When Knight is at his best, he is making shots from the perimeter, showing outstanding court vision, breaking down defenders from the perimeter, finishing exceptionally well at the rim, and generally making the game look very easy for both himself and his teammates. He has a knack for making simple plays and an outstanding sense for finding teammates cutting to the rim, but also has the advantage of being an extremely big point guard at 6-3 with the athleticism to blow by his man, dunk everything inside the paint and come up with quite a few blocks, steals and rebounds on the other side of the court.
About eight months removed from surgery to remove a cyst on his spine that sidelined him for two months, Knight looks a lot more athletic now than the first time we evaluated him. While not a freak like Derrick Rose, that part of his game is never going to be what holds him back from developing into a top prospect.
The weaknesses that Knight showed revolve around many of the same problems that young point guards this age suffer fromplaying too fast and out of control, turning the ball over, showing poor shot-selection, and being inconsistent from game to game and possession to possession. He competes on the defensive end, but has a tendency to gamble too much for steals rather than playing fundamental sound. Also he clearly needs to work on his left hand, as he strongly favors driving to his right, which is fine at this level and in AAU-type settings where there is no advanced scouting.
Watching Knight play for his high school team, you get a different feel for the type of player he is, much more poised and under control, less concerned with scoring and not prone to taking those terrible off-balance 3-pointers early in possessions that we saw all summer. When he goes back to playing real basketball in a more structured environment, the hope is that hell be able to shake free of these poor fundamentals of summer basketball. Considering the feel for the game he displays at his incredibly young, that likely wont be too much of an issue.
Jared Sullinger, 6-8, PF/C, 2010, Committed to Ohio State
Sullinger is an undersized center (around 6-8 or so) right now who is a true load in the post. He establishes position extremely well, and has the ability to score very effectively with fantastic touch around the rim. He has a great feel for operating inside, showing fundamental footwork and an extremely effective jump-hook. He has no problem finishing thorough contact, and is pretty quick off his feet finishing at the rim, showing a good wingspan, quick feet and phenomenal hands which allow him to catch just about anything thrown at him, and also make him a fantastic offensive rebounder.
Besides being a rare and highly coveted post presence, Sullinger is even more attractive a prospect due to the fact that he plays hard and has a very nice basketball IQ to boot, which makes him a fairly effective passer, particularly passing out of double teams. He is an unselfish player and seems to have strong intangibles from what we could tell too.
In terms of things he could improve on, Sullinger will need to be able to use his left hand better on the offensive end if hes to be able to reach his potential as a scorer at the collegiate level. Being able to face the basket and put the ball on the floor (which he can do a little bit right now) would make him that much more versatile, as well as adding a more effective jump-shotas his range currently extends to about 15 feet or so (with nice touch and solid form actually), but he rarely shows it.
Defensively, Sullinger is very limited on the perimeter, as he doesnt have great lateral quickness and really struggles stepping out to guard the pick and roll, but also isnt very tall or explosive and thus isnt a shot-blocking presence inside the paint. Losing weight in order to maximize his athleticism could help him a bit in this regard.
All in all, Sullinger probably wont ever be considered the most attractive NBA prospect in the world due to his average physical tools, but could definitely develop into serious NBA draft material if he takes himself seriously. Hes drawing comparisons that range from Richard Hendrix to Kevin Love, but to us he looks like a carbon copy of Lonny Baxter at the moment. Despite his obvious limitations, its really hard not to like what he offers as a prospect, and he appears to have a great future ahead of him.
Adreian Payne, 6-9, Power Forward/Center, 2010
Payne is a very quick and athletic big man who does a little bit of everything right now, but doesnt seem to really know what his game is all about just yet. He can run the floor extremely well, put the ball on the deck a little bit, finish around the basket (if strength is not an issue) with an emphatic dunk or with his left hand, bounce off the ground (often consecutively) for blocks and offensive rebounds, and even occasionally hit a surprising pull-up jumper.
The problem is that hes exceptionally raw, but no one seems to have let him in on that little secret yet. Hes not an efficient player at all just yet, being very turnover prone, and his decision making seems to have the longest to go from what we can tell. Paynes shot-selection looked brutal at times, throwing up some awful bricks on contested looks, and getting himself into serious trouble by trying to do too much with the ball in his hands. He tried to block pretty much every shot that he could too, looking fairly off with his timing, and getting himself out of position to compete for the defensive rebound.
Still, you cant help but be intrigued about what this guy might develop into considering his natural physical tools and just how incredibly young he still is, so we definitely need to stay tuned and see how he develops over the next few years.
LaQuinton Ross, 6-8, Small Forward, 2011
On the downside, Ross plays absolutely zero defense, to the point that its almost laughable at times how easily his lets his opponent score. He gave up deep position in the paint time after time to basically anyone that wanted to post him up, and offered such little resistance that it was almost impossible for them not to score. He also didnt show much in the ways of passing ability, looking to go one on one pretty much anytime he got the ball on the wing, even if there were multiple defenders around him.
You dont get the feeling that Ross is a selfish player or a bad kidit just seems like hes received little to no coaching at this point in his development and thus is living strictly off his instincts. Hes apparently transferring to a bigger school next year, Word of God Christian Academy, where hell be playing with
Trey Zeigler, 6-5, Shooting Guard, 2010
Zeigler didnt shoot a lot of jumpers at this event, but appears capable of making shots from the perimetersomething well have to look closer at next time we see him. He can create for himself as well as for others, looking very unselfish, not forcing the issue and showing a nice feel for finding the open man, and competes very hard on the other end too, hustling for loose balls and trying to play good defense, which is nice to see from a player so young. Not surprisingly considering the way he plays, he is the son of a coach (Central Michigan head coach Ernie Zeigler), so college coaches will probably be after him hard knowing that they might be getting the type of all-around complete package they covet as far as theyre concerned. Its too early to say definitively, but it seems like hell be sticking around in college for at least a few years as well.
Evan Anderson, 6-11, Center, 2010, Committed to Wisconsin
Anderson is a thick, left-handed, 6-11 true center with an outstanding frame and a pair of exceptionally long arms and soft hands. That alone is half the battle at this stage in a big mans development, but he has a little bit more to offer as well. Anderson has nice instincts as a shot-blocker, changing a good amount of shots around the rim with his superb length and fairly solid timing. He likes to operate with his back to the basket offensively, but really doesnt have a whole lot to offer in terms of footwork or post moves at this juncture, which is fairly understandable. He gets fouled a lot in the paint, but isnt able to convert on most of his free throw opportunities.
Anderson doesnt run the floor all that well, hes somewhat mobile but probably cant be described as being particularly athletic, and seems to be liable to lapses in intensity as the game wears on. He doesnt seem to go after every rebound, and got easily frustrated by the rough play he encountered in one particular occasion we saw him. Hes going to have problems staying out of foul trouble early on his career most likely, and generally should be considered a project at this point. Considering what he brings to the table with his physical attributes and budding skills, though, hes obviously a guy to keep an eye on in the long-term.