Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rashad Vaughn: An Underrated Draft Pick

Rashad Vaughn’s stock is on the rise and it’s been on the up and up for over the past month. Despite the fact that the 6’5” shooting guard is now a lock to hear his name called in the first round of the draft, his talents are still being under-valued by scouts and front office personnel.

At this point in time, Chad Ford has Vaughn slotted to the Bulls at No. 22 while DraftExpress has Vaughn going 26th to Spurs. It wasn’t that long ago when Vaughn’s name didn’t even appear in the first round on those websites. When Ford released his first version of his Top 100 last summer, Vaughn’s name was nowhere to be found and it took until Mock Draft No. 5 to get his name in the first round. Meanwhile DraftExpress started the season with Vaughn in the 20’s, but they soon dropped him to the second round in February before reinstating him in May.

Before We Begin:

Two years ago in the spring of 2013 Rashad Vaughn and Devin Booker were similar players while participating on undermanned teams in the Nike EYBL AAU circuit. Both players had free reign on the offensive end and dominated the ball trying to create off the dribble or from the pick and roll. Vaughn averaged 19.4 points per game on 43% shooting and shot just 32% from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Booker averaged 16.8 points per game on 43% shooting while going 33.7% from three.

Going back just one year, Rashad Vaughn was a fringe Top 10 player in the high school class of 2014 and also was considered the top ranked shooting guard. Now, it’s the 6’5” Devin Booker who is the consensus top shooting guard in the draft after being ranked below Vaughn just one year ago. After an extremely strong one and done season for the 39-1 Kentucky Wildcats, Booker is a projected top ten pick as both mock draft sites mentioned above have him pegged to the Hornets at pick number nine.

What Happened?

When Vaughn chose to play his college ball at UNLV, it wasn’t hard to predict what type of freshman season he would have.

Prior to the 2014-15 season, my scouting report on Vaughn noted the following:

“Vaughn will have free reign at UNLV, which might not be the best thing for his development. While he will score a lot I feel his game might have progressed better in a more structured setting with more talented teammates. Going into the summer before his senior year, Vaughn was “the man” on an AAU team that was less talented than the majority of opponents. He shot 43% with a high turnover ratio. With his ability to get shots from all over the floor, this often leads to forced shots or less than ideal shots during the course of the game harming his overall percentage. He can get hot in a hurry and hit numerous shots in a row, but he can also force a lot of shots trying to find his rhythm. In my mind, Vaughn will have a very high usage rate at UNLV, but his offensive efficiency might leave something to be desired.”

Sure enough, Vaughn averaged 17.8 points per game. Good for first among players at UNLV and second among all freshmen guards. With that, Vaughn shot just 44% from the field. He ended the season with an extremely high usage rating of 29.0 (No. 70 in the country) and a fairly putrid 101.4 offensive efficiency rating.

Contrast those stats with Booker and you see a tale of two different freshman seasons. While Vaughn took 32.7% of the shots at UNLV, Booker only received 21 minutes of playing time per game. In John Calipari’s platoon system he excelled producing 10 points per game with an offensive efficiency rating of 121.0. Booker also shot 41.1% from behind the three point arc and is now basically considered the top shooter in the draft.

UNLV Season:

UNLV started the season off 2-0, but their wins over Morehead State and Sam Houston State by a combined three points were also a sign of difficult times ahead. Soon after their home victories, the Rebels traveled to Brooklyn for the Coaches vs. Cancer Clinic. Playing at the Barclay’s Arena in front of a handful of NBA executives did not go exactly as planned for Vaughn. He went just 2-9 in a blowout loss to Stanford and followed that up with a 2-10 performance in a close win over Temple.

Subsequent to the Coaches vs. Cancer Clinic, Vaughn had his high points which included several key baskets in an upset win over Arizona, a 31 point, nine rebound effort against Utah State, and 30 point game against Colorado State where he went 12-21 and 6-10 from three. He also had additional low points including a 6-16 output against Utah, and an early end to his season with a torn meniscus against Fresno State which occurred after just 23 games.

Why Is Vaughn Underrated?

In his heart, Rashad Vaughn is a scorer. Not only is he a scorer, but he has ideal shooting guard size, decent athleticism, and oh yeah, he CAN shoot. In 23 games, Vaughn shot 38.3% from three making 54 out of 141 attempts. Meanwhile, the more highly regarded Booker hit only four more three’s than Vaughn did on the season going 58-141 from behind the arc.

While Booker might have the purest shooting stroke out of the two and was significantly better from the free throw line there is basically no difference when it comes to comparing three point percentage. Well, there is one. Booker was the beneficiary of playing on the most talented team in the country. A majority of his shots came with his feet set and open looks at the basket. A lot of Vaughn’s looks came off the dribble or with a defender in his face. Given the high usage rate, a 38.3% three point percentage is pretty damn good.

After a strong draft combine, Vaughn put on a sizzling performance in Santa Monica. From Chad Ford’s recap he noted “Vaughn had the best workout I've seen the past few weeks on the road. Crammed into the Boys & Girls Club in Santa Monica along with 150 scouts lining the walls, he put on a shooting show, effortlessly knocking down shots from everywhere on the floor, outshooting two of the better shooters in the draft -- Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton and Stanford's Anthony Brown.”

While Vaughn had a fairly inefficient freshman season, he also was able to learn more about his game given the increased opportunities provided to him. Often times Vaughn was asked to make decisions off of the pick and roll where he was able to explore his mid-range game in addition to a variety of floaters and soft shots in the paint. As an offensive player, Vaughn’s game is advanced and he has an ability to get shots in a plethora of ways which can also lend to taking difficult, low percentage shots while forcing the issue at times.

