National Prep Showcase--Elite Prospects

National Prep Showcase--Elite Prospects
Nov 24, 2008, 02:12 pm
DraftExpress was in attendance at the National Prep Showcase this past weekend in Smithfield, Rhode Island, where many of the nations finest prep schools were in action. We take a closer look as some of the elite prospects including Avery Bradley, Thomas Robinson, and Rashanti Harris amongst others.

Avery Bradley, 6’3, Shooting Guard, 2009, Findlay Prep

Committed to Texas

Rodger Bohn

Avery Bradley (#10 Scout, #8 Rivals, #15 ESPN) was hands down the top performer here at the National Prep Showcase, willing his team to a 2-0 record while putting up gaudy numbers in the meantime. While he might not the best long term prospect in the class, a case could be made that Bradley is the top pure basketball player at the moment in the class of 2009.

Physically there is little not to like about Bradley. Although undersized for a shooting guard prospect at around 6’3, he possesses nice length and very good athleticism. Listed at 185 pounds, he has a frame that will surely fill out in time. Add in an excellent combination of leaping ability, lateral quickness, and first step, and you see why you have the makings of a terrific prospect physically.

The Washington native is an absolute nightmare to guard offensively. The bread and butter of his game centers around his pull-up mid-range jumper, which he can create and get off at will. Capable of stopping on the drop of a dime, he gets outstanding elevation with a high release point on his pull-up. When combined with his great first step, he is able to get defenders back on their feet with his strong initial drive, and then rise up before they are able to even contest his jumper.

Far from a one dimensional player, Bradley is also capable of attacking the rim and finishing in traffic. He is an explosive leaper from a static position, allowing him to rise up amongst the trees without having to run to gain momentum. This enables him to score against much bigger foes and make an impact on the offensive glass, despite his lack of height. Bradley’s scoring instincts allow him to slither his way through defenders when slashing to the rim, rarely getting out of control in the least bit. Though clearly strictly a shooting guard, he displays very solid ball handling skills, keeping the ball low and tight when creating his own shot. Bradley has no shortage of scoring moves, whether it be nifty spins, inside-out dribble moves, or multiple crossovers.

One area of Bradley’s game that he has shown considerable improvement in is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. Though he only attempted a single three point shot in his first game at the National Prep Showcase, the Texas signee appeared very confident in his shot during his second outing, drilling three 3-pointers in Findlay’s win over St. Mark’s. From beyond the arc, his shot showed the same solid fundamentals that his pull-up did, and if he continues to expand his range, it will make him a nearly complete player on the offensive end.

Although he plays the shooting guard position exclusively, Bradley displays very nice court vision when distributing the basketball. His high basketball IQ, terrific unselfishness and good court awareness are evident when he’s on the floor, as seen by the limited amount of turnovers throughout the tournament. Though not one to initiate the offense, there definitely appears to be potential for Bradley as a combo guard down the road.

Widely regarded as the best on-ball defender in the country, Bradley did very little to disprove that notion. With his outstanding lateral quickness and long arms, he applies immense ball pressure on opposing defenders, without reaching or putting himself in vulnerable situations. Likewise, he is a force in the passing lanes with the number of steals that he obtains without over-pursuit of the ball. Though not a very vocal leader, the effort that he applies on this end of the hardwood appear to rub off on his teammates. Bradley’s size and strength allow him to get in there and rebound amongst the trees, making him quite the complete defender at this stage of the game.

Pairing with friend and fellow top-10 recruit Jordan Hamilton, Texas will have one of the strongest perimeter attacks in the country for 09-10. Given Bradley’s lack of size, it’s hard to call him a one and done prospect at this point. However, if he is able to maintain the same impact at the collegiate ranks that he has had the prep level, it is certainly not out of the question.

Thomas Robinson, 6-8, Power Forward, 2009, Brewster Academy

Committed to Kansas

Jonathan Givony

Top power forward prospect and potential McDonald’s All-American Thomas Robinson (#20 Scout, #18 Rivals, #54 ESPN) had a hard time backing up the hype this weekend, struggling through a bad first game and then barely playing in the second due to foul trouble.

