Initial High School Player Scouting Reports, Part One

Initial High School Player Scouting Reports, Part One
Aug 14, 2009, 06:50 pm
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-6, Shooting Guard, St. Patrick's High School, 2011

It would have been nice to see a lot more of Michael Gilchrist, considered by many to be arguably the best long-term prospect in high school basketball. Unfortunately we'll have to stick with an initial first impression after seeing some small glimpses. Thankfully for us, though, Gilchrist is only 15 years old, meaning we'll have plenty of opportunities to evaluate him down the road.

Gilchrist passes the eye test on first glance, showing great size for the wing position at 6-6 to go along with an excellent frame and a reported 7-foot wingspan. He doesn't wow you with his athleticism initially (clearly he is still growing into his full athletic potential at this point), but seems to be a very smooth player overall and displays excellent body control, which helped him make a couple of very impressive plays, though.

Gilchrist has an extremely versatile game for such a young player, as he can do a little bit of everything at this point. He appears to have some point forward skills, showing nice court vision and an excellent feel for the game. He can post up his man but also break down the defense off the dribble, being capable of making shots from the perimeter, despite sporting a slow, fairly ugly release on his jumper. His ball-handling skills are improvable as you might imagine considering the stage of development he's currently at.

Defensively, Gilchrist is extremely active and competitive, which is not something you find in most young star players this age, and leaves a lot of room for optimism regarding his future development. He seems to have a great demeanor on the court, not being afraid to step up in important situations, but also not trying to impose himself excessively on the game. He seemed to take pride in crashing the offensive glass in the games we saw.

Talent evaluators seem to unanimously agree that Gilchrist is an extremely special prospect with tremendous natural gifts. The challenge for him now will be to continue to play with the same type of fire that has allowed him to rise to the top of his high school class, and continue to work on his all-around game. That's not going to be easy considering how early the spotlight came for Gilchrist, as history hasn't always been all that kind to prospects who were “discovered” so early. We'll have to see how he continues to develop, and we're sure we'll be talking plenty more about him in the coming year.

Justin Anderson, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Montrose Christian, 2012

While obviously it's way too early to be talking about a player who just finished his freshman year of high school, it was tough not taking notice of the talent that Justin Anderson displays. Not only does the lefty bring great physical tools to the table, highlighted by a great frame, wingspan and athleticism, but he also looks to be a very smart, tough, active player with a pretty nice stroke. He competed non-stop, defended extremely well and also did a great job crashing the glass. Already ranked by ESPN as one of the top five players in the 2012 high school class, Anderson has quite a future ahead of him if he continues to work hard and doesn't let the hype go to his head.

Terrence Jones, 6-8, SF/PF, Jefferson High School, 2010

One of the fastest-rising players in the 2010 class based on his play this summer, Terrence Jones (#34 Scout, #15 Rivals, #16 ESPN) didn't disappoint in the least bit when we went out to see him in the GBOA tournament in Las Vegas.

A 6-8 tweener forward with solid athleticism and a nice frame, Jones does a little bit of everything for his team. He likes to play primarily facing the basket, where he shows a nice first step and the ability to attack his man off the dribble going either left or right. Not blessed with great advanced ball-handling skills at this point—he's mainly a two-dribble guy without much of a mid-range game—Jones does an excellent job using shot-fakes to create space and takes the ball very strong to the rack.

Capable of knocking down a barrage of 3-pointers when he gets hot, Jones is still a bit on the streaky side from the perimeter and tends to fall in love excessively with his jumper at times. He has a slight hitch in his shot which takes away from the fluidity of his release. Although he's very much capable of posting up, and actually shows nice footwork on occasion down in the paint to go along with his strong body and excellent size, he doesn't seem to do so enough, looking more concerned with bringing the ball up the floor in transition himself and trying to show off his small forward skills. He's not a selfish guy, though—he seemed very willing to make the extra pass and all in all looked like a pretty good teammate.

Defensively, Jones shows average fundamentals and toughness and doesn't always look all that focused on this side of the floor. He can get in the passing lanes and make plays rotating from the weakside, but doesn't always seem to show much hustle getting after the glass, although he can clearly make his presence felt here when he puts his mind to it.

Jones has a rep for being fairly inconsistent from game to game, as you never quite know what you'll get from him on any given night. This is not that much of a shock considering the stage of development he's currently at, and it will be interesting to see whether his games blossoms moving forward. He has a lot of tools at his disposal and is an extremely versatile all-around player, even if he hasn't quite found a position for himself just yet.

LaQuinton Ross, 6-8, Small Forward, Murrah High School, 2011

One year after evaluating LaQuinton Ross for the first time, we haven't seen a great deal of change in his game. He's still the same ultra-sized and very smooth wing player with unremarkable athleticism, and he's still extremely skilled for his age. Ross has solid ball-handling skills for his height, yet they are still improvable. He's capable of pulling up smoothly off the dribble from mid-range when the situation calls for it, and has a very nice stroke from beyond the arc as well, even looking adept at coming off screens. His shot-selection left something to be desired, but he did make some nice passes at times and generally looked more mature.

Ross doesn't know how to use his size to post up smaller players, though, and seems to show a very concerning lack of aggressiveness in general on the offensive end, looking far too passive at times and way too content just letting things come to him. He surely lacks a bit of fire and toughness to his game.

Defensively, Ross' fundamentals are still fairly poor, although he does seem to be putting in slightly better effort than we remembered. He gets beat off the dribble fairly easily still, though, and it's not quite clear what position he'll be able to defend at the collegiate level, although his length and excellent instincts getting in the passing lanes do help out.

