HoopHall Classic Scouting Reports: Elite Prospects (Part Two)

HoopHall Classic Scouting Reports: Elite Prospects (Part Two)
Jan 22, 2011, 12:07 pm
We continue to review the top prospects seen at the prestigious HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass, including Tony Wroten, Shannon Scott, Dai-Jon Parker, Michael Carter-Williams, Deuce Bello, Rakeem Christmas and LaQuinton Ross.

HoopHall Classic Scouting Reports: Elite Prospects (Part One) (Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, LeBryan Nash, Myck Kabongo, Wayne Blackshear and Ben McLemore)

Tony Wroten, 6-5, Shooting Guard, Seattle Garfield, 2011
Committed to Washington

Joseph Treutlein

A player we've profiled extensively since he was just 15 years old, Tony Wroten (#28 Scout, #30 Rivals, #24 ESPN) appears to be back in top physical condition after a torn ACL he suffered 15 months ago, putting his full array of skills on display in his team's loss to Wayne Blackshear's Morgan Park High School.

Finishing with a peculiar stat line of just nine field goal attempts compared to a ridiculous 21 free throw attempts, Wroten played a very aggressive game. He showed great creativity and fearlessness attacking the rim, but also tried to do a bit too much with his isolation offense at times, a concern that has popped up multiple times in his high school and AAU career.

Looking at his ability to attack the basket, Wroten appears to be in the best physical shape we've seen, looking quicker off the dribble and being capable of scoring in a variety of ways in the lane. He shows excellent body control in executing his moves, while his right hand has improved over time in both finishing and handling, though more so for the former.

In terms of perimeter shooting, Wroten didn't show much, missing on his three 3-point attempts on the game and spending almost all of his time attacking the rim rather than trying to score from outside. His mechanics still appear somewhat inconsistent and while he is certainly capable of making shots from outside, it's clear this is the area he could stand to improve the most going forward.

While Wroten's play here was definitely oriented towards creating his own offense from isolation situations, the flashes of playmaking for teammates he showed were impressive. Wroten's court vision is nothing short of outstanding both in the half-court and in transition, and he has excellent instincts and ability passing on the move.

While he frequently brings the ball up the court for his team, he doesn't have much feel for running his team's half-court offense as a pure point guard, looking much more comfortable making passes on the move as opposed to running plays or letting things develop.

Defensively, Wroten showed good awareness in team defense and outstanding anticipation making plays in the passing lanes, making use of his great length frequently to break up plays and pick off passes. He isn't always the most disciplined in his stance in isolation and his body language can get questionable when things don't go his way, but when he's keyed in he is great on this end, and appears to have all the physical tools to defend shooting guards at any level.

Wroten's overall mentality still appears to be somewhat questionable, as he still gives off the feeling that he's more interesting in playing the game for himself than he is for helping his team win games. How well Wroten will be able to function without the ball in his hands and how he'll respond to adversity when things don't go his way in the future are still serious question marks. These concerns have led recruiting analysts to drop him dramatically in their rankings, to the point that it's no longer a sure thing that he'll be invited to the most prestigious post-season all-star games. It's quite clear that the huge amount of attention Wroten received from an incredibly early stage did not do him any favors in his development, something we were concerned about when we first wrote about him two and a half years ago.

Looking forward, Wroten has all the tools and ability to make an instant impact at the college level, and could put himself into draft discussions the second he steps on the court. How he will adjust to playing high level competition more frequently, if he can balance his scoring and passing, and if he can improve his perimeter shooting will be the most important things for him in college, as will staying humble in his approach on and off the court.

Shannon Scott, 6-2, Point Guard, Milton, 2011
Committed to Ohio State

Joseph Treutlein

One of the most impressive players we saw this weekend, especially relative to his modest class rankings, Shannon Scott (#38 Scout, #65 Rivals, #43 ESPN) is an extremely mature floor general with a great feel for the game.