A perfect example came during Vaughn’s junior season in Minneapolis when he was going up against Tyus Jones in the Target Center. Vaughn hit a tough one-footed fade away jumper that led to Fred Hoiberg and Roy Williams shaking their head in disbelief. While he made this acrobatic shot, it then led to two even more difficult shots, both of which were missed. With talented teammates in the fold, the degree of difficulty in Vaughn’s shot attempts will decrease and his offensive efficiency will subsequently increase.

In addition, Vaughn is extremely young for his age. Right now he is still only 18 and won’t turn 19 until August making him one of the youngest players in the draft.


As far as concerns go, well those definitely exist. Along with his offensive shot selection, Vaughn gives the air of an alpha dog player. DraftExpress eloquently notes:

Vaughn's skill-set dictates he would be best suited operating as a role-player at the NBA level, but his mentality and body language often looks like that of a star. While he's clearly very talented, and many laud his work ethic, there are quite a few question marks about his lack of discipline and whether he's unselfish enough to thrive in a competitive team setting, particularly when playing time needs to be earned.

Could Vaughn cause chemistry issues on an already established playoff team? In an interview after his Wizards draft workout, Vaughn noted that the Wizards needed a guy to come off the bench behind Bradley Beal and John Wall to score the ball and he alluded to his ability to do that. Whether that positive attitude can continue remains to be seen.

Thoughts From A Former Coach:

As a senior in high school, Vaughn left the friendly confines of Minnesota to enhance his game at Findlay Prep. While there Vaughn played with another potential lottery pick in Kelly Oubre. While honing his game in Henderson, NV, current Findlay Prep head coach Andy Johnson said “He learned how to play with other good players and they pushed each other.”
Coach Johnson also had high praise for Vaughn’s future noting “I think he’s going to have a real good career. The sky is the limit and he’s so young for his age. He’s such a hard worker and a gym rat and that really translates at every level. He’s a kid that will put the work in and he’ll keep pushing himself to be great. His ability to shoot is what really, really stands out. Shooting is at a premium now with how the game is being played at every level, especially the NBA. With his great personality that he’s got, very outgoing, great teammate, and like I said earlier, his ability to work, you put that all together and I think he’s going to have a great NBA career.

He’s got a chance to be a really, really good player just due to the fact that he’s more than just a shooter. For the first time in a long time he’s 100 percent healthy right now. He’s been able to put in a lot of work without being hurt finally and all of the aspects of his game are starting to come together.”


Rashad Vaughn did not have an ideal freshman year at UNLV and there are definitely question marks surrounding him. As expected, his usage rate was high and his effectiveness was low and it all ended after just 23 games.

That being said, Vaughn will be ready to put up points from the time he enters the league. With textbook form, Vaughn’s shot will be effortless from three and he will be able to score in a variety of ways while spacing the floor which is crucial in today’s rapidly evolving NBA game. Right now, it appears that teams with draft picks in the 20’s are looking at Vaughn, but it will soon be apparent that teams with earlier picks will regret passing on one of the more underrated players in the draft. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DeAndre Ayton Spotlight

Only a rising junior, DeAndre Ayton is considered the top prospect in high school basketball. He spent this past weekend at the Top 100 camp and while he did not dominant the competition he was still named to the All-Star team and had several opponents’ state that he was the toughest player to guard in camp.
photo by NBPA

Standing at 6’11” with an already chiseled frame and an athletic grace when he flies up and down the court, Ayton does not want to be labeled as just a back to the basket player and wants to fancy his game after the soon to be number one draft pick in Karl Anthony-Towns.

“Yeah, I picture my game as Karl Towns,” said Ayton. “He runs the floor, plays defense, and shoots the outside jumper.”

When asked his thoughts on another soon to be top pick in Jahlil Okafor, Ayton noted “He did alright, I think he could’ve done more. I’m an athletic big. A stretch four. I don’t like to be in the post that much. I can play in the post, but someone else can play in the post while I’m outside.”

Both Kentucky and Duke have reached out to Ayton along with schools such as San Diego State and Kansas. When asked what schools do the best job developing big men, Ayton quickly said “Coach K and Kentucky, for sure. I mean Kentucky and Duke do a great job with their bigs. Just them two that’s it.”

While the recruiting pitches will certainly start to pick-up, Ayton is not in a rush to make any rash decisions and doesn’t have any plans to follow the Emmanuel Mudiay path overseas.

“Where I grew up and since I’ve been in the United States education is first,” said Ayton. “Got to have something to fall back on if basketball don’t work out. That’s really on my mind. I just got off my injury after I broke my patella. That really got me thinking. I spent two to three months thinking about what I have to fall back on. This was a serious injury. I’m still thinking about college. Maybe like next year I’ll make a decision. My family back home don’t really know much about it, but the family I have in the United States they know a lot and they just tell me to take my time and not rush. We were going to take our time. Step by step. Get as many visits as we can.”

Due to his injury, Ayton did not play in front of coaches in either of the live April recruiting periods; however he did make his return to the court over Memorial Day weekend. Playing for the Supreme Court AAU team on the Under Armour circuit, Ayton wasted no time showing observers why he will most likely be the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft as he averaged 16.5 points on 53% shooting to go with 13.5 rebounds per game.

Putting together a string of double-doubles is nothing new for Ayton. His legend started to grow last July during the LeBron James Skills Academy and then in the fall he showed up for a scrimmage in the Bahamas against the University of North Carolina. Going against players four to five years older, Ayton ended up with 17 points and 18 rebounds.

