Thoughts on the Stars of Day One
DeAndre Jordan, 6'11 C, Houston Swoosh Blue
The downside is that he is still a very raw prospect, which is what you would expect considering the fact that he is just beginning to become a well known name this past spring and summer. While he has strong legs and calves, the source of much of his explosiveness, he lacks significant bulk in his upper body, which hurts him in terms of fully making his presence felt around the basket. He doesnt know how to use his body yet to carve out space and finish while being contested, and relies too much on his athleticism and length when going after rebounds and blocks. His timing is decent, but still betrays him at times, and occasionally you will see him not even attempting to go out of his area and come up with a rebound. Boxing out, using crafty footwork and other fundamental moves youll see come intuitively from a big man like Kevin Love for example are just not in his repertoire at the moment. Mentally is where Jordan might be the rawest right now, possessing an average feel for the game, having an inconsistent motor, and getting very frustrated at his teammates (sometimes rightfully so) when they wont pass him the ball.
Despite all these highly correctable weaknesses, Jordan has about as much reachable potential as anyone we saw today besides possibly O.J. Mayo. Hes going to have the opportunity to jump to the NBA after one season if he chooses his college correctly, but could very well end up staying 2 or 3 years. Jordan is a very well spoken young man (as you will read in an interview well publish in the near future) and mentioned that he is currently looking at Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, LSU and Indiana as his top choices. When pressed, he also added Rick Pitino and Louisville and said that he is planning on committing to his favorite school fairly early in the process.
Kevin Love, 6'9 PF, SoCal All-Stars
However, his professional upside might not be quite as high. Love isnt overly athletic, and could probably improve his conditioning some. He is probably a legit 6'9, but isnt going to be a shot blocking presence at the professional level. Love has a nice wide frame, but whether he can use it to dominate at the NBA level remains to be seen. Tomorrows matchup against Bill Walker, Alex Tyus, and the ultra-athletic D1 Greyhounds should be very telling in terms of Kevin Loves bottom line pro potential.
O.J. Mayo, 6'4 PG, D1 Greyhounds
From the get go, he displayed his awesome passing skills, twice drawing multiple defenders away from the hoop and hitting teammates on cuts to the basket for easy layups. Mayo also showed off his perfect shooting stroke early on. His form is picture perfect, and he releases the ball quickly with great elevation, making his shot virtually unblockable. The spin on his shot coupled with a high release point allows for some nice rolls off the rim. Mayo took 3 three pointers during the game, and knocked down all of them. In terms of handling the ball, he was able to get into the lane at will, and get past multiple defenders. This, coupled with his ability to see the court, and amazingly quick first step allow him to create at any given time throughout the game. He is very coordinated, and can go right or left at any given time, and can finish with both hands in traffic. On one occasion, Mayo received an alley-oop pass on the break, which he caught around waist level, and scoop-reversed in off the backboard in one motion. On another occasion, it looked like he would lose the ball trying to go right on the fast break, but at the last possible second he gained control and made a layup back over his head with his left hand. If he cant get to the basket, Mayo uses an outstanding mid-range game to score. He has the ability to score from 10-15 feet using a runner or floater, s a shot he can make off balance and in traffic with amazing body control. He also has the ability to use the glass to finish from many different angles. Mayo was wild on a few occasions, trying to force unnecessary behind the back passes in traffic, likely an attempt to please the jam packed sold out crowd that came to watch him play. There were other times where he turned the ball over by throwing a few great passes that teammates couldnt handle. On the defensive end, Mayo didnt appear to give great effort unless the guy he was guarding challenged him intently with the ball. If he was beat, he seemed to give up on the play, and on more than one occasions showed that he doesnt really understand the concept of how to play help defense. He does have quick hands, however, and has shown the potential to be a good defender in the past when the urge strikes him. Mayo has an NBA ready body, and its clear that he has spent a lot of time working himself into the condition he is currently in. What is scary is that as good as he is right now, he doesnt appear to be anywhere near a finished product, particularly when you consider the freelancing way his team is managed. His AAU team doesnt even run set plays, so some instruction on how to run an offense and play off the ball will be of great use to him at the next level. Mayo was mostly a 2 today, but his teammates deferred to him enough to let him dominate when he chose to.
Derrick Rose, 6'3 PG, Meanstreets
In terms of pure physical attributes, there is very little to question about Roses status as a consensus top 5 recruit. He is every bit the 6-3 he is listed at, aided tremendously by his terrific length and excellent strength. He has a great frame for an NBA point guard and is a premier athlete to compliment that. Rose is explosive both vertically and horizontally, showing off his leaping ability numerous times when elevating for dunks and even doing a nice job crashing the glass and coming up with offensive rebounds. When moving at game speed he is smooth and fluid, capable of changing gears quickly but not quite having the intuition or experience to fully take advantage of this at this point.
