High School Roadtrip: Scouting Brandan Wright and Michael Beasley

High School Roadtrip: Scouting Brandan Wright and Michael Beasley
Dec 14, 2005, 11:45 pm
The DraftExpress team kicks off coverage of the high school basketball season with a bang, covering the Kentucky Bank Shootout in Paris, KY, before traveling to Huntington, West Virginia the next day to catch O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker, and Co. take on the Patterson School in a 2pm matinee. Saturday night’s journey took Rodger Bohn to watch two games at the Kentucky Bank Shootout in Bourbon County High School in Paris, Kentucky.

Part one in a two part series details the matchup featuring top five high school senior and North Carolina signee Brandan Wright’s Brentwood Academy (TN) against local powerhouse Scott County (KY).

Brentwood Academy (TN) vs. Scott County (KY)

The main purpose of scouting this game was to see highly touted senior Brandan Wright once again and presumably watch Brentwood blow out a much weaker Kentucky team. The big surprise here was that Scott County put up a terrific fight with their scrappy play and excellent outside shooting, but Brentwood’s superior size and athleticism proved to be too much when it was all said and done.


Scott County, led by junior PG Matt Walls (considering Colorado, New Mexico St., and Army amongst others), was able to carry a seven point lead into the fourth quarter. Brentwood then realized that they needed to get the ball to Brandan Wright on each and every possession, and he absolutely took over. Wright’s length and athleticism allowed him to change the game on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he was able to get a hand on just about every possible offensive rebound and/or outjump every other player on the floor. Defensively, he completely changed the game with his freakish wingspan and perfectly timed leaps for shot block attempts. Brandan’s dominance proved to be too much for Scott County, as they were outscored 23-12 in the final quarter on their way to a narrow 2 point loss.

Prospect of the game: Brandan Wright, 6’10 Senior PF, Signed with North Carolina; 31 points, 9 rebounds, 6 blocks

The North Carolina recruit lived up to his billing as one of the top five seniors in the country, changing the game on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Wright is totally left hand dominant, but is seemingly unstoppable at this level when he touches the ball. Although the form on his shot is very awkward, Wright seems to have no problem knocking down the mid range jumper when left open, although his biggest strength is using his length and leaping ability to merely shoot over opponents near the rim. When watching the Brentwood star play, you can expect to see a good amount of highly athletic dunks, and he did not disappoint this evening as he finished with four. Of those four dunks, he had a pretty simple two handed slam in which both of his elbows were so far above the rim that everyone in the crowd had to ask each other if they had just seen how high up he had gotten. On the flip side however, while Wright attempted to show off his ball-handling skills, they just aren’t there at the moment at a consistent enough level. He lost the ball numerous times when pressured bringing the ball up the floor, and made some pretty bad decisions that resulted in Brentwood turnovers. Ball-handling and a lack of a right hand are by far Wright ‘s two biggest weaknesses on the perimeter, but his superior athleticism has allowed him to dominate on the high school level thus far.


On the defensive end, Wright is an absolute shot blocking machine who completely dominates the paint. By the end of the night, Scott County players were afraid to come in the lane and put anything up on Wright, settling for short jump shots instead of going all the way to the rim. His freakish wingspan is pretty amazing to see in person, as his arms seemingly never end. Wright also does a great job of boxing out, allowing him to rebound the ball extremely well. One glaring weakness that the Tennessee star does have is a lack of lateral quickness, which was shown by the fact that he was easily beaten off of the dribble by the smaller and less athletic Scott County players. As long as Wright does not have to go out on the perimeter and guard small forwards, this should not be a problem due to the fact that he moves adequately enough to guard power forwards.

Draft fans will want to keep an eye out for Wright, considering that had the current NBA age limitation not been implemented, he would have most likely entered the draft out of high school. It will be very interesting to see a potential starting lineup of likely McDonald’s All American Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Reyshawn Terry, Tyler Hansbrough, and Brandan Wright along with Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, and Danny Green coming off of the bench in Chapel Hill next year. Needless to say, North Carolina will be a very exciting team to watch in the 2006-2007 season.

Oak Hill Academy (VA) vs. Harmony Community School (OH)

When plans were made to make this trip, a friend from the basketball community insisted: “You better make sure that you get to the game a half hour early, because Oak Hill puts on a dunk show during warm-ups that is just as good as the NBA dunk contest”. He was absolutely right it turns out, as the Oak Hill players (along with the Harmony players) put on a dunk show that had the entire gym on their feet during warm-ups. Oak Hill standout junior Michael Beasley did just about every single dunk that Gerald Green did in the 2005 McDonald’s All American Dunk Contest, plus more. His between the legs dunk brought the house down. To give you an idea of what a spectacle this was, the entire gymnasium of 3,000 plus were already all on their feet during the warmups of this game. Not to be forgotten however, Alex Tyus of Harmony Prep and Jeff Allen of Oak Hill both also had some spectacular dunks in their own right, but it was Beasley who stole the show.

