Nike Super 6 High School Invitational (Part Two)

Nike Super 6 High School Invitational (Part Two)
Jan 19, 2008, 10:29 pm
In part two of DraftExpress’ coverage of the 2008 Nike Super 6 Invitational, we take a look at some other top players that will be arriving at major college programs in the fall. In addition, we break down several promising underclassmen that either already have or are starting to make noise at the prep level.

Nike Super 6 Part One

Quintrell Thomas, 6’8”, PF, Senior, St. Patrick (NJ), Committed to Kansas
27 points, 12 rebounds vs. St. Raymond’s (NY)

There was little doubt about who was going to take home game MVP honors at the conclusion of the afternoon’s second game. Quintrell Thomas put together the most dominant performance of the afternoon, proving to be too physically overpowering for St. Raymond’s frontcourt players.

The future Jayhawk big man asserted himself right away, scoring his team’s first couple of baskets. It was clear that the first few trips down the floor that St. Pat’s was looking to get the ball inside to Thomas, not only because he is one of their primary offensive weapons, but because his play inside early on opened up the floor later for the plethora of guards the team trots out. It isn’t hard to see why Kansas went out and signed Thomas to join their talent-rich frontcourt. The senior already boasts an impressive build, one that should make his transition to the Big 12 a smoother one. With 240 pounds packed onto his 6’8” frame, Thomas doesn’t have trouble muscling his way through defenders at this level. If you also factor in an equally impressive wingspan, then it becomes clear why he is ranked as the #92 prospect in the country by and #147 by Rivals.

For a player as powerful as Thomas is, he has a surprisingly refined post game. He showed off a very strong drop step, as well as a smooth baby hook. The most promising aspect of Thomas’s post game however was his ability to score while spinning in either direction, towards the paint or the baseline. He reminds somewhat of Tyler Hansbrough in his ability to take a lot of contact inside, but still put a soft touch on his shot, something that will certainly help him against bigger post players next season.

Thomas is a tremendously explosive player when he gets position inside. He does a great job of sealing defenders on the block and from this position is able to elevate over most players at the high school level. If he gets any kind of room around the basket it is a safe bet that he will send in a thunderous dunk, which he did several times on St. Raymond defenders.

At this level Thomas is almost exclusively a post player, only flashing to the perimeter on occasion to screen for a teammate or to help reverse the ball when in a half court set. While he didn’t attempt any shots from outside the paint, Thomas showed very nice form and touch on his free throws, which leads us to believe that at the very least he could develop into a threat to knock down the occasional mid-range jumper in college. Thomas didn’t handle the ball outside of the paint either, so it is hard to make any kind of judgment about his ability to attack the basket off the dribble at this point. He does run the floor fairly well for a big man, and he certainly shows the athleticism necessary to be a threat to drive, but again we don’t know the extent of his ball handling skills.

Defensively, Thomas does exactly what you would expect a player of his caliber and build to do at this level: disrupt shots. He not only has great length and leaping ability, but shows a real knack for timing as well, something that allowed him to alter a tremendous number of shots not even in his area. A couple of times during the second half, Thomas actually went over the back of his own teammate to block shots as a help defender. This is the kind of aggressive play that coaches love to see from their interior defenders. These same physical qualities carry over to rebounding as well, where Thomas proved to be a force at both ends of the floor. He is an absolute handful to handle physically, and is capable of bringing down balls that aren’t in his area.

One cause for concern, though, was Thomas’s ability to defend the pick and roll. While we only saw him in that situation a couple of times, his lack of lateral quickness to defend this play was evident, and something he will need to improve on.

At this point it is way too early to start making any sort of predictions about Thomas from a future NBA standpoint. Certainly as a 6’8” post player the phrase “tweener” may come up if he doesn’t start to move out on the perimeter a little during his college career. As for his upcoming years with Kansas, though, Thomas possesses the strength, athleticism, frame and soft touch that leads one to believe he will be an impact player for Bill Self. While he may be stuck behind some other elite post players initially, don’t be shocked if Thomas is getting serious minutes from the get go either.

Jordan Theodore, 6’0”, PG, Senior, Patterson Catholic (NJ), Committed to Seton Hall
12 points, 5 assists, 5 steals vs. Mt. Vernon (NY)

Jordan Theodore, an undersized speedster from New Jersey, put together a solid performance running the show for Patterson Catholic on Sunday afternoon. The future Pirate had his full repertoire of point guard skills on display in a hotly contested game.