Regardless, he dropped enough glimpses of what makes him such a highly touted prospect to give us a good enough idea of what he brings to the table, even if we might not quite have gotten the full picture.

Robinson is first and foremost a physical specimen, possessing outstanding length and athleticism on a terrific 6-8 frame. He is quick off his feet and highly explosive, and not afraid in the least bit to utilize his tools.

Robinson gets most of his production off hustle primarily at this stage in his development, as he is one of the hardest working and more intense players you’ll find at the high school level. Known as one of the best rebounders in America right now, and he did not disappoint at this tournament, grabbing 8 offensive boards in the first game (12 total) and 9 in just 13 minutes in the second. Robinson plays with an incredible amount of energy, going after every ball in his area or outside of it, and doing a great job putting his athleticism and length to good use on the defensive end especially. He has a great knack for coming from the weakside to block shots, but also very much capable of putting pressure on the ball on the perimeter.

This versatility to defend multiple positions will give Bill Self Robinson quite a few options next year, allowing him to utilize him in a Julian Wright freelance type role at times, or switch on screens guarding the pick and roll.

Offensively, Robinson looked a bit limited at this tournament, not showing great ball-handling skills and clearly possessing very little in the ways of a perimeter jumper. He has some basic moves he can utilize in the post, and has the ability to finish with either hand around the rim, but he has a ways to go in terms of his overall polish from what we could see here. He is able to beat his man off the dribble at times with a very nice first step, but will need to work on his ability to create his own shot if he’s to eventually convert to the small forward position down the road.

Adding significant intrigue to Robinson’s profile is the fact that he appears to have tremendous intangibles—showing an outstanding attitude while on the floor, and always cheering on his teammates from the bench. He is a good passer as well, and as mentioned possesses a tremendous motor. His feel for the game and overall knowledge of how to operate on the floor are things he will need to work on while at Kansas, as he tends to get ahead of himself at times and tries to do a little too much.

Kansas fans have a lot to look forward to, as we’re talking about a potential crowd favorite coming in, and it will be very interesting to see how Robinson develops over time.

Rashanti Harris, 6’9, 2009, Power Forward/Center, Patterson School

Committed to Georgia State

Joseph Treutlein

One of the higher ranked prospects at this showcase, Rashanti Harris (#17 Scout, #26 Rivals, # 37 ESPN) shockingly signed with Georgia State earlier this year, passing up high major offers to do so. Harris very much looks like a man among boys against this competition, being 6’9 with a thick and chiseled body, looking as physically mature as most college seniors. He’s very mobile, coordinated, and has excellent hands, while having pretty good explosiveness and quickness for a big man as well, being a very good athlete for a college big.

Harris makes his mark felt most on defense and the boards, where he shows pretty good focus, decent fundamentals, and is just able to exert his will against the competition. He frequently pulls down rebounds in a crowd, boxes out his man well, and on the defensive end, patrols the lane and plays tough post defense.

On the offensive end, Harris’ game is very much a work in progress, having an underdeveloped post game in terms of footwork and moves, often trying to just bull over opponents. He took a few perimeter jumpers over the weekend as well, but didn’t have much success, though it’s something he could add to his game in time. He’s a threat in transition when running the floor, due to his size, mobility, and hands, but his conditioning is not superb, leaving many occasions where he’s slow to get up the floor on either end of the court.

Many are questioning Harris’ decision to go to Georgia State in lieu of a high major school, and there is a lot of legitimacy to those questions, seeing how it’ll be tough for his post game to develop much against that level of competition, where he’ll rarely face a PF/C that is his physical equal in both size and athletic ability. It will be interesting to see how his game develops over his time in college, but it’s hard to see how playing against this level of competition will be better for his development than playing in a major conference.

