Top High School Prospects at the 2007 City of Palms Classic

Top High School Prospects at the 2007 City of Palms Classic
Dec 28, 2007, 09:04 pm
Besides Greg Monroe and Samardo Samuels, who we wrote about extensively in an article already earlier this week there were a number of intriguing prospects on hand at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Florida that will develop into excellent college basketball players and potentially pros down the road. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Sylven Landesberg, 6-6, Shooting Guard, Senior, Holy Cross
Committed to Virginia

Showing really nice size for a shooting guard at 6-6, and outstanding scoring instincts, there is really a lot to like about Sylven Landesberg’s (#38 Scout, #54 Rivals) smooth and effortless style on first glance. He’s a talented ball-handler, with lots of fancy moves in his arsenal that allow him to change gears and constantly keep his defender off balance. He can shoot the ball with streaky range both from behind the arc or preferably pulling up off the dribble from mid-range, sometimes taking things a step farther and finishing with a pretty floater. He’s a creative scorer with really nice versatility, but can also pass the ball very well too, seeing the floor very well at his height and really showing excellent court vision both in transition and in the half-court. Despite his scoring prowess, Landesberg seems to be a pretty unselfish guy who can surely create for others. Offensively, he’s a very skilled player.

Defensively, Landesberg has average lateral quickness but seems to do a very good job competing on most possessions, looking tough and pretty active, even hitting the glass fairly well. He’s a bit on the skinny side at the moment, which hurts him trying to get through screens and such, but he has a frame that should very well fill out as he continues to mature physically.

Landesberg’s main drawback revolves around his average athleticism, which might hurt his upside a bit when considering his long-term potential. He doesn’t have a great first step and is not very explosive around the rim either—having more of an old-school, cerebral game more than a high-flying uber-athletic one. Landesberg looks much better going left when creating his own shot, preferring to pull up off the dribble every time he went right to the point that he became quite predictable. His 3-point stroke looked pretty streaky when he was rushed—flat-footed with a somewhat unattractive release, but with very nice touch.

Landesberg is headed to the ACC, which should give him a great opportunity to get exposure playing at the highest level of college basketball. He will be an interesting guy to follow over his first 2-3 years at Virginia.

Greg Echenique, 6-8, PF/C, Junior, St. Benedict’s
High-Major Recruit (Duke, Miami, Maryland, etc)

Samardo Samuels’ partner in crime in the post, junior big man Greg Echenique (#37 Scout, #45 Rivals) did a good job establishing himself as a legitimate prospect in his own right for the collegiate level. He’s a big, strong kid with a good frame, nice hands, an excellent wingspan, and a very nice feel for the game for a player his age.

Echenique is mostly a rebounder and finisher for this team, two things he can do very well. He’s a bit undersized and not incredibly explosive, but he runs the floor hard, competes extremely well, and shows good awareness on defense. His hands, strength and timing allow him to make a big impact on the glass, particularly on the offensive end. He’s a bit raw offensively as you’d expect for someone his age, but he looks like he should be able to develop into a capable back to the basket scoring threat down the road for whichever high-major program manages to reel him in. He plays calm and under control, but is pretty aggressive when needed. It’s not hard to see why some very good teams like him, since he has all the makings of a very nice 4-year role player who will play hard and smart and do the dirty work inside.

Tristan Thompson, 6-8, SF/PF, Sophomore, St. Benedict’s
High-Major Recruit (UConn, Duke, Kansas, UNC, etc)

Only being a sophomore, Tristan Thompson (#5 Scout) was one of the youngest players we evaluated over the week, but just from the glimpses we saw, it’s not hard to see why he’s so highly regarded this early already.

Standing 6-8, with a great frame, a superb wingspan, and outstanding athletic ability, Thompson fits the prototype and then some of what you look for in a combo forward prospect. He’s a power forward at the moment who likes to play facing the basket at the moment, but whose future probably lies at the small forward spot if he develops correctly over the next few years. Rudy Gay is one name that comes to mind when evaluating him, for example.

