adidas Nations Experience: 2010/11 High School Prospects

adidas Nations Experience: 2010/11 High School Prospects
Aug 20, 2008, 02:02 am
Brandon Knight, 6-3, Point Guard, 2010, Uncommitted

Although we prefer not to evaluate high school players multiple times over a very short span, it’s been very tough to ignore Brandon Knight (#5 Scout, #8 Rivals, #1 ESPN) every time we’ve watched him play. Knight was the primary ball-handler for the 2010 team, and he definitely caught the eyes of the NBA scouts we talked to early on with his outstanding play, although he came down to earth later in the week and showed many of his flaws.

When Knight is at his best, he is making shots from the perimeter, showing outstanding court vision, breaking down defenders from the perimeter, finishing exceptionally well at the rim, and generally making the game look very easy for both himself and his teammates. He has a knack for making simple plays and an outstanding sense for finding teammates cutting to the rim, but also has the advantage of being an extremely big point guard at 6-3 with the athleticism to blow by his man, dunk everything inside the paint and come up with quite a few blocks, steals and rebounds on the other side of the court.

About eight months removed from surgery to remove a cyst on his spine that sidelined him for two months, Knight looks a lot more athletic now than the first time we evaluated him. While not a freak like Derrick Rose, that part of his game is never going to be what holds him back from developing into a top prospect.

The weaknesses that Knight showed revolve around many of the same problems that young point guards this age suffer from—playing too fast and out of control, turning the ball over, showing poor shot-selection, and being inconsistent from game to game and possession to possession. He competes on the defensive end, but has a tendency to gamble too much for steals rather than playing fundamental sound. Also he clearly needs to work on his left hand, as he strongly favors driving to his right, which is fine at this level and in AAU-type settings where there is no advanced scouting.

Watching Knight play for his high school team, you get a different feel for the type of player he is, much more poised and under control, less concerned with scoring and not prone to taking those terrible off-balance 3-pointers early in possessions that we saw all summer. When he goes back to playing real basketball in a more structured environment, the hope is that he’ll be able to shake free of these poor fundamentals of summer basketball. Considering the feel for the game he displays at his incredibly young, that likely won’t be too much of an issue.

Jared Sullinger, 6-8, PF/C, 2010, Committed to Ohio State

The inside reference for the 2010 US team, Jared Sullinger (#2 Scout, #3 Rivals, #7 ESPN) came up huge in the final game to help knock off the 2009 high schoolers. There is very little doubt in our minds that Sullinger is going to be an outstanding get for Thad Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes, and he comes with the added bonus of being the type of player who will likely have to stick around for a few years to develop his all-around game.

Sullinger is an undersized center (around 6-8 or so) right now who is a true load in the post. He establishes position extremely well, and has the ability to score very effectively with fantastic touch around the rim. He has a great feel for operating inside, showing fundamental footwork and an extremely effective jump-hook. He has no problem finishing thorough contact, and is pretty quick off his feet finishing at the rim, showing a good wingspan, quick feet and phenomenal hands which allow him to catch just about anything thrown at him, and also make him a fantastic offensive rebounder.

Besides being a rare and highly coveted post presence, Sullinger is even more attractive a prospect due to the fact that he plays hard and has a very nice basketball IQ to boot, which makes him a fairly effective passer, particularly passing out of double teams. He is an unselfish player and seems to have strong intangibles from what we could tell too.

In terms of things he could improve on, Sullinger will need to be able to use his left hand better on the offensive end if he’s to be able to reach his potential as a scorer at the collegiate level. Being able to face the basket and put the ball on the floor (which he can do a little bit right now) would make him that much more versatile, as well as adding a more effective jump-shot—as his range currently extends to about 15 feet or so (with nice touch and solid form actually), but he rarely shows it.

Defensively, Sullinger is very limited on the perimeter, as he doesn’t have great lateral quickness and really struggles stepping out to guard the pick and roll, but also isn’t very tall or explosive and thus isn’t a shot-blocking presence inside the paint. Losing weight in order to maximize his athleticism could help him a bit in this regard.

All in all, Sullinger probably won’t ever be considered the most attractive NBA prospect in the world due to his average physical tools, but could definitely develop into serious NBA draft material if he takes himself seriously. He’s drawing comparisons that range from Richard Hendrix to Kevin Love, but to us he looks like a carbon copy of Lonny Baxter at the moment. Despite his obvious limitations, it’s really hard not to like what he offers as a prospect, and he appears to have a great future ahead of him.

Adreian Payne, 6-9, Power Forward/Center, 2010

This was our first look at the oddly spelled Adreian Payne (#23 Scout, #14 Rivals, Unranked ESPN), and we can definitely tell what the recruiting services (some of them at least) see in him early on. “All arms and legs” was the way one NBA executive described him—which tells you a little bit about both his strengths and weaknesses. He has really nice size (maybe closer to 6-10 than the 6-8 or 6-9 he’s listed at), a freakishly long wingspan, and a frame that should be able to add weight in time. He’s incredibly skinny at the moment, to the point that it really affects the way he can operate on the court.

Payne is a very quick and athletic big man who does a little bit of everything right now, but doesn’t seem to really know what his game is all about just yet. He can run the floor extremely well, put the ball on the deck a little bit, finish around the basket (if strength is not an issue) with an emphatic dunk or with his left hand, bounce off the ground (often consecutively) for blocks and offensive rebounds, and even occasionally hit a surprising pull-up jumper.

