Assessing notable college and prep players on display in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- You know what they say: What happens in Vegas takes two columns to cover.
As I told you in
My interest in the USA trials centered on the group of 20 college players who were brought in as a permanent scout team. The folks at USA Basketball only permitted the media to watch the college kids scrimmage against the pros for 30 minutes per day, but several dozen NBA scouts and executives were permitted to watch all of the action. So at the end of my visit, I asked one of those scouts to give me his unvarnished, anonymous assessment of a few of the collegians he watched. Here's what he had to say about ...
July represents the heart of the summer evaluation period, during which college coaches are permitted to watch high school players compete in various camps and grassroots tournaments around the country. Before I offer you my take on some of the best high schoolers in Vegas last week, let me offer a couple of swing thoughts.
In the first place, keep in mind that I had not seen any of these guys play before. It is very, very difficult to properly evaluate a player based on one or two viewings -- especially in late July, when they are so physically and mentally drained from a long month of two or three games per day that it's nearly impossible to be at their best.
Also, while several of the top seniors were playing in Orlando at the AAU National Championships last week, the consensus from what I saw and heard is that the junior class is far superior to the seniors. Not only that, but the Class of 2012 has lots of really good big men, which will give the college game a badly-needed influx (at least for a year, anyway). One major head coach told me that by his math, there are 27 high-major big men in the junior class, as opposed to just 11 in the Class of 2012.
So consider what follows as more impressions than proper evaluations. Still, I know what I saw:
• Two teams I saw play two full games (including once against each other) were the New England Playaz and the San Diego-based Dream Vision. New England featured the one player I saw in Vegas who appeared to be the most ready to have an immediate impact at the collegiate level:
Murphy's teammate (both high school and summertime),
As for Dream Vision, the player to see was
By the way, Dream Vision has a real sleeper prospect in 6-9 forward
• One guy that almost everyone I asked urged me to check out was another big junior,
Maybe I was expecting too much based on his reputation (Scout.com has him ranked second in the junior class), but it looked to me like someone was advising Austin to develop his perimeter game for the NBA level as opposed to playing the game from the inside-out like a seven-footer his age should. From where I was sitting, that looked like really bad advice.
• Lots of coaches were on hand to watch Indiana Elite play. The main object of their attention was 6-10 swingman
• There are certain things a player does that are so impressive that even a writer schmo can't help but notice. That happened frequently while I watched
• Late Friday night, I checked out Ohio Basketball Club against D.C. Assault in the Super 64. I had been encouraged to watch OBC to see 6-8 senior forward
On the next possession, Behanan caught another pass in transition, and this time he deftly passed to a teammate for an open layup. When I told
As for D.C. Assault, the premiere player was supposed to be
Another on that team who did stand out for me was
• On my final day in Vegas, I checked out the action at the other major tournament in town, the Fab 48. (What's with these names, by the way? Fab 48? Super 64? To quote my colleague
Another intriguing player on the Soldiers was
The featured performer on Seattle Rotary was, naturally,
And yet, like most high school players, Wroten still has a lot of improving to do. He has no outside shot whatsoever, and he lacks the ability to finish with his right hand, even on a simple, wide-open layup. This might barely merit a mention aside from the fact that Wroten wrote on his Twitter feed over the weekend that if he wasn't ranked No. 1 in his class, then there shouldn't be any rankings. I understand writers and fans like to pay attention to the rankings -- I certainly mentioned them enough in this column -- but when players pay too much attention to them, to me it's a bad portent, IMHO.
Moving forward, my advice to Wroten and all the high school players who competed in Las Vegas and other locales this month, is to go home, get some rest and don't touch a basketball for a week or two, maybe more. Then they should find an empty gym, work on their games and stop worrying what recruiting experts or amateurs like me think. It wouldn't hurt to hit the books as well. The month of July is a lot of fun, but it's almost over now, and I'm sure a lot of players and college coaches around the country are plenty happy about that.