Standing 6-2 with very good length and a solid frame, Scott has all the athleticism and physical tools he needs, especially given his crafty, aggressive style of play. He has a very calm court demeanor, rarely changing his expression, never complaining to officials, and bringing a very business-like approach to running his team's offense.

As a point guard, Scott didn't show much in terms of shot creation for others here, being forced into more of a scoring role on this team where the passing is pretty evenly distributed across the roster. His point guard instincts are one of his biggest strengths according to recruiting analysts and based on the little we've previously seen of him in AAU, but here he showed the ability to adjust his game based on his team's needs, looking extremely comfortable in a different role.

Looking nearly unstoppable attacking the basket at this event, Scott can take his man equally well going left and right, has no problems switching hands with the ball in the lane, can finish with both power and finesse, and shows excellent creativity in the lane. He scored on a variety of lay-ups, finger rolls, reverses, and by getting to the free-throw line, hitting on 7-of-11 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line. His instincts scoring the ball are outstanding, and he rarely forced his attempts despite attacking so frequently.

Scott also mixed in some mid-range jumpers, looking comfortable pulling up from 15-18 feet while showing solid form both from the line and the field. He didn't attempt any three-point shots and improving his range and reliability from the perimeter are probably the biggest things he can work on as a player going forward.

Defensively, he shows good hands and ability in both isolation and team defense, though his effort level fell off as the game went on, with him coasting through plays and even giving up at times later in the game. His team won the game against one of the top-ranked teams in the country largely behind his offensive efforts, so it's tough to criticize him too much for conserving energy on defense, but this will be something to watch more closely at the next level.

Looking forward, Scott appears to be clearly underrated by the recruiting services based on what we've seen from him in both AAU and at the high school level, and should be an instant impact player for Ohio State next season. His ability to excel both as a floor general and scorer combined with his physical tools makes him a very intriguing prospect long term, especially if his perimeter shooting can catch up with the rest of his game.

Dai-Jon Parker, 6-2, PG/SG, Milton High School, 2011
Committed to Vanderbilt

Jonathan Givony

The main catalyst (along with fellow backcourt mate Shannon Scott) behind his team's upset victory over #1 ranked Oak Hill , this was needless to say an excellent weekend for highly touted guard Dai-Jon Parker (#36 Scout, #57 Rivals, #47 ESPN).

Undersized for a shooting guard—the position most recruiting services project him at the moment-- but showing solid height for a point, Parker has a strong frame, good length and solid athleticism.

Offensively, Parker shows a pretty complete game for a player his age, as he's capable of contributing to his team in a variety of different ways. He has a nice first step and solid ball-handling skills, able to create his own shot smoothly and finish around the paint with a floater or even the occasional dunk. He has solid court vision and a good basketball IQ, having no qualms about passing the ball ahead unselfishly in transition and making some very intelligent drive and dish plays. Also an effective outside shooter, Parker has nice mechanics on his jumper, getting good elevation off the floor, and is adept at making shots with both his feet set and off the dribble, even if he is prone to streakiness depending on the momentum of the game.

Criticized at times for being somewhat deferential, Parker lacks a degree of aggressiveness, not always taking the ball strong enough to the basket, instead relying on his mid-range game rather than drawing contact in the paint.

Defensively, Parker has nice physical tools, strong fundamentals and plays with good energy, something that will help him see plenty of minutes at Vanderbilt early on his career. He played excellent man to man defense in the game we saw, and did a good job off the ball as well.

Mostly playing as a shooting guard on the AAU circuit and with his high school team, we'll have to wait and see if he can operate effectively as a point guard at the college level—something that will dictate his long-term potential. While he may not have a great deal of experience at the position, he shows the potential to make the conversion with his ball-handling ability, court vision and feel for the game.

All things considered, Parker looks a little bit underrated based on what we've seen, and could emerge as a very interesting prospect down the road for Vanderbilt. Guards with his combination of athleticism, versatility and smarts just aren't that easy to come by, especially if they can play on and off the ball and on both ends of the floor.