The problem is that he’s exceptionally raw, but no one seems to have let him in on that little secret yet. He’s not an efficient player at all just yet, being very turnover prone, and his decision making seems to have the longest to go from what we can tell. Payne’s shot-selection looked brutal at times, throwing up some awful bricks on contested looks, and getting himself into serious trouble by trying to do too much with the ball in his hands. He tried to block pretty much every shot that he could too, looking fairly off with his timing, and getting himself out of position to compete for the defensive rebound.

Still, you can’t help but be intrigued about what this guy might develop into considering his natural physical tools and just how incredibly young he still is, so we definitely need to stay tuned and see how he develops over the next few years.

LaQuinton Ross, 6-8, Small Forward, 2011

The adidas Nations gave us a better opportunity to evaluate LaQuinton Ross' game than we were able to in Las Vegas, allowing us to pick up a few more things that we might not have seen initially. Again it was hard not to notice how impressive of a scorer Ross is for such a young player, mainly because of the natural instincts he already displays. He has a super low dribble considering that he’s 6-8 and 15 years old, which allows him to create shots with ease from the perimeter and get to the rim. His body control in the lane is very impressive as well, and he generally makes everything look very easy even when executing very difficult moves.

On the downside, Ross plays absolutely zero defense, to the point that it’s almost laughable at times how easily his lets his opponent score. He gave up deep position in the paint time after time to basically anyone that wanted to post him up, and offered such little resistance that it was almost impossible for them not to score. He also didn’t show much in the ways of passing ability, looking to go one on one pretty much anytime he got the ball on the wing, even if there were multiple defenders around him.

You don’t get the feeling that Ross is a selfish player or a bad kid—it just seems like he’s received little to no coaching at this point in his development and thus is living strictly off his instincts. He’s apparently transferring to a bigger school next year, Word of God Christian Academy, where he’ll be playing with

Trey Zeigler, 6-5, Shooting Guard, 2010

One of the more well rounded young guys on the 2010 squad, Trey Zeigler (Unranked Scout, #64 Rivals, #50 ESPN) left an impression of being a very complete and fundamentally sound player in every minute he was out on the floor. 6-5, smooth, but not incredibly athletic at this point, Zeigler likes to beat guys off the dribble and take the ball strong to the rim, finishing fearlessly and having no problem taking contact. He’s a crafty guy, sometimes finishing with a floater, which helps considering that he isn’t quite strong or explosive enough at this point to explode over players in traffic.

Zeigler didn’t shoot a lot of jumpers at this event, but appears capable of making shots from the perimeter—something we’ll have to look closer at next time we see him. He can create for himself as well as for others, looking very unselfish, not forcing the issue and showing a nice feel for finding the open man, and competes very hard on the other end too, hustling for loose balls and trying to play good defense, which is nice to see from a player so young. Not surprisingly considering the way he plays, he is the son of a coach (Central Michigan head coach Ernie Zeigler), so college coaches will probably be after him hard knowing that they might be getting the type of all-around complete package they covet as far as they’re concerned. It’s too early to say definitively, but it seems like he’ll be sticking around in college for at least a few years as well.

Evan Anderson, 6-11, Center, 2010, Committed to Wisconsin

We got two distinctively different impressions from watching Wisconsin commit Evan Anderson (#13 Scout, #21 Rivals, #14 ESPN) in two separate settings—one with his AAU team against a very weak group of players, and one at the adidas Nations. He’s clearly still trying to put everything together and it will be a ways until he’s able to justify his very high recruiting ranking, but we can definitely see where the intrigue is coming from.

Anderson is a thick, left-handed, 6-11 true center with an outstanding frame and a pair of exceptionally long arms and soft hands. That alone is half the battle at this stage in a big man’s development, but he has a little bit more to offer as well. Anderson has nice instincts as a shot-blocker, changing a good amount of shots around the rim with his superb length and fairly solid timing. He likes to operate with his back to the basket offensively, but really doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in terms of footwork or post moves at this juncture, which is fairly understandable. He gets fouled a lot in the paint, but isn’t able to convert on most of his free throw opportunities.

Anderson doesn’t run the floor all that well, he’s somewhat mobile but probably can’t be described as being particularly athletic, and seems to be liable to lapses in intensity as the game wears on. He doesn’t seem to go after every rebound, and got easily frustrated by the rough play he encountered in one particular occasion we saw him. He’s going to have problems staying out of foul trouble early on his career most likely, and generally should be considered a project at this point. Considering what he brings to the table with his physical attributes and budding skills, though, he’s obviously a guy to keep an eye on in the long-term.

Recent articles

23.3 Points
4.3 Rebounds
5.1 Assists
21.8 PER
10.1 Points
2.0 Rebounds
3.1 Assists
15.6 PER
23.5 Points
9.4 Rebounds
2.1 Assists
36.3 PER
12.2 Points
8.9 Rebounds
3.5 Assists
18.3 PER
7.6 Points
6.8 Rebounds
2.0 Assists
14.3 PER
10.5 Points
6.0 Rebounds
0.2 Assists
18.2 PER
8.6 Points
4.6 Rebounds
0.9 Assists
18.7 PER
15.4 Points
8.8 Rebounds
2.2 Assists
18.3 PER
11.4 Points
2.7 Rebounds
5.2 Assists
13.7 PER
4.7 Points
2.0 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
9.3 PER
0.4 Points
0.2 Rebounds
0.1 Assists
1.4 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop