Will Barton, 6-6, Shooting Guard, Brewster Academy, 2010
Committed to Memphis
Mixed emotions is what we came away with watching extremely highly regarded recruit Will Barton (#8 Scout, #11 Rivals, #5 ESPN) compete twice at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, at least from the standpoint of evaluating an elite prospect.
On one hand, the tools he displays are undeniable, with his excellent size, outstanding wingspan, and very nice athleticism. Barton is a scorer through and through, showing great instincts in this area, a real hunger to put the ball in the basket, and the type of swagger and competitiveness that most great players do. He has solid court vision, making some very intelligent passes in drive and dish situations in both the half-court and in transition, as well as a jump-shot that he should be able to develop into a terrific weapon down the road.
Barton displayed the ability to create his own shot and make pull-up and spot-up jumpers from beyond the arc as well as from mid-range, showing supreme confidence in his ability, probably to the point that he was forcing the issue somewhat.
Defensively, Barton has both the tools (size, length, lateral quickness) and the willingness to make his presence felt on this end of the court. He gets down in a stance and will play tough, intense, in-your-face pressure defense looking to shut-down his matchup, showing that same competitiveness that has made many a recruiting analyst fall in love with him on the AAU circuit.
On the downside, Barton has a ways to go before he can be considered the type of teammate others would like to play with, and has a few noticeable holes in his game which could very well become more of an issue against higher level competition.
His ball-handling skills first and foremost need plenty of work, as he shows very little ability to operate with his left hand and struggles in general to create his own shot in the half-court and get all the way to the basket. His decision making and shot-selection were very questionable throughout the course of the weekend, particularly when his team started falling behind and they needed him to make good decisions. He did not look like a particularly efficient scorer in the games we saw, being quite turnover prone as well.
Barton's body language was probably the biggest turnoff from watching him play, as he seems far more concerned with getting his own shots than he is helping his team win games. He would visibly pout and even proceed (on multiple occasions) to chase after his teammates following plays and yell at them for not passing him the ball, even on possessions that his team scored regardless.
Barton is obviously a much better player than he was able to show here in New Havenhe didn't look like he had much to prove here--but he's clearly not a finished product either. He needs to make sure not to let all the accolades he's getting go to his head, because the NBA is still a long ways away at this point. We'll surely see Barton again over the course of the year on the Prep School or All-Star game circuit, and are anxious to see him play up to his true potential.
Andre Drummond, 6-11, Center, St. Thomas More, 2012
Already considered by many as the top prospect in his high school class, Andre Drummond (Scout ?, Rivals ?, #1 ESPN) has garnered an incredible amount of attention for a player only 16 years old.
Drummond was actually a member of the 2011 class, but elected to reclassify before he blew up on the national level, as he was seen as a major project on and off the court who could use another year of high school basketball playing close to home before leaving for college. There is apparently some thought to move him back to his original class to allow him to participate in the McDonald's All-American game and give him the benefit of competing against stronger competition in college that crucial year of development, but no final decision has been made at this point.
From a physical standpoint, it's not difficult to tell why Drummond is as highly touted as he is. He stands a legit 6-11, with a massive wingspan (rumored to be somewhere around 7-5) and a huge frame that will have no problem carrying all the weight he needs at any level of competition. His body is well proportioned and he appears to be about as fluid and coordinated as you could expect a 16-year old to be.
Athletically, Drummond is very solid, running the floor like a deer and looking very quick getting off his feet. He's not what you would call a freak athlete, but certainly will not be held back by his mobility from what we could tell, and probably has not reached his full athletic potential at this point in time. We should also keep in mind that Drummond was just coming off recovering from a stress fracture that put him out of commission to start the season, and probably affected his conditioning.
Offensively, Drummond shows excellent potential, but is still a fairly limited player as you can probably imagine considering his age. He sports big, soft hands which allow him to catch pretty much everything thrown his way, and has the type of frame needed to be an outstanding presence inside the paint. His touch looks outstanding, particularly on the series of jump-hooks we saw him score with, and he seems to have some potential as a mid-range shooter as well based off what we saw in warm-ups. Drummond shoots the ball from his chest, something that must be corrected eventually, but the fact that he's already making shots from distance leaves a lot of room for optimism regarding the future.
