Nike Global Challenge Scouting Reports: Centers

Nike Global Challenge Scouting Reports: Centers
Jul 28, 2015, 06:51 am
Scouting reports on the top center prospects who played at the Nike Global Challenge including Nick Richards, Brandon McCoy, Marques Bolden, Abdul Ado, Tony Bradley, Nick Ward, Hao Fu and Schnider Herard.
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Nick Richards, 7' 0”, C, Queens, New York, 2017 High School Class

Queens native and 2017 high school prospect Nick Richards' long-term future is bright thanks to his ability to do four simple things – protect the basket, rebound, rim-run, and finish.

Richards doesn't have a flashy game. He plays five feet and in, and lacks a mid-range jumper or really any semblance of a post game. But he has those four key factors down pat, and with a strong frame, a 7' 2” wingspan and above average athleticism, he possesses the tools and necessary skills to have a long professional career.

Richards finished the tournament averaging 18.4 points, 13.5 rebounds (6.1 offensive), and 3.7 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted on 68% from the field and 44% from the line. Richards did most of his damage on the defensive end, where he protected the rim by way of good timing and impressive leaping ability from a standstill. With a strong upper body and fairly thin lower body, Richards did a solid job defending the post and holding his own on the block. He got moved by some of the stronger bigs at the tournament, but was able to bail himself out thanks to his quick first jump and solid length.

Perhaps more impressive than his interior defense was Richards' potential as a pick and roll defender. He isn't perfect fundamentally, and has a tendency to get in foul trouble easily, but most 7-footers aren't supposed to move the way Richards does. He's unbelievably light on his feet, can hedge and recover, contain, or switch screens and contest. All in all Richards has the tools to be a complete defender, which every college and NBA team is looking for at the center spot.

Offensively, Richards is more or less a rim runner, offensive rebounder and dunker at this stage. He runs the floor like a wing and plays with a solid motor on the offensive end. Richards puts constant pressure on defenders to put a body on him with his aggressiveness on the offensive glass. Although his hands can be hit or miss, Richards is a quick leaper who doesn't need much time or room to gather. He hammered home a couple of highlight dunks, and should be able to finish over length with relative ease in college and beyond.

Outside of rim runs, put backs, and dunks, however, Richards is very limited offensively. He lacks touch, feel, and any sort of post game. He air-balled at least one jump hook versus length, and is very uncomfortable catching in traffic. Richards' footwork is rigid and he doesn't think the game all that quickly, something that should improve with more experience. Richards also struggles from the free throw line, sporting a fairly mechanical stroke in which the ball oftentimes barely gets above the rim.

Richards may never be a prolific offensive threat, but he's a ready contributor in some of the main areas that coaches are looking for out of a center and defensive anchor. It will be interesting to see if the rest of Richards' game can catch up with his already high-level skills.

Brandon McCoy, 6' 11”, C, San Diego, California, 2017 High School Class

Like most bigs his age, Brandon McCoy isn't overly polished on either end of the floor, but for a near 7-footer with a strong base, tremendous leaping ability, fluidity running the floor, and good hands, the future is bright.

Although he played only 12 minutes a game, McCoy posted very impressive per 40 minute pace adjusted numbers – 23.7 points, 18.1 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 7.9 offensive rebounds on 42.3% from the field.

From a physical standpoint, McCoy has good size and a very strong lower body. His shoulders aren't overly wide, but his body should fill out nicely nonetheless. In addition to his natural size, McCoy can really run and jump, which shows both as a finisher and a rebounder. He plays with a solid motor to go along with his impressive physical profile.

McCoy does have a ways to go in terms of feel and overall basketball IQ, however. He's a bit foul prone, can be somewhat of a black hole and doesn't show the most natural touch on the interior. On the bright side, McCoy doesn't have a bad foundation as a free throw shooter. His mechanics aren't all that tight, but compared to most bigs his age, he has some potential there.

On the defensive end, McCoy has really good timing as a shot blocker and the mobility to be a very good pick and roll defender in time. He did get overpowered by more experienced bigs on a few occasions, but eventually made up for it by taking a charge the next play down. Overall, McCoy is an extremely intriguing prospect with outstanding athletic ability and some offensive upside to boot.

Jeremiah Tilmon, 6' 11”, C, East St. Louis, Illinois, 2017 High School Class

16-year-old center Jeremiah Tilmon showed flashes of potential with his size, length, mobility, hands, footwork and shot blocking ability. Tilmon did most of his damage on the defensive end, covering ground and altering shots with his 7' 2” wingspan and impressive instincts for his age.

