a guy who has potential to be a great NBA player and won't be a very efficient offensive player. But the guy competes, defends, and rebounds strong inside. He also has terrific instincts. If he focuses on being a defender, he is a crafty enough offensive player to be able to get to the line when needed and score with his transition opportunities. With the Thunder, he should understand what he needs to do to see the court very early in training camp.

29. San Antonio Spurs - JR Allen Crabbe, SG, California

Allen Crabbe makes his living coming off screens and making shots. He does a good job moving off the ball, working very hard to get open, and isn't just a guy who will use screens to get open 3-pt looks. Crabbe will curl around screens and use a nifty floater in the lane as well. In the Spurs offense, they can take advantage of his skills and utilize him the way he needs to be. Popovich will also be good for Crabbe's personal development, as his mental game is one of his biggest question marks. His NCAA tournament performance against Syracuse was a good example of that.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers - 1994 Mouhammadou Jaiteh, F/C, Boulogne

Raw big man who could have a Bismack Biyombo-esque climb after playing in the Nike Hoop Summit. According to his agent, he is "100%" in the draft and "90%" staying in. My guess is he will be looking for a first round guarantee.

31. Oklahoma City Thunder - SO BJ Young, G, Arkansas
32. Cleveland Cavaliers - SR Mike Muscala, F/C, Bucknell
33. Houston Rockets - SO Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
34. Cleveland Cavaliers - JR Russ Smith, G, Louisville
35. Detroit Pistons - SO Le'Bryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State
36. Philadelphia 76ers - JR CJ Wilcox, G/F, Washington
37. Sacramento Kings - SO Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
38. Memphis Grizzlies - SR Brandon Paul, G, Illinois
39. Washington Wizards - JR CJ Leslie, PF, North Carolina State
40. Portland Trailblazers - SR Michael Snaer, SG, Florida State
41. Philadelphia 76ers - SO Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
42. Denver Nuggets - JR Tim Hardaway Jr, SG, Michigan
43. Dallas Mavericks - SR Jackie Carmichael, PF, Illinois State
44. Los Angeles Lakers - SR Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
45. Milwaukee Bucks - SR Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
46. Portland Trailblazers - JR Lorenzo Brown, PG, North Carolina State
47. Utah Jazz - JR Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit
48. Atlanta Hawks - SR Ryan Kelly, PF, Duke
49. Chicago Bulls - JR Deshaun Thomas, F, Ohio State
50. Atlanta Hawks - SR Richard Howell, PF, North Carolina State
51. Orlando Magic - JR Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
52. Minnesota Timberwolves - FR Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
53. Indiana Pacers - 1992 Leo Westermann, PG, Partizan Belgrade
54. Washington Wizards - SO Adonis Thomas, SF, Memphis
55. Detroit Pistons - 1991 Bojan Dubljevic, PF, Valencia
56. Los Angeles Lakers - 1991 Nemanja Nedovic, G, Lietuvos Rytas
57. Phoenix Suns - SR Trevor Mbakwe, PF, Minnesota
58. Minnesota Timberwolves - SR Arsalan Kazemi, PF, Oregon
59. San Antonio Spurs - SR Carrick Felix, SF, Arizona State
60. Miami Heat - JR Phil Pressey, PG, Missouri

Monday, April 8, 2013

Early Favorites for 2013-14 National Championship

Louisville is your 2013 National Champion, but could they repeat? Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva are gone for sure and Russ Smith may follow them, but they will have another strong team thanks to a pair of incoming guards. With Michigan, it remains to be seen who will leave. If everyone returns minus Burke, they will have a spot in this top 10 as well. Here is an early look at the top 10 teams for next season:

EDIT: Russ Smith is heading to the NBA, according to his dad.

1. Kentucky Wildcats

PG - Andrew Harrison/Jarrod Polson
SG - Aaron Harrison/James Young
SF - Alex Poythress/Jon Hood
PF - Julius Randle/Kyle Wiltjer/Derek Willis
C - Dakari Johnson/Willie Cauley-Stein/Marcus Lee

Analysis: Kentucky has by far the most talented roster and with a deeper team, shouldn't encounter the same problems they did this year. Coach Cal will be able to motivate players with playing time and having an actual floor general in Andrew Harrison will help everyone. This team can get to the rim, shoot the ball very well, and score in the post with guys like Dakari Johnson and Julius Randle. They also can go big with multiple different looks or go small and move Alex Poythress to the PF spot. The amount of looks this Kentucky team can give you is scary.

