National Prep Showcase: Day One

National Prep Showcase: Day One
Nov 17, 2007, 10:59 am
A recap of the most intriguing college prospects seen at day one of the national prep showcase in Lowell, Massachusetts, including players such as Devin Ebanks, Terrence Jennings, Rosco Davis, Chris Braswell and others.

Devin Ebanks, 6-8, Small Forward, Senior, St. Thomas More, Committed to Indiana
27 Points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks, 4 turnovers, 12/21 FG, 0-2 3p, 3-7 FT

Jonathan Givony

It’s been about a year since the last time this writer saw Devin Ebanks, and you can definitely tell that he’s continuing to progress as a player and prospect. His appeal as both a top high school recruit and intriguing draft prospect is quite obvious on first sight—he’s a 6-8 or 6-9 wing player with outstanding physical tools to play the game. We compared him in the past to Rudy Gay (probably not the first or last ones based off the physical resemblance), and he even wears the same number as Rudy and plays somewhat of a similar game, although he’s a notch below Rudy athletically.

Ebanks has added a quite a bit of weight to his lanky frame since the last time we saw him, and this to have given him some newfound aggressiveness that he certainly once lacked. He’s a very good, but not off-the-charts athlete, blessed with a terrific wingspan and good fluidity and coordination. He dropped quite a few glimpses of his excellent potential—for example facing the basket on one possession and getting to the hoop with a terrific first step to finish with an emphatic tomahawk jam.

He was also extremely active, particularly in the early going, showing terrific timing coming up with a number of on-ball blocks and getting in the passing lanes and taking the ball coast to coast himself. When he’s on, he’s a really impressive prospect as his lofty recruiting rankings would indicate. He’s been criticized in the past for being too passive at times, and although you could certainly see where that’s coming from, he seems to be making nice strides in this area.

Defensively he showed really nice lateral quickness on the perimeter besides the havoc he wreaked with his length coming up with steals and blocks. He’s not the toughest kid in the world, but his physical tools give him great potential. His intensity does seem to waver a bit at times, though.

We didn’t get to see much in regards to his perimeter jump-shot, as most of the game was played in transition where Ebanks obviously excels. In warm-ups his shot did look pretty smooth, though. In the half-court, Ebanks could definitely still stand to improve his ball-handling skills if he’s to reach his potential as a shot-creating small forward at the college level, even if they aren’t that bad at the moment. Being a little bit tougher using his size and length in the paint could also benefit him greatly. He doesn’t always finish strong through contact—although adding weight will help to a certain extent.

All in all, there is a lot to like about Ebanks as a prospect moving forward, even if we’re still not sold on him as being an elite one and done type guy. How much of his vast potential he’ll actually realize will largely depend on him, particularly regarding the mental part of the game.

Melquan Bolding, 6-4, Senior, Shooting Guard, Notre Dame Prep, Committed to Louisville
13 Points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block, 6-13 FG, 0-2 3p, 1-4 FT

Jonathan Givony

Notre Dame Prep was strong enough to bring a high-major wing committed to Louisville in Melquan Bolding. He came into the game and gave them immediate energy with his superb athleticism and incredible motor, wreaking havoc in the paint despite being only 6-4. Bolding is a very physically gifted player, tough as nails, and super active. He took the ball strong to the basket time after time, finishing strong through contact and getting to the free throw line. He’s a superb rebounder, particularly on the offensive end, making great use of his length, strength and explosiveness. He also plays good defense, not giving his man any space to operate and being an absolute menace getting in the passing lanes and even chasing blocks. He reminds to a certain extent of current Syracuse guard Paul Harris in those aspects.

Offensively, he can get to the rim thanks to his tenacity and terrific first step, but is pretty raw besides that. He doesn’t see the floor well at all, driving into brick walls, missing open teammates, turning the ball over and taking ill advised shots. He only shot the ball twice from outside the paint, but it did not look pretty at all.

Bolding looks like a useful collegiate player to bring off the bench for an athletic team like Louisville. It’s possible he could develop into more than that, but it will take him time.

Kim English, 6-6, Senior, Shooting Guard, Notre Dame Prep, Committed to Missouri
21 Points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 block, 8-14 FG, 3-6 3p, 2-4 FT

Jonathan Givony

The leading scorer and likely go-to guy for Notre Dame Prep, 6-6 wing Kimmie English seems to have a lot of interesting aspects to his game that make him a solid college prospect. Fairly athletic with a chiseled frame, English looks the part of a high-major swingman and then some. He can put the ball on the floor a bit with mixed results, and has a really nice stroke with range out to the 3-point line. English created his own shot on a number of occasions, but clearly still has some work to do on his ball-handling skills. Defensively, English plays with intensity but isn’t the most fundamental player in the world, gambling a bit for steals and blocks, and losing his focus at times. English’s biggest problem at the moment seems to be his lack of experience and fairly average basketball IQ. His shot selection isn’t the best and rarely would he pass the ball to an open teammate once he decided he was going to score on that possession. English clearly has a lot of talent, so if he can put it to good use over the next few years he might be a name to look out for.

