Spalding HoopHall Classic Player Report

Spalding HoopHall Classic Player Report
Jan 18, 2007, 09:00 am
DraftExpress got a chance to sit in at the Spalding HoopHall Classic this past weekend and got a glimpse of some of the finest High School level players in the country. There were some excellent performances turned in by a number of players, certainly some future professional talent amongst the participants.

The following breakdown will list out the top 15 performances in terms of overall production and pro potential. While there were some players who produced statistically superior games than others, the skill set used to accomplish those numbers and the overall physical attributes/limitations of each player factor heavily into this analysis. The First Team is a list of the players that appeared most “pro-ready” with the Second and Third Teams rounding out the rest of the field in order.

Obviously, the structure and developmental training at the collegiate level may drastically increase of decrease the learning curves of these players. This is just a synopsis of where they stand now.

First Team: These players are sure-fire starters as freshmen on the collegiate level and shouldn’t make it past their sophomore years before they can expect to start hearing the draft buzz around them.

Donte Greene, 6-9 Forward, Towson Catholic –
By far the most impressive player over the weekend. His combination of length, athleticism, skill, and intelligence makes him a virtual lock for future success. Greene has a picture perfect jumper that he releases at the apex of his jump with arms fully extended. At 6’9” with the wingspan of a seven footer, the shot is pretty much unblockable at any level. He mixed his shots in nicely with his drives to the basket, showing a smooth pull-up shot off the dribble as well as an ability to finish in traffic after contact. He doesn’t have much in the way of post moves, but with his length and body control all he really needs to do down low is catch the ball in good position and get a single hand free on the turnaround or reverse pivot.

Greene has a good frame for putting on weight and should be able to play at a solid 230 without hurting his quickness. He showed no hesitance to mix it up inside against a much more powerfully built Samardo Samuels, grabbing a number of tough rebounds and blocking a couple of shot without going for Samuels' fakes. Greene didn’t force many shots and found teammates off of his drives very nicely. He needs to be more aggressive with his hand and footwork defensively and has to improve his ball-handling, especially going right. He’s definitely a player to watch at Syracuse next season.

Michael Beasley, 6-10, Forward, Notre Dame Prep – Beasley didn’t have a dominant performance during his game, but he showed a little bit of everything. The first thing to notice about Beasley is how vocal he is with teammates. It’s clear he was up for this game, as future coach Bob Huggins was sitting in front of him.

Beasley has a pretty complete floor game for a power forward and certainly fits the mold of the modern NBA 4. Beasley has a reliable face-up shot out to eighteen feet that he looks very comfortable taking, and his ball handling and overall athleticism is excellent. He played a bit out of control during this game as he ran into his defender for two early fouls trying to take it strong to the hoop. Beasley also didn’t post up virtually at all, which may be by design of his coach to open up the driving lanes for his teammates.

Beasley’s best attributes right now are clearly his defense and rebounding. Beasley uses his body well to maintain contact with his opponent and gets position on his man almost every time there is a loose ball. His timing on blocked shots and his quick hands make him a threat to turn the other man over if he’s not careful. But, Beasley’s double jump is what will make him a plus rebounder on the professional level. He has the rare ability to tip a ball back up into the air and get back up to secure it for himself. His hands are very good, never double-clutching the ball once he’s of a mind to secure it.

Like most players his age, he really doesn’t have a go-to move or a definitive game plan out on the court. But he’s much further along at this point in his career than former Huggins protégé Kenyon Martin, whose skill set is very similar. Beasley needs to work on his dribble, like almost every player here, and he’s got to refine his footwork. He looks more like a high post player than a low at this point, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Samardo Samuels, 6-8, Power Forward, St. Benedict Prep –
The best thing that Samuels has going for him is the fact that he’s got another year in high school to go before he takes his game to the college level. Samuels already has an NBA body as he’s easily over or around 250 pounds. Samuels is probably a bit shorter than ideal for an NBA 4 at 6’8”, but he’s got some time to grow the one inch or more that will surely make him a top prospect in time.

