Las Vegas AAU Summer Tournaments: Thoughts from Day One

Las Vegas AAU Summer Tournaments: Thoughts from Day One
Jul 23, 2006, 03:59 pm
With every single member of’s Top Ten recruits who are actually in Las Vegas (besides Michael Beasley) taking part in Reebok’s Big Time tournament, DraftExpress spent much of the first day (except for one night game at Nike’s Main Event) at their showcase gym, Foothill, which featured many intriguing battles and promises even better action in the coming days. We will make more of an effort to make it out to Adidas and Nike’s tournaments as well in the coming days, although they appear significantly weaker than Reebok this year.

Thoughts on the Stars of Day One

DeAndre Jordan, 6'11 C, Houston Swoosh Blue

Jonathan Givony

It’s not difficult to see why Jordan is skying up the recruiting rankings lately. Standing 6-11 with a tremendous wingspan and an outstanding frame that will put on as much weight as he needs, Jordan is without a doubt the prototype of what NBA scouts look for in a modern day big man, probably more than any other player we’ve seen so far. He is an outstanding athlete who runs the floor extremely well and is incredibly quick off his feet to block shots, pull down rebounds and finish with authority. He reacts quickly to things that happen around him, has a fairly soft touch and is not afraid to take the ball strong up at the basket.

The downside is that he is still a very raw prospect, which is what you would expect considering the fact that he is just beginning to become a well known name this past spring and summer. While he has strong legs and calves, the source of much of his explosiveness, he lacks significant bulk in his upper body, which hurts him in terms of fully making his presence felt around the basket. He doesn’t know how to use his body yet to carve out space and finish while being contested, and relies too much on his athleticism and length when going after rebounds and blocks. His timing is decent, but still betrays him at times, and occasionally you will see him not even attempting to go out of his area and come up with a rebound. Boxing out, using crafty footwork and other fundamental moves you’ll see come intuitively from a big man like Kevin Love for example are just not in his repertoire at the moment. Mentally is where Jordan might be the rawest right now, possessing an average feel for the game, having an inconsistent motor, and getting very frustrated at his teammates (sometimes rightfully so) when they won’t pass him the ball.

Despite all these highly correctable weaknesses, Jordan has about as much reachable potential as anyone we saw today besides possibly O.J. Mayo. He’s going to have the opportunity to jump to the NBA after one season if he chooses his college correctly, but could very well end up staying 2 or 3 years. Jordan is a very well spoken young man (as you will read in an interview we’ll publish in the near future) and mentioned that he is currently looking at Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, LSU and Indiana as his top choices. When pressed, he also added Rick Pitino and Louisville and said that he is planning on committing to his favorite school fairly early in the process.

Kevin Love, 6'9 PF, SoCal All-Stars

Jonathan Watters

If you would prefer an immediate impact from your big man prospect, look no further than SoCal low block beast Kevin Love. Simply put, Love’s feel for how to operate in the immediate vicinity of the basket is nothing short of staggering. Most professional big men never reach the his current level of polish. Love’s incredibly soft hands allow him to dominate the glass and convert at a very high rate around the rim. He understands how to create space and time his moves, and an overmatched Michigan Hurricane frontcourt had no chance to slow him down today. He scored nearly every time he touched the ball, in a ruthlessly efficient manner. If his teammates had looked for him with more regularity, he could have gone for 40. His much-ballyhooed ability to throw the outlet pass was on full display, though he is a threat to find the open man in any situation. Love’s impact at the college level is undeniable. He is going to be a star from the day he steps onto the court.

However, his professional upside might not be quite as high. Love isn’t overly athletic, and could probably improve his conditioning some. He is probably a legit 6'9, but isn’t going to be a shot blocking presence at the professional level. Love has a nice wide frame, but whether he can use it to dominate at the NBA level remains to be seen. Tomorrow’s matchup against Bill Walker, Alex Tyus, and the ultra-athletic D1 Greyhounds should be very telling in terms of Kevin Love’s bottom line pro potential.

O.J. Mayo, 6'4 PG, D1 Greyhounds

Mike Schmidt

Mayo put on a show today, proving why he has always been and always will be considered #1 prospect in his recruiting class. Even though he didn’t look to be going at full speed today and spent some time resting on the bench, he showed that he is the real deal and a couple of notches above anyone else here in Vegas.