“At first I didn’t want to play, but then I’m like nah I got to get better,” said Ayton. “I was getting banged up pretty bad a little bit, but then I said nah, I’m playing. I’ve got to give these boys buckets. It’s just all natural. I started making baskets and was doing what I do on the boards. Just playing my role. Not doing too much. It was tough at first, but it doesn’t really matter who I’m guarding or who my opponent is and I tell myself I’m the best on the court and no one is going to guard me. I keep that to myself and stay with that the whole game.”

Ayton has all of the natural talent in the world, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how young the talented prospect really is.

“Yeah, I’m easy going,” said Ayton. “I like to meet new people. I play video games a lot. Spend time with my family a lot. Talk about the future. What’s going to happen in the long run. I try to keep humble, keep my head on Earth. It’s great, but being in 10th grade, a rising junior, I’ve got a lot to think about.” 

Friday, June 19, 2015

NBPA Top 100: Friday Afternoon

Five sessions down, one more to go before the NBPA Top 100 playoffs begin Saturday morning. Despite this being the third day of a long and tiresome camp there were some quality performances in the Friday afternoon session at John Paul Jones arena in Charlottesville.

Top Performers:

Omari Spellman, PF, 6’8”, McDuffie (MA), 2016

The future Villanova big man put together quite the performance off in the auxiliary gym earlier today. While he looks the part of Kennedy Meeks, Spellman is light and quick off his feet and is a loud and vocal player on the court. He scored consistently throughout the game from all areas of the court. He hit several three’s including one in the remaining minutes from the right wing. He also displayed his touch from 12 feet and out when he caught the ball in the post and sized up his defenders which included anyone from Deandre Ayton to Sasha Killeya-Jones. While he used his footwork for open jumpers he used his wide body to create space down low converting on a handful of attempts at the rim. Not known for his leaping ability, Spellman attacked the rim at times and almost converted a spectacular alley-oop. He had his offensive game going on, but he was also a force on defensive as well. Spellman used his body aggressively against the skinnier offensive players, blocked shots, and wasn’t afraid to talk trash. All in all, it was an extremely impressive performance for the senior power forward.

Deshawn Corprew, SF, 6’5”, Quality Education (NC), 2016

If anyone in the Top 100 had future NFL potential, it would be the 6’5” Corprew. With a powerful physique, Corprew is tough for anyone to stop once he makes his mind up to drive through the lane. He is explosive at the rim and scored time and time again in the second half of his game. While not known for his outside shooting he also let loose and deep jumper that found the bottom of the nut. His style is a little herky and jerky and he could stand to improve on his ball-handling, but Corprew knows his strengths and loves to attack, attack, attack.

Sasha Killeya-Jones, PF, 6’11”, Episcopal (VA), 2016

Despite recently de-committing from Virginia, Killeya-Jones looked right at home early on in Charlottesville. With a tall frame and thin build, SKJ preferred to start outside of the arc on the offensive end. He dropped in a deep jumper to start and followed that up with a tough fade-away jumper over Spellman before hitting another jumper from the sideline. In the second half, his made shots came closer to the basket with a short five foot jumper and a tip-in and he remained engaged and active throughout the game. He has great length and uses that to challenge shots on the defensive end, but struggles with his agility when trying to contain shorter and quicker ball-handlers in pick and roll situations.  

Myles Powell, 6’1”, G, South Kent (CT), 2016

The Jersey guard looks more like a fullback, but he’s also been one of the most productive scorers at the Top 100 camp. He does not do one thing exceptionally well, but he does a lot of things very well. Powell knows how to create space for jump shots and when to attack the rim. Fresh off a 21 point outing, Powell didn’t suffer a letdown on Thursday and continued to score at an impressive clip.

Sam Cunliffe, 6’6”, SG, Rainier Beach (WA), 2016

The recent Arizona State commitment was lighting up the nets throughout his game on Friday afternoon. The smooth looking guard from Seattle had his good looking shooting stroke on point early on connecting from the wing on several occasions. Cunliffe has good footwork and is effective curling off screens for shots or hitting shots off the dribble. Shooting is Cunliffe’s main strength, but he also surprised a few people with a fancy above the rim finish on a two hand dunk. Cunliffe’s game is fun to watch and one that should make an immediate impact in Tempe.

Other Notes:

Alex Barcello hit a trio of three’s in his game this morning. After hitting his first one, Barcello went cold for a spell before finding his shot in the fourth quarter knocking in two in a row.

Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, two future UVA guards were highlighted on Thursday, but both players had their moments again on Friday. Guy got the stanza going early with a three from NBA range and also had former Cavalier Justin Anderson celebrating after a fancy pass. Guy connected on several shots, but he also got tunnel vision in the second half forcing the issue which led to difficult shots off the dribble when it would have been wiser to pass the ball. Despite a poor stretch, Guy knocked in a spot up three towards the end of the game. Once again, Ty Jerome slid under the radar due to his quiet demeanor and while Jerome was silent early on, he converted a difficult lay-up in the second half after splitting the pick and roll. Jerome functions well as a shooting guard but he also proved he could play spot minutes at the point if necessary.

Power forward Duwan Huell had several high flying finishes above the rim and several put-backs off of offensive rebounds but struggled with his stamina throughout the game looking a bit winded throughout. Huell struggled at times catching difficult passes and also turned the ball over off the dribble.

7’0” junior center Brandon McCoy is an extremely intriguing prospect given his height and length. Right now he is struggling with the physicality of some of the players, but as they say, you can’t teach height. 

NBPA Top 100: Thursday Night Session

Two days down with two more to go at the NBPA Top 100 camp in Charlottesville, VA. Despite the long days the campers did not show any signs of letdown in session number four that took place last night.

