adidas Nations Experience: 2009 High School Prospects

adidas Nations Experience: 2009 High School Prospects
Aug 19, 2008, 12:34 am
While the teams from Europe, South America, Asia and Canada surely added to the level of competition and made this camp all the more intriguing, the focus of the week definitely seemed to be on the American high schoolers. With the rather pedestrian 2009 class not represented all that well, the much more naturally talented 2010 class (reinforced by two 2011 players) was able to knock them off in the final game, showcasing better team spirit and chemistry and looking to have far more future NBA talent at its disposal. For the 09 group, Derrick Favors was here, largely in spirit only, which allowed us to take a more in-depth look at Dexter Strickland than we’ve previously been able to. We also throw in our two cents on Peyton Siva, Christian Watford, G.J. Vilarino and Junior Cadougan.

Dexter Strickland, 6-3, Shooting Guard, 2009, Committed to North Carolina

With some of the team’s more highly regarded players sitting out later on in the week, we had a pretty good opportunity to get a long look at North Carolina commit Dexter Strickland (#15 Scout, #15 Rivals, #10 ESPN). Listed as a point guard by, but as a shooting guard by Scout and ESPN, he played quite a few minutes at both positions, which allowed us to evaluate his progression at both positions.

Strickland has decent size at 6-3, but is really most notable for his athleticism, possessing excellent quickness getting up and down the floor, and the explosiveness needed to finish most plays strong at the rim with an emphatic dunk. He’s got the footwork needed to get to the basket fairly easily to get his team high-percentage opportunities, and great body control in the lane, often contorting himself in mid-air to avoid defenders, and. He can go left or right and doesn’t shy away from taking the ball strong to the cup, but is very elegant with his finishes and shows nice extension getting his shot off. In short, Strickland can create his own shot very well at this level.

In addition to his virtues as a slasher, Strickland also has great potential as a shooter, showing a good-looking stroke from beyond the arc, as well as the ability to pull-up off the dribble from mid-range as well. He wasn’t extremely consistent throughout the camp, but there is obviously a lot to work with here if he’s willing to put the time in.

One of the issues with Strickland is that he really isn’t a point guard at the moment, as he has a shoot-first mentality and looks way too out of control to be relied upon as a team’s full-time ball-handler. He turns the ball over at a pretty high rate, and isn’t a great decision maker by any stretch. His ball-handling skills can still be improved, and he showed poor awareness in regards to clock management situations and very average court vision creating shots for his teammates.

Defensively, Strickland didn’t really stand out in this setting, but wasn’t a liability either. He looks like a competitive player and shouldn’t have a problem playing the type of defense Roy Williams expects at North Carolina. As an NBA prospect, though, he is definitely undersized for a shooting guard and thus may need to spend a few years in college working on his playmaking skills, unless he really takes his game to the next level and becomes an absolute lethal scorer.

Christian Watford, 6-8, SF/PF, 2009, Uncommitted
Considering: Kentucky, Indiana, Memphis, Louisville

A player with a wide-range of opinions regarding his prospects according to the various recruiting services, Christian Watford (#47 Scout, #40 Rivals, #11 ESPN) wasn’t really able to help his team as much as you would have thought considering how highly thought of he is in some circles.

It’s not hard to tell what people like about Watford, as he appears to have outstanding tools to play the game. A 6-8 combo forward (probably more of a 4 than a 3 right now), Watford is extremely long and lanky, with a nice frame, and is a good athlete to boot. He’s an active player who is certainly raw offensively, but is able to contribute in a variety of ways. He can put the ball on the floor a little bit, make the occasional perimeter shot, and use his excellent physical tools to make somewhat of an impact as an offensive rebounder and shot-blocker from time to time. He seems to play with good energy and appears to have a solid feel for the game.

On the other hand, Watford’s shooting mechanics are not consistent (he brings the ball around the world before shooting and thus has a slow release), his ball-handling skills need plenty of work, and he’s too skinny right now to be much of a presence defensively or finishing around the rim. Watford looked eager to show himself at times, even though he’s a ways away from putting his tools together and being a productive piece, especially if he’s to become a full-time small forward. There is obviously a lot to work with, though, and that’s why colleges like Kentucky, Indiana, Memphis and Louisville are after him hard.

Peyton Siva, 5-11, PG/SG, 2009, Committed to Louisville

We saw plenty of Peyton Siva (#39 Scout, #31 Rivals, #26 ESPN) over the course of the past month, starting in Las Vegas where he played alongside Tony Wroten and Joshua Smith on the Seattle Rotary Select team, and then here in Dallas at adidas Nations.

Siva is going to Louisville to play for Rick Pitino, and that seems like a good fit considering their style of play and what he needs to improve on. Siva is not very big by any stretch of the imagination at just 5-11, but he brings outstanding athleticism to the table to compensate for his lack of size. Siva is incredibly fast in the open court and is absolutely electric getting off his feet and finishing around the basket. To give you an idea, he may not be quite as explosive as fellow Seattle native Nate Robinson, but he’s not that far off either.