Samuels has a highly developed low post game for such a young player. He initiates and maintains body contact with his defender and is adept at utilizing that contact to feel out which direction he wants to attack. Samuels shows good ability to get to his spot on the floor quickly as well, something that most young bigs don’t do instinctively.

He likes to turn toward the middle on his moves most often, but showed some decent form on his baseline shot. Samuels has the step through down pat as well. He even showed some face up drive ability, but his dribble is too high and his face-up shot is not consistent enough yet at this point to make that a primary weapon for him offensively.

Samuels has deceptive athleticism for a player his size. He got up very nicely for a two handed slam which he got in traffic cutting from the elbow, and was up close to his mid forearm on the leap. His defensive footwork was very sound, which he needed to rely on as he was going against a much quicker opponent in Greene. He uses his body well to impede his opponents post play and has good timing on his shot blocks, not going for fakes. Going to Georgetown with Chris Wright and Austin Freemen would be a huge boon for that program.

Jerryd Bayless, 6-3, PG/SG, St. Mary's –
Bayless had a big game against below average competition for his level of skill, but still showed why he’s so highly regarded. His ball-handling and first step allow him to get to where he wants on the court and he can score in a variety of ways.

Bayless’ game is reminiscent of Gilbert Arenas to some extent. He can hit the outside shot or dribble into a pull-up jumper and make it look easy at times, but its not quite consistent. His form on his release is solid with little wasted arm movement, but he tends to drift on his jumper when in motion. This makes Bayless somewhat streaky with his perimeter game. Bayless moves fairly well off the ball, though he didn’t spend much time without it in his hands. He shows good ability to slide laterally through the lane when attacking the basket and this allows him to free himself up for the finish.

Bayless has the ability to finish explosively at the rim, which he displayed with an unbelievable two-handed windmill jam. He is slight of build, though, and needs to improve his overall body strength or he won’t be able to finish after contact as well as he does now. Bayless did show the ability to readjust after contact, however it typically ended in a move away from the basket where he would jump away to re-correct for the fall-away shot.

Bayless has the ability to pass, but is naturally inclined to score first and set up others afterward. How his game recalibrates will be determined when he has better teammates to play off of. Right now he doesn’t appear to be a point guard, but the success that Arenas and Monta Ellis have had in the NBA as combo guards should be a good sign for Bayless because he does posses uncanny ability to fill it up offensively.

Corey Stokes, 6-5, SG/SF, St. Benedict Prep
Stokes wasn’t as dominant or as diverse in his performance as teammate Samardo Samuels, but he still played a great game. Stokes has an amazing shot, the release is soft and the form consistent. Stokes has NBA three point range already and has the ability to maintain his accuracy even when in motion.

Stokes has a lower release point than ideal as his arm angle is more compact then other pure shooters, but he elevates well before releasing and the shot itself is all wrist and out of his hand quickly. Stokes really needs to work on his ball-handling because he has solid athleticism and has a great build for a shooting guard, which should make it easy for him to use shot fakes to take the ball to the basket. As it stands right now, Stokes is clever enough with his dribble and dangerous enough with the outside shot to create some midrange opportunities for himself by faking the primary defender and using a slide-dribble to free himself up for a closer shot.

He’s not super fast, but he doesn’t need to have great quickness to be a top-level scorer for Villanova next season as their offense is designed to take advantage of his skills. His game is similar to Rashad Anderson’s, though he is a better physical specimen than Anderson. Running Stokes off of screens and keeping him in motion would be a great way to increase his on-court productivity while he works on developing his ball-handling because Stokes can shoot in motion very effectively. Most players need to keep their body alignment to make shots consistently, Stokes only needs his arm free to get a soft shot up at the rim. This is not something you want to teach young players to do, but if the ability is there it enables a player to shoot falling forward, backward, left, and right.

Defensivley, Stokes is fundamental and could be a good defender in time. He doesn’t work his man relentlessly, but has active hands and feet when he senses that his man is going to try and take him. Stokes has a nice build and wide shoulders, which in time should make him one of the stronger wings in college basketball. He should be a good rebounder on the college level as well, not aggressive on the glass, but has a sense for caroms and won’t lose rebounds to others.

