Uncommitted (St. John's, Kansas, USC)
The initial impression of Stevenson when he walked onto the court for warm-ups was extremely positive. He is a legitimate 6'6, over 200lbs, very well defined and fit (he has slimmed down considerably) looking very much like a basketball player and nothing like a high school kid. In the 1st half however, Stevenson showed exactly why he has so many skeptics.
When he didn't receive a pass where he wanted it, he demonstrated noticeable signs of frustration by rolling his eyes or throwing his arms up in disgust. He was totally out of sync as he was forcing up shots in the lane and driving hard at one speed into traffic committing offensive fouls or turning the ball over otherwise. He didn't seem to have any interaction with his teammates as they were reluctant to even throw him the ball in several instances throughout the game. With that, he showed very little movement without the ball, but rather posted up on the perimeter, using his overwhelming strength and size to receive passes.
Defensively, at least in the first half, he was lazy getting back and gambled all over the court, hindering his team tremendously. It also got very testy between LeFlore (AL) High School's star center DeMarcus Cousins and Stevenson where several unintentional half-hearted blows were exchanged. Stevenson sat the final 4 minutes of the first half with 3 fouls.
In the 2nd half, we saw a different Lance Stevenson. He played with a sense of urgency and showed why he is one of the most talented players in the country. His mid-range game was deadly, pulling up both right and left, elevating high in the air and creating a lot of space in the process. He had one very quick right to left cross over into a jump shot that was more than impressive. He displayed the ability to change pace going to the basket, and was able to get where he wanted to go. He didn't seem to have tremendous speed or athleticism, but he has a very hard almost violent dribble than enables him to beat most players off the dribble at the high school level.
Stephenson was much better shooting off the dribble in every aspect: elevation, mechanics and accuracy. Off the catch however, he had a slow release and was kind of caught in-between shooting a jump shot or a set shot, which often resulted in a missed shot. When he went into his pull-up he was nearly picture perfect, although he did fade-away a little bit on several shots. His shot remains very streaky the further out he gets from the basket.
He was surprisingly unselfish for someone with his reputation also. He was willing to pitch the ball ahead to start a break or make the extra pass to a shooter in the half court. He didn't throw any spectacular passes, but the fact that his teammates were neglecting him on a couple occasions did not affect his willingness to give the ball up. With that said, he still took several ill-advised shots his coach surely would have loved to have back.
Stevenson played really good on the ball defense, especially in the second half. When he sets his mind to shutting someone down, there aren't too many players who can score on him. Off the ball was another story, as he seemed uninterested, coming out of his stance almost standing completely upright. He would often lackadaisically reach at slashing guards driving past him part of that however was because he was in foul trouble for most of the game.
Stephenson seems like he thinks he's above high school basketball, and there are legit concerns over whether he will think the same way about college ball as well. Playing in Europe seems completely out of the question, as his style of play and attitude look like a sure-fire recipe for disaster, even at the lower levels of play. Whatever he ends up doing next season, Stevenson must completely change his attitude. With the right tutelage and guidance, he can be an outstanding two guard in the college game. It's going to be very interesting to monitor Stevenson's development and see if he can mature as he enters the next chapter of his life and basketball career.
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, 6-7, Small Forward, 2009, Tilton
Committed to UConn
On the offensive end, he can do many things that make him a difficult player to defend. When off the ball, he is constantly in motion, either cutting hard to the hoop or curling very tight off a screen showing that he really knows how to play the game. When he does have the ball, his ball handling ability was on display as he lead many fast and secondary breaks, making smart decisions along the way. He read his numbers well, finding open shooters in transition and never forcing the action.
Coombs-McDaniel handles the ball well and was able to get to the basket when he wanted by using great hesitation moves and jukes to get his defender off balance. He primarily drove right, not showing much of a left hand, but still managed to penetrate when he pleased. He has good but not great athleticism, and the same can be said about his speed as well. He does a good job of leaning into his man, baiting the refs to give him the benefit of the doubt. His persistence in the way he attacked the basket was fun to watch, refusing to give up until he finished or got to the line. His aggressive attitude set the tone early and his teammates fed off of it elevating their own games to new heights.
Coombs-McDaniel's shot was good but not great. He has a rather slow release, only taking shots when wide open and didn't show the ability to pull-up or create a shot off the dribble. He has nice mechanics and elevates well but could get a little more rotation on his shot. He does have great shot selection, and he does a good job of knowing when to pass and when to shoot, which is a very difficult thing to do on any level, let alone in high school.
On the defensive end, his leadership skills really came to the forefront as he was always talking. He would often pick up the opposing coach's play calls and inform his teammates of what was to come, for example warning his point guard of a high screen before the ball was even inbounded. He is long and active on this end as well, and moves well to prevent penetration. There were a few times when he got caught up on screens or stood up out of his stance off the ball to relax, but overall he showed the effort that is necessary at this end.
His leadership skills, maturity and high basketball IQ are the ingredients that are going to make Coombs-McDaniel a favorite of Jim Calhoun. He's unselfish and seems like he'll sacrifice anything from his game in order to get a win. He was a pleasure to watch, and although we can't expect too many outings like this one in college, he showed the intangibles and skill set that will bode well at the next level. Long-term, his upside may not be as high as some of the other small forwards in this class, but his all-around game and maturity should give him a chance to see minutes fairly soon as a college player.