Michael Carter-Williams, 6-5, Shooting Guard, St. Andrew's, 2011
Committed to Syracuse

Joseph Treutlein

A highly-ranked guard with tremendous scoring abilities and instincts, Michael Carter-Williams (#30 Scout, #16 Rivals, #32 ESPN) is in a unique situation on his high school team, which requires him to shoulder a massive burden of shot creation responsibilities.

In his game here against powerhouse Findlay Prep, Carter-Williams looked outstanding creating his shot off the dribble, scoring equally effectively at the basket and from behind the three-point arc.

Possessing a somewhat awkward but very controlled handle, Carter-Williams has no problem getting wherever he wants on the floor while being capable of scoring from anywhere also. He is extremely smooth pulling up into his shot with range to well behind the three-point arc. From behind the arc, he can maintain balance and hit shots with a hand in his face frequently, showing a ton of prowess even with the ridiculous defensive attention teams pay him.

Attacking the basket, he relies mostly on craftiness and subtle changes of speed and direction as opposed to ankle-breaking crossovers or complex advanced moves. His ability to finish well on finesse floaters and runners or take the ball hard into contact make him very dangerous attacking the rim, not showing the limitations you'd expect with his skinny frame, though that could change in college.

Interestingly, Carter-Williams is trying to develop his point guard skills in hopes of spending some time at the position once he gets to Syracuse. He shows pretty good instincts and vision in this regard, recognizing double teams well and relying mostly on simple drive-and-kicks or pick-and-roll passes to find open teammates. It's still obviously early, but this willingness to expand his game is encouraging.

Defensively, Carter-Williams shows a lot of ability on and off the ball when he puts in the effort, but that effort is intermittent at the moment, possibly due to the ridiculous burden he maintains offensively.

Looking forward, Carter-Williams is an interesting prospect that will have to make a major role adjustment when he gets to college next year, something he appears willing to do. How he adjusts to the more physical level of competition given his skinny frame will be key.

Deuce Bello, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Westchester Country Day School, 2011
Committed to Baylor

Jonathan Givony

Arguably the most athletic player in all of high school basketball, Deuce Bello (#41 Scout, #43 Rivals, #34 ESPN) is a player who has steadily risen up the recruiting rankings over the past year.

Undersized for a wing player at 6-4, with an average frame and a long wingspan, Bello can elevate around the basket like few players can at any level of basketball. He is incredibly quick from end to end and has tremendous potential on both ends of the floor, even if he's still very far from being a complete player at this point in time.

Offensively, Bello is still a somewhat limited player in the half-court, although he's clearly made strides with his skill-level recently. Showing a very quick crossover and the ability to beat opponents with ease with his lightning quick first step, Bello is a highlight reel waiting to happen in the open floor. He will need to work on his advanced ball-handling skills to become the deadly half-court shot-creator his physical tools indicate he can down the road, though, as he struggles to operate as efficiently once the game slows down.

As a shooter, Bello sports a very slow and unattractive looking flat-footed release, being much more proficient shooting the ball off the dribble as opposed to with his feet set. He has limited range at this point in time, but is not afraid to take tough looks nevertheless, showing poor shot-selection and overall decision making at times.

Defensively, Bello has the ability to be an absolute force if he put his mind to it, something that clearly hasn't happened at this stage. He puts little to no effort in on this end of the floor, jogging back half-heartedly, not putting any work in off the ball, showing poor fundamentals, and refusing to box out his opponent on the glass.

His competitiveness leaves quite a bit to be desired, something that raises question marks about his ability his reach his full potential in the long-term. Bello's teams have always underachieved badly relative to their talent-level, and looking at the body language he displays, the lack of effort he puts in, and the often selfish manner in which he operates at times, it's not difficult to pinpoint why.