2. Duke Blue Devils

PG - Quinn Cook/Tyler Thornton
SG - Rasheed Sulaimon/Andre Dawkins(?)/Matt Jones
SF - Rodney Hood/Alex Murphy/Semi Ojeleye
PF - Jabari Parker/Josh Hairston
C - Marshall Plumlee/Amile Jefferson

Analysis: Duke has plenty of depth on the wings which is why its good that Jabari Parker seems to already be embracing the idea of playing inside next season. With Parker and Hood, Duke gets two of the biggest impact newcomers in college basketball and it should help fill the void left by Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, and Seth Curry. Their biggest question mark is at the center spot where Marshall Plumlee will get every opportunity to win the job, but if he doesn't look for a lot of small lineups.

3. Michigan State

PG - Keith Appling/Travis Trice
SG - Gary Harris
SF - Denzel Valentine/Russell Byrd
PF - Branden Dawson/Kenny Kaminski/Alex Gauna/Gavin Schilling
C - Adreian Payne/Matt Costello

Analysis: Michigan State doesn't have the depth that Kentucky or Duke has, but Izzo has assembled a bench full of hard-nosed kids that are willing to play their roles and do the dirty work. In their starting lineup, look for Gary Harris to make the jump to an All-American level while Payne and Dawson will form a great duo down low. Michigan State will be a little smaller this year with Valentine replacing Nix in the starting lineup, but an extra ball handler and creator might end up helping their offense flow better. For the most part, this will be a very similar Michigan State team with another year of experience under Izzo - who always gets the most out of his players.

4. Arizona

PG - TJ McConnell
SG - Nick Johnson/Gabe York/Elliott Pitts
SF - Aaron Gordon/Rondae Jefferson
PF - Brandon Ashley/Grant Jarrett/Matt Korcheck
C - Kaleb Tarczewski/Angelo Chol

Analysis: Even though Arizona loses its two biggest contributors - Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill - they return a very young and talented roster with plenty of room to grow. Their recruiting class last year was great and they are building on it by adding Aaron Gordon and Rondae Jefferson, both of whom are hard-nosed and tough defenders. Arizona should be one of the best defensive teams in the NCAA with Tarczweski shutting down the post, Nick Johnson at guard, and the freshman handling the forward spot. The question will be whether this team can score enough to be a serious title threat.

5. Louisville

PG - Chris Jones/Terry Rozier
SG - Luke Hancock/Anton Gill
SF - Wayne Blackshear/Kevin Ware
PF - Chane Behanan/Akoy Agau
C - Montrezl Harrell/Stephan Van Treese/Zach Price/Mangok Mathiang

With or without Russ returning, this Louisville team should still remain int he top 5. We saw what Luke Hancock is capable of, so there should be no worry if he has to start next year. Getting him more minutes should be seen as a good thing. Behanan, Harrell, and Van Treese should hold down the inside. Chris Jones and Terry Rozier are both highly ranked point guards that are more prepared than your average 5 star recruited (coming from the JUCO and prep level respectively). Pitino will have this group terrorizing opposing guards in no time.

6. Syracuse

PG - Tyler Ennis
SG - Trevor Cooney/Ron Patterson
SF - CJ Fair/Michael Gbinjie/BJ Johnson
PF - Rakeem Christmas/Jerami Grant/Tyler Roberson
C - Dajuan Coleman/Baye Keita/Chinonso Obokho

Analysis: Tyler Ennis should come in and replace Michael Carter-Williams and do just fine. While he won't be as great of a presence on defense, his ability to control the game on offense and be consistent should be a welcomed sign to Cuse fans. CJ Fair will take over an even bigger role and he'll need either Ron Patterson, Trevor Cooney, or Duke transfer Michael Gbinjie to step up and take some pressure off him. Inside you'll probably see a twin tower look to start games, but look for Jerami Grant to have a big role on next year's team.

7. Florida

PG - Scottie Wilbekin/Kasey Hill/Braxton Ogbueze
SG - Michael Frazier
SF - Dorian Finney-Smith/Casey Prather
PF - Chris Walker/Will Yeguete
C - Patric Young/Damontre Harris

Analysis: The Gators lose two high scoring backcourt members in Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, but they shouldn't have too much trouble replacement their inefficient scoring. Losing Erik Murphy hurts them more, a power forward who was able to spread the floor and hit shots from the outside. Without him, Florida will lose the wide open attack that worked so well for them this past season. Instead, they'll play with two legit big men at all times and their SF (Dorian Finney-Smith) won't even be able to spread the floor like Murphy. Florida may not score as easily this season, but they are in for another great defensive year and should be absolutely dominant on the boards. They have a team full of rebounders and return some key role players from last years squad.

