Sunday, November 20, 2011

Prospect Watch; First impressions.

As promised, a bit of a recap of a few prospects I've got my eye on and who were shown on ESPN over here in the last week or so.

Harrison Barnes:
The only game I saw was UNC vs the Spartans, but from what I saw I was disappointed. Barnes had few, if any, drives to the basket, successful or otherwise, so for all this talk that he'd worked on his handle over the summer he still lacks the confidence to go by his man to the rim. However, his jumper was sweet as ever, and he nailed a nice turnaround in the first few minutes. As it was, Roy Williams tabbed the big men as the go-to guys and Barnes wasn't getting a whole lot of shots. Given that Michigan State was packing the paint this could have had an effect, but as big a fan as I am, I'm somewhat disappointed. We'll see if he gains confidence in his handle as the season wears on.

John Henson:
When I look at Henson I'm reminded of Kevin Garnett circa 10-11 season. He has that skinny frame which will prevent him being a low-post beast, but he has some nice finesse moves around the bucket like KG and showed an improved jumper. Of course, the main comparison comes from his capacity to anchor a defence and make every slasher and big guy think twice about shooting in the paint while John is in the same area code (which is all the time with that huge wingspan). Best of all? He does it without fouling. That said, he's not going to be a superstar like the KG of old, but he could have a solid career playing a role like the old KG.

Tyler Zeller:
Won't say much here except I think he'll struggle to score at the next level. He got pushed around a LOT, had no impact defensively and was outhustled for rebounds on numerous occasions. I expect him to be a late first-rounder, and could be a decent back-up C in the NBA.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:
Saw him play a couple of exhibition games but most importantly I got to see MKG face off against the Kansas Jayhawks. While he didn't blow you away with his stats, he was certainly a leader out there, and there was a tangible difference in the attitude of the Wildcats when he was on the floor. He showed a capacity to finish in the paint through contact and you get the feeling he could put up more numbers if required. His decision-making is what impressed me the most though, as he always made sound decisions and set up team-mates indirectly for scoring opportunities. He was trying too hard to shoot the jumper and prove he could make it, but despite his ugly form the percentage isn't terrible. There are definitely flashes of Andre Iguodala in his game, and he certainly has the potential to be a point forward at the next level. His intangibles are amazing, and I get the feeling the Wildcats might actually win it all this season. If they do, MKG will be a BIG part of it.

Anthony Davis:
Very raw offensively, scored mainly on the break. His handle held up surprisingly well in the open court, but he's definitely a PF at the next level, certainly wouldn't be able to blow by NBA SFs with his level of quickness. Was good defensively, but didn't wow me like Henson. He'll have great numbers against inferior competition, but I get the feeling he'll have huge dips in production against quality bigs.

Marquis Teague:
I won't say much about him except that if he's the best PG prospect in the country then the run of amazing PGs has finally ended. He seems far too hot and cold out there, forces things too often and gets visibly upset when he's subbed out of the game. Needs to calm down and learn to use his speed more effectively. Did have a nice dunk though.

Terrence Jones:
Struggled to finish around the rim on occasion and while he was more active he didn't seem to have added that fluidity to his handle to be able to consistently beat his defender off the dribble. His position at the next level remains up in the air, but his attitude gives some hope.

Thomas Robinson:
Got himself into foul trouble, but was a man amongst boys when he was out there. Had a double-double I believe and was simply a beast on the boards. His offensive game is raw, but he would be a high-level role player at the next level for his rebounding and ability to score without needing plays run for him.

Jared Sullinger:
Saw him play against Florida and he ran a clinic on how to create for your team-mates without even touching the ball. The Gators were so focused on stopping him that he was able to move off the ball and draw multiple players, and thereby create scoring opportunities. When he did get the ball in the post he was able to get to the line almost every time and shot a good percentage. I don't see him as a franchise talent necessarily, but could be the best player on a well put together team and contend for a championship. Very fundamentally sound, but needs to continue to improve his athleticism.

Bradley Beal:
Against OSU I first thought he was overrated, but as the game wore on he improved. Got his shot blocked in the paint a number of times though, and his shooting wasn't quite on, but flashes of a great player are there so I'll wait before making a more definite judgement.

Will Barton:
Big fan of Will Barton so was very excited to see him play against a Belmont team which came just short against Duke prior to this matchup. Unfortunately, it looks like he's gained only negligible weight over the break and remains something of a beanpole, but this is something that can be fixed in the pros. In the early going he wasn't being very aggressive and despite making a ridiculous midrange floater he was being overshadowed by team-mate Wesley Witherspoon. However, when Wes got into foul trouble and the game wore on Barton came to life. He started being more aggressive and attacking the rim. He was very efficient inside the three-point line, and ended up having over 20 points. He also pulled down some key boards down the stretch and was a nuisance defensively with that long wingspan. He has definitely made strides in both attitude and ability since his freshman year and could sneak into lottery contention in this coming draft should he choose to declare. The makings of a superstar are there, he just needs to gain some muscle and refine his jumpshot.

Adonis Thomas:
Struggled somewhat early on, as is to be expected, but made key plays down the stretch. He and Barton are listed at the same height, but Thomas' physique makes him seem a few inches taller. He's simply incredibly well put together. Showed nice form on his jump shot and will be a key contributor for the Tigers off the bench. Might be a one and done prospect on potential, but could probably do with a second year in college.

Joe Jackson:
Showed nice scoring touch, especially in the open court and had one outstanding dunk. Hard to see him starting at the point in the NBA, but would be the perfect back-up to provide a scoring punch off the bench at the next level.

Wesley Witherspoon:
Looked like absolutely taking over the game before getting into foul trouble, and definitely shows flashes of being a quality stretch-PF in the NBA. Could spend some time at the 3, but seems wholly different to the Wesley Witherspoon I saw last season and may just have figured it all out in time to declare for the draft. Should be a late first-round pick in most drafts, but given the possible depth in the 2012 draft he might slip into the second round.

Josiah Turner:
Absolutely failed to meet expectations. For a so-called "pure" point guard he didn't create for others very well and struggled to finish at the rim. However, he did show the ability to get to the basket at least, which is a good sign. But from all accounts since the game against Valpo things have gone downhill for him.

So, that turned out to be more than a "few" but I figured even a few fringe players deserved some love. Overall, I'm warming to college ball, even if there is too much zone being played and too many teams to really keep track of.

A few things for the uninitiated to look out for;

1) Perry Jones III returns from suspension; Quincy Miller has assumed top dog status in his absence, but if Jones is serious about being a superstar at the next level he should have no problems taking back the reins. Should be interesting either way.

2) C.J. Leslie's return from suspension; the NC State player already made his debut and was very effective in a tight loss to Villanova, if I recall correctly. He was hyped as a lottery pick coming out of high school, so we'll see if he can breakout this season. Early signs indicate he might just do that.

3) UConn marches on; didn't get a chance to watch them yet, but they remain undefeated and Lamb has looked like a contender for the NPoY thus far. Drummond had a slow start, but logged 11 offensive rebounds in one game! Once he gets that mask off the beast will be let out of its cage.

4) Washington on the upswing; with Abdul Gaddy, Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross sporting nicknames like Stealth, GPS and NASA, respectively, it's not hard to see why they are flying under the radar. However, the three of them have formed a potent back-court rotation, with sharp-shooting Wilcox rounding them out. The Huskies are a team to watch come tournament time, and are a sleeper to make the Elite Eight in my opinion. You heard it here first.

Well that'll be all, I'd better get some sleep before my exam tomorrow morning.


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