Oak Hill Academy came into the contest with a 12-0 record, and was ranked #2 in the country’s latest USA Today Super 25 rankings. The Warriors are led by 6’0 senior PG Tywon Lawson, who signed with North Carolina this fall. Unfortunately, Lawson has been suspended for the past few weeks for undisclosed reasons, and did not make the trip. Luckily, Oak Hill has two of the nation’s top 20 juniors in 6’9 SF/PF Michael Beasley and 6’3 SG/PG Nolan Smith. Beasley, regarded by most as a top 3 player in the class of 2007, is a smooth post player who can easily step outside to the wing if needed. His AAU teammate and best friend Nolan Smith, son of ex-Orlando Magic player Derek Smith, is a skilled guard who has been forced to play point guard with Lawson’s suspension. The Warriors rotation is rounded out with 6’7 WF/PF Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech signee), 6’6 WF Landon Melbourne (Maryland signee), 6’5 WG Billy Clark, and 6’10 C Alberto Jackson (Georgia signee).

While Oak Hill boasted quite the lineup, Harmony’s was not too far behind. Led by 6’8 JR PF/SF Alex Tyus (Arizona, Washington, Illinois, and Kansas lead), the small prep school from Cincinnati boasts a nice mixture of high school players with fifth year post graduates looking to improve their game and get better collegiate offers, or to boost their current academic status. Tyus receives his fair share of help from a strong cast of division one talents including ex-Indiana commit PG Deonte Vaughn, 6’3 PG Marcus Rhodes (Indiana leads), 6’4 wing Josh Tabb (Tennessee signee), 6’4 combo guard Tyrone Appleton (considering Louisville, Washington, Iowa, among others), 6’9 JR PF Quincy Owens (Seton Hall commit), and 6’10 PF/C Tearon Hill (considering Gonzaga, Tennessee, Baylor, among others).

This game was a very exciting, fast paced game with plenty of dunks and three pointers. There was a definite lack of defense played here, so basketball purists may not have cared as much for it, but any common hoops fan would have loved to catch this one. As mentioned before, Oak Hill was without their star PG and UNC signee Tywon Lawson, so junior stud Nolan Smith for forced to take over his reign. Smith did a pretty job throughout the first half of breaking down the Harmony defense and finding slashing combo forwards such as Jeff Allen, Landon Melbourne, and Michael Beasley for open dunks and lay-ups. Oak Hill ran into some problems with Harmony however as the game speed picked up, in which Tyrone Appleton and Alex Tyus really began to put a hurting on the perennial powerhouse from Virginia. Harmony’s fast paced game began to wear down the Warriors, as they only played seven players throughout the game.

Oak Hill coach Steve Smith made some adjustments for the second half, slowing the game down a bit in order to save his players’ legs because of their short bench. By slowing the game down, Oak Hill began to turn the tides on this game, as Harmony is used to playing a hectic, run and gun type of game. The slower tempo threw the Cincinnati prep school off mightily, causing them to blow what once was a ten point lead to Oak Hill. Alex Tyus’ strong performance proved to be too little too late, as Jeff Allen, Nolan Smith, and Michael Beasley led a strong second half performance to give Oak Hill a 78-68 win.

Prospects of The Game:

Oak Hill Academy- Michael Beasley; 6’8, 220 lbs; PF/WF; 2007; Committed to UNC-Charlotte

While Beasley did not put up his normal dominant numbers, it was clear to just about any observer that he was easily the most talented player on the floor. Regarded by most as a top three member of the class of 2007 (along with O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker), the Oak Hill junior possesses the combination of a lethal post game of a power forward along with solid shooting and ball handling skills that enable him to play small forward when needed. Beasley has freakish athleticism and maintains very nice post moves, making him a nightmare down low for opposing small forwards. While his inside game is definitely his strong suit, Beasley’s outside game is what has allowed him to jump so high into the rankings. He is truly one of the few legitimate “combo forwards” who can play both the SF and PF position very effectively. Speaking to him after the game, it was very refreshing to finally hear a player this versatile realize that their future will be in the paint first and foremost, and on the perimeter second.