8. Ohio State

PG - Aaron Craft/Shannon Scott
SG - Lenzelle Smith Jr/Kameron Williams
SF - Sam Thompson/Amadeo Della Valle
PF - LaQuinton Ross/Marc Loving
C - Amir Williams/Trey McDonald

Analysis: Ohio State returns plenty of talent, but losing Deshaun Thomas and Evan Ravenel creates two big holes. LaQuinton Ross will be the one expected to fill Thomas' scoring and he'll have no problem taking the same amount of shots as Thomas did. But Ravenel's size inside will be missed as well and the Buckeyes badly need some signs of life from Trey McDonald if they are to compete next year. They already had to play small with Thomas at center last year at times and asking Ross to do that just isn't ideal. In the backcourt, Ohio State should be even better than they were this year. Sam Thompson also could finally have his breakout season.

9. Georgetown

PG - Markel Starks
SG - Jabril Trawick/Stephen Domingo/Aaron Bowen
SF - Greg Whittington/Reggie Camerson
PF - Nate Lubick/Moses Ayegba
C - Mikael Hopkins/Josh Smith

Analysis: Georgetown loses their star in Otto Porter, but will return the rest of their team and get back Greg Whittington as well. The Hoyas got better when Whittington went out, but thats because it forced JTIII to put another ball handler on the court which ended up being a good move. Whittington is no Otto Porter, but can fill a similar role in the offense. With the rest of the team returning, they should be able to pick up some of the slack. The loss of Porter will be felt most when they enter the tournament, as they will lack even less fire power than this season when they lost is the Round of 64 - so don't expect the Hoyas to make a tournament run in 2014 either.

10. Indiana

PG - Yogi Ferrell/Maurice Creek
SG - Remy Abel/Stanford Robinson/Andre Etherington
SF - Will Sheehey/Jeremy Hollowell/Troy Williams
PF - Noah Vonleh/Hanner Mosquera Perea
C - Peter Jurkin/Luke Fischer

Analysis: Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo formed arguably the best duo in all of college basketball this year and will be extremely hard to replace. Indiana will be in need of some star power and they hope they have it in freshman power forward Noah Vonleh. Will Vonleh have a FPOY caliber year or just a solid year will be the difference in whether Indiana can revenge their early exit in this year's Sweet 16. They should still remain strong on the wings and Yogi Ferrell will be solid at the point.

The Rest (Very Rough Draft of 11-35, too many things up in the air to publish anything official. Complete top 25 will be out after the picture gets clearer later this month).

11. Marquette
12. Memphis
13. Colorado
14. Michigan
15. Connecticut
16. Iowa
17. North Carolina
18. Kansas
19. Tennessee
20. Wichita State
21. VCU
22. Maryland
23. Virginia
24. Alabama
25. Notre Dame
26. Wisconsin
27. Boise State
28. LSU
29. Gonzaga
30. Villanova
31. Indiana State
32. Louisiana Tech
33. Butler
34. BYU
35. New Mexico 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Portsmouth Invitational Team Previews - Sales Systems Ltd.

C Derrick Nix (Michigan State) - Nix had perhaps his most memorable game of his career playing against Valparaiso in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this year. Nix is a huge body who is nimble on his feet and has soft touch around the basket. He's able to finish with both hands, throws around his weight well with a strong drop step, and has been coached up over the years by Tom Izzo. Nix gets over a third of his rebounds on the offensive end and his 1.1 steals per game shows that he is active on defense. He'll look to prove to scouts he can sustain that energy throughout an entire game and get out and defend ball screens on the perimeter.

SF James Ennis (Long Beach State) - James Ennis is one of the most explosive finishers in all of college basketball and participated in the college slam dunk contest. With his explosiveness, its no surprise that he is a great finisher at the rim and out in transition. He has great hangtime, but also shows the body control and strength to finish through contact. Ennis is still raw for the most part, but he's a gamer who fought hard to find ways to score. Defensively, he also has great potential but needs to play with a better court sense. His shooting has come along, but Id be hesitant to call him a reliable spot up option. With seasoning, Ennis could eventually make the NBA ala James White.

PF Ed Daniel (Murray State) - Daniel was a fringe invitee, but a guy I really felt was deserving and is capable of surprising people. He's an energy big who rebounds the ball with great intensity and is also very active and mobile on defense. He has a good basketball IQ and gets himself in good spots defensively to draw charges. Offensively, he has earned his stripes as a screener for Isaiah Canaan, but is also very fluid rolling off those screens and finishing towards the basket. If Daniel shows he can rebound well against the bigs in this event, then just maybe you will start hearing his name more often.