Thompson is exceptionally raw offensively, but already shows great promise on the defensive end. He has great lateral quickness (even keeping up with guards), and is extremely aggressive, getting right into his matchup’s grill and challenging him on the perimeter. He hits the glass and plays really hard in general, which is how he earns his minutes off the bench for this loaded St. Benedict’s team. Don’t expect that to change at the next level.

Offensively, Thompson drops hints of potential from time to time, but still seems very much in the process of putting things together on this end of the floor. He plays mostly inside at the moment, showing raw footwork but also some very basic, very athletic moves that looked pretty intriguing coming in transition or after an offensive rebound. He can put the ball on the floor some to attack his matchup, or play a little bit with his back to the basket, all in small doses of course. His shooting skills are very raw, even from the free throw line, as are his ball-handling skills. He plays a little bit tentatively as you might expect a younger guy competing with players one or two years older than him probably would.

All in all, it’s way too early to draw any long term conclusions here, but the early results are certainly promising.

Rashanti Harris, 6-9, Center, Senior, New Hope
High-Major Recruit (Florida, Memphis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State)

We actually saw Rashanti Harris (#64 Scout, #112 Rivals) have one of his worst games at the City of Palms Classic, the day after battling Greg Monroe to a draw, so we got a bit unlucky in that regard. Regardless, we got the gist of what makes him a very interesting college prospect.

Harris has good size at 6-9, with an exceptional frame that already looks ready-made for college basketball. He’s a beast on the glass, showing great timing for offensive rebounds, a good second bounce, and very nice hands for a big man prospect. He’s a mobile guy who runs the floor well and can get off the ground to get after a rebound in or out of his area. Rebounding indeed seems to be his biggest strength at the moment.

A scrappy player defensively as well, Harris holds his own in the paint physically against anyone at this level and can come up with some on-ball blocks just by using his size and length. He’s not freakishly athletic or terribly skilled, though, relegating him to more of a hustle role unless he improves significantly over the next few years, which is not out of the question. Harris has average footwork and touch around the basket, but he didn’t see much of the ball in the game we took in, as his guards were trapped nearly all game long and did a pretty poor job of feeding him inside.

Even with his obvious limitations, it was a bit surprising to see how low he’s ranked by the recruiting services after the event (#112 on Rivals?). There are surely a lot of colleges who could use a big bodied guy like him inside, even just to play a Joey Dorsey type role at the next level. Guys like him aren’t exactly growing on trees it seems. We’ll have to see how he develops over the next few years before we know for sure if they were wrong.

Larry Drew, 6-0, Point Guard, Senior, Taft
Committed to North Carolina

We watched North Carolina commit Larry Drew (#78 Scout, #76 Rivals) lead his team to the fifth place semifinals of the City of Palms, where they knocked off a pretty good Kinston team. In the process, their floor general Larry Drew did a good job showing off his strengths and weaknesses as a college prospect.

Slightly undersized at 6-0, with a skinny frame on top of that, Drew doesn’t wow you initially with his physical tools. He’s got solid quickness and nice ability to change speeds and get by defenders going either left or right, being a shifty guy who is pretty hard to stay in front of. He can also finish with either hand around the basket. His ball-handling skills are already outstanding, and he does a very solid job running his team’s offense and playing under control. You’ll often see him walking the ball up the floor (a welcome sign at this pace-frenzied level), calling a half-court set, controlling tempo, and looking especially good on the pick and roll, where he sees the floor and delivers crisp passes to his open shooters. He can also push the ball up the floor when the situation calls for it. That’s not to say that he isn’t prone to some mental breakdowns and the occasional turnover—far from it—but for a player his age, he seems to have a nice command of his offense and is already a pretty pure point guard.