Doron Lamb, 6-3, Shooting Guard, 2010, Oak Hill Academy
Uncommitted: (Georgia Tech, Louisville, Rutgers, Xavier)
He did show nice scoring instincts, primarily in transition, where he really seems to excel. He is fairly athletic and has nice body control in the lane, looking very much capable of creating his own shot, and not being bashful in the least bit about doing so. He's clearly more of a shooting guard at this point, looking first and foremost to score before attempting to create for teammates, something that should be able to translate to the college level eventually judging by the little we could see here. Defensively, he was fairly average. His intensity seemed to waver on both ends of the floor and there were large stretches of the game where his presence was barely noticed.
Still incredibly young, Lamb obviously has plenty of time to continue to work on his all-around game. Judging by the fact that he's ranked as one of the top shooting guard prospects in the nation, it's obvious that he usually plays much better than this.
Jason Morris, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Hotchkiss, 2010
Uncommitted: (Stanford, Villanova, Virginia, Georgia, Georgia Tech, etc)
Morris has a very nice physical profile, being a long and athletic 6-4 shooting guard with a great frame and an obvious ability to create his own shotwhich already separates him from most of the players in his class. He has great scoring instincts and is capable of getting to the rim with ease at this level, showing a very versatile offensive game for such a young player. Morris can get to the rim and finish with excellent body control, make outside shots, or utilize a pull-up jumper to score from mid-range, not being shy in the least bit asserting himself.
Obviously not a very polished player or a great decision maker, Morris took some really bad shots early in the offense, pulling up wildly off the dribble with a man in his face and missing most of his attempts, sometimes badly. He still has a ways to go in terms of learning how to pick his spots and maximize his talents, losing focus pretty easily and showing a real wild side. He felt a need to trash talk his opponent for almost the entire game despite being down on the scoreboard pretty much the whole way through. Still extremely young and obviously with a long ways to, Morris is a player to keep an eye on over the next few years.
Derrick Wilson, 6'2, Point Guard, 2011, Hotckiss
Uncommitted (Texas, Georgetown, Xavier, Memphis, Syracuse, etc)
Wilson isn't super athletic for a point guard, though considering he has a little baby fat to lose, and is already 6'2 as a sophomore, it's way too early to conclude that he has any limitations physically, as he's clearly not done growing and clearly is nowhere near his athletic potential. Regardless, he makes very good use of his strong frame now, and doesn't let his lack of top-end speed hold him back, showing an excellent grasp of speed and direction changes, putting on a nice display of dribble-driving here.
He went exclusively to the right in his one game here, though he never made it seem that way, as he incorporated pivots, hop steps, hesitation dribbles, hand changes, and other moves to throw off his defender, while going all the way to the rim on some occasions and pulling up in the lane on others. His repertoire on the dribble-drive at this age is very impressive, and even more so is his ability to use it. He also shows good body control and ability to adjust in traffic, but even though he makes good use of the high glass on some of his attempts, his finishing ability leaves a little to be desired, though it's in part due to his just average explosiveness.
Wilson didn't rely on his jump shot much, so it's hard to accurately assess it, but his form looked fairly solid on the few attempts we saw. He hit just 1-of-3 from behind the arc, though the one make was a rushed shot at the end of the shot clock that he luckily banked in.
As a point guard, Wilson showed no problems bringing the ball up the floor, handling pressure well, moving the ball around, and making a few simple drive-and-kicks. It's questionable how good his vision and his ability to create for others are, being hard to judge on a team that obviously relies on his scoring.
Looking forward, Wilson appears to have a successful future ahead of him, showing good maturity at his age with a well-developed skill set, while he's also already 6'2 with decent athleticism as a high school sophomore. If he can grow a few inches and/or improve his quickness/explosiveness, he could turn into an interesting prospect, especially if he continues to expand his skill set.
Tony Chenault, 6-1, Point Guard, 2010, Neumann-Goretti
Committed to Wake Forest
Small, short-armed and with a pretty narrow frame, Chenault isn't going to blow you away physically on first glance. He was one of the few true point guards on display in Springfield in the dozen or so games we took in, though, which is a great quality to have.
Tough, aggressive, and extremely fast in the open floor, Chenault shows great instincts as a playmaker, doing a great job setting up his teammates. He dribbles the ball with his head up, runs his team's sets crisply, and did a particularly nice job on the pick and roll. His intangibles look solid and he showed some nice leadership skills as well, doing everything he could to keep his team in the game and come away with a win.
Very much capable of scoring himself, he has excellent ball-handling skills and hesitation moves, looking very strong in transition in particular, but also comfortable creating his own shot in the half-court as well. He blew by his defender on a number of occasions and took the ball strong all the way to the rim, finishing impressively around the basket with both hands and excellent touch off the glass. His jump-shot looks decentobviously not his strongest pointbut surely not too bad either.
Defensively, he showed nice competitiveness putting pressure on the ball and trying to stay in front of his man. Chenault's long-term upside may be limited to a certain extent by his average physical tools (size/length/ frame) but he has all the makings of a really nice college player.
Justin Jackson (Cincinnati), 6-7, SF/PF, 2010, Montverde Academy
Uncommitted: Florida, Clemson, Maryland, Georgia