His point guard skills look very solid as well, although again it was tough to gauge anything beyond his raw talent to the mediocre gameplan his team ran and the fact that he didnt have much talent besides Eric Gordon next to him to take advantage of his crisp passes. Rose is an up-tempo point guard who is at his best when allowed to operate in transition. His struggles come when forced to into a more slow it down half-court game, although again, this is usually what a playbook is intended to help out with. What happened instead is that Rose looked very stubborn in trying to create his own shot against a tough and extremely active So-Cal defense, being unable to get into the paint with room to operate and being baited instead to settle for long-range jump-shots. Rose unfortunately cooperated fully and forced up a number of horrendous looking 3-pointers, showing atrocious mechanics and very little range outside of 14 feet. Clanking a half dozen 3-pointers off the side iron did not deter him from continuing to force the issue, and it was here where Rose was at his absolute worst in this game.
While this sounds like quite a bit of negativity on such a highly regarded recruit, have no mistake that Rose is a special talent who will have a major impact on the college game from day one. It must be said that the talk of Rose sitting out a year to go play in Europe and then enter the draft is absolutely ridiculous, though. Players as young as Rose who are limited in their scoring tools and have little to no experience in running a half-court offense can absolutely not play at a high level in Europe, unless they want to ride the pine extensively and earn their stripes in a junior league first. Pro A France and a 60-80 thousand dollar salary is about as much as a player like Rose can expect, unless he is willing to sign a long term contract, and at that point he is better off going to college for 2-3 years.
Eric Gordon, 6'3 SG, Meanstreets (committed to Illinois)
But does this make Eric Gordon a legitimate NBA prospect? At just 6'3, it is doubtful that he will be able to play full-time at the wing on the next level. He certainly didnt display any point guard skills in this contest - it was clear that once he received the ball, the only thing on his mind was getting off a shot as quickly as possible. However, there may be some combo guard in Eric Gordon. He certainly has the body type, athleticism, and toughness of your prototypical successful NBA combo guard. Gordon is clearly a winner, and a good fit in Champaign.
Brandon Jennings, 6'2 PG, SoCal All-Stars
Renardo Sidney, 6'10 PF, SoCal All-Stars
Bill Walker, 6'6 SF, D1 Greyhounds
The 6'6 wing has all of the ability to take over a game whenever he chooses, but often finds himself standing around the perimeter when he doesnt have the ball in his hands. Today he showed off some great lift on his jumpshot, but displayed very little arc, causing an erratic shooting performance from outside. Inside of fifteen feet however, Walker was a man amongst boys, getting to the free throw line twelve times. The 225 lb. SF also showed off his excellent court vision, dropping off four assists, although it would have been closer to seven had his teammates been able to catch a pass.
All in all, it was a solid but unspectacular performance for Walker. It was a bit frustrating from a scouting prospective due to the fact that he could have easily had 25 or so points had he chosen to be more assertive and looked to score more often. Regardless, Bill came out and showed everyone why he is considered one of the two or three best high school players in the country today at The BigTime.
Evan Turner, 6'6 SG (committed to Ohio State)
One thing Turner will have to work on however before he reaches college is his outside shooting. The Chicago native only took one perimeter jumpshot the entire game (a three pointer that he made), and that will not cut it at the collegiate level, whereas it does now in AAU. He will need to at least have the ability to keep defenses honest by being a threat to knock down the 18 foot jumper, or they will learn to play off of him enough to cut off his graceful baseline game.
Kosta Koufos, 7'2 PF, King James (committed to Ohio State)
The three main things that Koufos must improve on were evident today, with those being his athleticism, conditioning, and defense. It is clear to any observer that the Ohio State recruit is an average athlete, although he owns outstanding coordination for a player of his size. Kosta seemed to be a bit winded at times, which hindered him on the defensive end. While he will never be a great defender, he still has a long ways to go before he is able to consistently defend power forwards (his eventual position) at the next level.
With that said, it is very rare that we see a big man as skilled as the big Greek product. His package of size, outside shooting ability, and ball handling hasnt been displayed at the American high school level in recent memory. With improvement upon his low post game and his defense, we will certainly be seeing Mr. Koufos shaking Commissioner Sterns hand at the NBA Draft by the time it is all said and done.
Samardo Samuels, 6'8 PF, Metro Hawks