Second Team: These players should be able to step right into prominent roles on their collegiate teams in year one, either as starters or rotation players. They’ve each got a professional skill, but will probably have to stick around for three or four years to develop their games.

Jeff Robinson, 6-5, Forward, St. Patrick –
The only thing that keeps Robinson off of the first team is the fact that his size makes him a small forward on the pro level and he is more of a power forward in the half court right now. Robinson will have plenty of time to develop his game at Memphis, where John Calapari’s uptempo style should play right into his hands.

Robinson is a great athlete. He had three plays that were absolutely superb in this regard. On the first play of the game, Robinson caught an alley-oop from the baseline and finished with two hands high above the rim. The second was a full court fast break by the opposition that Robinson tracked down and swatted so hard off the glass that the ball ricocheted off the glass and landed on press row at mid court. The third, a floater in the lane that Robinson got a late jump on, but was still able to elevate for the rejection while avoiding the goaltending call.

The third play was particularly important, not because it prevented a basket late in the game during his teams push to win, but because he recognized instantly that he should have simply taken the ball out of the air and secured the possession instead of hitting it out of bounds. The fact that Robinson could get up high enough that late in the shot and still have the ability to just “steal” the ball out of the air was impressive, but knowing the situational importance of the play without being told speaks volumes for his understanding of the game.

Robinson is a physical defender, using his body and keeping his hands and feet active defensively. He was matched up with a quicker player in Chace Stanback, but did a good job of forcing him to put the ball on the floor and creating off the dribble, not Stanback’s strength. Robinson also showed tremendous mental fortitude down the stretch of this game, his biggest plays on both ends of the court came in the last 5 minutes of the game when his team was down and needed a spark. His ball-handling is inadequate for a small forward at this point and his shot needs to become his primary offensive base, but the makings of a big time college player are there.

Corey Fisher, 5-11, Point Guard, St. Patrick –
Fisher got into early foul trouble and wasn’t allowed to play his style because of it. Fisher is a physical player for a point guard, stocky and tough to push around. But, this style of play rubbed his opponent the wrong way, leading to his defender taking a swing at Fisher after the two had bodied up and exchanged words during the first half of play. With four fouls over the course of the entire second half, it was difficult for Fisher to assert himself thereafter.

What Fisher did show, especially early on, is that he’s got great passing ability. Fisher uses his strength and creativity off the dribble to penetrate the lane and find teammates with exceptional looks. Fisher is the classic point who makes the difficult pass look easy. He didn’t force many passes at all and seemed to read the plays ahead of the action on the court.

Fisher’s shot was inconsistent, but he does have range out to eighteen feet. His form isn’t perfect, but his follow through is solid, so he should be able to improve his accuracy with time. Although he’s quite strong, Fisher isn’t very fast and doesn’t have anywhere near the explosive athleticism of a player like Bayless. Fisher has to rely on his ability to ball-handle and set up his defender in order to get into the lane, which is fine as pure athleticism is not the only ingredient in professional success.

Fisher has some craft shots going toward the basket. He can double-clutch, get off the floater, or make a tough bank shot going away from the basket. But, his size and lift will make any interior scoring a series of in between shots and tricks, because he won’t be able to finish over help defenders on the collegiate level. He should be a quality point in college, but needs to really maximize his physical conditioning and refine his perimeter game if he wants to entertain ideas of becoming a pro because dribbling and slick passing alone won’t get it done.

Austin Freeman, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Dematha Catholic –
Freeman had a “quiet” 25 points in his matchup against the oft-out of control Antonio Jardine. While Jardine took control of the action for his team from tip-off, Freemen quietly picked his spots until the close of the game, where he began to be more aggressive.

Freeman has a beautiful shot, its smooth and effortless. He is a much better shooter on the catch-and-shoot or spot up than he is on the pull up, but is effective on both. Freemen also has great strength for a 2 guard. He doesn’t get knocked off his stride easily by contact and is able to finish shots in the paint while in motion without losing his soft touch.