James Southerland, 6-6, Senior, Small Forward, Notre Dame Prep, Committed to Syracuse
2 Points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block, 1-10 FG, 0-2 3p, 0-0 FT

Jonathan Givony

There isn’t much to say about James Southerland other than the fact that he was a big disappointment relative to his status as a committed player to an elite program like Syracuse. Southerland floated around aimlessly offensively for most of the game, not looking focused and all and seeming a bit confused as to what his true position is. He’s listed as a SG/SF here, but spent most of his minutes at the 4, which probably is closer to the truth when you evaluate his skill set. He’s a long, athletic, high-energy forward, who is extremely raw with his post moves and has almost no perimeter game to speak of. This really must have been one of his poorer games lately, as he had real trouble catching the ball at times, got outhustled on the offensive glass, and looking very much out of sync for most of the second half. His physical attributes do tell you that he has room to grow as a project for Syracuse, but there isn’t much else out there that tells you that there is a lot separating him from many mid-major recruits in attendance here.

Terrence Jennings, 6’10, PF/C, Senior, Notre Dame Prep, Committed to Louisville

12 points, 15 rebounds, 6 blocks, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 2-13 FG, 0-2 3P, 8-15 FT

Rodger Bohn

Jennings was hands down the top big man prospect that the day had to offer, combining prototypical size with downright freakish athleticism. He displayed ridiculously quick moves when touching the ball around the basket, both in terms of footwork and how fast he got off of the ground. The Amare Stoudemire comparisons may be a stretch at the moment, but Jennings does own quickness, size, and athleticism somewhat comparable to that of the current Phoenix Suns star.
Jennings entire game is predicated off of his athleticism, both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He simply outjumped any opposing player that he was matched up against Friday, corralling rebounds and rejecting any shot that came his way. The California native ran the floor incredibly well, jetting down the floor in transition for an outstanding dunk for one of his two field goals.

On the down side, Terrence is still remarkably raw for a player considered a top 20 recruit. His skill set needs quite a bit of work, as he did very little away from the rim and bricked quite a few easy scoring attempts. His post game is just as underdeveloped, as Jennings looked completely lost a few time when he touched the ball in the pivot.

Jennings’ basketball IQ and feel for the game also seemed a bit lackluster. It was clear that he lacked the court awareness that most players of his stature possess, especially on the defensive end. Everything that Jennings does on the floor is at 100 miles per hour due to his jetting quicks, but his elementary feel for the game is evident to anyone watching, especially when he is forced to make quick basketball decisions.

Either way that you look at it, Jennings is a player that will be closely followed by NBA personnel throughout his tenure as a Cardinal. The package of size, quickness, and upside that he brings to the table is virtually unparalleled by most power forwards that this class has to offer. Only time will tell if Jennings develops into the budding star that he has the potential to become, or if he will just remain an athletic marvel with an underdeveloped skill set.

Chris Braswell, 6’8, Power Forward, Senior, Hargrave Military Academy, Committed to Georgetown
10 Points, 7 Rebounds, 1 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 Block, 1 steal, 3-8 FG, 4-5 FT

Rodger Bohn

It was the tale of two halves for Braswell, as he started out the game on the lethargic side only to finish the contest strong. In the first half, he was easily frustrated by his lack of touches in the post and it effected all other aspects of his game. The future Hoya did not defend, run the floor, rebound, and displayed a terrible demeanor throughout the half. He finished the first stanza with a mere 2 points and 2 rebounds, looking more like a low major division one player then one who is expected to come in and contribute immediately in the Big East.

Different half, different story for Braswell. Hargrave came out and immediately got their star big man touches in the paint, which he converted on with a flurry of post moves. His soft touch was exhibited through a series of tip-ins and touch catches, a testament to the feathery paws he owns. Braswell was incredibly active, making his presence felt on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, finishing the game with X points and X rebounds.

Motivation is a key issue with Chris, evidenced by his inconsistent play over the years. When motivated, he is one of the better scoring big men on the prep level. When he is just going through the motions however, he appears to be quite an average prospect. John Thompson III and his staff have proven that they are able to get the most out of their big men, so don’t be surprised to see Braswell step in and contribute right away once he reaches campus at Georgetown.

Roscoe Davis, 6-11, Center, Senior, Hargrave Military Academy, Committed to West Virginia
11 points, 3 rebounds (0 defensive), 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 4-11 FG, 3-5 FT

Jonathan Givony

One of highest risers of the past summer from the senior class, there were some high hopes going into this game to watch this mobile 6-11 center who just recently committed to Bob Huggins at West Virginia. Those expectations largely went unanswered, although it’s not very difficult to see why many high major programs coveted him based off his upside.

Davis is a fairly athletic big man, blessed with a good frame and very nice hands. He runs the floor well, is quick off his feet, and has an especially impressive 2nd bounce he can utilize to chase blocked shots and offensive rebounds. He also has pretty good timing to boot, offering us some really intriguing glimpses of potential that make you wonder how good he might be if he only gave a consistent effort throughout the game.

Davis is a player who constantly needs to be involved in his team’s offense, as otherwise you will quickly see his body language sour and he’ll begin to loaf around the perimeter defensively and not run the floor very hard. Besides his shot-blocking ability it’s hard to say that he had any real presence on the defensive end at all in this game. He put in a sub-par effort on the defensive glass (letting a severely undersized power forward basically eat his lunch all game), gambled excessively for steals, and was caught napping on pick and rolls several times hedging and not then recovering back inside.

Offensively, Davis may want a lot of touches, but his skill-set at the moment doesn’t exactly warrant that. He has no real back to the basket game, and his jumper is not a real weapon at this point. He also has a tendency to settle for bad shots going out of his element.

Although this evaluation may seem harsh, we have to remember that Davis is a late-blooming big man who’s weaknesses are all still very much correctable. The talent and natural gifts are all there for him to become a very productive college player and maybe even more than that, but he’ll need to put the effort in first.

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