National Prep Showcase--Best of The Rest

National Prep Showcase--Best of The Rest
Nov 26, 2008, 11:36 am
After taking a look at the elite prospects that the National Prep Showcase had to offer, we now take a closer look at the top remaining performers including DeShawn Painter, Hassan Whiteside, Araslan Kazemi, Cory Joseph, and Andrew Fitzgerald.

DeShawn Painter, 6-9, 2009, PF/C, Hargrave Military Academy

Committed to Florida

Jonathan Givony

One of the more highly touted big men here at the National Prep Showcase, Florida commit DeShawn Painter (#52 Scout, #85 Rivals, #36 ESPN) showed nice physical tools and upside, but did very little in terms of actual productivity. He scored a total of just 9 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the two games we saw here in Rhode Island.

It's not hard to see why Painter is considered an intriguing long-term prospect. Standing somewhere between 6-8 and 6-9, he has a great body and frame, and is also an excellent athlete, which puts him in a rare category of big men in this class.

Painter is almost strictly a rebounder and interior defender at the moment, as he does a good job going out of his area crashing the glass (even if he rarely boxes out) and looks fairly intense on this side of the ball. He is explosive inside the paint, which makes him a solid shot-blocking threat and allows him to make a big impact thanks to his size and physical tools. Stepping out onto the perimeter, which he needed to do playing quite a few minutes at the power forward position, he seemed to struggle, looking quite a bit more comfortable playing inside the paint.

Offensively, we find a similar story. Painter is very limited inside, showing raw footwork and little ability to create offense for himself. He is even rawer on the perimeter, very prone to unforced errors such as travels, bad passes, unnecessary fouls and such.

Considering the stage of development Painter is currently at, these things aren't all that surprising. Big men usually take longer to develop, and he will be able to help out somewhat at the college level somewhat with his size, length and athleticism—things that are all in short supply. He plays hard and is very competitive on top of that, which is a good sign regarding his future. Other than that, we'll have to wait and see how he looks after a couple of years in college at the very least.

Hassan Whiteside, 6'11, Center, Patterson School, 2009

Signed with Marshall

Rodger Bohn

Hassan Whiteside (unranked Rivals, unranked Scout, unranked ESPN) was one of the pleasant surprises of the showcase, playing far beyond the average ranking that he has been given by the recruiting services. With the package of raw skills, physical gifts, and upside down the road, it's easy to tell why Donnie Jones and Co. landed a steal in Whiteside.

Physically, Whiteside has great size for a center at a legit 6'11 with a very long wingspan. Still a bit on the skinny side at 225 pounds, he possesses a wide frame that could surely add a considerable amount of muscle. Appearing relatively coordinated for a player of his stature, he shows good lateral quickness and fluidity in movement for a player his size. Toss in his above average leaping with ability to get up and down the court and you have all of the athletic makings of a bigtime prospect.

Whiteside is a relatively versatile, but unpolished player on the offensive end. He gives you glimpses of the ability to score both inside and out, but doesn't have a set go-to move. In the pivot, he tends to opt for a right handed hook shot that he releases with high extension. With the senior's footwork on the blocks being undeveloped at this time, it's difficult for him to have much more in his post repertoire. Another area of concern is Whiteside's ability to finish with contact inside, which he struggled with this past weekend in Rhode Island.

Not just a back to the basket player, Hassan also showed some intriguing skills on the perimeter. Displaying a soft touch all the way out to the collegiate three point line, he has a jumper with a high release point and pretty nice form. Whiteside also showed off decent ball handling skills when attacking the rim and was usually able to beat opposing centers off of the dribble. While it's nice of a player of his size to have skills like this, it should be noted that Hassan's ultimate position is unquestionably at center for the next level.

Defensively, the North Carolina native teamed with Rashanti Harris to create one of the more imposing front lines on this end of the court. With his long arms, leaping ability, and strong lower body, he was able to block a number of a shots without getting in foul trouble. Getting on the glass was not a concern with Whiteside, although there were some occasional lapses in effort defensively throughout the games we observed.

There is a considerable amount of long term potential for Whiteside in the future if he continues to develop and put forth effort throughout his collegiate career. The Marshall staff did an outstanding job of locking up this big man and he could potentially be an impact player in Conference USA early in his career. There have been some academic concerns with Whiteside, but he appears to be on the right track towards getting qualified for next season.