He's very raw on the defensive end, but Tilmon still blocked 3.6 shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted and contested a handful on the perimeter. The East St. Louis product also came up with 1.8 steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Tilmon's body and frame aren't elite, but he has very good strength at 245 pounds, and excellent agility.

Tilmon has a long way to go on the offensive end, although he did show flashes of soft hands and impressive footwork. He lacks natural feel and makes a lot of the same mistakes most 16-year-old bigs make – spinning into help defenders, bringing the ball down in traffic, crumbling versus double teams. Tilmon also forced up a contested 18 footer early in the shot clock only to have it blocked and get a quick earful from his coaching staff.

Simply put, he's a work in progress on both ends of the floor but can block shots, cover ground on defense, offensive rebound, and catch and finish. Tilmon isn't quite as bouncy or physically impressive as some of the other top bigs in his class, but he has a solid combination of tools and skills, and is without a doubt worth tracking moving forward.

Marques Bolden, 7' 0”, C, DeSoto, Texas, 2016 High School Class

Highly touted center Marques Bolden played only 10 minutes (two games due to injury) all tournament but made his presence felt with a few highlight plays that gave a glimpse of what he'll bring to the table at the college level.

At 6' 11.5” in shoes with a 7' 3.5” wingspan and a solid, 240-pound frame, Bolden has tremendous size and length for a center prospect. Although his running style isn't all that fluid (was playing with two knee pads), Bolden can get up and down, cover ground, and play above the rim.

He's not overly tough defensively, but he proved he's more than capable of altering shots both as an on ball and weak side defender. Bolden doesn't have elite, fast twitch instincts, but he's very mobile and has the foundation to be a solid defensive anchor.

Offensively, while Bolden isn't overly polished, he made a few impressive plays both in transition and the half court. He showed impressive body control and leaping ability to catch a lob in transition while on the move to hammer it home. Bolden also dropped in a left-handed jump hook over length. Most of his damage was done on the offensive glass, as he displayed a high motor and level of physicality on the O-Boards.

We only got a taste of Bolden's game due to his limited playing time at Nike Global Challenge, but in that time he proved there's a lot to like about the 17-year-old center from DeSoto, Texas.

Abdul Ado, 6' 11”, C, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 2016 High School Class

Ado played only one game (19 minutes) and it was a forgettable one as he scored one point, grabbed four rebounds, missed all three of his shots and committed two turnovers and four fouls. It clearly wasn't Ado's best showing, but his physical profile along is worth noting despite his struggles scoring the ball or putting anything together offensively.

At 6' 11” with a 7' 4” wingspan, Ado can really move. He covers ground very fluidly on defense and has an outstanding frame that will fill out nicely in time. Although he didn't block any shots in his 19 minutes, it's not hard to tell that, with more polish and experience, protecting the rim will be one of his best attributes. He's long, quick off the floor, and can rotate swiftly from the weakside.

The Chattanooga native could stand to get a little tougher on the interior, especially considering he's in the 2016 high school class, but the tools are there.

Ado brings very little to the table offensively at this juncture. He has a major lean on his jump shot, his footwork is very rigid, and he lacks natural touch and awareness when the ball is in his hands.

Ado is a bit behind other bigs in his class from a basketball IQ and skill set standpoint, but he has as good of a physical profile as any, making him well worth tracking throughout his college career and beyond.

Tony Bradley, 6' 10”, C, Bartow, Florida, 2016 High School Class

Tony Bradley played a huge role in pacing the USA South team to a 4-0 record and eventual Nike Global Challenge Championship, thanks to his steady interior play and 26-point performance (12-of-15 shooting) in the finals.

Bradley averaged 29.4 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted, while posting a 31.5 PER and shooting an outstanding 78.6% from the field.

At 6' 10” with a thick 250-pound frame and a 7' 4” wingspan, Bradley isn't a flashy prospect by any means. He's very thick in the lower body, he doesn't play exclusively above the rim, isn't a monster shot blocker, and he's not out on the perimeter stroking threes.

But with all of that said, Bradley gets it done. He's strong and mobile, he competes on both ends, he doesn't play outside of himself, and he has nice touch on the interior. Bradley scored at least 14 points in every game while manning the offensive and defensive boards and playing mistake-free basketball.

Bradley can finish with either hand on the interior, has a nice jump hook game for this level of his development, and really knows how to use his body against more athletic bigs.

Bradley isn't an explosive athlete but he's fairly nimble and can dive swiftly to the rim out of pick and roll sets and actually get off the floor quickly although he doesn't have much pop.