PG Brandon Triche (Syracuse) - Triche is a very well built guard who became a lot more aggressive this season attacking off the dribble. He's both explosive and strong getting to the lane and getting to the line is his biggest strength. Triche struggles in the mid-range area, however, and often gets himself in trouble because of it. His lack of mid-range game forces him to overpenetrate and try to muscle up some question shots at the rim and/or commit charges. Also, while he is a point guard, Triche has never been granting the main point guard duties in his four years at Syracuse. His shooting has also been suspect. Defensively, he has the tools to be a good defender but has been stuck in a zone his whole career. It will be interesting to see him play man to man at Portsmouth.

PG Khalif Wyatt (Temple) - Wyatt is a big time scorer at the college leve despite his athletic shortcomings. Wyatt can score on anybody because he doesn't rely on his athleticism, but instead relies on a bag full of tricks and hesitation moves. He knows how to draw fouls and has mastered the art of kicking his legs out on 3-pt shots. Wyatt is also a good and smart passer, although he isn't quick enough to get into the lane and constantly make plays for teammates. Instead, he uses his size to see over the defense for nice passes. When he gets into the lane, Wyatt is more often in scoring mode and looking to draw the defense off balance - which he does more often than not. At Portsmouth, it will be interesting to see him running the point with some scoring options around him and how he is able to get them the ball. We know he can score in any setting.

PG Rotnei Clarke (Butler) - Clarke isn't an NBA player, but is a dangerous shooter with unlimited range from behind the arc. After 3 seasons at Arkansas, he transferred to Butler for his senior season where he once again shot right around 40% from 3 on a high number of attempts. Despite only being 6'0 and lacking quickness, Clarke  only needs a little bit of space to get his shot off and has no problem in doing so. While NBA scouts likely won't be intrigued by what they see, Clarke is a guy who should catch the eyes of European scouts in attendance.

SF Carrick Felix (Arizona State) - Felix took an odd path to Arizona State, coming from a junior college and then originally committing to Duke. This year he finally broke out playing in a more open offense installed by Herb Sendek and ran by Jahii Carson. Felix played with a motor that was always running, putting in great work on the offensive glass and in transition. He also was able to stretch the defense out from behind the arc and defend the oppositions best player with intensity. Felix's style of play was very efficient and he also did a lot of things that didn't show up in the box score. He's a great athlete who will get a chance to show what else his offensive game consists of besides spot up jumpers and opportunities at the rim.

PF Jared Berggren (Wisconsin) - Berggren has the look of your typical Wisconsin player and in a lot of ways is. He wasn't highly recruited, redshirted his freshman year, and then sat on his bench much of the next two years until finally getting a chance to start his junior season. He earned his way into the rotation as just another piece on a really balanced offensive attack, but showed some intrigue with his combination of a post game and ability to hit jumpers form both the mid-range and 3-pt area. Berggren's toughness is also impressive and his improved rebounding this year is a good sign, even though he still leaves plenty to be desired and lacks both strength and athleticism. It will be interesting to see if he can stand out in Portsmouth or just blends in and looks like an average player. One thing that helps him is his defense - a very underrated aspect to his game.

Most likely draft pick?

Carrick Felix is not only the best player on this team, but one of the best prospects in the entire event. Fingers are still crossed that he stays in the event as other small forwards like Robert Covington and Solomon Hill have pulled their names out.

Summer League Stars?

James Ennis is the ideal summer league player, capable of putting on a show in Vegas. He's also a guy that can make the NBA with continued progression. Khalif Wyatt could earn a NBA roster spot with a good summer league performance while I see both Ed Daniel and Brandon Triche possibly making some noise in Vegas.

European Bound?

Rotnei Clarke, Jared Berggren, and Derrick Nix don't have much of a shot at the NBA, but all three of them have qualities that could make them appealing to European teams. Khalif Wyatt could also go this route and make himself a lot of money.

Portsmouth Invitational Team Previews - Cherry Bekaert

Cherry Bekaert

PF Kyle Barone (Idaho) - Not a good athlete. Lacks strength and explosiveness. Good coordination. Has a variety of moves in the post. Uses pump fakes and hesitations. Good face up game. Can put the ball on the floor. Unselfish. Pick and pop potential. Takes himself out of position going for rebounds. Gets tip-ins off offensive rebounds. Unselfish. Skilled. Plays at his own pace. Can hit from 18 feet. Needs to finish stronger and play with more of an edge. Able to hit jump hooks with either hand, but he's better with his right.