Cory Joseph, 6'3, PG/SG, 2010, Findlay Prep


Joseph Treutlein

Cory Joseph (#72 Scout, #110 Rivals, #54 ESPN), a 6'3 Canadian combo guard and brother of Minnesota Gopher Devoe Joseph, seems to be coming along very nicely in his development, having back-to-back strong games running the offense for Findlay Prep, dishing out assists and killing defenses with his absolutely lethal three-point shot. Joseph's shot has textbook form with a high and quick release, and he can shoot it spotting up or pulling up off one or two dribbles equally well, even hitting it with proficiency moving left and right. He's not much of a penetrator in the half court, though, mostly settling to run the offense with pass penetration, or occasionally taking one or two dribbles in for a quick drive-and-kick.

Transition is a different, story, though, as Joseph will get a bit more creative with the ball, doing a good job keeping his head up and making smart passes. As an athlete, Joseph appears to be pretty quick with the ball, and also had one impressive dunk in transition this weekend, but doesn't appear to have blow-you-away explosiveness.

It's obviously early in his development, as he's still feeling his way out with whether he'll be a point guard or combo guard, but the early returns are promising. He has interest from many high majors, and it'll be very interesting to see how his game progresses over the next year.

Kevin Parrom, 6'6, Small Forward, South Kent, 2009

Signed with Xavier

Rodger Bohn

Kevin Parrom (#84 Rivals, #74 Scout, #83 ESPN) had a little bit of a down weekend in Rhode Island, coming off of the bench for South Kent and not exactly doing anything to distinguish himself on the court.

Appearing to be a jack of all trades, master of none, Parrom did a little bit of everything out on the floor this weekend. Showing the ability to keep defenders honest, he drilled a pair of three point shots. Parrom also showed off a strong dribble drive game, he attacked the basket and finished with both hands. When unable to create for himself, the New York native exhibited above average court vision when distributing the rock. Kevin even did a solid job on the defensive end, keeping his man in front of him by using his nice size and length.

Parrom's ball-handling skills could certainly use some tightening up, as shown by a few of his wild drives to the rim that resulted in turnovers. With that said, he is still a very well rounded player and an outstanding get for Xavier. Parrom is the latest bigtime recruit that Xavier assistant Emmanuel Richardson has been able to land out of his stomping grounds of New York City, and one that should be a very nice player in the Atlantic 10.

Andrew Fitzgerald, 6'8, PF/C, 2009, Brewster Academy

Signed with Oklahoma

Rodger Bohn
Andrew Fitzgerald (#100 Rivals, #85 Scout, #63 ESPN) had a monster game against Stoneridge Prep center Yous Mbao, scoring at will and throwing his 265 pound body around in the paint. Not just a bruiser, he showed off a very soft touch both around the basket and out to about 17 feet. Fitzgerald is very light on his feet for a player of his stature, allowing him to maneuver his way through traffic without allowing defenders to draw charges. Though the Baltimore native didn't show much with his left hand, he was still able to get his shot off against more athletic defenders despite being a below average athlete.

On the defensive end, Fitzgerald uses his bulk to hold position on the blocks and force defenders into shots as far away from the basket as possible. Though not much of a shot blocker, he does do an outstanding job of attacking the glass on the defensive end. This is due to his fundamental boxing out and going and getting the ball, rather then so many players who just rely upon their athleticism.

Fitzgerald could certainly use to improve his body before he hits Norman, which would help him with both his explosiveness and his lateral quickness. With Blake Griffin's incredibly likely departure to the NBA after this season, there will be plenty of minutes in the Sooner frontcourt. However, OU also has a commitment from Keith “Tiny” Gallon and it is very hard to imagine both of these bulky big men playing on the floor together at the same time. This logjam could possibly serve as motivation for Andrew to get his body right so that he is able to steal minutes away from his more heralded fellow recruit Gallon.

Arsalan Kazemi, 6-8, Power Forward, 2009, Patterson School

Committed to Rice

Jonathan Givony

One of the most enjoyable players to watch here in Rhode Island was high-energy Patterson power forward Arsalan Kazemi (#83 Scout, Unranked Rivals, ESPN), a native of Iran and a recent commit to Ben Braun and Rice.

Kazemi has a terrific physical profile, standing 6-8 with long arms and an excellent frame, and possessing outstanding athletic ability, particularly in terms of his ability to get off the floor and finish. Primarily a hustle player at the moment, Kazemi contributes significantly to his team with his ability to run the floor, crash the glass, get in the passing lanes, and play fantastic defense both on the perimeter and inside the post.

He takes charges, is terrific as a weak-side shot-blocker, and is incredibly active as a team defender as well, being extremely aware and always moving within his team's zone. Showing the ability to defend either forward position, he brings a tremendous amount of versatility with his ability to switch on screens and get his team extra possessions. At times a little overenthusiastic (although its very hard to fault him for this) Kazemi will learn in time how to maximize his potential on this end of the floor as his feel for the game and knowledge of how to play improve.