Top Players:

Thon Maker, 7’1”, PF, 2016, Orangeville (CAN)

Kelly Kline / UA
Before he announced to a crowd of reporters that he would be staying in the class of 2016, Maker put together his best performance in his three year tenure at the Top 100 camp. Maker started the night off with a soft looking jump shot from mid-range and continued to score from a variety of areas. He finished with 22 points and seven rebounds on 8-11 shooting and 2-3 from outside the arc. After going to the line countless times in the morning session, Maker showcased his skill-set which has made him one of the more talked about high school players over the last few years.

Shamorie Ponds, 6’0”, PG, 2016, Thomas Jefferson (NY)

After a strong spring playing in the Nike EYBL circuit, Shamorie Ponds has continued his high scoring ways in Virginia. He struggled from three in the night session going 0-4, but he still finished 8-15 overall. Despite being one of the smaller players on the court, Ponds was always finding little holes in the defense and converted crafty lay-ups with both his right and left hand. With a strong handle, Ponds also pushed the ball in transition and played a crucial part in his team’s 63-62 victory.

Udoka Azubuike, 6’11, C, 2016, Potter’s House (FL)

The big fella from Florida strung together a 16 point performance on 7-8 shooting in his rematch with highly regarded junior forward DeAndre Ayton. Back at the City of Palms last December, Ayton won the match-up, but this time around Azubuike tried to do his best Shaq impression and bring the house down. Throughout the course of the game, Azubuike was punishing the rim with authoritative two hand dunks. He was engaged throughout and looked to relish the chance to play against another highly touted big man.

Xavier Simpson, 6’0”, PG, 2016, Central Catholic (OH)

Xavier Simpson is a tough, physical point guard from Ohio and he put up easily the most efficient performance on the day. With a session high of 25 points, Simpson helped his Rockets squad cruise to a blowout victory. Playing alongside Maker, Simpson went 11-13 from the field including a perfect 3-3 from long distance. He also added four assists and three rebounds and only turned the ball over two times. It was quite the turnaround performance from Simpson who went just 1-8 in his game earlier that day.

Billy Preston, 6’9”, PF, 2017, Dallas API (TX)

It’s always nice to see when highly touted players improve. After seeing Preston start for an extremely talented St. John Bosco squad as a freshman, it was remarkable to see how the 6’8” forward looks less than two years later. With a stronger upper body, Preston now looks like a pro. After scoring 10 points on 5-10 shooting in the first Thursday session, Preston added 13 points and five rebounds and the game winning free throw in overtime in the night session. Preston has a smooth style to his game and can now attack better off the dribble where he can finish easier down low with his added strength and he still sports his solid looking jump shot.

Top Backcourt: Frank Jackson & Jaylen Hands

Thunder and lightning is a proper nickname for the backcourt of Frank Jackson and Jaylen Hands. Jackson is a 6’1” guard from Utah that has thrown his name into the ring for the top point guard spot in 2016. So far throughout the camp Jackson has been sensational getting to the rim at will. With the guards stock quickly rising, both Duke and Maryland will receive unofficial visits after the camp ends. To go along with Jackson, Jaylen Hands is the lightning piece of the duo and he is playing at an extremely high level now that he has a chip on his shoulder after being cut from the USA U16 team. After a strong morning session, Hands led his team in scoring in the night session with 14 points on 6-9 shooting. The 6’2” guard from Southern California has a slight build, but with a quick first step he can get in the lane almost any time he wants. Hands displayed a soft touch on his floater and also went 2-3 from three.

Future UVA Backcourt: Kyle Guy & Ty Jerome

2016 UVA commits Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are already getting ready for their next step as basketball players. The two are sharing the same backcourt together at the Top 100 camp while also getting used to the feel of John Paul Jones arena. In a one point loss, both Guy and Jerome scored 13 points. Guy showed some craftiness with the ball in his hands and alluded an air of confidence whenever the ball was in his hands. Jerome only hit two field goals on the day, but both of them were from behind the arc and he also went 7-7 from the foul line. With those two in the fold, Tony Bennett will certainly be keeping the Cavaliers at the top of the ACC in the future.

Biggest Disappointment: EJ Montgomery’s Injury

Before going down late Thursday night with a leg injury, EJ Montgomery, a five-star power forward from the rising sophomore class was having a blast. He was hitting shots from all over the court and doing so with confidence and a smile on his face. The change in body language was great to see after a disappointing stint in Colorado Springs where the 6’8” forward didn’t make it through the first cuts of the U16 camp. During this time, Montgomery was pushed around and did not look like he belonged. Less than a month later, Montgomery was taking it to the older players and was displaying the same skill-set from his freshman year at Montverde. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

NBPA Top 100: Thursday Morning

The 2015 NBPA Top 100 camp kicked off Wednesday afternoon at the University of Virginia and despite an earlier start time on Thursday morning, a variety of players came ready to play. Each morning and evening stanza features a set of five games. Three games in the first time slot and two games in the second one. John Paul Jones arena plays host to four out of these five games while UVA’s auxiliary gym is the place to be for the other.
In the morning session, the viewings began in the auxiliary gym where a handful of talented 2016 and 2017 prospects took the floor.

Quick Hitters:

1) Gary Trent Jr. has been the shooting guard from the class of 2017 that has garnered the most national attention, but DJ Harvey (DeMatha) is right up there with him when it comes to the top shooting guards in the country. Harvey’s shooting stroke is a thing of beauty and he gets exceptional lift on his shots as well. In the morning session, Harvey started from mid-range and hit a tough pull-up and a trio of three’s from the wing and corner. With his shooting performance, Harvey had the standout performance in the auxiliary gym.