From the get go, he displayed his awesome passing skills, twice drawing multiple defenders away from the hoop and hitting teammates on cuts to the basket for easy layups. Mayo also showed off his perfect shooting stroke early on. His form is picture perfect, and he releases the ball quickly with great elevation, making his shot virtually unblockable. The spin on his shot coupled with a high release point allows for some nice rolls off the rim. Mayo took 3 three pointers during the game, and knocked down all of them. In terms of handling the ball, he was able to get into the lane at will, and get past multiple defenders. This, coupled with his ability to see the court, and amazingly quick first step allow him to create at any given time throughout the game. He is very coordinated, and can go right or left at any given time, and can finish with both hands in traffic. On one occasion, Mayo received an alley-oop pass on the break, which he caught around waist level, and scoop-reversed in off the backboard in one motion. On another occasion, it looked like he would lose the ball trying to go right on the fast break, but at the last possible second he gained control and made a layup back over his head with his left hand. If he can’t get to the basket, Mayo uses an outstanding mid-range game to score. He has the ability to score from 10-15 feet using a runner or floater, s a shot he can make off balance and in traffic with amazing body control. He also has the ability to use the glass to finish from many different angles. Mayo was wild on a few occasions, trying to force unnecessary behind the back passes in traffic, likely an attempt to please the jam packed sold out crowd that came to watch him play. There were other times where he turned the ball over by throwing a few great passes that teammates couldn’t handle. On the defensive end, Mayo didn’t appear to give great effort unless the guy he was guarding challenged him intently with the ball. If he was beat, he seemed to give up on the play, and on more than one occasions showed that he doesn’t really understand the concept of how to play help defense. He does have quick hands, however, and has shown the potential to be a good defender in the past when the urge strikes him. Mayo has an NBA ready body, and it’s clear that he has spent a lot of time working himself into the condition he is currently in. What is scary is that as good as he is right now, he doesn’t appear to be anywhere near a finished product, particularly when you consider the freelancing way his team is managed. His AAU team doesn’t even run set plays, so some instruction on how to run an offense and play off the ball will be of great use to him at the next level. Mayo was mostly a 2 today, but his teammates deferred to him enough to let him dominate when he chose to.

Derrick Rose, 6'3 PG, Meanstreets

Jonathan Givony

The first impression of Derrick Rose was that he has a world of talent at his hands but is still very far at this point from being considered a legit one and done talent. He was exposed numerous times by the So-Cal All-stars as being a very raw decision maker with questionable scoring ability, but the lack of preparation and chemistry that his team suffered from against the arguably the most talented team in Las Vegas played a considerable role in this initial conclusion.

In terms of pure physical attributes, there is very little to question about Rose’s status as a consensus top 5 recruit. He is every bit the 6-3 he is listed at, aided tremendously by his terrific length and excellent strength. He has a great frame for an NBA point guard and is a premier athlete to compliment that. Rose is explosive both vertically and horizontally, showing off his leaping ability numerous times when elevating for dunks and even doing a nice job crashing the glass and coming up with offensive rebounds. When moving at game speed he is smooth and fluid, capable of changing gears quickly but not quite having the intuition or experience to fully take advantage of this at this point.

His point guard skills look very solid as well, although again it was tough to gauge anything beyond his raw talent to the mediocre “gameplan” his team “ran” and the fact that he didn’t have much talent besides Eric Gordon next to him to take advantage of his crisp passes. Rose is an up-tempo point guard who is at his best when allowed to operate in transition. His struggles come when forced to into a more slow it down half-court game, although again, this is usually what a playbook is intended to help out with. What happened instead is that Rose looked very stubborn in trying to create his own shot against a tough and extremely active So-Cal defense, being unable to get into the paint with room to operate and being baited instead to settle for long-range jump-shots. Rose unfortunately cooperated fully and forced up a number of horrendous looking 3-pointers, showing atrocious mechanics and very little range outside of 14 feet. Clanking a half dozen 3-pointers off the side iron did not deter him from continuing to force the issue, and it was here where Rose was at his absolute worst in this game.

While this sounds like quite a bit of negativity on such a highly regarded recruit, have no mistake that Rose is a special talent who will have a major impact on the college game from day one. It must be said that the talk of Rose sitting out a year to go play in Europe and then enter the draft is absolutely ridiculous, though. Players as young as Rose who are limited in their scoring tools and have little to no experience in running a half-court offense can absolutely not play at a high level in Europe, unless they want to ride the pine extensively and earn their stripes in a junior league first. Pro A France and a 60-80 thousand dollar salary is about as much as a player like Rose can expect, unless he is willing to sign a long term contract, and at that point he is better off going to college for 2-3 years.

