Top Prospects at the Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic (Part II)

Top Prospects at the Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic (Part II)
Jan 07, 2008, 01:31 am
Besides Al-Farouq Aminu, Renardo Sidney and Jordan Hamilton, who we wrote about extensively in an article already earlier this week, there were a number of intriguing prospects on hand at Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic in Davenport, 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.

JaMychal Green, 6-8, Power Forward, Senior, St. Jude
Committed to Alabama

Future Alabama commit and potential McDonald’s All-American JaMychal Green (#17, #25 Rivals) would have had a legit case to be considered the MVP of this tournament, had his team only managed to win more games. Regardless, he looked extremely impressive, as he’s a true man amongst boys at the high school level.

Standing somewhere around 6-8, with an SEC-ready frame starting from the first day he’ll step on foot in Tuscaloosa, JaMychal Green is nothing short a physical specimen. He’s a good athlete who is very explosive around the rim and finishes superbly through contact, often with a powerful dunk. He’s got good hands and is tough as nails, bodying players up and doing a pretty solid job establishing position in the post--making him an outstanding target to lob the ball to inside. His feel for the game is somewhat average at this point, but he can regardless find the open man out of the post, showing an outstanding demeanor for a player his age and never getting rattled even when opposing players try to get in his face and instigate. Green was a man on the offensive glass, ripping rebounds away on a consistent basis and coming up with a number of huge put-back dunks. His length, timing and strength also made him a solid shot-blocking threat here, although he seemed to try a lot harder on the offensive end than he did on defense, failing to get back on a couple of possessions.

Although he’s known mostly as an old school back to the basket pivot, Green surprised at times by stepping outside and knocking down a couple of 3-pointers. This might not be a super consistent weapon for him at this point, but it sure looked intriguing. Regardless, his overall skill-level is nothing to write home about at this point. His ball-handling is poor, and his footwork in the post could clearly use work. He doesn’t seem to have a real go-to move, and proved to be effectively neutralized with a solid zone defense.

Green looks like a perfect understudy to bring in next to Richard Hendrix, provided the super-productive big man will decide to stick around for a year longer. If he doesn’t, Alabama will need Green to play similarly to the way he did here in Florida—that is in dominant fashion. He still has a lot of work to do on his all-around game as most teenagers do, but the early signs look very promising from what we could tell, and he seems to be a great fit for the style of play we find in the SEC.

Jeremy Tyler, 6-10, PF/C, Sophomore, San Diego
High Major Prospect (Louisville, Texas, UCLA, USC, Arizona, etc)

The #1 sophomore prospect in the country according to both Scout and didn’t do a whole lot to back up those lofty claims in terms of actual productivity, getting absolutely dominated by Renardo Sidney in the first time we saw him and then showing more extremely concerning signs in the second around. Regardless, there is no question that Tyler possesses an incredible amount of upside, although at this point you have to wonder about his chances of actually achieving it considering the way he handles himself at such a young age.

Starting with the good, we find quite an incredibly intriguing all-around package. Showing good size at 6-10, an outstanding frame, and absolute freakish athleticism, Tyler looks the part of stud prospect from the first second you watch him already in warm-ups. He’s an incredibly fluid player, quick off his feet, explosive in the open court, with an outstanding 2nd bounce and a terrific first step—indeed the entire package as far as physical tools are concerned. All these things obviously make him a great threat in transition, as well as blocking shots and hitting the offensive glass.

Skill-wise, there is a lot to like here too potentially, as he already looks very advanced facing the basket—with a nice array of pull-up jumpers, 3-point range on his shot, and the ball-handling skills to create his own shot. His ability to put the ball on the floor and get by his man is pretty special for a player his size—let alone a 16 year old who seems to have absolutely no idea what he is doing out on the court.

“Has no clue” is unfortunately a concept that you think of quite often when watching Tyler play. He’s incredibly raw as you might expect a player his age—swinging wildly for blocks, biting on every pump-fake, settling for terrible shots from the perimeter, over-handling the ball and running into brick walls, showing absolutely no footwork in the post, being a black hole offensively, and clearly having no clue at this point what his limitations are as a basketball player. His athletic ability is so far ahead of his skill level that he looks completely out of control for the most part, lacking any type of balance or patience, and sorely missing any real fundamentals in his game.

That would be absolutely fine if he dealt with these issues with maturity and tried to learn from his mistakes. He is, after all, only 16 years old. The problem is that he absolutely could not contain his frustration by the way he was being destroyed by Renardo Sidney, and responded by showing a terrible attitude.

He screamed at his teammates, sulked on the bench (the only one not cheering for anyone), attempted to redirect the offense and call his own plays when his team received the ball, complained non-stop to his coach, disrespected the officials, talked smack to the opposing team, showed awful body language, and generally just looked like an immature, spoiled brat for virtually the entire time he was in the spotlight.