Freeman seems to be pretty active on the glass as well. He followed his own misses on a number of occasions and was able to fight inside amongst taller players to secure the possession. Defensively, he’s got quick hands, but is more active when his opponent is in motion than he is playing him straight up. Freeman is a shooter for sure, but he recognizes when the shot is not there and has good peripheral vision to find the open man once he’s drawn defensive help. He and Chris Wright should make a nice tandem in Georgetown’s backcourt next season, especially with Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green inside.

Chris Wright, 6-1, PG/SG, St. Johns College –
Wright had one of the best performances of anyone at the event. He shot well from outside, played smart basketball in transition and the half court, and set up teammates when he couldn’t finish himself. He's not a pure point by any means, but an excellent combo guard who showed good instincts for the game.

Wright did do a lot of his scoring in transition, but it was his help defense that freed him up for many of those transition buckets. Wright has excellent body control and solid playing strength, which enables him to absorb contact and finish going strong toward the basket. His build is very similar to future teammate Austin Freeman as they are both compact players who shouldn’t have much difficulty adjusting to a more physical collegiate game.

Wright has the court vision to play the point. He’s more of a scorer by nature but he doesn’t leave assists on the floor for the sake of his own shot like many other combo guards are prone to do. Wright shows instant recognition of who has the highest percentage shot and finds that man.

Wright has very good athleticism for the collegiate level, he can elevate very nicely and finish with strength around the rim. When he absorbs contact he is still able to put a good touch on the ball and this helped him get to the line frequently for a few and-one’s. Wright is very smooth with his release and has good elevation on his jumper, which is important at his size. His dribble is tight and he uses it to create driving angles and pull-up shots nicely.

Rakim Sanders, 6-6, SG/SF, St. Andrew's –
Sanders had a monsterous performance all around. He is an athletic freak with excellent defensive instincts which enables him to block shots and steal the ball. His floor speed makes him very dangerous in the open court and his perimeter shot is a deadly half court weapon. Sanders is another player with picture perfect shooting form. His release point is high, his shoulders and feet are square, and he shoots at the apex of his jump. All of Sanders shots look like they’re going to go in because of the form and the arc that he gets on the ball.

Beyond shooting, Sanders plays with a fearless style that borders on reckless. He grabbed many of his rebounds by diving into the lane and taking them from better-positioned opponents. He has the body control to stop himself and use his excellent pull-up shot, but he careened into a few players both with the ball and without it.

The biggest thing Sanders has to work on is his dribbling and fundamental defensive positioning. Sanders will get whistled for a lot of contact fouls early on in his college career because he likes to be physical with his hands and body. He’s got the foot speed and strength to harass his opponent without blanketing him, so he’s got prospects as a defensive player. Offensively, the dribble drive has to become more a part of his game, especially considering how deadly his outside shot can be. With his athleticism, Sanders could set up defenders with the threat of his shot and get to anywhere he wants from that point. Right now he settles for outside shots when a clear land isn’t presented and doesn’t use his dribble for more than a quick lateral move to get the shot off. He’s more talented than Sean Marshall though, and will slide into Marshall’s place in BC’s lineup very easily.

Third Team: These players look like solid college players, but don’t have one definable professional-level skill at this point in their career.

Josh "Cookie" Miller, 5-8, Point Guard, Harmony Prep –
If Miller wasn’t so small he’d be a top point guard prospect in this class. Miller has an excellent mix of flash and substance to his passing game. He made a number of spectacular assists by knowing how to draw the defense and understanding what options would be available to him before making his move. Miller can shoot from outside and is very quick with his penetration. He’ll be an excellent player for Nebraska and should be in the top 10 in assists as a starter.

Chace Stanback, 6-7, Small Forward, Fairfax Senior –
Stanback has a good combination of length, quickness, and outside shooting. It’s easy to see why UCLA has been attracted to him. Stanback has good form on his jumper, the release point is high and there is little wasted motion. He doesn’t elevate much on this shot, but his length allows for him to get his shot off when closely defended.