Eric Gordon, 6'3 SG, Meanstreets (committed to Illinois)

Jonathan Watters

Gordon’s Meanstreets team was quite overmatched by the SoCal All-Stars yesterday afternoon, but this one was somehow still a game headed into the stretch run. The reason? Look no further than Illinois-bound shooting guard Eric Gordon. Gordon showed a maturity level and polish beyond his years, slashing, shooting, and dunking his way to a truly big-time scoring effort. Gordon is an elite level athlete, and understands how to use every bit of his explosiveness to his advantage. He almost immediately recognized that the SoCal was focusing their defense on locking up Derrick Rose, and carried the scoring load for the entire game. He found the bottom of the net in a variety of ways, whether it was fearlessly driving the lane and finishing over multiple defenders, hitting long range jumpers off the dribble, or connecting on contested, quick-release 3-pointers on passes from Rose. While SoCal maintained control of the game most of the way, Gordon continually found a way to keep his team within striking distance. It was a truly impressive performance.

But does this make Eric Gordon a legitimate NBA prospect? At just 6'3, it is doubtful that he will be able to play full-time at the wing on the next level. He certainly didn’t display any point guard skills in this contest - it was clear that once he received the ball, the only thing on his mind was getting off a shot as quickly as possible. However, there may be some combo guard in Eric Gordon. He certainly has the body type, athleticism, and toughness of your prototypical successful NBA combo guard. Gordon is clearly a winner, and a good fit in Champaign.

Brandon Jennings, 6'2 PG, SoCal All-Stars

Jonathan Givony

Jennings is worthy of his lofty ranking, that much is for sure. He is a fantastic athlete and he showed that right away by attempting a spectacular put-back dunk off an offensive rebound. He’s a creative point guard who enjoys finding the open man and has a great imagination to make flashy passes, but he sometimes gets a little too caught up in making a spectacular move. So-Cal did a great job utilizing his strengths and not forcing him to create excessively off the dribble. He also didn’t settle for his perimeter shot either, which is good considering that this isn’t one of his strong points. Instead he pushed the tempo and made a series of terrific passes through traffic, both in transition and in the half-court. Jennings is only a 2008 prospect and has plenty of room to continue to develop, but appears to be on the right track so far. Jim Calhoun and the rest of the UConn staff was watching him intently from the sidelines today.

Renardo Sidney, 6'10 PF, SoCal All-Stars

Mike Schmidt

For a player only entering his sophomore year in high school, Sidney displays some very nice skills. He appears to be a legit 6'10 and has a very nice frame, though he could stand to add some definition to his body. He is very athletic as he proved late in the game with an explosive windmill dunk. Right now, Sidney is most comfortable when he is allowed to maneuver facing the basket. He can hit jumpers out to the three point line, and it is very evident that he has played the small forward position in the past. Sidney’s teammates also felt comfortable leaving him with the ball on the perimeter. One possession they were running time off the clock, and they let Sidney dribble outside for 15 seconds, where he made some nice crossovers and other moves to keep the ball away from his man. It would make him a more deadly player if he were to develop a few more moves inside, and learned to mix in more inside play with his faceup game. He still has three years of high school left to improve his game, and as long as he keeps his weight down he has a bright future ahead of him.

Bill Walker, 6'6 SF, D1 Greyhounds

Rodger Bohn

Walker did not particularly stand out today with Mayo’s amazing performance, but he delivered his two or three guaranteed highlight reel dunks and still finished with 17 points. The Cincinnati product did not seem to have his head in the game, disappearing at times and leaving fans wondering when (or if) they will ever see this athletic marvel put it together for multiple games in a row.

The 6'6 wing has all of the ability to take over a game whenever he chooses, but often finds himself standing around the perimeter when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. Today he showed off some great lift on his jumpshot, but displayed very little arc, causing an erratic shooting performance from outside. Inside of fifteen feet however, Walker was a man amongst boys, getting to the free throw line twelve times. The 225 lb. SF also showed off his excellent court vision, dropping off four assists, although it would have been closer to seven had his teammates been able to catch a pass.

All in all, it was a solid but unspectacular performance for Walker. It was a bit frustrating from a scouting prospective due to the fact that he could have easily had 25 or so points had he chosen to be more assertive and looked to score more often. Regardless, Bill came out and showed everyone why he is considered one of the two or three best high school players in the country today at The BigTime.