The obvious knock against Theodore is his size. He is listed at 6’0” 170 pounds, but that may even be a little generous. What the senior lacks in physical stature though he makes up for with tremendous quickness and explosive leaping ability. Plenty of people in attendance for the game were surprised to see Theodore throw down a fast break dunk in the second half of his game against Mt. Vernon.

From the opening minutes of the game, Theodore proved to be an absolute handful to contain in Patterson’s man-to-man defense. He is extremely quick off the dribble, and combined with his excellent handle, Theodore is able to penetrate the lane on a consistent basis. Once in the lane, he has shown fantastic ability as a playmaker, and this is where he gets the majority of his assists from, drawing and kicking to open teammates in the paint. When he does decide to attack the rim, Theodore is a good enough leaper that he is able to elevate and get his shot off against taller defenders when in traffic.

Theodore excels in the transition game, possessing great open floor speed and having great court vision. His ability to change direction on a dime makes it extremely hard for defenders to stay in front of him. He was also able to incorporate several hesitation moves to further shake defenders when in transition. When he attacks the rim, Theodore shows great ability to draw contact from defenders and get to the foul line.

Defensively Theodore was as pesky as he was on the offensive side of the ball. His has great lateral quickness to go along with very quick hands. He was able to register five steals in the game thanks to his hustle and anticipation. Theodore is equally as dangerous to pick an opponents pocket as he is to intercept a pass and take it the opposite way for an easy basket.

At this time Theodore looks like he will develop into a solid collegiate point guard. He is very quick, shows a high basketball IQ and knows how to play within himself. The one question we were left with after seeing Theodore play was his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He didn’t attempt any shots from beyond the perimeter, nor did we get to see him shoot off the dribble. As for further down the road, Theodore is very undersized for a guard at the professional level, but he has good point guard skills and knows how to play the game.

Greg Echenique, 6’8”, PF/C, Junior, St. Benedict’s (NJ), 4-star recruit, Uncommitted
15 points, 11 rebounds vs. Rice (HS)

Along with teammate Samardo Samuels, Greg Echenique is part of what may be the top high school frontcourt in the country; so it was no surprise when both players registered double-doubles in St. Benedict’s win over New York powerhouse Rice.

While the Louisville-bound Samuels had a first half that could be best described as non-descript, Echenique did everything he could to keep St. Benedict’s in the game. The junior picked up the bulk of his points in the first half thanks to his headstrong style of play inside. Echenique is listed at 240 pounds, but from what we saw he easily looks like he could be even more than that. This massive frame makes him very tough to guard one-on-one in the post at this level. With that said, though, like they did to Samuels, Rice did a good job of swarming Echenique in the first half when he got touches on the block. Though he faired a little better than Samuels did initially, Echenique appeared to have some trouble passing out of these double-team situations.

Echenique showed some signs of a developing post game, but at this point generally seems to rely on overpowering defenders to get his baskets in the paint. He showed us a strong drop step while mixing in the occasional turn-around jump shot in the lane when forced out of position. The majority of the time, though, Echenique tends to put his head down and muscle his way to the rim. He isn’t tremendously explosive, and lacks great height, so he could have trouble at the collegiate level against taller, longer post players.

One area where Echenique consistently made his presence felt was on the glass. The big man is a tenacious rebounder, having a wide frame that is hard to get around when boxed out, and he has a surprisingly quick second jump for a player his size. Echenique has above average length and is able to make plays on a lot of balls out of his area, something that will help tremendously at the collegiate level.

At this point, Echenique doesn’t show much ability at all to play beyond eight feet from the basket. His ball handling skills are suspect even when making moves with his back to the basket, so it is safe to assume he isn’t a major threat to drive and attack the basket. We didn’t get a chance to see Echenique attempt any shots from anywhere outside the general vicinity of the basket, so we can’t really judge his abilities as a shooter. He did however at times lack touch around the basket which in part played a role in his rebound numbers for the game.

Defensively, Echenique doesn’t do anything at a particularly high level, but he isn’t a defensive liability either. His frame makes him hard to back down on the block, but he needs to do a better job of fronting opponents. While he is very aggressive rebounding the basketball, he needs to be more aggressive as a shot blocker. Often times when players would drive the lane Echenique would simply stand with his arms straight up. While this will ensure that he doesn’t get called for very many fouls, it did allow some of the more athletic players to elevate over or around him much more easily than they would have otherwise. Echenique also doesn’t appear to possess tremendous quickness, and as a result struggles when forced to guard perimeter players.

