Chicago Simeon, led by Derrick Roses 28 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds knocked off Oak Hill Academy 78-75 at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Rose single handedly willed his team to victory, and dominated highly touted junior guard Brandon Jennings. Below are our observations from the top performers in this outstanding high school contest.
Derrick Rose, 63 PG, Senior, Chicago Simeon, Signed with Memphis
28 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, 9-18 FG
It was clear from the tip that we were looking at the most explosive point guard that high school basketball has seen in recent memory. Roses combination of first step, leaping ability, and raw power have allow him to blow past anyone who attempted to guard him throughout the game. At 63 and 190 lbs., he already has a body superb to that of any point guard prospect for this years draft, and has the quickness and leaping ability to match. It is simply a thing of beauty to watch him get into the lane, absorb contact, and contort his body enough to gracefully finish at the rim. While we could go on for days about his marvelous athletic ability, there is far more to his game then that.
Against Oak Hill, Derrick came out gunning from the perimeter. As many know, that is definitely his biggest weakness and it seemed as if he was trying to make it a point to silence all of his critics. While he was unsuccessful in the majority of three point attempts, he did show improved form from the last time we saw him over the summer. It was clear to anyone watching the game however that shooting was surely not the strength of the Memphis signees game.
In terms of what you are looking for in a point guard, Rose has proven that he can fit the scoring point guard role just as well as he can the pure point guard role. His playmaking abilities were on display against Oak Hill as he finished with 9 assists, which would have easily been around 15 had his teammates been able to catch and/or finish his passes. Roses playmaking ability was never more evident then on his stunning left handed pass that most collegiate point guards couldnt make with their right hands, which led to a Kevin Johnson slam dunk.
Defensively Derrick was fantastic throughout the game, no matter if he was guarding Jennings or Duke bound Nolan Smith. He used his fantastic athleticism and length to constantly stay in front of the two guards when guarding them, and was able to burst through the passing lanes a few times, leading to Simeon fast break points. Never more was it more clear that Rose has the potential to be an outstanding defender once he learns to defend at the collegiate level, which should surely happen upon his arrival at Memphis.
When writing about a player with such an abundance of strengths, it is often hard to pick out many weaknesses. Obviously, Roses outside shot, or lack thereof, is the only thing that has kept O.J. Mayo ahead of him as the consensus top player in the class of 2007. His brothers, who have shielded him mightily from the media until this past year, are not dumb and will surely find the best shooting coach money can buy for Derrick when it comes time for him to enter the NBA Draft. Roses handle could also use a little improvement in its consistency, as he can get a bit wild with his handle at times and dribbles a bit high. This is also partially in part due to Derricks love for the spectacular play, which he has the capability to give you on each and every possession. This can also be a downfall as well however, as shown by his breakaway slam
As far as the NBA is concerned, there have been rumors in the past of Derrick going and playing professionally overseas for a year or possibly going to the NBDL, which were immediately shot down by his camp. Memphis will be an outstanding fit for him, as their uptempo system will allow him to thrive. The Tigers should dominate C-USA yet again, as Rose should have four super athletes to join him in the starting five in Antonio Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier, and Joey Dorsey. With the Tigers style of play and Roses immense talent, it will be very surprising to see him stay in Memphis longer then a year and we should see him as a high lottery pick in 2008.
Brandon Jennings, 60, PG, Junior, Oak Hill Academy, Committed to USC
19 points (all in fourth quarter)
Thursday night Jennings struggled for much of the game, and didnt look nearly as polished as he did over the summer. He did make a few flashy passes early in the game, including a cross court no-look pass in transition. Jennings couldnt find his shot, however, and airballed a three early in the game. In the half court, he struggled to create many plays for his teammates, and spent a lot of the time sitting back and watching Alex Legion create. His play improved a little bit in the fourth quarter, but he took a number of bad three point shots off the dribble trying to get his team back into the game. At the end of the game Jennings sat on the bench crying on the sideline, but this game isnt much a reflection on the talent that he possesses.