PF Devin Booker (Clemson) - Booker is a tough player who held this years Clemson team together. Liked his brother Trevor who is in the NBA, Devin is undersized but very stronger and does a great job of using his body in the paint. He loves to bang inside, rebound, and he gets more than half of his offense from around the rim. He is able to knock down face up jumpers, but is not the shooter or skill player that Trevor Booker was. He's a poor free throw shooter and has limited range. Booker has improved every year.

CG Durand Scott (Miami) - Scott is an athletic combo guard with a slashers mentality. He doesn't have much trouble getting inside, but often struggles to finish because of the high degree of difficulty shots he takes. He has a tendency to overdribble and doesn't do a good job of finding teammates on his drives, which often gets him in trouble in the lane. He has never been a great shooter, but has improved recently and is able to hit tough shots off the dribble. Scott has potential to be a good defender and showed great intensity in the role of defensive stopper this year for Miami. He took a backseat to Shane Larkin without any complaining.

PG Jordan Hulls (Indiana) - Hulls is an Indiana kid who looks like he is straight out of Hoosiers. He has a reputation for being both extremely tough and a very good shooter. Hulls battled a shoulder injury late in the year that hampered his performance and struggled mightily against the length of Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. He rarely gets in the lane and creates for teammates, but he is a steady ball handler who is able to lead a team.

PF Murphy Holloway (Ole Miss) - Holloway is a bruising undersized power forward who gets off doing the dirty work inside for guys like Marshall Henderson. He does a great job getting offensive rebounds and is an outstanding finisher among bigs. He lacks much in terms of polish or offensive skills and gets by more with his strength and explosiveness. Holloway has an outstanding motor and runs the court very hard in transition - where he throws down some thunderous dunks.

SF EJ Singler (Oregon) - Another player who has a brother in the NBA, Singler is the brother of Kyle Singler and plays with the same toughness and understanding of the game. He generally operates in the mid-range area, where he is able to create jumpers in post up or isolation situations. He does a good job using his body and is also a solid passer out of these situations. He is able to hit mid-range jumpers consistently, but has yet to become a deadly shooter from outside - although he is solid. Singler is an underwhelming athlete who gets by on defense thanks to his toughness and hoops IQ. He was part of a balanced Oregon Ducks team and contributed in just about every area. He's very much a poor man's version of his brother.

PG Anthony Marshall (UNLV) - Marshall has learned the point guard position on the fly at UNLV this year after being more of a scoring guard in previous seasons. He has good size at 6'3 for the position and is able to use it well to carve out space and be crafty with the ball. He shows good potential in the pick and roll game and is a good passer despite not being a natural point guard. Marshall loves to get inside and is a good finisher, but struggles from the FT line. He has improved his range, but still is far from a consistent shooter. Marshall isn't the quickest or most explosive player, but he does a great job handling the ball and getting to where he wants to on the court. He is able to play at different speeds and does a good job pushing the ball in transition.

G/F Elston Turner (Texas A&M) - Originally just a spot up shooter and defender, Turner transferred from Washington to Texas A&M where he became the focal point of the offense. Turner is still at his best coming around screens and shooting from deep, but he is now comfortable off the dribble as well - at least enough to keep defenses honest. He has added a odd looking floater that has helped him score on plays outside of his jumper, but he doesn't attack the hoop with intent of getting to the rim and rarely does actually get all the way there. He's a smart player offensively and is capable of getting hot and carry his team - as seen when he dropped 40 against Kentucky. The son of former NBA player and coach bearing the same name, Turner has  been well-schooled on the game and certainly has the background to potentially make it in the NBA.

Most likely to get drafted?

Either Durand Scott or Anthony Marshall, although neither are anywhere near locks. 50/50 shots at best. A good PIT will obviously help. Both will be looked at closely to see how they defend and if they can transition to full time point guards.

Summer League bodies?

Elston Turner has connections already in the league and should secure a spot to show what he can do. But he is also probably the most likely of the group (besides the aforementioned Scott and Marshall) to potentially find a role in the NBA. Murphy Holloway is also deserving of an extra look.

Overseas Players?