Drew’s biggest issue at the moment seems to be his perimeter shooting, which looked very streaky from what we could tell. He took a number of them and wasn’t even really close on most, and didn’t really show much of a mid-range game to compensate for that. His scoring is pretty much limited to his drives from what we could tell. Defensively, Drew does a good job staying in front of his man. What he lacks in size and strength he seems to make up in fundamentals.

All in all, Drew seems to be a nice get for North Carolina, even if he’s ranked awfully low (76-78) by the recruiting services at the moment. He should be a solid backup initially for the Heels, and surely has starting potential down the road. If he improves his perimeter shooting skills to the point that he’s respectable from outside, he could even be a lot more than that. His intangibles look that good.

Reggie Bullock, 6-5, SG/SF, Sophomore, Kinston
High Major (North Carolina, Wake Forest, Indiana

Another member of the “hey, you’re way too young to be here, kid” club, sophomore Reggie Bullock (5 star 2010 recruit) did a great job showing off why he’s considered such a highly regarded talent already at age 15. Showing good size for the wing position, a nice frame (that still needs to fill out), solid athleticism, and all kinds of glimpses of potential, Bullock seems to have a very nice future ahead of him. He’s an active player with excellent instincts who constantly seems to find himself around the ball, coming up with plenty of steals and rebounds. He also has a nice looking jump-shot from 3-point range, and is capable of using shot fakes to put the ball on the floor and even pull-up off the dribble for a good looking mid-range jumper. His shot-creating skills are limited in tight half-court sets because of his poor ball-handling skills, but he is capable of finding and exploiting holes in an unbalanced defense to get to the basket and finish. Most importantly, he seems to have an excellent demeanor out on the floor, including solid leadership skills and nice intangibles, and looks to be fairly unselfish, being committed to playing solid defense too. He still has a lot of work to do before he puts it all together and really shows us what kind of player he can develop into in the future, but the early signs look very promising.

Nasir Robinson, 6-5, Small Forward, Senior, Chester
Committed to Pittsburgh

Nasir Robinson, a 6-5 “power 3” committed to Pitt (Scout #63, Rivals #105) helped his team reach the finals of the City of Palms classic, more so with brute force than with overly impressive finesse skills. He’s a tough, strong, Philly kid with solid athleticism and an aggressive mentality, who loves to stick his nose in all kinds of places defensively, and does a great job crashing the offensive glass. He played a lot of power forward in this tournament due to Chester’s lack of size, and he didn’t seem to suffer all that much, probably even relishing it.
Offensively, he’s a limited player, mostly restricted to moving off the ball to catch and finish around the rim, scoring in transition, and grabbing offensive rebounds. Very much left-handed, his ball-handling skills are almost non-existent with his right. His jump-shot needs a lot of work, and he even struggles hitting free throws. He may remind some Pitt fans of Sam Young with how hard he plays, though. He looks like a good fit for the way Jamie Dixon likes to play, even if he isn’t the most talented guy in the world.

Karon Burton, 5-8, PG/SG, Senior, Chester
Mid/low-major recruit

Karon Burton was the engine that made Chester go, all the way to the finals where they lost to arguably the top high school team in America, St. Benedict’s. He’s a little waterbug 5-8 scoring guard, with super flashy ball-handling skills, but not a whole lot of substance to his game once you get past the And-1 moves. He’s a jet in the open floor and can change gears and get to the rim extremely well (where he can finish with a floater), mostly to create for himself but sometimes to drive and dish. He plays good pressure defense, even if his height limits his upside in this regard. At times he got too caught up in his jump-shot, which has range but is very streaky at the moment. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that his shot selection needs a considerable amount of work. He’s also fairly turnover prone, often looking for the spectacular highlight reel assist, rather than just making an efficient play. Teams like St. Peter’s (in the Metro Atlantic) are looking at him, and that seems to be a good fit for him. Don’t be shocked to see him scoring 20 points per game on 38% shooting in a small arena near you in a couple of years.

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