On the downside, Drummond is still very much a raw prospect who would clearly struggle against high-level competition at this juncture. He has very little idea how to establish position in the paint and use his amazing body to his advantage, lacking a great deal in the ways of footwork and post-moves and struggling with basic concepts like passing out of the post and respecting the spacing of his team's half-court offense. He doesn't appear to be the type of player whom everything comes naturally for, sporting somewhat of an average IQ that is likely further accentuated by his lack of experience and all-around polish.
Defensively, we find much of the same. On one hand, Drummond has incredible potential due to his phenomenal physical attributes, something that already makes him a huge asset even in his current raw state. He can block shots with either hand and is a massive presence in the paint thanks to his terrific length and solid timing, contesting pretty much everything that comes his way and being extremely difficult to post up with his sheer girth.
On the other hand, Drummond's fundamentals are incredibly poor, looking fairly clueless at times while roaming around aimlessly, and being extremely foul prone on top of that. He's not the toughest or most reactive guy or you'll find right nowsomething to keep an eye on as he gets olderand has all kinds of issue stepping out onto the perimeter and trying to move his feet out and react to quicker players attacking him off the dribble.
Something to keep in mind is that all these issues are highly correctable and are very much to be expected from a player at his stage of development. Drummond must realize that though and continue to work on his all-around game exhaustively if he's to reach his full potential. The good news is that, despite being a little on the immature side, Drummond is supposedly a very high character young man with a strong support system around him. He looks like a good teammate on top of that from what we could tell in the two games we saw him.
Drummond has a long road ahead of him to making the NBA, but he's obviously off to a great start. We'll have to wait and see how things turn out from here, starting in college. The favorites to land his services at this stage are clearly Jim Calhoun and the hometown UConn Huskies, which, if history is any indication, wouldn't be a bad place for a big man to get ready for the NBA.
Lorenzo Brown, 6-4, Point Guard, Hargrave Military Academy, Class of 2009
Committed to N.C. State
After failing to qualify with the rest of his 2009 high school class, extremely highly touted Lorenzo Brown (#28 Scout, #37 Rivals, #29 ESPN) was forced to take his game to the prep school ranks, where he's currently part of a loaded Hargrave team.
With starting point guard Isaiah Epps (committed to Pitt) not making the trip to New Haven due to undisclosed reasons, Brown was forced to man the point guard spot for Hargrave full time, giving us a terrific chance to evaluate his potential at what many deem to be his future position. Brown did not disappoint in the least bit, looking incredibly natural running the show for his team.
Showing terrific size for the point guard position, Brown stands around 6-4 with big shoulders and a frame that should be able to carry plenty of weight. His wingspan is fairly poor, though, unfortunately, something that is only accentuated even more by the lack of effort he often displays on the defensive end. Athletically, Brown can be described as being more smooth than explosive, showing a nice first step and good change of speeds and hesitation moves.
The best part of Brown's game is the terrific swagger in which he plays with, looking extremely natural with the ball in his hands and the confidence to do pretty much anything he wants on the basketball court.
He's a terrific ball-handler, capable of creating his own shot and especially play pick and roll, an area he truly excels in. Brown sees the entire floor at all times thanks to his terrific size and court vision, reading his options and whipping the ball all over the floor without hesitation, the way only a true point guard can.
Brown uses bounce passes and lobs equally well, and is absolutely dynamite finding streaking teammates in drive and dish situations, often in highlight reel fashion. He's also more than capable of making the simple play, though, whether its moving the ball ahead intelligently in transition, making a fundamentally sound post-entry pass, or finding the open man spotting up on the perimeter. More than anyone we saw in New Haven, Brown is the type of player who plays the game at his own unique pace, never letting opposing defenses speed him up or slow him down.
The biggest problem with Brown is that his swagger and casual demeanor on the court seem to translate into cockiness, giving off an impression that he's too good for this level. He looks very wild at times with his decision making, turning the ball over excessively, something that has been an issue for him throughout his career reportedly. In other times, he seems to lose his intensity level completely, giving off a too cool for school attitude, showing very little focus, no urgency in his play, and seemingly just going through the motions.
The place this shows up the most is on the defensive end, where he tends to play in a very upright and nonchalant manner, rarely getting into an actual stance. What's ironic is that Brown is actually a terrific defender when he puts his mind to it, as he's capable of absolutely smothering opponents with his terrific size and quick feet. He proved that on numerous possessions by getting in the passing lanes, coming up with blocks and generally locking up his man late in games when his team really needed a stop. We'll have to see if Sidney Lowe can get him playing with that type of intensity on a regular basis.
