Andre Drummond, 6-10, Center, St. Thomas More, 2012
Likely the player with the highest ceiling of anyone seen this weekend, Andre Drummond (#1 Scout, #1 Rivals, #1 ESPN) has elite NBA tools from a physical standpoint, possessing ideal size, length, bulk, mobility, coordination, and explosiveness for the center position, while also showing occasional flashes of skills to go along with it. This was an up and down two games for Drummond, as he showed moments of brilliance dispersed between long periods of complacency, something that is frustrating to see from a player capable of so much.
From what we saw a year ago, Drummond has made strides in a few areas, the first of which is with his surprisingly deft passing ability, something uncharacteristic for a player his age with his physical profile. Drummond takes full advantage of his size in surveying the floor, showing excellent court vision from the low post, high post, and perimeter, frequently looking to pass to others before looking for his own shot. He had five assists between the two games here and a handful more nice passes, making bounce passes and chest passers to open cutters and shooters alike.
While Drummond's passing ability is very unique and intriguing from a long-term perspective, it heavily plays into a major problem with his game: his lack of assertiveness in using his physical tools. Rarely will Drummond use his body to establish strong post position or call for the ball on the block, being much more content to run out to the perimeter and serve as a passing cog in his team's offense. When he does get the ball, he usually opts for weak finesse moves like turnaround jumpers and hook shots, neither of which he converts consistently.
In the second half of his second game here, a close game his team lost in overtime, Drummond finally woke up and started getting physical, making it obvious how dominant he's capable of being when he puts his lower body into his opponent and calls for the ball, as no one at this level is able to stop him in such instances. Drummond's ridiculous lower and upper body strength combined with his size and explosiveness allow him to seal his man low and dunk over them with ease when he wants to, and the scary thing is he should be able to continue to do similar things against most college and many NBA opponents should he try to. The problem is he seems much more inclined to be a Vlade Divac-style passer/perimeter player than a Shaquille O'Neal-style low post bruiser.
Defensively, one thing that became immediately apparent in watching Drummond play is how his awareness and positioning have improved in the past season, as he brings a good (albeit somewhat fleeting) level of attentiveness on this end of the floor. While he is prone to losing focus when plays draw on too long, he does a good job manning the paint and rotating to the help-side, while also showing flashes of elite level pick-and-roll defense, as his combination of size, mobility, and excellent hands make him a terror hedging and shutting down passing lanes, as he broke up and picked off a few pick-and-roll passes here.
On the down side, he still can be out of control when closing out on the perimeter, while he likewise is prone to biting for pump fakes patrolling the lane. As a shot blocker, he is active contesting shots all over the lane, while showing good discipline in not roaming too far from the basket, often forcing the opposition to take high difficulty runners and floaters over his out-stretched hands.
As a man-to-man post defender is where Drummond shows the most cause for concern on the defensive end, showing poor fundamentals and understanding of leverage, not getting great positioning and not asserting himself the way he's capable of. His physical tools here are obviously superb, and he has the potential to be an elite post defender in the NBA, though he has a very long ways to go.
Rebounding is another area where Drummond isn't playing up to his potential, as he often isn't assertive in tracking down caroms, trying to pull in or tip balls with one hand rather than reaching up with both to secure, something he's very capable of doing consistently with his size, length, and hands.
Looking forward, the sky is the limit for Drummond, and while it's easy to be harsh on him for not taking advantage of the things he's capable of, it's important to remember that he's still just 17 years old and he already is capable of doing many things at a very high level. While his demeanor hasn't improved much in the past year, he has shown a learning curve from a skills perspective, and there's still plenty of time for him to grow. With him already flashing abilities to excel in the passing game and in pick-and-roll defense, Drummond has the potential to be an extremely unique player down the road, as those things are rare from players with his physical profile, especially if he can complement those abilities with the dominating post game so many people are waiting for him to develop.
Alex Murphy, 6-8, Small Forward, St. Mark's, 2012
A legitimate swingman with great size and solid athleticism for his position, Alex Murphy (#9 Scout, #11 Rivals, #6 ESPN) is pretty well developed for his age, having a versatile skill set and very good feel for the game.
On the offensive end, Murphy's game relies around his crafty ball-handling and shot creating abilities, doing most of his damage slashing to the basket where he can finish with either hand. Murphy has a very high degree of coordination, changing directions and speeds very well with the ball while being capable of dribbling confidently with either hand. At the basket he shows great body control and can finish in a variety of ways, be it lay-ups, runners, or floaters, while he's also tough enough to draw contact and get to the line when necessary.
While Murphy's overall level of athleticism is good, he isn't at an elite level in terms of raw explosiveness or power, something that hinders his ability to finish in certain situations, having to rely heavily on skill and finesse in traffic. His strength in general could also improve some, though he has plenty of time to do that.
Murphy didn't show much in terms of an outside shot in the one game he played this weekend, while also hitting just 4-of-8 from the free-throw line. His shooting form looks decent enough and is reported to be a good shooter according to high school scouting services, though perhaps it just wasn't on display in this game.
Murphy also contributes in areas other than scoring, as he has a good feel for the game and is willing to do the little things, showing good court vision and instincts in the passing game and the willingness to crash the glass and take advantage of his size on the boards, something he displayed here by pulling in an impressive 17 rebounds.
Defensively, Murphy has great fundamentals, showing a good stance and making good use of his solid length, showing ability both on the perimeter and in the post. His effort level can fall off a bit at times here, though for the most part stays on focus, as his highly demanding coach at this level, David Lubick, is quick to sit him on the bench if he isn't giving it his all.