He should have been thrown out multiple times for the way he conducted himself, but the referees could not call a technical foul on him (from what one of them told us himself) because the organizers “want us to keep him in the game.” It looked like his coach was afraid of telling him anything either, since he didn’t seem to be bothered by his star player’s behavior in the least bit—sitting and relaxing on the bench with his team down by 30 points, not trying to do anything in particular.

Since we don’t watch as much high school basketball as some others, we’re not exactly sure if this is normal behavior from a star player this age, and how much to make of it. It surely can’t be a positive sign. Maybe Tyler will mature as he grows older, and maybe he’ll get with some people that truly care about his development as a player and more importantly as a person and start to teach him right from wrong. Maybe we just caught him having a bad week, but it was very difficult not to be turned off by what we saw there.

Keith Clanton, 6-8, Power Forward, Junior, Orlando Christian
High Major Prospect (Florida, Central Florida, Indiana, Miami [FL], etc)

A completely unheralded junior coming into this tournament Keith Clanton (non-top 150 player on either Scout or Rivals) did an excellent job proving his worth in the two games we saw him in, looking far more impressive than most of the other top-100 big men in attendance here.

Clanton is a 6-8 power forward with an excellent body and wingspan, with magnets for hands and an impressive skill-set facing the basket. He can put the ball on the floor extremely well for a player his size, creating his own shot with either hand, and spinning into the lane impressively with superb body control. Most college power forwards couldn’t execute most of the moves he was making here, even if Clanton overdid it at times with his ball-handling, leading to a number of turnovers. He also stepped away from the hoop and knocked down a couple of smooth 3-pointers, and then proceeded to go into the post and score with a jump-hook shot. He has terrific touch around the basket, even if he spends too much time hanging out on the perimeter at this point trying to prove his small forward skills. Considering his body and somewhat average explosiveness, he’s clearly a power forward at the collegiate level, but he could be an extremely dangerous one if he truly committed to playing to his strengths.

Defensively, Clanton was not very effective, showing poor awareness and gambling excessively for steals. He’s a bit on the soft side in addition to being just an average athlete, although he did show very nice timing coming up with a couple of on-ball blocks. When he did play hard, he was very productive hitting the glass as well, not a surprise considering the quality of his hands, although like a lot of players his age (just a junior keep in mind), his good moments seemed to come in spurts.

Considering what we witnessed, it’s our guess that it’s only a matter of time before Clanton’s name shows up on the national radar screen, unless what we saw in Orlando was just a complete aberration to how he normally plays. After all, it’s not every day you see a big man with such an advanced skill set.

Jared Swopshire, 6-7, Small Forward, Senior, IMG Academy
Committed to Louisville

Unable to lead his team to much of anything in the wins column, this was a fairly disappointing tournament for recent-Louisville commit Jared Swopshire (#88 Scout, #149 Rivals). Regardless, it’s not hard to see what the recruiting services (and the big college programs) see in him. Swopshire is a 6-7 wing player with a great frame, long arms, and solid athletic ability—looking the role of stud prospect even if he doesn’t always play like one. He’s a clear-cut perimeter player, showing a nice looking jump-shot on the catch and shoot or even pulling up off the dribble, and the ability to put the ball on the floor a little and finish around the basket. Swopshire is still a pretty raw player, somewhat soft in his approach to the game, who looked pretty comfortable just fitting in even when his team needed him to do a little more than that. His ball-handling skills could use some work, and putting weight on his frame should clearly be a priority for him. He also wasn’t really felt that much defensively or on the glass in the games we saw considering his physical tools. Potential seems to be the operative word here, so we’ll have to wait and see how he develops.

Taariq Muhammad, 6-2, Point Guard, Junior, Norcross
High Major (Auburn, Miami [FL], South Carolina, etc)

A pretty raw point guard, junior Taariq Muhammad (unranked Scout, #90 Rivals) showed his potential as a prospect but also showed that he has quite a bit of work ahead of him over the next few years. Muhammad has nice size, long arms and a good frame, and is mostly a defensive oriented point guard who rarely looks to score. He controls the tempo fairly well at times and looks pretty under control, showing some budding leadership skills that will clearly come in handy as he continues to progress as a floor general. He’s a decent athlete with some wiggle in his game that he’ll use infrequently to create his own shot, but he looks most content moving the ball around the perimeter trying to feed his teammates (the most notable being Al-Farouq Aminu). Teams dared Muhammad to shoot the 3-pointer by going underneath screens, and he looked inexperienced (as you might guess considering his age) trying to deal with some pressure situations. Right now, it’s probably too early to tell about his long term potential, although there are surely a few things to like here.

Justin Raffington, 6-9, PF/C, Junior, Urspring Academy
High Major Prospect (?)