A player who could still go many different ways with his development, Bello is a couple of minor mentality adjustments away from being considered one of the most talented prospects in his class. It's quite possible that maturity is all he's lacking right now. We'll surely be revisiting his progress in the future.

Rakeem Christmas, 6-9, PF/C, Academy of the New Church, 2011
Committed to Syracuse

Jonathan Givony

There isn't much new to report about Rakeem Christmas (#16 Scout, #12 Rivals, #11 ESPN) following the very poor performance (3 points, 5 rebounds, 25 minutes) he put in at the HoopHall Classic, a game in which his squad blew a 16-point fourth quarter lead and lost to a very average team.

The 6-9 Christmas has clearly added weight and looks even more the part of a top prospect from a physical standpoint, with his excellent frame, super long arms and terrific athleticism. He's a quick jumper who runs the floor extremely well and can play well above the rim.

Beyond that, though, he clearly has a ways to go, as he has a very low skill-level offensively and has never really tried to exert himself in the half dozen or so times we've seen him play. His hands are somewhat questionable, his footwork in the post is poor, and his fundamentals on defense leave a lot to be desired. People who have watched him extensively report that these types of performances are not out of the norm for him, especially on this current high school team he plays for.

With that all that said, it's not difficult to see where the excitement about Christmas stems from, as players with his tools are very rare, and it usually takes big men longer to develop. His effort level, feel and polish will have to improve if he wants to get major playing time immediately at Syracuse, though, as he's going to play for a team that is returning a pretty solid frontcourt.

LaQuinton Ross, 6-7, SG/SF, Life Center Academy, 2011
Committed to Ohio State

Jonathan Givony

A year and a half after our last scouting report update, LaQuinton Ross' (#60 Scout, #53 Rivals, #64 ESPN) strengths and weaknesses are looking abundantly clear.

His frame is filling out nicely since we last saw him, as he's sporting a pretty developed upper body and now stands around 6-8. More smooth than he is explosive, Ross can create his own shot with ease, showing very nice ball-handling skills for a player his size. He mostly uses his dribble to find space to get off a beautiful looking jumper, which he can hit both off the dribble or with his feet set.

Ross buried a barrage of shots in the first half, scoring 21 points in 16 minutes. Some of them were extremely tough looks which, in Ross' unique way—expressionless and effortless--he converted with incredible ease. His shooting ability at his size alone makes him a very intriguing prospect, but he can do more than that, especially when he applies himself.

As a slasher, Ross can get to different spots on the floor, showing nice ball-handling skills and the ability to create shots for teammates. He's more likely to pass the ball off or pull-up for a jumper than make a strong move all the way to the basket, though, as he's overly unselfish (or passive) to a fault at times, and is lacking a degree of explosiveness and aggressiveness as well.

Defensively, Ross hasn't made very much progress since we last saw him, as he still shows extremely poor fundamentals and puts little to no effort in on this end of the floor. His arms are always at his sides and he never bends his knees, having no qualms about allowing his man to catch the ball wherever it is on the floor that he desires. Ross will need to make some huge strides with his off the ball defense if he's to see any playing time at all at Ohio State under Thad Matta. He'll also have to start boxing out his man and get back quicker on defense.

What's interesting is that Ross actually has very nice instincts on this end of the floor, as he anticipates well in the passing lanes and has terrific timing coming up with blocks. He just needs to improve his fundamentals and play with much more intensity, which may be easier said than done.

Ross is the type of player whose career could still go in many different directions, as its clear that he is incredibly far ahead of the curve in many areas, but is also well behind in many others. Going to play for a coach like Thad Matta at Ohio State might be the best decision he ever made, but there are many recruiting analysts that question whether he'll actually last there.

It might be just a matter of time and maturity until the light-bulb comes on for Ross, but judging by the way he's dropped in the recruiting rankings—from once being considered the #1 prospect in his class to now finding himself well out of the top-50—and the fact that he's a year or two older than his peers, he has many more doubters than believers at this point.

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