2) Last year rising junior point guard Matt Coleman played at the ScoutsFocus camp that was going on across the street at UVA’s old UHall arena during the Top 100 camp. This year the speedster is at the real thing and in the morning he showed off an aggressive mindset that was sometimes missing during the EYBL season. He started the morning off with a pull-up three and then quickly added a running bank shot from the left side of the floor. Coleman used his quickness to attack the pick and roll and found teammates for open baskets. The 757 native had his phone ringing at 12:01am on June 15th, but it’s a former local coach that is showing strong interest. While at VCU, Shaka Smart recruited Coleman, but not that aggressively as he knew Coleman was bound for a big time school. Now that Smart is at Texas he has put the full-court press on Coleman.

3) Thon Maker’s journey is well-documented and the 7’1” forward is now making his third appearance at the Top 100 camp. While Maker has struggled over the past two years he came out aggressive today attacking the basket when he got the ball in his hands while also patrolling the paint on the defensive end. He missed a fair amount of close shots but he drew fouls and got to the line where he was able to convert.

4) Senior big man Barrett Benson received a lot of attention this past winter for his play in the Chicago suburbs and the four-star played a solid game this morning. He hit face-up jump shots and converted in the paint. He didn’t try to force the issue and let the game come to him.

5) 6’8” small forward Brendan Bailey showcased his three point stroke at this camp last year and he did the same thing this morning. While still extremely thin and lanky, Bailey has added some noticeable muscle to his upper body. This time around at the Top 100 camp, Bailey was more aggressive and looked for his outside shot. With a high arcing shot, Bailey is one of the top outside marksmen at the camp.

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Summer Events

Scholarship offers have been going out left and right since the spring evaluation period ended. What players will continue their rise and what players will come out of nowhere during the summer of 2015? There are a few top camps left for the best players in the country to go head to head at in June before turning an eye towards July where college coaches will be allowed on the road for three weeks. Tournaments and dates will be updated as they become available:

·        July 8-12
·        July 15-19
·        July 22-26


June 17 – 20
NBPA Top 100                                              Charlottesville, VA                Under Armour

June 26 – 29
Nike Basketball Academy                              Santa Monica, CA                 Nike

June 27 – July 5
U19 World Championships                             Athens, Greece

June 28 – July 1
Steph Curry 30 Select Camp                          Oakland, CA                        Under Armour

July 8 – July 12 (JULY LIVE SESSION #1):
  • Nike EYBL Finals                                  North Augusta, SC               Nike
  • Elite Youth Invitational                           Augusta, GA                        Nike
  • Adidas Finals (7/8 – 7/11)                         Atlanta, GA                          Adidas
  • UAA All-American Camp (7/7 – 7/10)        Charlotte, NC                       Under Armour
  • Next Level Invitational                           Mequon, WI                          NY2LA
  • Pangos Summer 16 (7/10 – 7/12)              Norwalk, CA                         Fullcourt Press
July 15 – July 19 (JULY LIVE SESSION #2):
  • Nike Global Challenge (7/16-7/19)             Chicago, IL                           Nike
  • UAA Finals (7/15-7/18)                             Suwanee, GA                       Under Armour
  • Adidas All-American (7/15-7/17)                New York, NY                      Adidas
  • NY2LA Summer Jam                             Mequon, WI                          NY2LA
  • Fullcourt Press Cream of the Crop          Garden Grove, CA                 Fullcourt Press
  • Las Vegas Live                                      Las Vegas, NV                     Big Foot 
July 22 – July 26 (JULY LIVE SESSION #3):
  • Adidas 64                                               Las Vegas, NV                      Adidas
  • Las Vegas Classic                                  Las Vegas, NV                      Big Foot  
  • Las Vegas Fab 48                                   Las Vegas, NV                                                   

August 1 – 3
Adidas Nations                                                Garden Grove, CA                 Adidas

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

USA U16: High Scoring Guards Q&A

Gary Trent Jr., 2017, SG, Apple Valley (MN)

by USA basketball
Gary Trent Jr. won a state championship in Minnesota and then went and torched the nets in the Nike EYBL. The talented shooting guard led the league in scoring by averaging 22.1 points per game while hitting almost 40% of his three’s (55-139). He also went a six game stretch where he scored over 20 points in each game including a three game strint where he dropped 109 points. Trent Jr. did not let up in the tryouts and was an easy inclusion on the 12 man roster.

You were a late invite. How do you think your USA sessions have gone so far?

It’s been great. I’ve enjoyed my time out here. Got to see a lot of friends and players and it’s been great competition. I thought I played pretty well. Everybody that got invited can score the basketball so you have to show other areas. I just tried playing hard on defense, making the hustle plays, diving on the floor and things like that.

It’s obvious you can shoot the ball, but it also looks like you enjoy taking advantage of your strength on smaller guards?

I’ve always worked on my game so I can score all three levels. Outside, mid-range, and the post.

You played with Tyus Jones as a freshman. What did he teach you about the game?

Oh, man. Really, just how to play the game of basketball and how to be a great leader. I enjoyed my time with Tyus and I was fortunate that I had the chance to play with him. He just put me in all the right spots, and yeah, it was great playing with him.

What schools have been recruiting you the hardest so far?

The most recent would be Kansas University. Michigan State, Ohio State, and Minnesota have offered. Wisconsin has interest as well and Duke.

