After watching Wall play Saturday night, it's hard not to come here and spew every bit of hyperbole that comes to mind. His freakish physical tools were on full display throughout the whole game, coming in handy on both ends of the floor. We are still working with USA Basketball to get the official measurements, but Wall appears to stand around 6'3" at least, with very long arms, and a strong build for his size. In terms of quickness with the ball, he reminds of Chris Paul or Derrick Rose. The talented guard used his end to end speed on many fast break chances, showing the ability to weave through traffic on the run, or accelerate to the hoop quickly using his impressive first step.
Wall also possesses an incredibly explosive vertical leap for a point guard, which he displayed more than once in the game. He first wowed every fan in the Rose Garden by throwing down a thunderous dunk on the fast break from the right wing, taking off from the very edge of the free throw line before powering the ball through the basket. The quickness combined with the vertical leap allows the guard to finish quite effectively at the rim, where he shows good touch as well.
Defensively, the point guard has every tool you could ask for both physically and mentally, and this was on display throughout the game. With his length and quick hands, Wall generated 5 steals throughout the game. He does tend to gamble in the passing lanes a little too often, which will have to change the next level. He gathered most of his steals the old fashioned way, however, first denying penetration before closing out and swiping the ball away. If his pressure defense on the ball and ability to generate steals wasn't enough, the guard shows a very surprising ability to block shots as well. In an impressive display of athleticism and effort, Wall backed up defensively on one fast break and blocked a shot by opposing big Kevin Seraphin, who looked to have an easy lay-up coming his way. If he continues to play with the same intensity on the defensive end, it's not unreasonable to say he can become a lock-down defender in the NBA.
As a point guard, Wall also shows outstanding potential. Throughout the week, he displayed very impressive court vision and the ability to create for others off of penetration. On one possession, he penetrated past three World Select defenders who were playing zone, and opened up a shot for one of his shooters on the perimeter by creating his own driving lane. For all his tools and ability to make flashy passes, there is room for improvement before Wall can be called an elite floor general. He must learn to better pick apart a half-court defense, and cycle through his options on the pick and roll. To improve here, it would make sense for him to model his game after Chris Paul in terms of reading angles and spacing.
In the practices, Wall appeared to be a good shooter off the dribble from mid-range, but he seems to lack range beyond about 18 feet (P.J. Carlesimo even called his mid-range jumper "excellent" after watching him in the practices). In order to further extend his range, hell need to improve his shooting mechanics, much like Derick Rose did his freshman season at Memphis. Wall also has a flat release at the free throw line, but usually shows decent accuracy from the charity stripe.
It was very positive to see leadership and intensity from John Wall during the practices, in a setting where many of his teammates didn't appear to be taking the experience so seriously. The representatives from Nike had very positive comments about him outside of the practices as well, which can only be viewed as good news considering he has been labeled as being a bit immature in the past.
More than one NBA scout in attendance said that Wall would receive strong consideration for the top slot in the draft whenever he declared, and it's easy to understand why he's such a popular prospect. With the court vision, physical tools, and defensive ability of an elite prospect, it will be quite interesting to see how he wraps up his recruiting process, and what comes of the NBA draft rumor that originated a couple days ago.
Avery Bradley, 21 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
As a scorer, Bradley displays a number of impressive tools, but really stood out from the mid-range. He shoots a nice pull-up jumper from anywhere on the floor, and has excellent elevation on his shot. Throughout the week, the guard also showed nice range on his jumper, though he knocked down just one of his three attempts in the game. On the drive, Bradley displays great body control near the basket, and shows the ability to draw contact and still get the ball through the hoop.
Physically, Bradley possesses a strong body with a good wingspan, and good all-around quickness and explosion. His physical tools come in handy especially on the defensive end of the floor, where he will be one of the best at his position from day one in the Big 12. In addition to his physical tools, he also cuts off penetration very effectively, and understands pick and roll coverages quite well.
To really establish himself as a one and done type player, Avery Bradley must show the ability to play some minutes at the point. Throughout the week, he focused on being a scorer (which he is quite good at), but it would be very interesting to see where he stands as a lead guard. Considering that Dougas Balbay returns to Texas, Bradley will have to battle to win the starting point guard slot, and therefore its difficult to see him getting a great deal of playing time at the one next season. All things considered, he ranks as a very nice prospect on both ends of the floor, and he should be an impact player from the moment he arrives in Austin.
John Henson, 10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 5/9 FG
Physically, Henson has a similar build to that of a high school Kevin Durant, with a frame that will take significant time to add any type of bulk to. On the other hand, he has an impressive vertical leap, runs the court quite well, and he does play tougher than he looks.
Skill-wise, the forward likes to face the basket at this point, showing solid ball-handling ability and court-vision to go with a smooth-looking perimeter jumper. He also has very nice touch around the basket, and can knock in a hook shot with either hand from the low post. Down the road, Henson may see time at both forward spots, and could potentially develop into a mismatch nightmare if he completes both his perimeter and low post games.
Henson should get the minutes to prove himself next season for North Carolina, and has an excellent set of tools to work with as well. If he finds a way to add some strength and continues to round out his skills next season, it wouldn't be out of the question to see him develop into a very high draft pick.
Xavier Henry, 22 points, 7/12 FG, 6/11 3PFG, 1 rebound, 1 assist
18 of Henry's 22 points came from behind the three point line, where he shows good form and a quick release. The lefty shoots the ball with a great deal of confidence as well, and has no reservations about taking another shot, even if he badly missed the last one. The rest of his points came on one drive to the hoop where he displayed solid body control, and another finish on a basket cut in the half-court.
The uncommitted senior needs to further develop his ball-skills before he should be considered NBA ready, and a more polished mid-range game would be a nice step as well. He has a strong body, good size, and impressive defensive tools, however, and should ease into the role of shooting specialist very comfortably wherever he ends up next season.
Mason Plumlee, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks
Offensively, the big man would rather face the basket and take his man off the dribble than play in the post, but he can also drive to the basket with either hand. To take his game to the next level, Plumlee could work on scoring from the low-post by further developing his footwork.
It will probably take some time before we can really begin to talk about Mason Plumlee and the NBA draft, but he has excellent upside thanks to his physical profile, hustle, and developing offensive game. He will add to a very nice group of talent at Duke, yet still have a chance to see plenty of playing time as a freshman.
Leslie McDonald, 8 points, 4/10FG, 2 rebounds
The guard showed solid ball-handling ability on a nice transition finish at the rim early in the game, and created once more off the dribble later in the second quarter. He's not the quickest guy in the world and seems to play below the rim, but at the same time looks very smooth as an athlete, and knows when to pick his spots to attack the basket. McDonald also shoots the three pointer with good accuracy (based on the practices), but missed all three of his long range attempts in the game. To top it off, he plays unselfishly and seems to have a high basketball IQ.
McDonald has the makings of a strong role player for the Tar Heels, but should contribute from day one on campus. He lacks the ideal size for an NBA 2 guard, but has a strong body and will step in and replace Wayne Ellington quite nicely over time.
Renardo Sidney, 6 points, 2/8 FG, 0/2 3PFG, 2/4 FT, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Sidney stands at around 6'10", and is listed around 270, carrying probably 15-20 extra pounds considering his build and size. He moved much better as a sophomore in high school, and back then he would mix it up in the post occasionally on offense as well. Fast forward to now, and he seems to just want to shoot jumpers most of the time, as he did during the practices and in the game. He did display a nice reverse finish near the basket as well, but it was about the only time he entered the paint during the game. The USC-bound senior can pass the ball quite effectively from the high post, and his 4 assists were quite impressive in this game.
Defensively, Sidney showed very little focus and effort, tending to pick up fouls rather than guarding the post. The big man also showed a poor understanding of how to guard the pick and roll. On the glass, he didn't box out or use his extra bulk at all, and showed very little fight at all, being outworked multiple times by the international bigs.
Now is the time that Sidney must make the necessary changes to become the impressive prospect who really stood out as a sophomore in high school. It all starts with a more professional demeanor, and a better focus. It would also help if he were able to slim down, and start to mix it up in the post on the offensive end.
DeMarcus Cousins, 4 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1/6 FG
Offensively, Cousins shows a great feel for the game, and assisted cutting guards multiple times in the game from the high post. In addition, he shoots the ball effectively to 20 feet, and can even face the basket and drive to the hoop a little bit as well. On the other hand, he needs to become a tougher player in the low post. The talented big tends to play below the rim and miss easy baskets inside, lacking the touch and toughness necessary to really take full advantage of his size inside.
Physically, he has a massive frame with good strength, and above average agility as well. He may be a bit on the heavy side as well, but nothing a little time in the weight room can't solve. Like Sidney, he needs to focus on becoming a tougher and more serious player. With his tools, he could become a very good player both in college and at the NBA level, but a greater degree of focus is needed from him. As one scout put it "with a lot of the bigs in this class, you are reminded of Eddy Curry one too many times."
Abdul Gaddy, 3 points, 1/3 FG, 1 turnover
Gaddy was featured extensively in our coverage of the McDonald's All-American game, and looked quite solid in the practices throughout the week. Unfortunately, Wall and Bradley were featured by Team USA, and Abdul Gaddy didn't receive the best opportunity to showcase himself in the game Saturday night.
Gaddy shows good point guard skills and a nice mid-range jumper, and excellent athleticism going to the basket as well. Unlike his two back-court mates here, the guard needs to work on his defensive abilities, and play with more of a killer instict at times.
Though he appears to be very laid back, the 17 year-old guard has a very professional approach, and seemed focused on the goal all week during the practices. He will need time to develop because of how much younger he is than many of his peers, but has more long-term potential than some of the guards currently rated higher than him by the scouting services.