The Bartow, Florida native also does a nice job keeping the ball high in traffic, a skill most bigs at his age haven't yet mastered. Bradley's overall skill level is very important given the fact that he has a body type that will most likely have to carry quite a bit of weight for most of his career. He'll be somewhat forced to rely on touch, footwork, savvy, and advanced moves that he's working toward as he continues to develop.

Bradley also features a shooting stroke that he should be able to extend to at least mid-range spots in time. The ball comes out of his hand nicely, and given his solid mechanics, his touch should translate to his jumper with additional reps.

Although he may not have monster upside given his body type and lack of elite explosiveness, Bradley is ahead of a lot of bigs his age from a skill perspective, and should be able to parlay that along with his strength and IQ into a very good college career.

Nick Ward, 6' 9”, C, Columbus, Ohio, 2016 High School Class

Few players at Nike Global Challenge competed as hard as big man Nick Ward. All 240 pounds of the 6' 9” center could be seen sprinting the floor, attacking every shot around the rim on defense, and relentlessly chasing after his own misses on the offensive end.

The Columbus, Ohio native doesn't have the perfect frame or pogo stick leaping ability, but the thick lefty plays hard on pretty much every possession, and was very productive as a result. Ward averaged 26 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted while posting a 24.0 PER and shooting 65.7% from the field. Ward got to the line 14.2 times per 40 minutes pace adjusted and absolutely made his presence felt with his physical style of play.

Although he measured a 7' 2” wingspan, Ward is without question an undersized center. He plays 15 feet and in, doesn't have a great feel for the game, and isn't the most skilled player out there. But with all that said, Ward's combination of strength, agility for his size, length and effort got it done for USA Midwest.

Despite carrying some extra weight, Ward is actually very mobile. He can really run the floor and shows quickness in tight spaces. He shows excellent balance on all of his spin moves and possesses very good body control for a player his size.

Ward was also getting out and hedging screens on defense while manning the paint on the interior. Ward has a shot-blocker mentality and very good timing and instincts rotating from the weak side. He's not super vertical, but Ward is quick off of his feet, and makes up for his lack of pop with effort. Ward's long-term potential remains to be seen, but Michigan State fans will quickly fall in love with his physicality and high-motor style of play.

Hao Fu, 6' 9”, C, Liaoning, China

Fu put together a very productive tournament, averaging 30.4 points, 13.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 6.9 turnovers per 40 minutes pace adjusted on 57.1% from the field.

The strong, below the rim lefty proved to be one of the more polished post scorers in the camp, finding a way to get to his left handed jump hook while finishing around the rim effectively despite his lack of lift. Fu found ways to score and was seemingly always around the ball in the interior. He displayed very good footwork on the block and even mixed in a few advanced moves inside.

Fu isn't much of a threat from the perimeter with his line-drive jumper, but he found a way to be effective in the paint while crashing the offensive and defensive glass, and making hustle plays as well.

Fu certainly has his limitations. He's not a great defender, he can be very careless with the ball (although he has some passing ability), and he's an undersized center who plays below the rim and doesn't have much range on his jumper. But with that said, Fu competed and found ways to score on the interior by way of offensive rebounds, post finishes, and drop offs.

Fu doesn't have much of a ceiling due to his physical limitations but his skill level, production and motor are without a doubt worth noting.

Schnider Herard, 6' 11”, C, Port-Au-Prince, 2016 High School Class

From a purely physical perspective, it's hard to miss Herard. At 6' 11 with a 7' 1” wingspan and an extremely strong frame, Herard stood out amongst the rest of the US big men.

Herard can move, isn't afraid of physicality, and can finish above the rim with time and room to gather. The big fella put together a very solid tournament from a production standpoint as he went for 18.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted on 56.3% from the field.

Most of Herard's buckets were interior finishes, however, and he has a ways to go on both ends of the floor to maximize the potential that his physical tools suggest. Herard bobbled a lot of passes, showed very limited feel for the game or skill outside of five feet, and got roasted a handful of times defending the pick and roll. Herard also showed a tendency to bring the ball down and get it stripped on offense.

On the defensive end, Herard certainly has the size to bang in the post and clog the interior, but his instincts left something to be desired as well. There's a lot to like about the Haitian big man from a physical and motor standpoint.

Worst case he'll be a very serviceable collegiate big man at a high major school, the key to unlocking Herard's upside will be continuing to develop his feel, hands, foot speed and touch on the interior.

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