EJ Singler, Jordan Hulls, Devin Booker, and Kyle Barone are all highly unlikely to make it in the NBA. The good thing for all 4 is they have shown that they are tough, coachable, and have good character. There will be a spot for them in Europe or elsewhere for them to begin their pro careers. Singler's brother already showed a willingness to play in Europe and had great success so his reputation could help EJ secure a good home.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Montrose Christian vs Findlay Prep Scouting Notes

Ishmail Wainwright (#60 ESPN, #52 Scout, #63 Rivals) - Wainwright is built like a bull, with perhaps the widest shoulders ever seen on a high school basketball player. He runs a lot of point for Montrose even though he is definitely a small forward at the next level. Montrose likes him to handle the ball and slow down the tempo and try to outmuscle teams. Wainwright himself isn't a very good ball handler, but uses his body well to protect the ball and get where ever he wants to on the court. His lack of handling skills showed in the first half against Nigel Williams-Goss and he turned the ball over a total of 6 times in those 16 minutes. In the second half, Wainwright operated more off the ball and was more aggressive scoring than I've ever seen him. He was able to get position anywhere he wanted to and muscled up a lot of mid-range jumpers with 15 feet that he got to go down. Wainwright appears to have good touch on his shots, but doesn't get great elevation as he really relies on his size to get him enough room. Wainwright is also a great defender and leader and that is what he will be able to bring to Baylor. Im worried about how his offensive game will translate at the next level, but he will be a great guy to have on the team and should be a steady player who will do the dirty work. He's a warrior.

Nigel Williams-Goss (#20 ESPN, #61 Scout, #48 Rivals) - Goss absolutely took the game over in the second half to give his teamt he victory and preserve Findlay's 53 game win streak. When you talk about Williams-Goss, the terms winner is the first thing that comes to mind. He is a tough competitor, great leader, and a very mature kid who has been playing  in a high level environment at Findlay for 4 years (he's the first player to play 4 years on varsity at Findlay). During his second half run, Williams-Goss was able to score in the lane with floaters, in the post, with jumpers, and get to the foul line. Every possession he went down and just made something happen. In college, some of his size and strength advantages will be taken away, but Williams-Goss is the type that will be able to adjust. He adjusted to the defense Wainwright played on his in the first half  to score 16 points in the 2nd half. Williams-Goss will struggle at times in college getting by defenders as he isn't blessed with quickness and he also isn't a prolific jump shooter or elite passer. But in terms of basketball, Williams-Goss lives and breaths the game.

La Lumiere vs St. Benedict's Prep Scouting Notes

Tyler Ennis (#38 ESPN, #24 Scout, #23 Rivals) - One of my personal favorites of the 2013 class, Ennis will be heading to Syracuse next year where he will be asked to lead the team right away. And after years playing with Team Canada, St. Benedict's Prep, and CIA Bounce on the AAU circuit he has plenty of experience. There isn't a point guard in high school right now who is more well-rounded and ready for college than Ennis. He is outstanding in pick and roll action where he thrives both as a scorer and a passer. In this game, Ennis took over in the second half by getting to the line 8 times and scoring 16 of his 22 points during the final 16 minutes. He has great ball handling skills, great leadership, and his basketball IQ is mature well beyond his years. Ennis also has good height and while he isn't the great athlete, he has a good enough combination of size, quickness, strength, and explosiveness to the point where it doesn't hurt him. Ennis is the type of point guard who works best off pick and rolls and prefers to attack much more than shoot from the outside. That said, he has a very good mid-range game and is excellent from the foul line. Look for him to be a great player right away at Cuse and expect him to stick around for a couple of seasons.

Isaiah Briscoe (#16 ESPN Class of 2015) - Briscoe wasn't 100% in this game and it showed. He played just 14 minutes and committed 4 fouls during that time. Once pegged as one of the best freshmen in the country. Briscoe is now a year older and doesn't look like he's made the next jump. He's a powerfully built wing, but isn't that big or long and it seems like his competition is catching up with him. Still, its impressive that he's been able to be a key player on such a good, well-coached team from day one and he does play a mature game. We will see if how he continues to develop down the line.

Mike Young (#57 ESPN) - Young is heading to Pittsburgh and he's exactly what you'd expect a Pitt player to look like. He's 6'8 with a good build and can cover both forward positions. He's a great rebounder and looks stuck in between the 3 and the 4 spot on offense. He does have good touch on his jumper and could score in similar ways to JJ Moore once he arrives on campus. He's yet another building block for Jamie Dixon, but not a game changer.

Detrick Mostella (#77 ESPN, #68 Scout, #84 Rivals) - The Oklahoma State commit is a scoring guard who isn't shy when it comes to taking shots. He took 26 of them on Thursday including 8 from deep - all of which he missed. He is best when he is slashing to the rim and he was able to find ways to get himself plenty of shots at the rim as well. He is a creative finisher and is able to hang in the air, but he will need to get stronger to consistently finish in the paint at high major level. Mostella should eventually become a very good scorer for Oklahoma State and could even turn into their go-to guy down the road.

