Tony Wroten, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Rising Sophomore, Seattle Rotary Select
5-Star Recruit (?)
Physically, Wroten fills the bill for a top prospect, and then some. He is a 6-5 left-handed guard with excellent length, nice size, and a frame that should fill out in time. He is a very good athlete with a strong first step, explosive leaping ability and great body control making adjustments around the rim.
Skill-wise, Wroten can really create his own shot from the perimeter, as he has the ability to change speeds and directions sharply, and is a very gifted ball-handler considering his age. He is also capable of getting hot from outside and unloading a barrage of 3-pointers, though. His shot is extremely flat, but it went in at a very solid rate in the three games we evaluated in catch and shoot situations, and he also displayed a high-skill level pulling up off the dribble at times as well, sometimes from behind the arc fading away off a sharp crossover.
What really separates Wroten from possibly any other player in Vegas (in any class?) was his incredible basketball IQ for a player so young. Wroten spent minutes at the point guard spot and did not look out of place, surveying the floor and showing advanced passing instincts that you rarely see from even true point guards at the high school level. Wroten is extremely unselfish and has a great understanding for how to make those around him better, regularly making heady non-highlight reel caliber passes ahead in transition or on the drive and dish--which hinted at an uncanny natural feel for the game. He also is extremely intelligent moving off the ball as well.
Wroten seems to be a highly competitive kid, fighting for rebounds and also making an effort to play solid defense. He did a great job getting in the passing lanes on a regular basis, and was spectacular finishing or making decisions in transition once there.
Considering that he still has three full years left of high school basketball to play, Wroten will still need to work extremely hard to continue to improve and match the incredible expectations that are bound to come once the word gets out. Improving his shooting mechanics, developing an in-between game, and continuing to work on his weaker right-hand should be his priorities at the moment. Staying humble and surrounding himself with the right people will be key.
Tristan Thompson, 6-8, SF/PF, Rising Junior, Grassroots Canada
Committed to Texas
Joshua Smith, 6-9, Power Forward, Rising Junior, Seattle Rotary Select
5-Star Recruit (UCLA, Arizona, Duke)
Smith is a long-armed, undersized center who is heavy and extremely out of shape, but is still fairly athletic regardless. He gets off his feet quickly and has outstanding hands, making him a terrific offensive rebounder and a lethal threat to finish around the basket (usually with a powerful two-handed jam). Smith is a load in the low post, carving out deep positioning and showing great footwork and touch converting his moves, while being very effective finishing through contact. Defensively, he can block shots (sometimes without jumping) but is not much of a presence in terms of rotating over to protect the rim, showing average lateral quickness and a distinct lack of hustle at timesdepending on his mood seemingly. We saw him fluctuate from being extremely active to very low-energy from game to game, making it tough to get an exact read on how good of a prospect he is. Smith gets his hands on everything around the rim and can be a real force on both ends of the floor when he really puts his mind to it.
Most college coaches we spoke with are incredibly high on Smith at the moment, but well have to wait and see what kind of progress he makes with his body over the next 2-3 years to determine just how good of a prospect he is long-term. There is obviously a great deal to like here already.
DeShaun Thomas, 6-7, SF/PF, Rising Junior, Spiece Indy Heat
5-Star Recruit (Committed to Ohio State)
Thomas is solid in transition and shows somewhat of an inclination to post up at timeshe doesnt have any real bulk or moves to be overly successful here, but is quick enough to punish smaller defenders at times. Thomas is an unselfish player who seems very coachable and appears to have a nice demeanor on the floor, looking active defensively and very much willing to compete. He can handle the ball in the open floor, but tends to struggle when forced to go out and create for himself in the half-court, particularly with his weaker right hand. Thomas has a tendency to fall in love with the 3-point shot a little too much, and lacks significant polish on the nuances of the game offensivelywhich means he isnt always an impact guy at this early stage. Still, he has a great foundation of skills to build upon, and should be able to develop into a solid small forward prospect if he continues to work on his all-around game.
Brandon Knight, 6-3, Point Guard, Rising Junior, Team Breakdown
5-Star Recruit (Florida, Duke, UConn, etc)
Knight is still an extremely intriguing young player, though, as he has great size for a point guard, an excellent feel for the game, a nice first step beating opponents off the dribble, and the ability to change directions smoothly and take the ball extremely aggressively to the rack. Knight can really defend when he wants to, but he seems to gamble a little too much for steals, which might be his teams game-plan.
Its hard to argue with the results as Team Breakdown won their bracket in the Reebok tournament, and won the AAU Nationals in Orlando both this year and last.
Jeremy Tyler, 6-9, Power Forward, Rising Junior, California Supreme
5-Star Recruit (USC, UCLA, etc)
Tyler is still not the most productive guy youll find (he coasts for long stretches and still doesnt really know how to bring his tools together), and isnt a very high energy player either, seeming to lack serious effort at key points of the game at times. In the one game we saw, he decided to jog back down the floor lackadaisically on an extremely important possession late, and saw his team give up a key offensive rebound and almost lose the game as he was just barely passing half-court.
Tyler is obviously a superb talent, but he still leaves a lot of people skeptical at this point regarding his recruiting rankings and whether or not he will be able to live up to that.
Mike Shaw, 6-8, Small Forward, Rising Junior, Mac Irvin Fire
Theres no question that Shaw is still a really raw and inexperienced player at this point. Its not hard to see what people like about him, thoughunless he continues to grow, hes obviously a perimeter player despite standing 6-8, and has a really nice framework of skills and physical tools to build upon. If he keeps improving over the next few years, he could develop into a very interesting prospect.
LaQuinton Ross, 6-8, Small Forward, Rising Junior, MBA
Ross decision making looked very poor when we saw himas he easily lost focus, got frustrated with his teammates, and generally displayed very poor body language. He seems to complain a lot when things dont go his own way, and showed a distinct lack of effort in terms of doing the little things to help his team get back in the game. His rebounding looked sub-par (not boxing out) and his defense non-existent (even if his length and lateral quickness give him lots of potential here), and his shot-selection offensively left a lot to be desired. Ross perimeter stroke needs a lot of work it seemshe had trouble knocking down free throws from what we could tell too. Ross fundamentals in general are not the besthe obviously has a world of talent but still needs to learn to bring it all together.
6-8 perimeter players who can score the way Ross can in a variety of ways and are still so young will always draw a tremendous amount of attention from a very early age. Hes not a finished product by any stretch, though, and still has a long ways to go before being ready to justify the hype thats being thrown at him right now. We will have to keep watching him over the next few years and see how hes progressing.