Erik Murphy, 6-10, Senior, Power Forward, St. Mark’s

Committed to Florida

Jonathan Givony

The second half of the best post player tandem seen at this tournament, Erik Murphy (#39 Scout, #104 Rivals, #24 ESPN) did a nice job acquainting himself with those who may not have been familiar with him in his lone appearance.

6-10, with an underdeveloped frame, but all kinds of agility and fluidity for a big man prospect, Murphy is a fairly athletic player with a good skill level and nice upside to continue to improve in the future. He made some quick moves in the post, pivoting to his left hand and displaying excellent on his jump-hook shot.

Murphy faced up and showed a smooth shooting stroke from beyond the arc too, as well as the ability to take his man off the dribble with either hand a nice first step, which is a big plus from a player projected to play power forward at the collegiate level. He is a very coordinated big man, as he displayed on one particularly impressive play catching a difficult cross-court pass from Nate Lubick in stride and laying it in beautifully, a move that 95% of all high school big men would have surely committed a traveling violation on. He is also a good passer, and seems to generally have a high basketball IQ, showing nice chemistry alongside fellow big man Lubick.

On the downside, Murphy struggled to establish position inside the paint, as he lacks strength and a significant amount of toughness, to the point that many would even call him a soft player due to the way he appears to shy away from contact inside. He struggles with physical play, and isn’t much of a rebounder, which will be a serious issue for him early on in the very tough and athletic SEC, something he must work on seriously. He got pushed around a bit and seemed to lack some intensity on the defensive end, not always hustling quite as hard as you might hope, and displaying average fundamentals. He has a reputation for being somewhat of an underachiever, and its here that that seems to show up the most.

All in all, Murphy is a nice long-term prospect for Florida to develop, as he has a great framework of skills to build off, and has decent physical tools as well. It will be interesting to see how he looks after a few years in college.

Maurice Creek, 6’5, Shooting Guard, 2009, Hargrave Military Academy

Committed to Indiana

Rodger Bohn

Maurice Creek (#45 Scout, #59 Rivals, #61 ESPN) was one of the better shooting guards here at the National Prep Showcase, although his shooting percentages did not necessarily reflect that. We observed Creek last season at this tournament while playing for South Kent (and since in AAU), and he has made considerable improvement in the past year, transforming from prospect into pure scorer.

Offensively, Creek is a mature player who already looks very comfortable coming off screens and putting points on the board. Unlike many young players his age, he is already able to read when to flare out, curl, or go straight off of a screen depending how his defender is playing him. Given the fact that he is just a decent ball handler and an average athlete, this helps him greatly in terms of getting his shot off.

The Maryland native’s biggest asset is his ability to shoot the ball. Able to spot-up equally well from beyond the 3-point line and mid-range, he is able to keep defenders honest by slashing to the rim with his strong scoring instincts. Creek showed no problem creating his own shot this weekend, usually settling for mid-range jumpers instead of going all the way to the rim. Having a noticeably stronger drive towards his right hand, defenders neglected to realize that his left hand appears to be relatively suspect at the moment. With stronger college scouting that will surely be picked up on quickly, meaning he has a considerable amount of improvement in this area if he hopes to continue his scoring prowess.

Like last year, Creek remained impressive on the defensive end. Although he wasn’t matched up against any marquee swingmen, he still showed the ability to stay in front of his man laterally and put a fair amount of pressure on the ball. The future Hoosier will still need to add some weight to his slender frame in order to defend stronger guards at the next level, but he is already making the right steps towards becoming a nice defender at Indiana.

Given Indiana’s rebuilding process, there will plenty of opportunity for Creek to see significant minutes as a freshman for IU, with the potential to even start in his debut campaign. The opportunity will also be there for Creek to get buckets early on given the Hoosiers influx of youth, so don’t be surprised if he is a player who puts up strong scoring numbers early in his career

D.J. Richardson, 6-3, 2009, Shooting Guard, Findlay Prep

Committed to Illinois

Jonathan Givony

Another cog in the well oiled machine known as Findlay Prep (essentially a college team playing high school basketball), D.J. Richardson (#66 Scout, #57 Rivals, #56 ESPN) did a very good job outlining what his future role will look like at Illinois starting next season.

