adidas Nations Basketball Experience: 2009 High School Prospects

adidas Nations Basketball Experience: 2009 High School Prospects
Aug 15, 2007, 09:54 pm
adidas Nations Basketball Experience: 2008 High School Prospects
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adidas Nations Basketball Experience Notebook (Day One+Two)

Adidas 2009 High School Player Evaluations

The most highly touted of any of the players on this team was 6-9 big man Derrick Favors, from Atlanta, Georgia. The #1 overall recruit in the nation according to (#3 on rivals), Favors did very little to back up the hype he had coming into this event. Maybe he was tired from the long summer of AAU tournaments he just went though, maybe this setting isn’t very conducive to a player of his skill-set, or maybe he’s a tad overrated? We aren’t quite sure at this point. What’s definite is that Favors looked entirely content running up and down the court in disinterested fashion and blending in amongst the crowd. He showed average footwork in the post, very little skills facing the basket, and fairly poor fundamentals. He didn’t call for the ball at all much either on the offense end. Drills and things of that nature are almost completely foreign to him at this point, and he doesn’t appear to be the best coached guy in the world.

With that said, it wasn’t too difficult to see where the intrigue is coming from. Favors is an extremely long and lanky big man with a great frame, excellent athleticism and a very smooth demeanor to him. He plays very good defense and gets up and down the court well, looking very cool and calm at all times, even to a fault.

We were warned in advance that Favors is the type of player who gravitates radically from outstanding to almost invisible depending on what night you catch him on. He’s not always as intense as you might hope if not involved in a big-time match up, so it’s easier to understand why he showed so little in the few times we evaluated him in New Orleans. He got knocked out of the camp late after taking a big time shot to the nose, so we didn’t get to see as much of him as we may have hoped. He’s also only 16 years old, so maybe our expectations were a little too high at the end of the day. It’s obvious from watching him early on that he’s going to have to rack up the intensity if he wants to reach his full potential.

Another very highly touted recruit (#16 on, #10 on Scout) was 6-3 combo guard Dexter Strickland. It was very easy to see where his hype is coming from right as we saw him, as he’s absolutely jet-quick and is able to create his own shot at will against almost anyone. Strickland gets into the lane with ease thanks to his phenomenal first step and wide array of hesitation moves, and also finishes well around the rim as well. While scoring seems to be his forte at the moment, Strickland is more than just a gunner, as he also did a pretty good job creating for others too. He showed especially good decision making skills in transition, finding the open man with a nifty bounce pass, and distributing the ball unselfishly off the drive and dish. When asked to slow down and run the offense in the half-court, Strickland showed some solid patience executing sets, even if being a pure playmaker isn’t his natural instinct. From what we saw, though, there is plenty of room for optimism in terms of anticipating him developing into a real full-time point guard over his last two years in high school. We need to see more, but we liked everything we saw about Dexter Strickland early on and fully expect to continue to hear his name over the next few years. He seems to have quite a future ahead of him.

The most productive player on the 2009 high school team from a sheer numbers standpoint was clearly New York City native Lance Stephenson, an absolute monster of a teenager who played both guard positions despite being listed at 6-5.

Stephenson has NBA written all over him, both physically and from a skills standpoint. Featuring a terrific body with great strength and excellent athleticism, Stephenson can do many things on the court thanks to his wide array of tools. He’s quick and very explosive off his feet, showing a wide array of hesitation moves and terrific ability to change gears and get to the rim. Once he’s there, he has the strength and tenacity to finish through contact. The fact that he’s such a good ball-handler obviously helps him out in terms of creating his own shot, and he has the physical ability, skills and instincts to do so almost whenever he pleases at this level. His mid-range game is also very polished already, numerous times throwing a strong crossover at his opponent only to pull up sharply off the dribble for a smooth jumper. He goes left or right equally well and is extremely aggressive looking for scoring opportunities. His jump-shot from deep looks good as well, even if he at times forced things from behind the arc.

Now that we’ve gotten the many incredible strengths that Stephenson possesses out of the way, we must also share some concerns. Stephenson showed a very questionable attitude throughout the event, picking fights with opposing players, showing questionable body language, and generally looking very immature. He pouted whenever things didn’t go his way, blaming the refs, his teammates, the opposition, or basically anyone besides himself when things went even slightly wrong. When all is well he’s an incredible looking prospect, but once him or his team hit a rough patch, he basically gave up. All too often he played selfish basketball, showing a poor basketball IQ, running into brick walls, and tossing up terrible shots, while putting forth absolutely no effort on the defensive end. At this point, he’s much stronger than anyone else in his class, which gives him a huge advantage on the court. You have to wonder whether that is going to hold up once everyone else catches up physically. We’ve seen this happen in the past, and it rarely turns out well.

Stephenson’s career could go in many different directions from here. He could capitalize on his immense potential and become a one and done player at whichever school he chooses (let’s take a “wild” guess and say Louisville or Memphis), and then turn into a legit NBA player, or he could completely flame out in college. It’s hard to see much of a middle ground here. Hopefully he does eventually mature, because we’re obviously talking about a special talent.

After discussing three of the top 10 prospects in the 09 class, we move onto a player who surprisingly isn’t even ranked on any of the top 75 or 100 lists we glanced at before attending the camp. That would be 6-6 shooting guard Jerry Brown, who made quite a nice impression with the work he put in over the course of the week. Brown has nice physical tools, being a smooth athlete swingman with a great frame, good quickness and a very nice first step. He got into the paint on a couple of occasions, and even hit a few 3-pointers despite possessing just average shooting mechanics. He’s a tough player who seems to have a pretty good feel for the game, making a couple of really nice plays in transition and constantly sticking his nose in to make heady plays. On a team that was supposedly loaded with top-50 rated talent, he stood out quite a bit more than many of the players (for example Shawn Williams or Christian Watford) who are ranked ahead of him. Only going into his junior season, he still obviously has quite a bit of work ahead of him, but he’s off to a really nice start.

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