Offensively, Kazemi is fairly limited in the half-court, showing very little in the ways of advanced ball-handling skills, and possessing a very streaky jumper that lacks significant range. His first step and terrific knack for being in the right place at the right time allows him to get to the rim at times and show off his outstanding leaping ability (he wants to dunk everything), but for the most part he's limited to garbage baskets in transition and through the offensive glass. He's a very unselfish player, not afraid to give up the ball and generally looking like an outstanding teammate, which is really a big plus.

Needless to say, Kazemi is an unbelievable steal for a team like Rice in Conference USA. He will need to play at least a few seasons of college basketball, but could very well develop into an NBA prospect in time.

Chris Braswell, 6'8, 2008, Power Forward, Hargrave Military Academy

Committed to Charlotte

Joseph Treutlein

After failing to qualify academically for the NCAA this season, Chris Braswell (unranked Scout, #78 Rivals) is back for another year at Hargrave Military Academy. His body language seems improved from what it was a year ago, and his effort level and approach to the game in general are both more consistent. With a very strong 6'8 body, while being a year or two older than the rest of his class, Braswell should be able to make an immediate impact for Charlotte (after decommitting from Georgetown) next season in a workmanlike role.

Here he did most of his damage in the painted area, scoring quite a few baskets in transition or off passes cutting through the lane, though showed some flashes of post moves as well, with hook shots and turnaround jumpers. His post awareness isn't great, sometimes fading away when he'd create a better shot attempt going strong to the basket, but with his good hands and positioning, he gets the job done. He showed some nice flashes on the defensive end as well, helping on the weak side, drawing a charge, and using his body in the paint and on the glass, though he did appear to just go through the motions at times.

Victor Rudd, 6'8, SF/PF, 2008, Findlay Prep


Joseph Treutlein

Victor Rudd (unranked Scout, #108 Rivals) had one of the more inconsistent performances here this weekend, on one hand making a tremendous impact with his outstanding athleticism, but on the other hand not really showing a great understanding of his limitations, and having an inconsistent impact in the areas he is able to help his team.

Rudd relies a lot on his three-point shot at this stage, which while having decent form, doesn't seem to get much success, or at least did not here, where he missed more than a handful of threes over the course of the weekend, without much results to show for it. Where Rudd did make a positive impact was cutting to the basket in half court and in transition, where he showed good hands and athleticism along with nice body control, getting to the line and finishing pretty well, showing some creativity with a nice baseline reverse on one occasion as well.

In terms of the rest of his game, Rudd is inconsistent on the glass and the defensive end, at times making impact plays, but a lot of times not doing all the little things like boxing out or playing tough, fundamental defense.

It's early to label him purely a power forward, but if he doesn't have more success with his jumper than he did this weekend, or he doesn't work on his ball-handling, which doesn't seem to be much of a threat, then he will have trouble playing the 3 position, which is the position his body type would seem best suited for.

Jordan Henriquez, 6'11, 2009, Center, Winchendon

Committed to Kansas State


Jordan Henriquez (unranked Scout, Rivals, ESPN) was nowhere near as impressive as he was when we evaluated him in April, now noticeably hampered by some sort of knee injury that severely limited his mobility. Not running the floor or having anywhere near the explosiveness that he had seven months ago, we were looking at a very different player.

Henriquez tended to stick around the high post, opting to shoot mid-range jumpers rather than do his damage in the post. While he did knock down a few 17-footers with relative ease, we would much rather see a player with his size doing his damage in the paint. In the few times he did decide to post up, the New York native turned toward his left shoulder virtually every time, generally fading away from the basket in the process. However, Henriquez did throw a number of gorgeous passed when doubled down on in the post, showing his above average court awareness.

On the defensive side, Jordan was still able to make an impact with his shot blocking ability despite the fact that he was not leaping anywhere near as well as the last time we saw him. The 5th year prep was still able to maintain a presence in the paint through his nice timing and large wingspan. While he didn't face any players who opted to face him up, Henriquez was also slower moving laterally then before, putting himself in a situation where he could only guard the center position.

Henriquez is a player widely considered to be a mid-major plus prospect until his strong play this spring, when he surprised many with his mobility and athleticism. In the games we took in this weekend, that mobility and athleticism wasn't there. Henriquez's size, soft touch, and passing ability make him an interesting prospect down the road, but there must be considerable development under Frank Martin and co. at Kansas State

Bandja Sy, 6-8, SF/PF, 2009, Stoneridge Prep


Jonathan Givony

Bandja Sy (unranked Scout, Rivals, ESPN) is a player we've seen numerous times over the past few months, whether it was in Las Vegas playing AAU basketball, at the Adidas Nations Experience in Dallas with Team Africa, or here in Rhode Island. Plagued by inconsistency from game to game and tournament to tournament, a foot injury kept him out of the final game here and hindered him significantly in the first two.