Looking forward, Murphy has all the makings of an outstanding college player, and there's good reason he's ranked as highly as he is by the high school scouting services. Filling out his frame and further developing his perimeter game both need to be among his priorities, and will be critical for him in reaching his long-term, next level potential.
Ricard Ledo, 6-4, PG/SG, 2012, South Kent
One of the most naturally talented players at this event regardless of class, Ricky/Ricardo Ledo (#10 Scout, #7 Rivals, #13 ESPN) showed off both the good and the bad of his game at the National Prep Showcase. A 6-4 combo guard with terrific quickness and overall fluidity, everything seems to come easy for Ledo out on the basketball floor.
Ledo operated as his team's primary ball-handler in New Haven, seeing time at both guard positions. He can create his own shot smoothly and with great creativity, showing terrific timing on his drives and being able to change speeds and directions effortlessly. He can finish in a variety of ways around the basket, often using a pretty floater from tough angles. Very difficult to keep out of the lane when focused and motivated, he's clearly an advanced scorer and all-around shot-creator.
Not a terribly explosive leaper once he actually gets into the paint, Ledo blew a number of good looks around the rim due to his lack of strength and tendency to finish softly in traffic. He's such a talented shot-maker that he often tries to get cute and make things more difficult on himself around the rim than he should, rather than just going up strong for the easy finish.
Listed right now as a shooting guard by most recruiting services, Ledo shows combo guard and potentially even point guard potential with his excellent court vision and the creative way in which he approaches the game. Unselfish and highly instinctive, he made some terrific drive and dish plays that hinted at great things that could be in store for him as his knowledge of the game improves with added maturity and experience.
As a shooter, Ledo is somewhat of a mixed bag at this point. He showed the ability to make shots from well beyond the 3-point line, even off the dribble, but has inconsistent mechanics and tends to overestimate himself, settling for some very difficult contested pull-up jumpers at times. Generally speaking, Ledo's decision making skills are still lagging far behind his actual talent level, which is not a surprise considering his age.
Defensively, Ledo has all the tools needed to develop into a lock-down type if he puts his mind to it, as he has quick feet, long arms and excellent instincts. This resulted in some spectacular steals and blocks on occasion. His effort level just isn't there consistently at the moment yet, and he often loses his focus, particularly off the ball.
The most concerning thing about Ledo might be his body language. When things aren't going his way he seems to hang his head, give up on plays, complain, or just disappear for long stretches. He obviously has some maturing to do still. This is something to keep an eye on for the future.
All in all, Ledo is clearly a superb talent who will be in the discussion as one of the top guards in his class if he continues to develop on and off the court. He's already bounced around a decent amount before even starting his junior year of high school, so that's something to keep an eye on for the future.
Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-0, Center, 2012, St. Marks
A legit 7-footer with athleticism and an excellent frame, it doesn't take very long to figure out why Kaleb Tarczewski (#12 Scout, #13 Rivals, #24 ESPN) is considered such a highly touted prospect. He provides his team with a major presence inside the paint on both ends of the floor, and looks to be a hard working player on top of that.
Offensively, Tarczewski is fairly raw as you would expect from a 16-year old 7-footer, but can already make his impact felt in a couple of ways. He has excellent hands first and foremost and does a good job of catching the ball high and finishing plays above the rim, showing excellent potential as a pick and roll finisher.
Tarczewski seems to have been very well coached early on in his career, as his fundamentals appear to be quite strong. Although not terribly fluid at this stage, he has some budding footwork inside the post and some signs of a jump-hook and turn-around jumper, two moves that should serve him well and he continues to improve his offensive polish. At this level he can also make an impact with his sheer size, strength and athleticism, running the floor and crashing the offensive glass, things he did well in the lone game we saw.
Defensively, Tarczewski is a huge presence with his terrific physical tools, and seems to have some solid instincts to work with as well. He boxes out opponents, can block shots, hedges the pick and roll impressively, and seems to want to compete on each and every possession, which is a great sign at this early stage. Foul trouble will likely be an issue early on in his career, but his basketball IQ appears to be above average, which will surely help him down the road.
While it's certainly way too early to be jumping to any long-term conclusions, there are a lot of things to like about Tarczewski's potential at this preliminary stage. He'll surely have his choice of attending any college in America (Kansas is rumored to be in the lead), and as long as he continues to develop, we'll certainly be revisiting his progress in the future.
Hanner Perea, 6-7, Power Forward, 2012, La Lumiere
Committed to Indiana
Just a few months after evaluating him for the first time at the adidas National Experience in Chicago, there really isn't very much new info to add to Hanner Perea's (#21 Scout, #10 Rivals, #42 ESPN) scouting report.
Perea is still the same freakishly athletic forward with a great body and arms down to his knees. His skill level and fundamentals remain poor, though, as he struggled make his presence felt in both games we saw and really didn't produce like you would expect from such a highly touted prospect at this level of competition.
Offensively, Perea is very limited, as if he doesn't get the ball in the immediate vicinity of the basket, he has major problems scoring. He lacks the post moves to take advantage of his strength around the paint, possesses little in the ways of a jump-shot, and is only really able to put the ball on the floor in a straight line when attacking the basket from the perimeter.
Perea's feel for the game is clearly underdeveloped at the moment, and he'll need to learn how to use his athleticism to impact games better than he can right now. He got lost in many of his team's half-court sets and struggled to do much of anything outside of transition plays. Defensively, he wasn't as much of a factor as he should have been, biting on pump-fakes, getting into foul trouble, and not rebounding quite as well as you might hope. While Perea's long-term potential remains very high due to his excellent physical tools, he'll have to work very hard over the next few years to avoid the dreaded just an athlete label.