There is certainly plenty of room for improvement by Echenique in his remaining time at the prep level. While he certainly shows flashes of potential to be a solid interior player at the collegiate level, right now a lot of his success appears to stem from being bigger and stronger than many of the players he encounters. His effort and hustle on the glass will certainly win him points with any coach, but he needs to become an impact defender more than three feet from the basket. Echenique also needs to develop his post game more in order to handle playing against players that will be able to match up with him physically. There is no doubt he is more of a center than a power forward at this point, although his height makes him undersized really for either position. Developing the ability to step out and knock down the occasional mid-range jump shot would go a long way to helping his stock in the future.

Sherrod Wright, 6’4”, SG, Junior, Mt. Vernon (NY), 3-star recruit, Uncommitted
20 points, 11 rebounds vs. Patterson Catholic (NJ)

The Knights got a big boost from their junior shooting guard in what proved to be a very close game down the stretch. When shots weren’t falling from the outside, Sherrod Wright had the presence of mind to take the ball to the basket, where he excelled all afternoon.

While he might be an inch or two short for the off guard spot, he makes up for it with great athleticism and a nose for the hoop. Even though he knocked down a couple of shots off the dribble, Wright is clearly a slasher. He has a very nice first step and his handles are good enough where he can comfortably navigate his way through traffic. Once in the lane, he elevates very well, to the point where he can get his shot off over taller interior players on a regular basis. Wright showed flashes of explosiveness when attacking the rim as well as solid body control. He doesn’t back away from contact around the rim, in fact from what we saw he appears to seek it out.

Defensively, Wright looks like a player that really gets after it all over the court. His has enough quickness that he can contain players at either guard position. His quick hands allow him to disrupt passing lanes and put contest pressure on opponents. We were really impressed with how hard Wright hits the boards though. Despite his 6’4” 185 pound frame, the junior attacks the glass with a fierce mentality. His solid wingspan and strong leaping ability allow him to pull down more rebounds than he probably should, but with that said, his eleven rebounds against Patterson Catholic was very impressive.

Wright definitely looks like a guard that could be a nice scoring option at the collegiate level. He knows how to get into the lane and create scoring opportunities for himself. While he didn’t do much on the perimeter in this game, from the little we saw Wright has a smooth stroke and can shoot off the dribble. His quick first step should be enough to keep taller guards honest and give him the room to get his outside shot off. It is way too soon to start making any kind of assessments of Wright’s game from a professional standpoint. His frame lends him to being a point guard rather than a shooting guard, but he still has a lot of time to develop and tailor his game. With schools like North Carolina, Connecticut and Indiana showing interest, you can bet that Wright will be able to hone his game against top flight competition.

Tristan Thompson, 6’8” PF, Sophomore, St. Benedict’s, 5-star recruit, Uncommitted
5 points, 6 rebounds vs. Rice (NY)

Despite just being a sophomore coming off the bench, there may be no more of an intriguing prospect on St. Benedict’s than Tristan Thompson. The sophomore played sparingly and though his performance didn’t appear that impressive in the box score, there were several flashes of big time potential.

At 6’8” 215 pounds, Thompson has a very long and lean frame. While his lack of muscle at this point hurts him somewhat when playing inside, his wingspan and athleticism more than make up for it. The youngsters release point on his shots in the paint is so high that most players at this level will not be able to block them. On the other side of the ball, Thompson is already a shot blocking menace, recording a couple of very impressive swats during his time on the floor.

By far the most intriguing feature of Thompson’s game that we saw though was his ability to play on the perimeter. Though he didn’t attempt any shots from out here, he looked quite comfortable handling the ball on the wing, and clearly this is a normal part of the St. Benedict’s offense to have him out there. Thompson is athletic and quick enough where if as he becomes more of a focal point of his team’s offense it isn’t hard to imagine him taking advantage of mismatches on the outside and taking slower post players to the basket on a regular basis.

Defensively, Thompson shows loads of potential as a disruptive force. As previously mentioned he is already a shot blocking threat and his length makes him a very strong rebounder. If he can add some extra weight to keep from being pushed out of position he will almost certainly be a double-double threat on a nightly basis. Thompson typically plays with his arms up which allows him to cut off passing lanes and deflect a lot of passes.

It is certainly too early to make any kinds of predictions about how Thompson will turn out, even as a college level athlete. What is obvious though is the amount of upside and potential for Thompson to develop into an excellent player. He already has good size and has room to grow; factor in his athleticism and his developing play on the perimeter, we could be looking at a 6’8” player that could blossom into an inside-outside threat.

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