On the defensive side of things, Beasley is a very good defender in the low post. He fights for position, boxes out well, and plays nice team defense. When he steps out to the perimeter, he struggles a bit guarding quicker small forwards, but this is something his coaches at Charlotte will surely work with him on as soon as he steps foot on campus. Physically, Beasley has a nice frame that could very easily add 20 or so pounds without diminishing his athleticism one bit. It must me noted that at times the Oak Hill junior does get a bit frustrated when his guards fail to get him the ball, and his effort does drop a bit. Again though, if Steve Smith and his staff don’t correct this within the next two years, it should be corrected immediately once he steps foot on Charlotte’s campus.

Michael Beasley Interview

DraftExpress: It was a pretty surprising decision when you committed to UNC-Charlotte so early. Can you tell me why you decided to commit so young?

Michael Beasley: It’s a good school. It’s a different style of play. They run the ball. It isn’t like a Duke or a UNC, but it’s still a big D-1, but without all of the All Americans…All the McDonald’s All Americans, so I can play right away.

DraftExpress: Being a top five player, you could have probably went to any school in the country. Why did you decide to attend a less heralded university as opposed to a UNC or Duke?

Michael Beasley: Because I don’t want to go to a real big school with the real big players…With three or four McDonald’s All Americans coming in every year that I have to sit behind and not play. I want to get in and make a difference really quick.

DraftExpress: Being ranked as a top five player in the country, can you give fans a little insight about what your recruiting process was like?

Michael Beasley: It was plain and simple actually. My old AAU coach, we’re really good friends, when he went there…that’s when I really started looking at them. I was already looking at them, but that’s when I really started looking at them. I started looking at some schools and I found out that this school is for me. I went to the campus and everyone was showing me love…that’s when I found out that this school is for me.

DraftExpress: What position do you think you’ll be playing at Charlotte?

Michael Beasley: The four and a little three.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game do you think you’re really going to have to improve upon before you get to Charlotte?

Michael Beasley: My free throws and ball handling I guess.

DraftExpress: Not that it will affect you at all, but what are your thoughts on the NBA’s mandatory age requirement?

Michael Beasley: I mean, for me personally, I really don’t care about it. I was planning on going to college anyway. I plan on going to the NBA, but I plan on getting my education first.

DraftExpress: So even if the age limit hadn’t been put in, you wouldn’t have even thought of going to the NBA out of high school?

Michael Beasley: No. Unless I was the number one pick.

DraftExpress: Are there any players that you pattern your game after?

Michael Beasley: Me.

DraftExpress: Well if you had to name a player who your style of play is similar to, who would that be?

Michael Beasley: Hmm…Uhh…Lamar Odom.

DraftExpress: How much do you feel that the year or two or four that you spend at Charlotte is going to help your game?

Michael Beasley: It’s going to help me a lot. They’re going to have me in the weight room getting stronger. I know they’re going to have me waking up early in the morning every day working on my handle. It’s going to help me a lot. It’s going to help me move to the 3 and 4 for when I go to the NBA.

DraftExpress: Has it been a bit of a relief with committing so early that you don’t have to deal with all of the recruiting sites calling you every week and colleges sending you mail everyday anymore?

Michael Beasley: Oh no, it still happens (laughs). I’ve been committed since right after 8th grade, and letters still come every day. It still happens. It ain’t over.

DraftExpress: So say that you’ve done a year, two or four at Charlotte and entered the Draft. If I’m an NBA GM, why am I going to pick you? What is so intriguing about you that is going to make me select you?

Michael Beasley: My will to win.

Harmony Community School- Alex Tyus; 6’8 215 lbs; PF/WF; 2007; (Arizona, Kansas, Illinois, and Washington lead)

Harmony Prep’s Alex Tyus is a very interesting player in that he doesn’t really stand out in one particular area of the game, but he just seems to get it done each and every time he steps out on the floor.


While not overwhelmingly skilled, Tyus is a pleasure to watch each and every time he steps on the floor due to his great work ethic and nonstop motor. The transfer from St. Louis is a bit undersized for the power forward position at only 6’8, but he is so remarkably active, long, and athletic that he will definitely be able to make up for his lack of size at the collegiate level. Alex is supposedly working very hard on his perimeter skills, but still needs plenty of work on his ball-handling and defense before he can be considered a legitimate small forward prospect. Regardless of his skill level however, Tyus gets it done each and every time he steps on the floor and will definitely be a very nice college player at the bare minimum.

Stay tuned for part two of last weekend’s high school basketball coverage for an article on O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker, and the rest of North College Hill HS’s matchup against the Patterson School from North Carolina, featuring 6 high major division one prospects.

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