Ross was a very highly touted player from an extremely young age, but there are some concerns that he's not improving as quickly as some of his peers and that his mentality leaves something to be desired. He's still far too young of a prospect to write off, and we'll have to see what he looks like after another year of high school basketball next summer.

Keala King, 6-6, Shooting Guard, Mater Dei, 2010

Although we only had one opportunity to see Keala King (unranked, #35 Rivals, #54 ESPN) in action, it didn't take more than that to come away thoroughly impressed.

A 6-5ish ultra smooth combo guard in the Evan Turner mold, King is an extremely creative player who excels on the pick and roll. He is very aggressive putting the ball on the deck and trying to get to the rim, showing nice ball-handling skills and the ability to create for both himself and others. He's a very good passer, particularly on the drive and dish, and has a knack for finding teammates in stride for easy baskets, thanks to his high basketball IQ.

King has good, but not great athleticism, which coupled with his narrow frame makes it difficult for him to finish in traffic at times, and in turn makes him a bit turnover prone. His perimeter stroke is a bit on the shaky side, something he'll have to work on if he's to reach his full potential. He passed up a couple of open looks in the game we saw, instead opting to drive into the crowded paint, which led to mixed results. He seemed to get a bit rattled at times when things didn't go his way, complaining excessively to the referees and losing his focus somewhat, which may be more a product of his age more than anything.

With his excellent instincts and aggressive mentality, King is the type of player who always seems to be around the ball, which often manifests itself in the form of steals and rebounds. He seems to take pride in the effort he puts in on the defensive end, and indeed guarded everywhere from the 1-4 spots in the game we took in. He appears to have a fairly poor wingspan, though, which may hurt his potential on this end of the floor in the long-term, especially when coupled with his narrow frame.

King is a very nice prospect for the collegiate level, as his size and ability to create for himself and others will allow him to play 2 or 3 positions when it's all said and done. If he develops a steadier jump-shot, he could become a very interesting prospect.

Josh Hairston, 6-8, Power Forward, Montrose Christian, 2010

We had a chance to get an extended look at Josh Hairston (#42 Scout, #55 Rivals, #28 ESPN) this summer, as he played at the GBOA tournament we attended, as well as the Adidas 64 in Las Vegas and the Adidas Nations event in Dallas.

Hairston is an undersized power forward at 6-8, who does not possess great athleticism, but is smart, fundamental and versatile enough to emerge as an excellent college player at Duke.

Not overly skilled in any one area at this point, Hairston shows glimpses of potential in a number of different parts of his game, all of which can become weapons in the future if he continues to add polish. He likes to play primarily facing the basket, where he shows a very nice (although sometimes a bit flat) stroke knocking down 3-pointers, and is even capable of pulling up off the dribble from mid-range. He likes to take his man off the dribble from the perimeter, where he is an excellent mismatch threat, and shows very nice footwork and interesting pivot moves in the process, being capable of finishing with either hand around the basket.

When given the opportunity, he will not shy away from taking his man down to the paint and showing somewhat of a post game, although he doesn't possess great strength or many advanced moves down there. He's also a solid passer (especially on the outlet after a defensive rebound) thanks to his nice feel for the game, he seems to have a good demeanor on the court and is clearly a good teammate.

This same feeling is also transmitted to the defensive end, where Hairston shows good activity level, and is not afraid to stick his nose in and take a charge. He plays hard and puts a very good effort in on the glass, getting his hands on all kinds of loose balls, and even coming up with the occasional block or steal. As it currently stands, he may need to bulk up somewhat to avoid being posted up by the stronger power forwards he'll inevitably run into in the ACC, as he clearly doesn't have the lateral quickness to be effective enough defending small forwards.

Hairston epitomizes the direction many teams and coaches are moving towards these days in terms of how they expect their power forward to play, and is therefore a great get for Coach K and the Blue Devils, especially when you add in the fact that he's a seemingly very high character guy. His NBA potential may not be as high as other power forwards in this class, but that probably only makes him a more attractive option for most colleges.

Tarik Black, 6-8, PF/C, Ridgeway High School, 2010

Not a big time prospect by any stretch at this point, Tarik Black (#57 Scout, #43 Rivals, #55 ESPN) regardless managed to emerge as one of our favorite players to watch this summer.

Black is an undersized PF/C with a good frame, a nice wingspan and excellent athleticism. He runs the floor extremely hard, gets off the floor with authority, and simply plays harder than everyone else.

Very limited offensively, Black was his team's 5th option for the most part in the games we took in, mostly being relegated to catching and finishing around the basket. He still found ways to be productive, be it running the floor in transition, crashing the offensive glass with tenacity, or making some very basic spin moves in the post. His feel for the game, particularly his ability to pass out of double teams, needs work.

Defensively is where Black is probably at his best at the moment, as we could clearly see from the very strong outing he had against top-rated big man Joshua Smith, where he thoroughly frustrated him with his toughness and peskiness. His length and athleticism allows him to emerge as a very effective shot-blocking threat rotating from the weak-side, and he's agile enough to step out and hedge screens out on the perimeter defending the pick and roll.

Every college team needs at least one Tarik Black in their frontcourt rotation, and thus it's no surprise to see the type of offers he's getting at the moment. After all, long-armed athletic big men with a heartbeat don't exactly grow on trees. If he continues to develop his all-around polish as he fills out and gains more experience over the next few years, we might be able to talk about his pro potential as well.

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