Markus Howard, 2017, PG, Findlay Prep (NV)

High scoring point guard Markus Howard had his work cut out for him coming into the USA tryouts with a total of seven point guards competing for a spot on the 12 man team. Howard separated himself early on from the pack and never looked back. He continued his scoring exploits from the EYBL (where he finished third in the league at 20.2 points per game) and mixed in deadly outside shooting with floaters, drives, and solid passes in the half-court set. Howard was also was equally effective on the defensive end providing ¾ court pressure at any chance he got. 
by USA basketball

How does it feel to make it through the first round of cuts?

It was really good, I just had to come in with the mindset to work hard every session and I did that so I’m really happy with how I ended things.

*Note - Howard made the 12 man team

What did you want to show the coaches while in Colorado Springs?

I was just trying to show that I was more than just a scorer. That I can play multiple roles at the point guard position and also I was just trying to prove and show everything in my game.

I saw that you were pressuring the ball as soon as it got thrown in during the scrimmages.

I was trying to set the tone defensively just getting down in my stance and into my man to force turnovers on their part and get easy buckets on the other end. It was really just important to show that I can really play defense.

How was the EYBL experience for you?

I mean, it was just a great experience. The level of competition is top notch. You’re not going to get much better than the EYBL so I think it really helped me develop as a player and helped me get ready for this competition right here.

Once the U16’s are done, what’s your plan for the summer?

Once I’m done with this I’m just going to be working out with my dad. Me and my dad will be working out constantly, just getting my conditioning up and getting a lot of shots up. Just making sure I’m physically and mentally prepared going forward.

You are one of the top shooters here and really excel at the corner 3. What have you done to get your shooting to the level that it’s at?

There is nothing really specific. I just want to get a lot of repetitions in. To become a great shooter you have to shoot a lot. Not necessarily shots you’re comfortable with but shots you’re uncomfortable with as well. So I’m shooting from different positions, coming off screens in different ways, and shooting off the dribble, so I feel you just need to get a lot of repetitions up and it’s more just repeating what you’ve been doing. 

You looked more comfortable than others in some of the guard drills. Do you feel that’s the case?

I most definitely try to work on every aspect of my game scoring wise. I want to be able to score in a variety of ways so I’m always working on my floater in addition to my jump shots from mid-range and out to the three point line.

Miles Simon was working with your group. How was it interacting with him?

It was just awesome learning from the best. I know his background and know that he was a great player. Learning from him was really just a blessing and I really looked forward to working with him.

I know that schools such as ASU, UNLV, and Texas Tech has previously offered. What are some of the latest offers?

Memphis and Indiana.

*Note: Howard subsequently scored a pair of PAC-12 offers from USC and Arizona with more to come. 

USA U16: Low Post Q&A's

Wendell Carter Jr., 2017, Pace Academy (GA), C

With the USA U16 team ready to kick off FIBA America action, big things are expected of center Wendell Carter Jr. who is currently ranked No. 5 in the 2017 class by He is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former five-star big man Diamond Stone who was the top big man on the last USA U16 team as he averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
by USA Basketball

You played in the USA setting last October in the Developmental Camp. Are you more comfortable this time around?

Most of the drills we did the same thing in October so I felt pretty comfortable. I had to get used to the altitude again, but once I got adjusted everything came kind of easy.

Your 12-15 foot jump shot was looking good in drills. Have you been working on that part of your game?

I’ve been working on that a lot. On days I don’t have school I put up about 1,000 shots. All mid-range. I want go get that down pat until I start shooting 3’s. That and my on-ball defense are what I’ve been working on.

What else do you do in your workouts?

On most of my workouts I do a combination of everything and the day before I go out of town I work on one specific thing and go from there.

This was your first year playing in the U17 level in the Nike EYBL. How was the spring session?

Of course, I’m trying to win. The 16’s and 17’s are completely different. Size, strength, shooting, the big men are more skilled. You have to play every game if you expect to win. Even if the competition isn’t as good as me I have to play like I’m playing against an EYBL team. That’s what I always need to keep in mind.

Who do you try to pattern your game after?

Anthony Davis. I love his game. I love how he is always working. Even when you think he’s stopping he’s not stopping. I just like the way he plays the game.

I know it’s early, but what are some of the schools that have shown you a lot of interest?

The latest offers were Kansas, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest. Coaches can’t call me until June 15. So I’m just waiting until then to see who calls and who is recruiting me the hardest. I’m kind of looking at everything right now. I haven’t been on visits so I’m open to everybody right now. Jeff Capel is one of the coaches who is texting my coach a lot telling me how interested Duke is right now.  

*Kentucky offered Carter Jr. on June 2.

Jordan Brown, 2018, Woodcreek (CA), PF

While Wendell Carter Jr., will most likely see a high volume of minutes in the low post, 2018 post Jordan Brown should see plenty of minutes off the bench. Despite his young age, Brown turned a lot of heads with his play down low in addition to his all-around skill level and future potential.

What’s been the biggest difference between the U16 tryouts and Developmental Camp from last October?
 by USA Basketball

Coming back from the fall and having the experience playing against the older competition has really helped me out playing against the 16U team.

How have the USA experiences been for you so far?

It’s kind of new to me. I haven’t really played against the top talent in my class, so jumping right into it and playing against the top people from the class of 2015, was kind of new, but I think I held my own. It was pretty fun though. I think I can step up in a few places. My perimeter defense, better basketball decision making, things like that.

You’ve showcased a variety of skilled moves on the offensive end. What would you say your strengths are right now?

My strengths are my post moves. I think I have good footwork, and I really like to work inside to outside and I can knock down the jump shot and get by people off the dribble.

Who has been the toughest player for you to go against in the tryouts?

It’s all good competition. Maybe Carte’Are Gordon because he is aggressive and physical.

How do you think your freshman season went in high school?

It went pretty good. We went to NorCal and lost to the team that ended up winning the state championship (San Ramon Valley – Division 1). I also got Freshman Player of the Year in California.

What do you want to work on before your sophomore season starts?

I want to expand my range out to the three-point line. Really be able to dribble the ball through people. I also want to work on my explosiveness, I know the people out here are very explosive. I’m always in the gym I’m usually in the gym for two hours. I’m always working on my legs.

With one season down, who are some of the schools that have reached out to you?

I have one offer from UNR (Nevada). Cal is looking at me, Stanford, Pennsylvania, and some others.

Do you want to stay local or would you be willing to travel for school?

All over. East coast, west coast, PAC-12, it doesn’t matter.

Friday, June 5, 2015

USA U16 Scouting Report

The U16 USA team kicks off FIBA America play in Argentina beginning June 10 against Puerto Rico. The 12 man team features some of the top players in the rising sophomore (2018) and junior (2017) classes in high school (5 sophomores & 7 juniors). Since the U16 team was created in 2009, the USA has won their FIBA America games by an average of 43 points a game. 

*Note - All measurements courtesy of USA Basketball

Javonte Smart – PG, Scotlandville Magnet High (LA), 2018

Height: 6’4”        Weight: 174.5    Wing Span: 6’7”

Top Skill: Point Guard size
photo by USA Basketball
  • Averaged 10.5 ppg, 4 rpg, and 3.6 apg in the 17U Nike EYBL as one of the few participants from the freshman class.
  • Won a Louisiana 5A State Championship and averaged 15.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 5.2 apg.
  • Cousin of Keith Smart
  • Very good size for a point guard at 6’4”.
  • Excels at getting to the basket and making plays. Already ahead of the curve on understanding how to utilize the pick and roll. Can make plays for teammates or get to the rim.
  • Good athlete as of right now, but still working on explosiveness. Takes questionable shots at times and isn’t a strong threat from deep just yet.
  • Will see time at point guard and also on the wing for the USA team.
  • One of the most talented players in the freshman class.

Jordan Brown, PF, Woodcreek High (CA), 2018

Height: 6’10”     Weight: 190       Wing Span: 6’11 ½” 

Top Skill: High Ceiling
  • Tall and lean power forward from the Sacramento area.
  • Productive during tryouts, but also looked to have extremely high upside and growth.
  • Just scratching the surface, but on the offensive end Brown can play physical down low despite lanky frame. Can turn and face from 10-15 feet comfortably and also has the ability to attack off of 1-2 dribbles.
  • Solid rebounder in space and passer when double-teamed.
  • Averaged 22.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg and named Freshman of the Year in California.
  • Will need to continue to work on strength, explosiveness, and quick decision making skills.
  • Rare case of a freshman that is still getting used to his body, but is very productive with lots of potential.

Wendell Carter Jr., C, Pace Academy, (GA), 2017

Height: 6’9 ¾”   Weight: 249       Wing Span: 7’3 ¾”

Top Skill: Using his size to score in the post and change shots on defense
  • Imposing big man and will play the majority of minutes for the U16 team at the center position.
  • Recently averaged 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game in the Nike EYBL 17U division.
  • Intimidating presence on both sides of the ball and enjoys dunking and blocking shots with authority.
  • Comfortable utilizing both hands in the post and turning over both shoulders for short hooks and jumpers.
  • Improving mid-range game from 12-15 feet with the ability to hit a rare three. Mentioned that he was taking hundreds of mid-range shots a day to improve this area before extending his range.
  • Still growing into his body and is working on improving his agility.
  • Can struggle catching tough passes from his guards at times, but when he does receive an entry pass he makes quick and decisive moves.
  • Averaged 21.3 ppg and 12.3rpg in Georgia 6A class. 3.8 GPA.

Jarred Vanderbilt, F, The Victory Academy (TX), 2017

Height: 6’8”        Weight: 197.5    Wing Span: 6’11 ½”

Top Skill: Rebounding, Versatility
  • Probable starter at the forward position.
  • Right now he is a skinny version of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
  • Effective using his pogo stick legs on the glass. His second jump on rebounds is quick & explosive
  • Comfortable attacking the basket off the dribble or hitting jump shots in the paint
  • Can guard almost any position. Very active in the passing lanes and is usually good for a few deflections a game along with some blocked shots.
  • Likes to push the ball up the court off of defensive rebounds.
  • Sinewy build. Has put on 13 pounds since his freshman season but has narrow frame
  • Not a good shooter from outside yet which allows defenders to play off him on the wing
  • Averaged 15.1 ppg and 11.5 rpg in the 17U Nike EYBL.

Gary Trent Jr., SG, Apple Valley High (MN), 2017

Height: 6’4 ½”   Weight: 195       Wing Span: 6’9”

Top Skill: Scoring plus Shooting Ability
  • Son of former NBA player Gary Trent and also played high school with Tyus Jones.
  • Probable starting shooting guard despite being a late invite to the USA tryouts.
  • Leading scorer in the 17U Nike EYBL at 22.1 ppg. Also shot 40% on 120 three point attempts.
  • Comfortable launching from the international three point line and one of the top shooters on team.
  • Consistent with his shot, does not force the issue.
  • He can do more than just shoot. Trent Jr. can also put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. At times he can use his broad shoulders and strong physique down low to take advantage of smaller or weaker defenders.
  • Needs to continue to work on his quickness and leaping ability off the dribble. College athletes will recover faster once Trent Jr. puts the ball on the floor and he will need to be able to continue to get to the rim against taller and more athletic players. 
  • Will be one of the leading scorers for the USA team.

Connor Vanover, C, Arkansas Baptist High School (AR), 2018

Height: 7’2”        Weight: 211       Wing Span: 7’3”

Top Skill: Shooting (10 feet to the 3 point line)
  • Tallest player on team, has grown 2 inches in the last year, but very slight of frame.
  • Coordinated for his size and young age, but needs to slowly build up conditioning and strength.
  • Shooting is top skill. Very good at 12-15 foot jump shots which is his preferred shot. Also comfortable popping out to the wings for 3’s which he makes on a regular basis.
  • Struggles to finish in paint at this point, prefers to pick and pop. Can get pushed around on both sides of the ball by shorter, more physical players.
  • Decent shot blocking instincts from weak side.
  • Will provide minutes off the bench. As he adds more strength will continue to become more effective from all parts of the floor.
  • Averaged 14.8 ppg and 9.4 rpg in Arkansas 4A class.
Markus Howard, PG, Findlay Prep (NV), 2017

Height: 5’11”     Weight: 178       Wing Span: 5’11”

Top Skill: Outside shooting, fundamental player
  • Natural point guard, but a consistently productive scorer. Averaged 32 ppg in Arizona as a sophomore and then 22 ppg in the 17U Nike EYBL.
  • Cerebral, hard-working player. Howard can push the pace and make solid decisions as the point, and is fundamentally strong.
  • Top notch shooter. Deadly from the corner three spot and has deep range on the wings as well. Comfortable hitting a 10 foot floater and at times getting to the basket.
  • Finds ways to beat players off the dribble or in pick and roll positions. Avoids getting shot blocked in the lane by taller defenders. 
  • Provides intensity on the defensive end by putting pressure on opposing point guard's as soon as they begin to dribble. 
  • Strong shot at starting for the USA team. If not, he will be one of the first players off the bench for either guard spot and one of the team's leading scorers.
  • Transferring to Findlay Prep in Nevada for junior season.

Kevin Knox II – PF, Tampa Catholic (FL), 2017

Height: 6’8”        Weight: 194       Wing Span: 6’9”

Top Skill: Pick and roll, ability to finish at rim
  • Knox came out of nowhere to make the USA U16 team over more highly touted classmates.
  • Strong motor, always plays at a high level and intensity.
  • Explosive jumper off two feet around the basket.
  • Did most of his damage close to the rim off of pick and roll dives to the basket or creating open targets for his guards upon penetration.
  • Good set of hands that caught anything that came his way and finished with quick and aggressive two-hand dunks or contorted his body in the air to avoid getting his shot blocked by larger opponents.
  • Solid form on his free-throws, ability to face-up in the half-court set.
  • Will provide energy and toughness off the bench for the USA team.
  • Needs to continue to hone offensive skills and ability to pick and pop in addition to rolling hard to the basket. 
  • Averaged 24.4 ppg and 10 rpg at Tampa Catholic (Florida – 4A)

Jalen Hill – PF, Centennial High (CA), 2017

Height: 6’7”        Weight: 209       Wing Span: 6’11 ½” 

Top Skill: Rebounding
  • Kenneth Faried type player comparison
  • High energy, good rebounder, very athletic and bouncy
  • Strong shot blocker on ball and from help side. Good instincts.
  • Still coming into his own. Lots of potential. Will contribute off bench.
  • Needs to continue to hone offensive game and pick and pop ability.

Jaylen Nowell – SG, Garfield High (WA), 2017

Height: 6’3 ½”   Weight: 176       Wing Span: 6’6 ½”
Top Skill: Slasher
  • Recently won a state championship in Washington as a sophomore where he averaged 23.5 points. Same high school as Brandon Roy.
  • Nowell excelled during the tryouts at attacking the basket. He finished around the rim and knew how to draw fouls and avoid getting his shot blocked. Has a quick first step and is equally effective getting to the rim in the half-court and full-court setting.
  • Good mid-range shooter with a one dribble jump shot from the foul line area
  • Subpar three point shooter. Not comfortable behind the arc allowing defenders to play off, but he does not try to do things outside of his skill-set.
  • Always in attack mode. Strong defender that relishes the challenge of guarding the top opposing wing.
  • Doesn’t have great size for a wing at a shade under 6’4”

Tre Jones - PG, Apple Valley High (MN), 2018

Height: 6’1”        Weight: 165.5    Wing Span: 6’2 ½” 

Top Skill: Decision making
  • Younger brother of Tyus Jones.
  • High school teammate of Gary Trent Jr. and averaged 10 ppg and 5 apg on a state championship run.
  • Heady point guard that excels by getting past a defender and into the paint where he can deliver a crisp assist to a fellow big man or convert on a short jump shot or floater.
  • Only has a 6’2” wing span, but plays bigger than he is. Can grab the occasional offensive rebound amongst the taller players and finish under the basket.
  • Provides defensive pressure on the opposing guards. Good foot speed to stay in front of crafty dribblers.
  • Capable outside shooter, although much more comfortable from inside 15 feet.

Robert Woodard II, SG / SF, Columbus High (MS), 2018

Height: 6’5”        Weight: 213.5    Wing Span: 6’11”

Top Skill: Physical Strength
  • Just a freshman, Woodard II is solidly built and already has the physical strength of a senior.
  • Bread and butter was from 10-18 feet off the catch and shoot. Knocked down these shots on a consistent basis.
  • Good rebounder and finisher, enjoyed contact in the paint.
  • Needs to extend range on his shot. When taking three’s, Woodard did not get as much lift and his shot was usually off in all directions.
  • Good athlete and fast going north-south, but struggled to accelerate when pushing the pace on the fast break. Full-court ball-handling and left hand will need to get stronger.