Stanback has a decent handle, which allows him to get into the lane or simply set up another jumper from closer range. But, Stanback doesn’t have much touch once he puts the ball on the floor, showing no in-between game in terms of runner anything else in motion. He needs a clear path to the basket to finish once he’s commited to taking it strong. He’s not much of a passer and is very skinny, so he relies on his length defensively more than anything else. He's still very young as a 2008 prospect, though, so it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop.

Jai Lucas, 5-10, Point Guard, Bellaire –
Another player that would be lights out a top prospect if he was a few inches taller. Like his brother, Lucas uses his quickness to get himself into spaces where he can get his shot off. Lucas is deadly with his runners and floaters as well as his pull-up jumpers. His outside shooting is good when he’s set for the shot, but if forced to the quick release it tends to flatten out. Lucas seems to have a good passing eye, but his team relies so heavily on him for scoring he wasn’t able to show it off more.

Malcolm Delaney, 6-3, PG/SG, Towson Catholic –
Delaney had a very good game from the field and took player of the game honors away from Donte Greene because of it. Delaney did most of his damage in transition with his passing and forays to the basket, but he showed a great outside shot that was falling for him all night. He’s slight of build and looks to shoot once the balls in his hands in the half court sets, but he did make a couple of nice kick out passes once he got into the lane.

Antonio “Scoop” Jardine, 6-1, SG/PG, St. John Neumann –
Jardine is very crafty once he gets into the lane. He can switch hands and finish at the hoop or with a variety of tricks in the paint when going toward the basket. Jardine’s outside shot is streaky, but he can get on a role and bury three or four in a row very quickly. He is extremely aggressive and knows how attack the basket on both sides of the ball, meaning he will take rebounds away from other players or create opportunities for others by being active around the basket. Jardine’s shooting form is unorthodox and his release is greatly slowed because of it. When he’s tightly guarded his shooting accuracy goes way down, but his ability to handle the ball and make things happen inside the lane helps to negate this. He must play smarter basketball on the next level however. He took on too much responsibility in this game.

Honorable Mention:

Jeff Allen –
Allen is a very likeable player. He is a tweener forward with a wide frame and deceptive quickness. Allen has good hands and nice footwork inside which he uses to finish with his back to the basket quite well. But Allen can put it on the floor as well and knows how to use his body to create separation from his man. He’ll be a good player in college for sure.

Jordan Crawford –
Crawford is a good finisher and can find other players once he’s in the lane. He is more of a point guard than Jardine, but lacks the ball handling ability at this point to play the position full time. Crawford’s dribble is too high and he doesn’t have the quick first step he needs to get into the lane on his own. Once he is in the lane however, he can use both hands and is good at creating a quality shot for himself or a teammate. Playing in a team oriented system like Indiana should play to his strengths.

Tony Chenault –
Chenault gets in here because he is a freshmen who plays with a demeanor of an older player. Chenault is not afraid to take shots on a team with older and more experienced players. His outside shot needs a ton of work as he throws his forearm into the motion and doesn’t have a consistent release point yet. But, he has good speed and a good enough dribble to penetrate into the lane where he looks for in between shots. Defensively Chenault is feisty and fundamental. He stays in his defensive stance and hand checks while sliding step-for-step with his opponent. Despite his size and inexperience, Chenault had 9 rebounds and 3 steals in the game he played and hit the go-ahead 3 pointer that gave his team the momentum it needed to pull out a hotly contested game against DeMatha.

He made plenty of errors all around, but he’ll be a player before he’s eighteen.

Dexter Strickland –
Strickland is another promising younger player who showed a few things to be encouraged about. A sophomore, Strickland wasn’t very aggressive offensively and probably should have been more assertive with his game as his teammate Corey Fisher was limited by fouls. But Strickland played solid defense that kept him in the game, playing more minutes than anyone else on his team. His clutch steal and four crucial free throws down the stretch were complemented by a dagger 3 point shot that put Fairfax away for good.

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