Siva loves to split the pick and roll and then take the ball strong to the basket . He hangs in the air and finishes extremely well through contact, showing a tough, aggressive mentality and a fearlessness that is very entertaining to watch. He is great in transition as you might imagine, showing strong ball-handling skills and nice hesitation moves, playing the game with a lot of confidence and moxy. He seems to have really advanced scoring instincts in general, and doesn’t seem to be the type to shy away from responsibilities.

More than just an athletic slasher, Siva can also shoot the ball fairly well from the perimeter as well. He has a very pretty stroke and range that extends beyond the 3-point line, also possessing the ability to pull-up off the dribble from mid-range, even if his shot-selection leaves a lot to be desired at times.

Siva has improved his point guard skills from what we’ve been told, and seems to have above-average court vision and the ability to find teammates in drive and dish situations. He has a tendency to over-dribble at times, though, trying to get too flashy with the ball and thus being too turnover prone to play the kind of pace Pitino is going to want his offense to operate at when he gets to Louisville. His decision making is not good enough at this point in time, and he will have to improve on that aspect of his game to be considered a full-time floor general and not the combo guard he appears to be right now.

Defensively, Siva offers very little and will probably always be limited by his lack of size and length. This may be the biggest thing holding him back from being considered a great prospect down the road, but he isn’t doing himself any favors with the lack of intensity and fundamentals he displays on this end of the floor. That’s not all that uncommon at this level obviously, but it’s something he needs to work on, and he surely will if he wants to get minutes at Louisville.

G.J. Vilarino, 5-11, Point Guard, 2009, Committed to Kentucky

The least-highly regarded of any player on this squad as far as the recruiting services are concerned, G.J. Vilarino (unranked Scout, Rivals, ESPN) probably had one of the best all-around performances of any of the 2009 high school players, which should give Kentucky fans some room for optimism that help is on the way.

Vilarino doesn’t look like much on first sight—he’s a very small, lanky kid without much meat on his bones, but he definitely showed that he belonged once he had the ball in his hands. Vilarino stood out mostly with his speed and playmaking skills at the point guard position, making great passes to everyone around him and showing a lot of toughness and heart operating on the floor. He took the ball strong to the basket and didn’t back down when faced with contact, even if his lack of size clearly will make things a little more difficult at the next level.

Vilarino shoots the ball on the way down and thus isn’t going to be making shots all that consistently until he fixes his mechanics, but he was the first one in the gym to get extra work in on the day of the championship game. Defensively, Vilarino is quick and pesky, showing a strong will to get in his man’s grill. He’ll have some problems going up against bigger and stronger players, though, which is why he needs to work on his body. Vilarino is almost certainly a 4-year college player, but could be a very good addition to Kentucky’s roster. He’ll probably be able to play a similar role to the one Cliff Hawkins did a few years back, but might be a little more naturally talented.

Junior Cadougan, 6-1, Point Guard, 2009, Committed to Marquette

The leader of the Canadian team, fresh off winning the adidas 64 championship in Las Vegas under the name Grassroots Canada, Junior Cadougan (unranked Scout, Rivals, #79 ESPN) has seen his stock rise dramatically over the past few months. He had some very solid games here in Dallas as well, and looks on his way to becoming a very good college player at Marquette in 09-10.

Cadougan isn’t going to blow anyone away with his physical attributes, as he’s not particularly big at 6-1, and really isn’t very athletic either. He’s extremely well built and probably around 10-15 pounds over his optimal weight, but is able to overpower players at this level with his outstanding strength, as well as with his excellent IQ and competiveness.

Cadougan is a very unselfish, very confident playmaker, capable of scoring, but showing nice court vision and the disposition of a floor general. He is capable of getting to the rim despite his just-average first step, as he has nice ball-handling skills going left or right and a great sense of timing for when and how to make his forays to the rim. Once in the paint, he really knows how to contort his body, initiate contact and still finish through contact—which is quite impressive for a player his age. He can shoot 3-pointers (although his form doesn’t leave him a large margin for error) and is especially effective with his pull-up jumper.

Defensively, he is excellent at hawking the ball and getting in the passing lanes, which helps him get quite a few extra possessions. He competes very hard and is strong enough to not get pushed around, but is limited by his average lateral quickness, which will probably show up more at the collegiate level than it does right now.

Cadougan’s upside isn’t great due to his average physical tools, but he has all the makings of a solid college point guard. If he continues to lose weight and keeps making strides with his long-range shooting and playmaking ability, Marquette will be very happy to have him at the helm.

Derrick Favors, 6-9, PF/C, 2009, Uncommitted
Considering: Georgia Tech, Georgia, Florida State, and many others

-In case you were wondering, there was not a whole lot to see from Derrick Favors, for the second straight year at the Adidas Nations tournament. There were some obvious sparks of his incredible length and athleticism, but we were missing the kind of impact at times you would expect from a player ranked as the #1 prospect in his class. The average skill-level again stood out, as well as the nonchalant nature in which he goes about his business. He left the camp early and was not on hand for the championship game. It probably wasn’t a priority for Favors to come out here and dominate, and we’ll just have to wait and see if he shows more hunger in the next opportunities we have to evaluate him. He just turned 17 years old about a week before this camp, so time is obviously on his side…

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