Being a year removed from his high school class, and 19 years old, Brown is one of the few (probably the only) players in the prep school ranks who is both good enough and eligible to get some looks from NBA teams in this upcoming draft, if things didn't work out for him academically once again with N.C. State.
Right now, though, Brown is doing well academically and is on track to qualify, according to his coach Kevin Keatts, further stating that his plan right now is definitely to enroll at N.C. State. From what we saw in New Haven, that seems to be the right call, since Brown could clearly use some time in the ACC to continue to polish up his skill-set, even if he's obviously a big-time talent.
Dominique Ferguson, 6-8, Power Forward, Hargrave Military Academy, 2010
Committed to Florida International
Isiah Thomas appears to have gotten a very good recruit relative to the competition FIU faces, and Dominique Ferguson (#35 Scout, #40 Rivals, #46 ESPN) showed some of his intrigue here. Ferguson is very long and fairly athletic, with a solidly built frame for his size. He's a bit stiff in some of his movements, but still shows good ability to elevate and is a rangy athlete with his offensive moves.
On the offensive end, he shows flashes from everywhere on the floor, hitting some perimeter shots, facing up with the ball, and doing damage in the post. His shooting form is decent, while he shows range to three-point land, but it still appears like this is an area of his game that could improve. Taking his man off the dribble, he uses long strides and can switch hands with the ball when finishing, but he doesn't appear to have much in terms of advanced moves and probably isn't much of an isolation threat.
In the post is where Ferguson shows the most potential for the college level, but he's simply not assertive enough with the ball, playing soft at times, despite showing the strength to establish great position on occasion. He shows flashes of hook shots and up-and-under moves, but he just isn't as effective as he could be here due to his lack of toughness and aggression.
On defense, Ferguson is a very capable shot blocker with his length and athleticism, sending back quite a few shots in his two games this weekend. His awareness looks questionable at times, but he has tools to make up for some of his lapses, and he should be a good interior defender against FIU's competition.
As an NBA prospect, there really isn't a great deal to say about Ferguson at this point. He may not have the elite explosiveness, skill level, or aggressive mentality to make it as an undersized four in his current state, and doesn't appear to have the shot creating skills or perimeter defense to be viewed at as a small forward prospect. That said, he's obviously still incredibly young and there's no telling what can change in the next few years. For now he looks like a phenomenal prospect for the Sun Belt Conference.
Gerard Coleman, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Tilton Prep, 2010
Committed to Providence
The National Prep Showcase is always a nice place to get introduced to future college stars, and one of the best first impressions we had came from Providence commit Gerard Coleman (#65 Scout, #51 Rivals, #72 ESPN).
Not particularly big at 6-4, with a very narrow frame, Coleman doesn't jump off the page at you on first glance. He is a solid athlete, though, extremely quick off the dribble, and fairly explosive around the rim.
Where Coleman impresses you the most though is with his scoring instincts, aggressiveness and all-around feel for the game. He's an outstanding shot-creator, able to play the pick and roll the way few guards are capable of at this level, either to get to the rim or find teammates with heady drive and dish passes. Despite the fact that he's a high-level scorer, Coleman is not a selfish player in the least bit, as he displays both excellent court vision and the willingness and knowledge of how to operate in a team setting, always looking to make the extra pass.
What probably will get Providence fans most excited though is the slashing ability that Coleman displays. He has very nice ball-handling skills and a wide array of change of speeds and hesitation moves, being extremely aggressive looking to make things happen off the dribble and finding a great deal of success at this level. His perimeter jump-shot is still far too streaky (probably his biggest weakness) because of the awkward hitch he sports, but he shows intriguing shot-making ability from mid-range and probably should be able to figure out this part of his game in time if he's willing to put the work in.
Showing a frenetic energy level and constantly looking to make plays all over the floor, Coleman is a very active defender who displays great instincts and competitiveness. He came up with a number of blocks and steals in the game we took in, showing a real commitment to getting the job done, which is impressive considering his star status and the heavy load he's forced to shoulder offensively. Coleman will need to continue to play this way in college as he doesn't possess the best physical tools (size, length, strength).
It will be interesting to see how Coleman's game translates to the college level, particularly as he continues to fill out his frame, as he appeared to be one of the most complete players we watched in the three games in New Haven. His recruiting rankings don't back that up, though, leaving you to wonder if he's a little bit underrated right now. Only time will tell, and the truth will surely come out soon enough playing in the ultra-competitive Big East.