|Underclassman Camp: Top dozen prospects|
|Written by Stephen Bell|
|Saturday, 25 August 2012 18:17|
Keaton Branson 5-9 Fr Lansing Sexton
There could be more state titles in Sexton's future. Branson is one of two Big Reds freshmen on this list, and they'll join camp alumnus Trevor Manuel, the top prospect in 2015, on McPherson Ave. Branson was tough to stop when he got going downhill.
"A scoring machine," one coach said. "He must have had 20 points every game."
"Confident and steady player," said another. "Made the right decision with the ball on offense and played solidly on the other end by staying in front of his man and getting into the passing lanes. Nice spot-up shooter and equally adept driver. Played mostly off the ball and scored from the 2 position. He probably could have initiated and quarterbacked the offense a bit more but rightfully to another standout, Amir Poole from Inkster, because his team needed him to score."
Deleon Brown 6-2 So Grand Rapids Christian
Brown has been on a roll. He was one of the best players at U-M's "college practice camp," then at the Izzo Shootout some observers thought he must be that Drake Harris kid everyone was talking about. What makes Deleon such an attractive prospect is his length, helps him look like a college guard already. He's a smooth combo guard who plays under control, and has that coveted mid-range game. He should thrive playing for Steve Majerle at GR Christian.
"Long, smooth lefty who found space around the rim," a coach said. "Played point and was equally impressive setting up teammates. Will be interesting to see how he progresses when adding strength in years to come."
"Just a hard and tough-nosed kid," said another. "One of those multi-skilled players that does a little bit of everything. That's certainly not a dis because he does everything at a high level. Has prototypical combo guard size and game that can be a nightmare to game plan against. Rebounds really well for a guard and just has a knack for making plays."
Xavier Cochran 6-4 So Ann Arbor Huron
Lefty is a menace in transition. Good physical tools and energy. Would love to see him grow a mean streak as he gets older.
"The second-best athlete in the gym after Josh Jackson," said one coach. "Kid is a thoroughbred. This guy can run the floor and has great body control on the finish. He needs to work on his shot and defense to become the top level prospect he can be."
Deytona Davis 6-8 So Muskegon
The Big Smooth is steady and productive. Like so many young big guys, kind of easy going. Can't wait to see him get a kick-butt attitude, because he's already one of the elite prospects in 2015. That would make him one of the best players. As well as he scored it from the blocks, my favorite play from Davis was when he blocked a shot, then corralled the ball himself.
"This kid is long, long, long, and has the softest touch around the rim I've seen in awhile," a coach said. "Yes, a bit of a project, but the upside on him is crazy off the charts. If he learns to play hard, it's over. Long and is a natural in everything he does. Great shot blocker, can run the floor, and puts the ball in the basket. A mini William Bedford, on the court. Needs maturing and someone to work with him daily and the sky's the limit."
"One word: intriguing," another coach said. "The kid runs like a deer and it's obvious to the human eye that he's a gifted and talented prospect. However, he tended to go through the motions and rely on athleticism rather than give maximum effort. I know camp experiences for bigs can sometimes be painful because of uneven guard play, but Deyonta looks to have the ability to be more than a traditional big where he can go get the ball and make a play for himself or others. He has the body and skill level to one day be a college wing forward. Long stride on the run and just a ton of upside if he can harness it and develop a more assertive attitude in developing all facets of his game. The second most naturally talented, gifted prospect in camp behind Joshua Jackson."
Algevon Eichelberger 6-5 Fr Saginaw
He was terrific at the spring camp, and came back four months later an improved player. Saw him knock down a three-pointer, which was new. A gym rat type, which doesn't happen as much with young, big players. Good hoops IQ, well-drilled, he stood out in drills with his footwork, hands and fundamentals. Next step is to start finishing above the rim -- I know Al can hear his parents in the stands yelling for him to dunk it! When going against more athletic forwards, like Josh Jackson, or a bigger, true post like Justin Greason, Eichelberger went into blue-collar mode, showing good second and third effort on the glass.
"Easily my favorite player and just a joy to watch," said a coach. "What's not to like about this kid? He plays much bigger than 6-5, and much older than 14. He loves to grind it out and play the blocks but has range out to the three-point line. He runs the floor. He defends and rebounds like a big. He's got a good handle in transition (took the ball coast-to-coast and dribbled behind his back while rising for a dunk) and on the move to create scoring opportunities at the high post and on the face-up. Most importantly he has a high motor and doesn't shy away from a challenge. Watching Algevon and Justin Greason, who has him by four inches, compete was a camp highlight. The sky is the limit for Algevon. Easily the most skilled big man at camp."
Justin Greason 6-9 So Utica Eisenhower
He's grown two inches since I first saw him in spring AAU, and is just scratching the surface of his potential. Not a string bean like so many young posts, and moves really well for his size, runs the floor smoothly and efficiently. He already has a go-to move -- rarely misses shooting the jump-hook over his left shoulder. As he works on the little things and expands his game -- not putting the ball on the floor, adding a power drop-step, scoring in the lane, running fully bucket to bucket to finish -- his value as a prospect will improve exponentially. Greason has the right attitude for that type of improvement.
Said a coach: "The biggest kid in camp. Has great hands and moves well without the ball. Not a finisher in terms of scoring on the block but more of a finisher around the rim on hustle, scrappy, effort plays. Moves well laterally but sometimes over-committed when he was playing a big like Algevon Eichelberger who has some polish and savvy to his game. Works hard on the court but can sometimes get a little down on himself when things aren't going well or he makes a mistake. I can live with that because it seems that the kid is driven to be a better ballplayer. Needs to refine and work on his post moves. Also needs to remember that he's 6-9 and work on his timing to become a better shot-blocker. He has a ton of potential and upside."
