adidas Nations Basketball Experience: 2008 High School Prospects

adidas Nations Basketball Experience: 2008 High School Prospects
Aug 14, 2007, 01:07 am
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Adidas 2008 High School Player Evaluations

The most consistent player at the camp seemed to be 6-8 power forward Luke Babbitt, who is headed to Nevada next year. While certainly not the best prospect around as far as his NBA potential goes, Babbitt has already “figured it out” as a basketball player and is sure to have a great impact at the collegiate level for the Wolf Pack.

A smooth lefty who likes to face the basket, Babbitt can put the ball on the floor and either beat his man off the dribble or pull-up for a mid-range jumper. He has nice touch, good hands and range out to the 3-point line, and knows how to use his body to create space in the post for a left-handed jump-hook shot. He can score a little with his back to the basket, and has really nice touch on his turnaround jumper. Babbitt is a smart player who plays hard and understands how to operate within half-court sets. He's not an explosive forward by any means, and probably lacks size for the four spot and lateral quickness to move out to the 3. That means he will most likely have to earn himself a spot in the NBA through his production, rather than through his upside. The coaching staff at Nevada probably won't mind that even one bit.

The most productive player at the camp for the US 08's was UCLA-bound shooting guard Jrue Holiday. Poised, smart, mature, smooth, effortless…are all adjectives that come to mind when watching him play. Showing a great body and a very versatile all-around game, Holiday was constantly around the ball making his impact felt when his team needed him most. His physical tools are very solid besides his strength, showing a nice first step, excellent body control, and the all-around polish to put it all together on a consistent basis.

Holiday is always under control, but is still very aggressive when needed looking for his own shot. He can create for himself fairly well thanks to his strong ball-handling skills, and has excellent wherewithal realizing where he is on the court at all times. He gets into the paint well and finishes intelligently without making too big of a fuss. His shot is smooth, showing a quick trigger and nice ability to pull up off the dribble from mid-rage, although he seemed to lose some accuracy from behind the arc. He is a solid passer and highly selfish, although he looked more like a 2-guard than the point guard he's been billed as at times—even if that could still come down the road.

Holiday is also a superb defender who is committed to locking down his man, as he showed in a very entertaining matchup with Lance Stephenson in which he clearly got the upper hand. He has long arms and good lateral quickness, as well as the instincts and toughness needed to get the job done. As you may have noticed by now…Holiday is quite a complete player for his age. There is a lot to like about his NBA prospects down the road, even if his upside might not be off the charts. He reminds a bit of Rodney Stuckey, but is an even more polished player at the same age.

As steady and mature a point guard as you'll find at the high school level, Jerime Anderson is a player that really grows on you the more you see him. A true playmaker who is just as comfortable walking the ball up the floor as he is pushing the tempo, Anderson has a great demeanor on the floor and is more than happy making everyone around him better. Showing solid ball-handling skills with either hand, and very good court vision both off the dribble as well as setting players up from the perimeter, Anderson has good size, nice strength, and the basketball IQ college coaches crave from the point guard position. An excellent defender (we'd expect nothing less from a Ben Howland commit), he really does a good job containing his matchup and playing solid pressure defense. Not a flashy player and certainly not the quickest point around, Anderson looks like a very productive 3-4 year college player at this point. His scoring tools need to improve, particularly his jumper which isn't steady enough quite yet.

One of the most athletic players seen at the entire camp, the word upside certainly comes to mind when watching Chris Singleton play. Right now he's more of a 4 than a 3, as he lacks quite a bit of polish, but he did drop a few glimpses that might lead you to believe that he does have some future on the perimeter. College coaches might not mind him as he is right now, though. A superb athlete with a great wingspan and an excellent body, Singleton dished out quite a bit of contact to the much less physically mature players he matched up with all week. He's a tough guy with good timing, something that allowed him to come up with a couple of emphatic blocks rotating from the weak-side. He might not be the smartest or most skilled player around—which caused him to commit some unnecessary fouls at time far from the basket. As far as his perimeter skills go, Singleton got to the basket on a few lone occasions on straight line drives and also showed a nice looking mid-range jumper. Nothing too polished, nothing too inconsistent, but enough to keep us intrigued as to how he'll continue to develop down the road.

B.J. Mullens might have the most upside of any of the players present in New Orleans. Standing 7-1, he has an NBA caliber body, great hands, a freakishly explosive vertical leap, a sweet jump-shot, and is able to dunk the ball with either hand. What? Where do we sign? Not so quick, though…since there is certainly more than meets the eye here.

Mullens still has quite a ways to go before his production on the court is able to match his considerable upside. He has a tendency to take possessions off and disappear, on the defensive end especially, but also on offense when things aren't going so well. Too often we'd catch Mullens sprinting up the floor while a shot is going up in the air—trying to cherry pick his way to a flashy above the rim dunk—rather than do what a 7-footer is supposed to do and box out for a rebound. His team's defensive rebounding suffered in the process, but we did get a chance to see him show off his ups quite a bit.

Once he figures it out, we're surely talking about a top prospect. Mullens runs the floor incredibly well (especially when cherry-picking), catches anything thrown his way, and uses both hands fairly well. He also dropped off a few very nice bounce passes to cutters slashing towards the rim. He even shows nice flashes of potential with his footwork in the post. Nothing consistent, but we did see a glimpse of a gorgeous jump-hook, a complicated drop-step move, a strong left-handed put-back, and of course some ridiculous finishes where his head was above the rim for a dunk. Incredibly impressive stuff.

That was all mixed in with too many minutes of complete disinterest, an obviously underdeveloped feel for the game, and absolutely nothing resembling consistent effort on defense or going after rebounds. The name Patrick O'Bryant came up on one occasion, and it should serve as a warning as to the direction Mullens does not want to head. His potential is that of an all-star, but there are many red flags that cause us to take pause. At this point it's hard to say how much of his upside he'll be able to achieve, but there will be a lot to look forward to for Ohio State fans if he even comes close.

6-11 Cameroonian Kenny Kadji played for Team Africa, but is a highly touted member of the 2008 high school class. He is heading to Florida next year, right down the road from his current prep school at IMG Academy. Kadji was a very important cog on this interesting African squad. He played mostly at the 3 facing the basket next to Zaki and Ibaka, and showed the ability to both knock down shots and get to the basket off a few short dribbles. He's not a great athlete and surely could benefit from improving his conditioning, as he had a tendency to take plays off at times, particularly on the defensive end. His lateral quickness isn't great at the moment, which was certainly exposed playing such heavy minutes on the perimeter at the SF spot. He did show nice timing coming from the weak-side on a few occasions for a blocked shot, and does a good job using his body on either end of the floor to gain an advantage on weaker opponents. His back to the basket game could still use some work, though. He is all in all an interesting guy that will need to spend a few years in Gainesville to develop into a more immediate NBA prospect.

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