Sy is a perimeter player with very nice size and length at 6-8, and he seems to have added some weight to his frame as well recently. He is a streaky shooter with a very high arching jumper, capable of heating up quickly and burying a barrage of 3-pointers, but quite inconsistent at times as well. He moves off the ball well and is very good on the catch and shoot, but will also make nice cuts to the basket to present himself for an easy catch and finish.

Unlike your typical African prospect, Sy has an above average feel for the game, and is a very competitive player who is not afraid to make the extra pass. He appears to be a good teammate as well, and his limitations in Rhode Island clearly hurt his Stoneridge team.

Athletically, Sy is just average at best, lacking a significant amount of fluidity and possessing very little lateral quickness. His ball-handling skills are poor, and he seems to lose significant accuracy when forced to shoot off the dribble.

Due to his size and perimeter skills, Sy is someone who could develop into an interesting player at the collegiate level. He's supposedly being recruited by teams such as Arizona, Cincinnati, UConn and USC, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Youssoupha Mbao, 7'2, Center, 2009, Stoneridge

Joseph Treutlein

Standing a tall 7'2 with intriguing athleticism to boot, Mbao (Unranked by Rivals, Scout, and ESPN) definitely passes the initial look test for a basketball prospect, even with his skinny frame that could use quite a few more pounds. He's very long and fairly mobile, though he doesn't seem to be at his physical peak just yet, lacking in coordination, conditioning, and quickness, all of which could improve over time, though.

Looking at his actual game, Mbao is clearly still a work in progress, not being able to consistently contribute much on the offensive end. He relies heavily on an awkward turnaround jumper in the post, which he actually hit a handful of times this weekend, but he struggles to get post positioning, he's not especially quick with his moves, and he doesn't show great awareness in choosing his moves. When trying to go to counter-moves, you see the game slow down dramatically for him, and it's easy to see his effectiveness dropping when guarded by more formidable opponents.

Aside from flashes of post moves, Mbao gets some boards due to his size, but doesn't show great pursuit, and doesn't really fight especially hard in crowds. He also doesn't show the ability to power up much around the rim, mostly relying on finesse moves despite being half a foot taller than most of his competition. On the defensive end, he actually shows decent timing on his blocks in the lane without drawing fouls, though doesn't show great range in rotating over.
Clearly still a work in progress, Mbao might need some time to develop, but should wind up on a high major somewhere due to his excellent size and potential.

Clarence Trent, 6'7, Power Forward, Patterson School, 2009

Signed with Washington

Rodger Bohn

Clarence Trent (#143 Rivals, #77 Scout, #42 ESPN) was nowhere near as impressive as he was when we evaluated him last year at the National Prep Showcase when playing with Findlay Prep. While with Findlay, he was an active power forward who was hustling all over the court and was an absolute animal on the glass. Now with the Patterson School, that desire was missing and he was a relative non-factor in two out of three games in Rhode Island.

Now of course there were a few jaw dropping dunks and blocked shots from this physical specimen, but mixed with long periods of lackluster play. Trent's skills have actually improved over the last year, but it is his mental approach to the game that has appeared to have changed. The Washington native was better putting the ball on the deck and shooting from the perimeter then before (though still a work in progress), and finished incredibly well around the rim.

With top 10 recruit Abdul Gaddy heading to Washington in 2009, Trent will have the perfect set-up man to get him the ball in scoring positions. In order for Trent to come anywhere near reaching his top potential, there must be a serious change in attitude and approach towards the game. If this happens, Clarence is definitely a player who has the ability to impact the Huskies program with his athleticism and gritty style of play.

Naadir Tharpe, 6'0, Point Guard, Brewster Academy, 2011

Rodger Bohn

Naadir Tharpe was one of the more interesting point guard prospects at the National Prep Showcase, despite being only a 2011 prospect. Playing with a court savvy of a player far older, he did a very nice job of penetrating whatever opposing defense he was matched up against. A super athlete, he did a nice job of running the pick and roll, showing the ability to finish inside despite his slender frame. The Massachusetts native also made some gorgeous passes to big men Thomas Robinson and Andrew Fitzgerland for finishes inside, showing off his ability to find the open man in traffic.

Tharpe will need to bulk up substantially by the time he reaches college. His diminutive body won't be able to hold the rigots of the style of play of many of the high major programs that are recruiting him. There is also room for refinement of Tharpe's shooting mechanics, given the drastic leg kick that he shows on his jumpshot. All in all, Tharpe is a player who showed some promise at a young age and could very well wind up as a nice prospect when his time comes in 2011.

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