At this point in time, Brandon Jennings main strength is the ability he has to create shots for his teammates. He displayed flashes of this against Simeon, but he can usually do this throughout the game, and much more effectively in the half court. Jennings gets to the basket as well, and can finish pretty well, though he is improving in this area. As a shooter, he has a lot of room for improvement, but can make some long range shots from time to time. He will have to make some improvements to his ability to hit shots off the dribble, but this should develop more as he becomes more experienced. Another main weakness for Jennings is the fact that he always goes for the flashy play, and this leads to unnecessary turnovers.
Jennings is a player whos not use to failing on the basketball court. The loss was the first of the season for Oak Hill, and he usually had comparable success in the AAU circuit with the So Cal All-Stars. He will have plenty of chances for redemption in the future, and one bad game shouldnt effect the perception on Brandon Jennings as a player.
Alex Legion, 64, SG, Senior, Oak Hill Academy, Signed with Michigan
23 points, 9 rebounds
It was clear to anyone watching the game that Legion will be able to immediately contribute at Michigan due to his ability to create his own shot and shoot the ball from the perimeter. He has no problem shooting off the dribble, on the move, or from a stand still. Aside from that though, he brings very little to the table. His ball handling skills are subpar at the moment, and he struggled mightily guarding Derrick Rose on the perimeter. Alex didnt seem to have the lateral quickness, nor the fundamental defense necessary to guard a player of this caliber, evidenced by Roses collapse of the Oak Hill defense each and every time he looked to penetrate.
Next season at Michigan, the opportunity is certainly there for Legion to step in and play right away. With no sure fire starter at shooting guard, he is just a good a guess as anyone to get the majority of the minutes at off-guard. Not an immediate NBA prospect due to his lack of ideal size and ball handling skils, Alex will surely have the opportunity to market himself at Michigan, where he will be able to launch plenty of shots next season.
Nolan Smith, 63 PG/SG, Senior, Oak Hill Academy, Signed with Duke
Smiths transition from combo guard to full time point guard is still surely a work in progress. His ball handling and defense can still use tons of improvement, and he doesnt have the natural playmaking ability that you would like to see out of a player looking to run one of the top college teams in the country next season.
On the bright side, Nolan is very intriguing as a combo guard and should be able to put up nice scoring numbers immediately upon his arrival in Durham. He is a deceptively explosive athlete and is one of the more cerebral players on the high school level, playing with the savvy of a college sophomore. The son of former NBA player Derek Smith has good court vision and passing ability, but again lacks the natural playmaking ability to play point guard full time at this moment. Within a few years however, it is certainly not out of the question for Smith to have emerged as a Daniel Ewing type prospect, one who is better suited for the shooting guard position but has adequate enough playmaking ability to run point when need be.
Julian Vaughn, 69, PF, Senior, Oak Hill Academy, Signed with Florida State
In both televised Oak Hill games this year, Vaughn has looked a lot less athletic than he did over the summer. He seems to be less mobile now, and it looks like he favors his right knee. This affects his play inside, as he doesnt really try to create his own offense with his back to the basket. The majority of his points for Oak Hill seem to come from offensive rebounds, and chip shots inside. Vaughn also hasnt been stepping out and hitting three point shots like he did on the summer circuit. In terms of mobility, he struggled to adjust inside after catching the ball, and missed a few shots near that basket that he should have been able to dunk.
He did block some shots inside against Simeon, and his rebounding fundamentals appear to be solid at this point. Vaughn has good length, and his ability to alter shots will improve if he can regain some explosiveness.
Its tough to say what Julian Vaughn will bring to Florida State next season. If he is indeed bothered by an injury, a summer of rehab would do wonders for his game. If he can play like he did over the summer, he should get minutes from day 1.
Kevin Johnson, 67, PF, Senior, Chicago Simeon, Signed with Wisconsin-Milwaukee
18 points, 10 rebounds
Johnson looks like he sometimes struggles against taller players who can match his athleticism. He doesnt look like the kind of guy who is going to create a ton of offense for himself right away, and his game inside looks a little limited at this point. In the Horizon League, this will not be a huge problem.
Johnson and fellow Simeon teammate Tim Flowers will both play at UW-Milwaukee next season. They should help the team in the rebuilding process to get back to where they were a couple of years ago. Both big men should be able to handle spot minutes right away, and it will be interesting to watch them develop over the course of their 4 years.