Evan Turner, 6'6 SG (committed to Ohio State)

Rodger Bohn

The 6'6 Ohio State commit led his undersized, under-talented Illinois Wolves squad to a big victory over the Worldwide Renegades (led by top 30 players Chris Allen and J.J. Hickson) in an early game at the BigTime. Turner showed many why some feel he has the ability to make the full time transition to point guard at the college level with his silky smooth game and great court vision for a player of his size. He absolutely took over the baseline, often finishing with a reverse lay-up. What was even more impressive however is that Evan almost ambidextrously used both hands, converting multiple tough inside buckets with his left hand. His cerebral style of play will certainly fit in Columbus where he will join a loaded class of 2007 recruiting class in Kosta Koufos, Dallas Lauderdale, and Jon Diebler.

One thing Turner will have to work on however before he reaches college is his outside shooting. The Chicago native only took one perimeter jumpshot the entire game (a three pointer that he made), and that will not cut it at the collegiate level, whereas it does now in AAU. He will need to at least have the ability to keep defenses honest by being a threat to knock down the 18 foot jumper, or they will learn to play off of him enough to cut off his graceful baseline game.

Kosta Koufos, 7'2 PF, King James (committed to Ohio State)

Rodger Bohn

The Greek big man had a pretty typical performance late Saturday night, scoring absolutely whenever he wanted, but having very little presence on the defensive end. Although he recently measured 7'1 barefoot (with a 7'5 wingspan), Koufos possesses the shooting touch of a player seven inches smaller. He showed off a wide array of soft jumpers off the glass, floaters in the lane, and sweet looking three pointers from the wing. The Ohio product also ran the floor incredibly well, resulting in a few easy buckets for the PF/C.

The three main things that Koufos must improve on were evident today, with those being his athleticism, conditioning, and defense. It is clear to any observer that the Ohio State recruit is an average athlete, although he owns outstanding coordination for a player of his size. Kosta seemed to be a bit winded at times, which hindered him on the defensive end. While he will never be a great defender, he still has a long ways to go before he is able to consistently defend power forwards (his eventual position) at the next level.

With that said, it is very rare that we see a big man as skilled as the big Greek product. His package of size, outside shooting ability, and ball handling hasn’t been displayed at the American high school level in recent memory. With improvement upon his low post game and his defense, we will certainly be seeing Mr. Koufos shaking Commissioner Stern’s hand at the NBA Draft by the time it is all said and done.

Samardo Samuels, 6'8 PF, Metro Hawks

Jonathan Watters

Samuels would be turning heads with his thick, rock-hard frame if he was a college senior. Considering that he just finished his sophomore season of high school ball, it isn’t surprising to see Samuels in the hunt for the top overall player in the class of 2008. While his loaded Metro Hawks couldn’t withstand an impressive team effort from H-Squad, Samuels came out with a full head of steam, throwing down a power dunk and out-muscling his defender for an easy conversion near the basket in the opening moments. While Samuels didn’t receive consistent touches the rest of the way, he still managed to make his presence felt from time to time. He plays with a mean streak that you love to see in such a young big, and runs the floor very well for all of his bulk. The Elton Brand comparisons are right on here. He might not have as high of a ceiling as some of the other players near the top of the 2008 class (his teammate, Rudy Gay lookalike Devin Ebanks, for example), but it would be an absolute shock if he didn’t end up playing in the NBA someday.

Recent articles

11.0 Points
6.0 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
15.7 PER
8.4 Points
5.8 Rebounds
1.9 Assists
18.8 PER
7.6 Points
2.3 Rebounds
0.6 Assists
12.3 PER
2.7 Points
1.5 Rebounds
1.3 Assists
-0.7 PER
8.0 Points
1.9 Rebounds
3.3 Assists
13.1 PER
14.0 Points
2.5 Rebounds
3.3 Assists
14.9 PER
22.4 Points
12.6 Rebounds
4.4 Assists
30.1 PER
16.0 Points
8.3 Rebounds
1.7 Assists
32.9 PER
6.0 Points
1.7 Rebounds
0.7 Assists
15.8 PER
4.1 Points
3.7 Rebounds
1.1 Assists
11.4 PER
2.0 Points
3.5 Rebounds
0.5 Assists
3.0 PER
24.3 Points
9.7 Rebounds
1.7 Assists
25.3 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop