Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Ellenson File

Name: Henry Ellenson
Measurables: 6’10”, 228 pounds, 7’1.5” wingspan
Ranking: #6 – Scout, #4 – ESPN, #17 – Rivals
High School: Rice Lake, WI
College: Marquette (Committed 10/9/14)

Henry Ellenson’s body went through a massive transformation throughout his junior year that turned the Wisconsin native into a five-star prospect. One year ago, Ellenson wrapped up a rather uninspiring weekend in Colorado Springs at the USA Developmental Camp. His three point shot fell short and he lacked the quickness to get by his defender off the dribble. Last weekend, Ellenson put together a dominant performance in the same gym complete with deep three’s, step back jumpers, and drives off the dribble. 

What Changed?

In the spring Ellenson made a conscious effort to get in the weight room while working on his speed and agility. As a result, Ellenson slimmed up and lost 15 pounds giving him the extra burst he previously lacked. Throughout AAU play on the Nike EYBL circuit Ellenson’s versatility caught defenders by surprise. Here was a 6’10” big man that was bringing the ball up the court, going through his legs, and taking defenders off the dribble. While preferring to play on the perimeter on the offensive end, Ellenson had no trouble going up against fellow post players using his strong upper body and long reach to keep them at bay. After going into the spring as a Top 60 player, Ellenson soon became a Top 10 player in the class of 2014. He had Hall of Fame coaches watching his every move in July, but in the end it was a coach without a win to his name who won him over.
With his rise up the rankings, Ellenson was offered scholarships by schools such as Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA; however Marquette took precedence over the aforementioned schools. In April, when Steve Wojcieschowski took the job in Milwaukee he made Ellenson his top priority. After watching him in Sacramento, Wojo got Henry’s older brother Wally to transfer to Marquette after two uninspiring seasons at Minnesota. Wojo then wrapped up the summer by watching Henry’s every move in Vegas, Augusta, and Colorado Springs. On October 9, 2014, Marquette landed their biggest commitment since Doc Rivers in the 1980’s. 

The Henry Ellenson Book:

Ellenson’s versatility sets him apart from other players his size. He handles the ball like a point guard and can shoot it with range (despite what his percentages may say right now). He is a match-up problem on the wing with the ability to drive by less mobile defenders and finish at the rim with either hand. Ellenson is also comfortable taking a dribble or two towards the basket and creating space with a one dribble jump shot that he can hit out to the three point line. While he prefers to play on the wing, he can also bang down low when he needs and has a short right hook in his arsenal. As noted above, even with the weight loss Ellenson still possesses great upper body strength and a solid 7’2” reach which allows him to corral rebounds in the paint and hold his own on the defensive end.

After getting cut from the 16U USA team, Ellenson earned himself a spot on the 17U team this past summer and averaged 8.7 points in just 12 minutes giving him a ridiculous 36.4 PER according to DraftXpress.

Despite the weight loss, Ellenson still struggles with his vertical jump. A slow first jump and lack of air can often result in a blocked shot under the basket for Ellenson. He has improved over the past year, but still needs to work on his explosiveness. Also, he definitely has the tendency to fall in love with his perimeter game too much and can float outside of the arc when he could be posting up or battling down low (which he is capable of doing). During AAU play he often went long stretches without touching the paint on the offensive end. How will Wojo work the forwards unique skills into his offense? Ellenson has also shown his ability to shoot the ball in countless practices, scrimmages, and games however right now his percentages don’t match up with his ability. In the EYBL he only hit three’s at a 28.5% clip and he also went 0-6 in Dubai.

Looking Ahead:
Getting a commitment from Henry Ellenson was HUGE for Wojo. Within six months on the job, Marquette now has a Top five recruiting class with three players from the state of Wisconsin in Ellenson, his AAU point guard Nick Noskowiak and 6’10” Matt Heldt. He also has a talented shooting guard from Florida in Haanif Cheatham. Ellenson will start immediately for Marquette during the 2015-16 season and he has a strong possibility of being a one and done player. While the results on the floor remain to be seen things are trending in the right direction for Wojo and Marquette.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

USA Basketball Camp: Day 1

Day 1 is in the books from the USA camp with one more to go on Sunday. 48 players took place in the two day USA Developmental Camp with 11 players from the class of 2015 mixed in with 37 freshmen and sophomores making their first appearance in a USA type setting.

Grown Man Strength:
Given the age gap between the seniors and younger kids it’s no surprise that the older guys dominated physically. Last year at this time, Rashad Vaughn (UNLV) and senior Eric Davis went up for a contested lay-up. The older Vaughn finished through contact and the younger Davis ended up on the floor saying “that’s some grown man strength right there.” This year it started out in a few simple half court 2 on 2 and 1 on 1 drills. Small forward Jaylen Brown and’s No. 1 player man handled a few of the younger wings as he bulldozed his way to the rim. 7’0” center Stephen Zimmerman took advantage of the much younger EJ Montgomery for easy finishes in the post.

2015 Standouts:

Stephen Zimmerman, C, 7’0”, Bishop Gorman (NV)
In June of 2013, Zimmerman was the top ranked prospect in his class. After a subpar spring and summer on the AAU circuit he now sits at No. 14. That being said, Zimmerman is a completely different player than he was during his AAU days. It started with a MVP performance at the Nike Global Challenge in August and continued in both sessions at the USA camp. Looking looser on the court, Zimmerman got up and down with ease, made some viscous dunks and was comfortable hitting shots from all parts of the court. 

Zimmerman is set to kick off his official visits with a trip to Kansas next week. After visiting Lawerence he will be at Kentucky, UCLA, and Arizona. There is also a strong possibility of an unofficial visit to Notre Dame.

Henry Ellenson, F, 6’10, Rice Lake (WI)
It didn’t take long for Ellenson to get going. As soon as full-court drills began Ellenson became a primary ball handler for his team and scored three consecutive baskets on a tough drive and finish in the lane, a deep step back jump shot, and a fast break and one lay-up. Ellenson’s game usually got started from the perimeter where he has range to hit the three point shot, but given his ball-handling skills he was also mixing in step back jump shots with drives to the front of the rim. On the defensive side he mixed it up down low and used his lengthy wing span to contest shots in the paint. 

Ellenson has three schools left on his list: Marquette, Michigan State, and Kentucky. He’s taken officials to both Marquette and Michigan State and will be in Lexington, KY for their Big Blue Madness.

Caleb Swanigan, PF, 6’8”, Homestead (IN)
The best way to describe Swanigan is that of a junkyard dog. While usually a bit shorter than his opponents, Swanigan usually bullies them around down low for lay-ups. He made his mark this way at the 17U USA tryouts in July and continued to do so during Day 1 of the camp. He plays with a hard motor, has a strong upper body, and possesses nimble feet in the post. It didn’t matter if you were a young guy or a senior, Swanigan was looking to punish his defender with simple, but effective post moves. 

Luke Kennard, SG, 6’5”, Franklin (OH), Duke
The future Duke Blue Devil looked calm and under control throughout Day 1. He also caught fire from behind the arc in the evening and hit four three’s in one scrimmage. Kennard handled the ball and was also extremely aggressive on the boards. Throughout the drills and scrimmages Kennard played with a veteran’s poise and was one of the clear leaders of camp.

2017 / 2018 Standouts:

Michael Porter Jr. G/F, 6’7”, Father Tolton Catholic (MO), 2017
In the first day it might have been Porter that generated the most buzz amongst the younger kids. Standing 6’7”, Porter possesses a beautiful jump shot and he also has some sneaky athleticism. It was evident in the drills that Porter had a nice stroke. He got good elevation on his mid-range shots and knocked down shot after shot with an effortless stroke. While he isn’t going to blow by anyone from the perimeter just yet, he was getting the hoop during the 4 on 4 and 5 on 5 scrimmages. With long arms and a solid bounce, Porter Jr. put on a dunk show before the second stanza that was highly impressive. He is still coming into his lanky frame, but the talent is undeniable in the youngster from Missouri.

Jalek Felton, G, 6’4”, Mullins (SC), 2017
When you talk about elite athletes, Jalek’s name will always appear over the next few years. He’s known as a shooting guard but he displayed the best vision in camp threading several through the needle type passes in both sessions. As Raymond Felton’s nephew, Jalek has strong ball handling skills and blow by speed that can get him to the rim where he can easily finish. Felton also has range on his outside shot, but right now he is a fairly streaky shooter. He has the ability to knock down several in a row, but can also miss-fire badly on the next few. In his first USA camp experience, Felton shined brightly on Day 1.

Jarred Vanderbilt, SF, 6’7”, Victory Prep (TX), 2017
A Texas lefty, Vanderbilt made a strong impression on all observers early on. With sinewy strength, Vanderbilt was often slashing to the basket and finishing with dunks at the basket or soft shots over the defender’s outstretched hand. He has good quickness and awareness which allows him to get to the basket and he has the athletic ability to finish. 

Ira Lee, 6’8”, PF, Sierra Canyon (CA), 2017
Before the second session some of the players were joking around with Lee about his lack of “bounce.” While players such as Porter Jr. and Felton were throwing down crazy dunks, Lee was struggling to convert his. All the joking around stopped as play began as Lee went harder than every other player on the court. If there was a loose ball, Ira was grabbing it. He attacked both the offensive and defensive boards with an un-matched intensity and also scored a plethora of baskets inside the paint and on short face-up jump shots. He might not be the most athletic specimen at camp, but Lee certainly didn’t let anyone out play him.

EJ Montgomery Jr., F, 6’9”, Montverde Academy (FL), 2018
Billed as one of the top incoming freshman in the country, EJ Montgomery didn’t back down against his older competition. He gave up height and strength in the early going to Stephen Zimmerman, but Montgomery also had the chance to show some of his own skills off. Montgomery is currently a power forward, but he has some perimeter skills in a look-alike Tayshaun Prince body. He scored on several follow-up dunks throughout the scrimmages and also got his lefty jump shot going in the early morning hitting a deep jump shot from the wing followed by an in rhythm three. In high school, Montgomery will go up against some of the top competition in the country including daily match-ups with Ben Simmons which will only increase the skills he already possesses. 

The AAU Duo:
6’10” Wendell Carter Jr. and 6’10” Austin Wiley played on the same Southeast Elite 16U AAU squad this past year and both players and friends are taking part in the USA camp. While they are both starting their sophomore seasons schools from the Southeast have started to take notice. 

Carter hails from Georgia and noted that Georgia Tech came to his school last week and that Texas A&M and Mississippi State had also shown interest. His high school coach also told him that Duke was supposed to stop by next week.

Wiley is from Alabama and is just two hours from Auburn, the school both of his parents attended. He is currently receiving interest from Auburn, Memphis, Clemson, and North Carolina.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oklahoma State Lands Point Guard Jawun Evans

Name: Jawun Evans
School: Oklahoma State
Location: Dallas, TX via Greenville, SC
Height: 6’0”
Position: Point Guard
Rank: #24 - Scout, #26 – Rivals, #36 - ESPN

Five-star point guard Jawun Evans committed to Oklahoma State over Illinois and USC just days after taking an official visit to the OSU campus. The 6’0” Evans is one of the top point guards in the country, and arguably the quickest from end to end. 

Going back to the summer before Evans’ junior year he was locally recruited by schools in his home state including South Carolina, Clemson, and College of Charleston. As a fringe Top 50 player, Brad Brownell and his Clemson staff followed Evans around for most of the summer bringing three coaches too many of his games. After a strong summer on the AAU circuit for the 17U SC Raptors Elite team, Evans moved to Texas and played his junior year in Dallas, TX. With the move, Evans began to attract new suitors and soon sky rocketed up the rankings with his play.

This past summer Evans played on the Nike AAU circuit with Team Texas Elite and also sporadically with his former SC Raptors AAU squad on the Under Armour circuit. During his first year in the EYBL, Evans averaged 14.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game while playing with sharp shooters Matt McQuaid (Michigan State) and Austin Grandstaff (Ohio State) in addition to big man Elijah Thomas.

After taking an official visit to Stillwater this past weekend, Evans finalized his decision to play for Travis Ford in the 2015-16 season. The commitment gives the Cowboys their first pick-up from the 2015 high school class as they previously received a pledge from Igor Ibaka, a junior college power forward from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. While the Evans’ commitment is huge for Travis Ford in terms of getting a talented playmaker, it could also wind up being huge in another one of the Cowboys top targets. As mentioned above, Evans played on the same AAU team as 6’9” Elijah Thomas, who is currently ranked No. 30 in the country. Both Evans and Thomas have talked about teaming up in the future and Oklahoma State is one of the primary schools in contention for Thomas.

When Evans arrives at Oklahoma State he should start immediately. He already possesses college level speed and quickness which allows him to penetrate almost at will on offense. He can single handedly break the press and always has his head up looking for teammates. Evans is athletic enough to finish at the rim, but can also stop and pop for a 15 foot pull-up or a floater in the paint. On the defensive side, Evans uses his quick feet to harass opposing point guards away from the basket and is strong enough in the upper body so that guards cannot easily post him up. Going forward Evans will need to continue to work on his three point shot so that slower defenders are not able to sag off of him in half-court and pick and roll situations. He shot just 8-24 from the three point line in AAU play, but given his propensity to hit jumpers inside the paint this should be an area he can easily improve.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

USA U16 Invites

NamePosHgtWgtBirthdayClassHigh SchoolHometown
Connor VanoverC6'1"1806/23/19992018Arkansas Baptist H.S.Little Rock, AR
Marvin BagleyF6'10"2103/14/19992018Corona del SolTempe, AZ
Jordan BrownF6'8"17512/4/19992018Wood Creek Roseville, CA
Harrison ButlerG6'5"1862/9/19992018Mater Dei Catholic H.S.Huntington Beach, CA
Cassius StanleyG6'6"1758/18/19992018Sierra Canyon H.S.Encino, CA
EJ Montgomery Jr.F6'9"2009/12/19992018Montverde AcademyPort Saint Lucie, FL
Reginald PerryF6'8"2003/21/20002018Maclay SchoolTallahassee, FL
James LewisG6'2"1859/8/19992018Flat Rock H.S.Atlanta, GA
Chase AdamsG5'4"11011/8/19992018Marian CatholicPark Forest, IL
Marquis BrownG6'2"16512/27/19992018SimeonChicago, IL
Joshua LeBlancF6'5"17811/12/19992018Madison Preparatory AcademyBaton Rouge, LA
Javonte SmartG6'3"1686/3/19992018Scottlandville H.S.Baton Rouge, LA
Brandon JohnsF6'7"18012/14/19992018East Lansing H.S.Lansing, MI
Carte'Are GordonF6'8"2303/28/20002018St. John Vianney H.S.St. Louis, MO
Michael BarberF6'6"1906/14/19992018The Veritas SchoolJackson, MS
Robert WoodardG6'5"2059/22/19992018Columbus H.S.Columbus, MS
Nazreon ReidC6'8"2158/26/19992018Roselle Catholic H.S.Asbury Park, NJ
Cameron ReddishG6'5"1709/1/19992018The Haverford SchoolNorristown, PA
Darius GarlandG6'10"1301/26/20002018Brentwood AcademyNashville, TN
DeShang Williams-WeaverF6'7"1808/3/19992018Cy Falls H.S.Houston, TX
Austin WileyF6'10"2351/8/19992017Spain Park H.S.Hoover, AL
Markus HowardG6'10"1553/3/19992017Perry H.S./Chandler, AZ
Jaylen HandsG6'0"1502/12/19992017Mater Dei Catholic H.S.Chula Vista, CA
Ira LeeF6'8"2103/19/19982017Sierra Canyon School/San Pedro, CA
Trevon DuvalG6'3"1808/3/19982017St. Benedicts H.S.New Castle, DE
Wendell Carter Jr.F6'10"2304/16/19992017Pace Academy/Fairburn, GA
Nojel EasternG6'3"1805/26/19992017Evanston Township H.S.Evanston, IL
David SloanG6'6"1505/26/19992017Taylor County H.S.Campbellsville, KY
D.J. HarveyF6'6"2076/13/19982017DeMatha Catholic H.S.Bowie, MD
Brian BowenF6'7"18010/2/19982017Arthur Hill Saginaw, MI
Michael Porter Jr.G6'4"1856/29/19982017Father Tolton Catholic H.S.Columbia, MO
Troy Brown Jr. G6'5"1907/28/19992017Centennial H.S.Las Vegas, NV
Jalek FeltonG6'3"1705/1/19982017Mullins H.S.Mullins, SC
Chris GilesG6'3"1751/4/19992017Plano West Senior H.S.Plano, TX
Jarred VanderbiltF6'7"2004/3/19992017Victory PrepHouston, TX
Paul WashingtonF6'8"2158/23/19982017Lone Star H.S.Frisco, TX
Matthew ColemanG6'2"1701/22/19982017Maury H.S.Norfolk, VA

·         17 players from the class of 2017 and 20 players from the class of 2018.

·         California leads the way with 5 players from the state: Jaylen Hands (2017) and Harrison Butler (2018) from Mater Dei, Ira Lee (2017)and Cassius Stanley (2018) from Sierra Canyon and Jordan Brown (2018) from Wood Creek.

·         The state of Texas has four players in Chris Giles (2017), Jarred Vanderbilt (2017), Paul Washington (2017), and DeShang Williams-Weaver (2018) while Illinois has three in Nojel Eastern (2017), Chase Adams (2018), and Marquis Brown (2018).

·         Most geographic areas are well represented: The West Coast (CA, AZ, NV) has 8 players, the Southeast (GA, FL, AL, AR, LA, MS, SC) has 10, while the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast has 5 players total.

·         5 players in the 2017 and 2018 class are a year older than their grade compared to 5 out of 16 in the 2015 class.

·         Two of the top point guards in the 2017 class are Troy Brown (#2 overall) and Matt Coleman (Boo Williams). Despite the same grade, Coleman is 552 days older than Brown who is the youngest player