Oak Hill vs Montverde Academy Scouting Notes

Sindarius Thornwell (#39 ESPN, #43 Scout, #29 Rivals) - At this point, you know what you are getting from Thornwell. Thornwell is a strong shooting guard who plays with a lot of energy, has some explosiveness at the rim, and can finish through contact. His go to shot is a mid-range pull up following a couple of hard dribbles and its a shot he can make, but he's far from consistent. Thornwell is also very good on the boards and can play strong defense as well. Heading to South Carolina next year, you can expect him to be able to score with relative ease, but he will need to work on his efficiency. With all his long pull-up jumpers, he has a lot of poor shooting nights. Thornwell needs to not settle for those shots as much, get to the rim, and also expand his range so he is a reliable shooter from deep.

Troy Williams (#42 ESPN, #38 Scout, #66 Rivals) - Troy Williams reminds me of the wing version of CJ Leslie in the sense the he looks like a star, makes some highlight reel plays, but is also highly inconsistent and lacks fundamentals. Williams is a terror running in transition and can finish way above the rim. He also can run to the corner and hit shots from behind the arc. The halfcourt game is where he really struggles though and its why he disappears at times. He struggles to make plays for himself as he lacks both the ball handling and strength needed. Williams relies on a shaky behind the back dribble that results in turnovers more times than not and is often out of control. Defensively, Williams has all the tools but needs to play smarter and dial in more consistently. Williams is a guy that jumps out at you upon first glance, but the more games you see him play, the more your expectations become tempered. He will have to work hard for a role at Indiana next year.

Nate Britt (#93 ESPN, #76 Scout)- Britt has slowly slipped down recruiting rankings and against Kasey Hill, he had a chance to win back some doubters. He finished with 16 points on 12 shots, but also had 6 turnovers to only 2 assists. Britt seems to lack the explosion to dominate the way he used to before he transferred to Oak Hill and has become more of a jump shooter. He won't be a threat to take away the starting point guard job from Marcus Paige next year.

Dakari Johnson (#11 ESPN, #13 Scout, #18 Rivals)- I hadn't seen Dakari play as much as a lot of the big time recruits in the NHSI and my expectations weren't very high considering he had a late night the day before at the McDonald's All-American game. But he ended up exceeding my expectations and turned in a 17 point, 13 rebound, and 7 block performance on only 12 shots. Dakari is a back to the basket guy who worked consistently to get good position and his teammates rewarded him with entry passes. He showed nice patience in kicking the ball out to establish deeper position, looking very much like a experienced big man. Johnson seems to know his area of expertise and works to get within 10 feet of the basket. He has good touch on a standstill jumper from about 10 feet and is able to score close to the rim with either hand. His conditioning level was impressive as was his defensive ability. He isn't a Nerlens Noel type shot blocker, but he is a better post defender thanks to his strength and is certainly a good athlete. Look for Dakari Johnson to give Willie Cauley-Stein a battle for the starting center spot. If Coach Cal chooses the better player, expect Johnson to start.

Kasey Hill (#9 ESPN, #9 ESPN, #8 Rivals)- Hill wasn't 100% and also plagued by a tough travel schedule from the Mickey D's game, butr he dished out 10 assists in the win over Oak Hill. Hill also went 2-10 from the field and turned it over 7 times. It wasn't his best game, but he showed great burst in the open court and was creative in finding ways to distribute the ball. If you ran with Hill in transition, he was going to get it to you. He made a nice spinning dish and his quickness was on display. Late in the game he began cramping up, but fought through it to close out the victory. He gutted out this win and kept the team together, which is what you have to do when you aren't playing your best.

Ben Simmons (#5 ESPN Class of 2015)- Simmons is only a sophomore, but is already a legitimate prospect and could even wind up as a "one and done" player. He has great size at 6'9 and the ability to play both outside and inside. The Aussie came to the states midseason to join Montverde and has found ways to contribute to wins without being "the guy". In fact, Simmons comes off the bench behind WVU commit Devin Williams. Simmons earned himself extra minutes over Williams on Thursday with tough play at the rim and unselfish play on offense. He was great moving the ball on offense, showing passing skills from the high post and the perimeter. Simmons also rebounded the ball tough and contested and finished plays above the rim. He was a force in transition and the best/most versatile defender on the court. Selfishly I would have liked to see him show off his offensive game more, but its not his role on his current team. He scored 16 points on just 7 shots in 24 minutes of play - you couldn't have asked for a more positive performance. It will be interesting if Simmons progresses more towards the SF or PF role in the next few years. Either way he will be a very good prospect and has a great future ahead of him.