Undersized for the wing (listed at 6-3, but possibly 6-4), but showing a very good frame, Richardson is a super versatile shooting guard with good, but not great athleticism and a very complete all-around game. Richardson showed to be a very good shooter with his feet set, capable of elevating nicely off the floor to create separation and knock down spot-up 3-pointers, and even looking comfortable creating his own shot and pulling up off the dribble from mid-range. He is also very effective in transition, showing excellent decision making skills and the basic ball-handling skills needed to get to the rim and finish effectively. Moving off the ball, he is extremely intelligent and regularly was rewarded for his cuts with passes for easy finishes, which he executed with both hands.

Extremely unselfish and very fundamental sound, Richardson was one of the more mature players seen in Rhode Island. He plays a very controlled style of basketball, rarely making mistakes and doing a terrific job getting his teammates involved. He can bring the ball up the floor and get his team into their half-court offense, even if it’s pretty clear that he’s more of a 2/3 at the moment than he is a combo guard. He has a bit of shake to his game, but does not look very comfortable stepping up and taking too much offensive responsibility on this team, which is fine on this team considering how talented and aggressive his backcourt mates Cory Joseph and Avery Bradley are.

Defensively, Richardson was just as effective this weekend, looking intense and aware and doing a good job for the most part on most of the players he was asked to guard, even if his size isn’t always ideal.

Considering how complete a player Richardson is (think Courtney Lee), there is very little to nitpick at the moment, although there will surely be things he needs to work on once the competition level raises after he arrives at Illinois. He didn’t display much of a go-to mentality when his team was searching for a spark in certain moments against a terrific St. Mark’s team, and his upside looks a bit limited compared to some of the other players seen here. Still, it would be hard not to get excited about his prospects at the collegiate level if you’re an Illini fan, as he looks ready to step in and play for Bruce Weber right away, and should be able to contribute in a number of different areas.

Nate Lubick, 6’8, Power Forward, 2010, St. Mark’s

Committed to Georgetown

Joseph Treutlein

In the most exciting and well-played game we’ve seen this weekend by far, Nate Lubick (#58 Scout, #62 Rivals, #21 ESPN) carried his team throughout the game, taking the game down to the wire against powerhouse Findlay Prep. The 6’8 bruiser is very fundamentally sound with a truly tremendous motor, and here he helped his team in every which way. On the offensive end, he showed a complete package of skills, passing the ball well, leaking out in transition, facing his man up, dribbling in the open court, posting up, crashing the boards, and most of all finishing relentlessly around the rim, or when the opposition wouldn’t let him, getting to the free throw line.

While Lubick is an extremely productive and skilled player, there is a caveat to that, as he is a below average athlete and slightly undersized as well. While he shows excellent coordination and good mobility, he simply does not have very good quickness or explosiveness, likely tempering his potential severely past the college level. Lubick easily makes up for his physical limitations at this level, though, using his excellent touch in combination with his strong frame to just abuse defenders on the block, converting nearly every shot he attempts. Also, while he only showed flashes of it here, he’s touted as one of the best shooting big men in his class, with range extending to the collegiate three point line.

In addition to his skill-set, Lubick’s awareness and headiness playing the game are also outstanding. He is coached impressively by his father on this team, and looks incredibly well schooled. Frequently in this game he made incredibly smart plays, namely one where he battled for an offensive rebound in a crowd, tipped the ball to himself going towards the sideline, caught the ball with one hand, and then threw it off the opposing team’s player, sending it out of bounds and getting his team the ball back. Still a Junior, Lubick may still have some growth left in him physically, which would be a huge boost to his potential, but regardless, it’s hard to see a player like this taking a long time before making an impact at the college level, even at a school as strong as Georgetown.

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