Raffington is one of the younger players (born in 1991) of German Urspring Academy, but he looked to be one of the more intriguing players on the roster. He’s a very raw player, noticeably underdeveloped physically, but with some decent tools to play the game. Raffington has decent size to compliment his solid athletic ability, and a very nice wingspan. He’s active and aggressive, even though his lack of strength hinders him, and shows some budding signs of being comfortable playing on the perimeter, although he’s not a skilled offensive player at all at this point. He’s a team player who is willing to do some dirty work inside (again relative to his strength limitations), and he hit a game winning shot for Urspring in the first day to put them over St. Jude. He still has another two years before he’ll be ready for college (if he’s interested in taking that route), so he’s a name to follow for the future.

Frank Wiesler, 6-1, Point Guard, Senior, Urspring Academy
Mid/High Major Prospect (?)

A point guard from Luxembourg currently playing for German Urspring Academy, Wiesler shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding a mid to high major school if coaches here were paying attention. He’s a smart, under control player who can shoot the ball with range and put the ball on the floor reasonably well, mostly to take advantage of unbalanced defenses going either way with some crafty moves. He plays under control and can find the open man, always looking to get others involved, but not having a problem taking some offensive responsibilities himself when the situation calls for it. He’s not terribly big, quick or strong, which might limit his long-term upside to a certain degree (particularly defensively), but he definitely has a nice feel for the game.

Christian Standhardinger, 6-8, Small Forward, Senior, Urspring Academy
High Major Prospect

The best player the Germans had to offer, Standhardinger did a nice job showing off his value as a high-major collegiate prospect. Standhardinger is first and foremost a competitor, an extremely emotional player who feels the game and lives every moment of it. He’s a good athlete who is clearly most comfortable playing on the wing even though he’s 6-8, where he can knife his way through defenses creating his own shot with superb aggressiveness. Standhardinger wants the ball in his hands and will look to score every time down the floor if given the opportunity to do so: he has a good first step and an excellent understanding of angles to get the job done. He’s also extremely unorthodox, jumping off the wrong foot in typical European style, finishing craftily around the hoop, and knowing how to provoke the refs into making a call that favors his team (for example with a flop).

Standhardinger is a tough kid, not being afraid to hit the deck to go after a loose ball, and usually being in the middle of any scrum that goes on during the course of the game. He moves off the ball well and seems to have a nose for the rim. He clearly has nice size for the small forward position, even if he might lack the lateral quickness to guard that spot on the other end of the floor.

On the downside, Standhardinger has quite a few holes in his game that need to be polished up before he can reach anywhere near his full potential. For one, his left hand is non-existent, making him pretty predictable eventually with his slashing moves going right. His perimeter shot is not a weapon for him at all from what we saw, and he doesn’t seem to have a reliable pull-up jumper he can utilize to compensate for that. Defensively, his lateral quickness is pretty suspect as mentioned, so there is some concern that he might have to play the power forward position in college where he doesn’t quite fit either due to his underdeveloped post-up game. These are all correctable weaknesses, but it will take time and plenty of work until Standhardinger gets there. Still, his potential is pretty intriguing considering he manages to be so productive even despite his obvious limitations. His passion for the game should carry him pretty far in the meantime.

Maurice Stuckey, 6-2, PG/SG, Junior, Urspring Academy

Urspring’s combo guard off the bench, Stuckey seems to have nice potential due to his nice physical tools. He’s a smooth player who looks first and foremost to score, showing nice body control, a good first step, and a pretty floater once he gets into the lane. He can shoot the 3-pointer with solid range, and is solid in transition where his athleticism comes in very handy. Stuckey needs to improve his point guard skills to reach anywhere near his full potential. He looked like a pretty streaky player who wasn’t always up for the task when he was called off the bench. Still, he’s very young and obviously has plenty time to develop his all-around game.

Richie Edwards, 6-7, Small Forward, Junior
High-Major Prospect (Illinois, Iowa, Miami [FL], etc)

Another somewhat unheralded junior prospect from the state of Florida, Richie Edwards (non-top 150 prospect, Rivals or Scout) surely looked impressive in the one game we saw him here in Orlando. Edwards is a 6-7 small forward who played the 4 mostly in this tournament, although he’s exclusively a wing player. He has good size, and is a very smooth athlete, capable of getting off the floor with ease to finish a play with a dunk. He is an active and aggressive player, competing non-stop on the glass and in the passing lanes, and coming up with steals and offensive rebounds in the process. He also looks fairly intelligent, showing a nice array of head and pump-fakes to get his man off balance, and the ability to pull-up off the dribble for a mid-range jumper. His 3-point stroke shot has nice potential, but is a bit streaky when rushed, and there are some questions about his ability to guard small forwards from what we were told. Regardless, Edwards looked like a nice player and someone who might break into the recruiting rankings at some point if keeps playing the way he did in Orlando.

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