Devin Williams (#37 ESPN, #57 Scout, #91 Rivals) - Williams lost out on playing time to Simmons, but saw big minutes late in the fourth quarter and was a big part of forcing this game into overtime. He is a strong rebounder and active defender who gets most of his offense on putbacks. He projects to be a power forward, although he isn't a post player or jump shooter really. His ticket on offense is his toughness and hustle. He will probably fill a role at WVU similar to the one John Flowers played late in his career, although there is always room for him to improve his game. Nevertheless, Williams should be a solid 4-yr contributor at the college level.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Prime Prep vs Blance Ely Scouting Notes

Prime Prep had a noticeable size advantage over Blanche Ely, but Ely fought hard until the end and pushed the game into overtime. Unfortunately, the game was lost because their coach called a timeout they didn't have, but it doesn't take anything away from the effort they displayed.
LSU commit Jordan Mickey (ranked 36th on Scout, 41st on Rivals, 53rd on ESPN) stole the show this game and ended up having the most impressive performance out of anyone during the day. Mickey is labeled as a combo forward and it should be noted that it is no knock against him. Instead of having that label because he is a "tweener" Mickey actually looks great out on the wing, but the "combo" part comes into play because he can score in the post with jump hooks from either hand. Mickey is an outstanding athlete and gets great elevation on his jumper. He has a nice looking stroke from mid-range and because of his release point, it is nearly impossible to contest. Mickey also hit all 10 of his free throws and blocked a day high 8 shots. He finished with 28 points on 9-14 shooting. Look for him to be an immediate contributor to a much improved LSU team - a team that could eventually crack the top 25 next season.

PG Emmanuel Mudiay (Ranked #3 in 2014) had a sub-par game, but looks the part of a great point guard prospect. He has legit size at around 6-3 or 6-4, long arms, and is a great athlete. Mudiay made his impact felt defensive and found teammates in transition for lobs. His mid-range game is said to be improving, but he didn't show much in the halfcourt in this one.

Senior post man Karviar Shepherd (72nd on ESPN, 46th on Rivals, 67th on Scout) will take his game to TCU next year and should start immediately. Shephard has good height and moves well on his feet - doing an excellent job defending pick and rolls and communicating. He needs to get stronger, but made the effort to box out each play and knows how to use his body to get post position. Shephard has a good feel with his back to the basket and is able to convert hook shots with either hand.

Freshman small forward Terrance Ferguson is one to watch for Prime Prep as he averages 10 points off the bench for the loaded team. Ferguson isn't shy at all and was seen demanded the ball from Mudiay on two occasions when he was open outside the arc. Fergeuson is quick to release shots from behind the arc and is a long, lanky athlete. He reminds me a bit of LaQuinton Ross, although he did show more commitment on defense - although he is a face guarded at this point. Ferguson is one of the most talented freshmen in the country and oozes potential despite scoring just 3 points in this one.

Sophomore power forward Elijah Thomas (top 10 recruit in class of 2015) was the most physically imposing player on the court in this game, although he was plagued by early foul trouble. One tough call that went against him was a blocking call where he seemed to in perfect position to draw the charge. Thomas has the built of Anthony Bennett and some of the perimeter skills too, but it was good to see him sacrificing his body inside. He also scored some big points in overtime thanks to a strong dropstep move and finish with his left hand.

Kahlil Thomas was the lone starting big man that could combat Prime Prep's size and he had his moments. He scored 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while shooting 6-13 from the floor. Thomas made a few jumpers early and then fell in love with the shot late, despite airballing one from outside his range. He appears to be a solid faceup threat, but struggled defensively and doesn't have a back to the basket game.

Junior wing Richard Lee has good size and a strong build for a shooting guard. He has a natural fade to his jumper and it looks like he has the potential of being a nice mid-range player. Lee's efforts defensively were his biggest contributions this game, however, and that could be his calling card at the high D1 level. He holds offers from Maryland, Florida, Miami, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, and George Mason.

Junior guard Lance Tejada showed skills as both a passer and scorer and did a great job getting into the paint. He struggled to get his shots to fall, but it looks like he has a future as a scoring lead guard. He has offers from Miami, George Mason, Virginia, USF, and others.

Sophomore Therrell Gossier will be a guy to continue to monitor from Blanche Ely. The big man played tough and pulled down 10 boards to go along with 11 points off the bench.