Lazon Hicks 6-4 So Ypsilanti Lincoln
A load at 6-4, 210 with long arms. Did everything but shoot it. Loved how he pursued and snatched rebounds in traffic, and as the day went on other players were getting out of his way.
"Great body," said one coach. "Man-child athlete that is mature and can finish high and hard. Needs to rev up the motor a bit more and just get more reps on the court and this kid could be anything he wants. He goes to work and was a force to be reckoned with, when you played against him you had to know where he was."
"Consummate energy and max effort guy," said another. "He was very active around the block and was able to overpower and finesse opposing players. Doesn't have a high school body, more like a big college wide receiver. He loved to get out in the open court and was also able to post up and seal his man for easy scores around the rim. Great motor and go get 'em attitude. Needs to work on handle and shot to match his athleticism and motor."
Josh Jackson 6-6 Fr Detroit Consortium
He's a consensus top 10 prospect in 2016 (as high as No. 2) -- nationally -- and certainly did nothing to dissuade that notion. Jackson is a smooth, Scottie Pippen style forward who would take rebounds end-to-end, and just make it look so easy. It's surprising to see a player so young, move and handle the ball like that. Great attitude and teammate. An unselfish passer and big-time finisher -- on his last play of the day he caught a half-court alleyoop pass from Shae Somers. The main point of improvement is his shot. He puts one foot forward, and releases it from nose level. It works when he's open, but will have to become a jumpshooter over the next few years for when he's going up against wings of similar size and athleticism.
"Beyond his years athletically and understanding the game," a coach said. "Stacy Augmon clone potential for a better shot. Has the tools to be a great one. Needs to concentrate on getting the proper rotation on his shot to make him the complete player with a spot on mid-range or deeper shot."
"Hands down the most gifted and talented prospect at camp," said another coach. "Has elite athleticism you see on the national level. He just went up and made plays above the rim, in transition and over people. Has a really good feel for the game. Competed hard and played well with teammates. Needs to work on his shot mechanics and handle, to fulfill his potential as an elite level prospect."
Vontrell Jackson 5-4 Fr Lansing Sexton
Plays a lot like Maurice Jones at the same age -- a fearless real player, not a gimmick, despite his height. Knows how to use that pull-up to pile up the points, which he has to do at that size. I thought he was a more willing passer than the coach below. Sometimes when your would-be assist bounces off your teammate's head, the inclination next time is to take it yourself.
"He was the smallest player in camp, but also the quickest and he played big time," a coach said. "He's waterbug quick and has a great understanding of the game. Great attitude and effort. He has a chance to be a great point guard if he understands he needs to be a pass-first guard. He tried to score too often and his shot and rotation is not there yet. Play tough, in-your-face, pesky, disruptive defense; and push, penetrate, break-down and dish offense, and this kid could be a great point at the next level. Pass first!"
Joeviar Kennedy 6-3 So Muskegon
As a freshman at Muskegon Heights he played with two older players, Juwon Martin and Mike Davis, who never saw a shot they wouldn't take, so Hip Hop learned to score efficiently. A really crafty lefty who creates shots. Very good on the break because he'll push it, pass it, and finish it. Athletic, too, loved how he would sky for rebounds as well as elevate on his shot. Nice, coachable kid.
"Tremendous lift," said one coach. "Very alert on the court. Operated comfortably around the mid- to low-block area for jump hooks. His second jump was better than a lot of players' first jump. One of those fast-twitch players. Active and rangy on both ends."
Shae Somers 5-7 Fr Bellaire
A year ago, he was a station standout, but got eaten up at times by the size and physicality once the games got underway. While he won't be mistaken for Russell Westbrook any time soon, as a 13-year-old point guard the height is fine and he was just as good in the games this time around. He and Godwin Heights eighth-grader Christian Rodriguez gave their camp team two of the best young, true point guards in Michigan. Of course, having Josh Jackson to pass too will help anyone's assist totals. Somers is able to drive and create, and take the ball places you don't think he's able too -- like a scoop shot underneath 6-9 Justin Greason. Can drop shots from deep or on pull-ups, but has really matured and embraced the pass-first game, though sometimes sat on the ball two long against double teams. At this early juncture he's a top five point guard in 2016 and U-D Jesuit's Cassius Winston, a camp regular who sat this one out with a foot injury, may be the only one better.
Said a camp coach: "There might not have been a player with a better IQ than Shae. He matches this high IQ with just flat out skills and abilities. Despite his size, he was able to get the ball into spaces much older and bigger players would struggle to. If you needed a bucket, he would get you that. If you needed someone to make the right pass, he'd oblige in that area. His passing and savvy with the ball are largely unmatched for a player his age. Top flight shooter as well from most anywhere on the court. Teams tried to trap him a bit to get the ball out of his hands and/or crowding the passing lanes, but he's slick and skilled enough to anticipate it or avoid it altogether. He's gong to be something special to watch in the coming years."
Billy Thomas 5-9 Fr Birmingham Country Day
His future is as a point guard, but with his camp team composition they needed his scoring, and boy did he deliver. Hit shots from all over, and most impressively off the dribble and creating space. Just drilling shots. He can dime though, and got Lazon Hicks a lot of good looks. Under control operating in traffic. In demeanor and efficiency, plays more like an Indiana than Detroit guard. And on rolls the Country Day train.
"Low key and calm demeanor which is exactly the temperament you want your point guard to have," a coach said. "Doesn't get too high or low on the court; just makes plays. Because of his demeanor it might look like he's not playing hard, but make no mistake the young man is definitely bringing it and making prototypical point guard plays. Deceptively quick and athletic."
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 25 August 2012 18:18 )|