Scouting report – Notes and observations from the Jordan Classic

Here are some quick thoughts on some of the players that stood out to me at the Jordan Classic this year.

Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving, Josh Selby

Kyrie Irving, Duke: What can I say that I haven’t said this year? Jay Williams said Irving was a combination of himself and Chris Duhon and that sounds about right. So creative, so smooth in transition, with a feathery jumper. He completely took over the game and the crowd in the final three minutes, when nobody could stop him going coast to coast. He’s the total package, and when Mike Kryzewski gets him playing that hard man-to-man defense, you’re looking at a future Chris Paul in the making.

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina: As much as I don’t wish to admit it as a Duke graduate, Barnes is going to be a problem right away. He attacks the boards tenaciously (15 rebounds), handles the ball well for 6-foot-8 and has a nice jump shot with three point range – he’ll thrive in UNC’s uptempo system. I can only continue to think that Barnes should have considered playing with elite lead guard Irving, but the way he carries himself projects far more like a UNC player than a Duke player.

Josh Selby, Kansas: Most impressive guard in the Classic to me aside from Irving. Selby’s speed and explosiveness allowed him to get to the line at will. He’s going to Kansas, but as a clear one-and-done talent, I’m actually surprised he didn’t end up at Kentucky – his style and talent resemble John Wall’s far more than…

Knight sitting, Irving playing Brandon Knight, Kentucky: I didn’t hate Knight’s game, but I didn’t love it either. He was clearly an above-average passer and had several moments where he demonstrated abundant speed, but he’s more a pure point guard than an absolute game-changer. He shot 3-for-11 in the game but did have a 6-1 A/TO ratio.

I asked him after the game why he chose Kentucky and got: “Just the chance to get better. It’s a great program, with a great coach.” Does he compare himself to Wall in terms of making a name for himself very quickly? “Not really, everyone has their own path. Not really, I don’t compare myself to him.” Very safe, very steady – it’s obvious he’s going to Kentucky just, well, because it’s the thing to do when you’re ranked the top point guard in your class.

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: I loved his game; he reminded me of Carlos Boozer the way he took up space and had a soft touch around the rim. He hit 9-for-11 from the field and blocked four shots. When he gets some work in on his body, he’s going to be near impossible to handle.

Josh Smith, UCLA: He had a soft touch, but he must lose weight. Most high-level opponents would run him right off the court if he’s playing at 300 pounds, which I suspect he is. If he gets to where he’s playing at 265, maybe even 270, I think he’d be a force like Sean May or Glen Davis.

Terrence Jones, undecided: Kind of like Barnes West. He’s picking between three Pac-10 schools, Oklahoma, Kentucky and now says he’ll visit Kansas. (Are Kansas and Kentucky on everyone’s lists?) He has handle, hits the boards, decent one-on-one game… pretty much the total package, just not quite as good as Barnes.

Leslie on the line Tristan Thompson, Texas: Lots of solid big forwards in this game. Thompson’s a pure 4, but the lefty has some handle, rebounds and finishes well. He was 1-for-6 from the line, but almost nobody hit their free throws, to be fair.

CJ Leslie, Undecided: I think he has a world of athletic talent, plays above the rim and has some polish to his game. I hear he’s sort of eccentric, but I’d imagine there are teams out there that view him as the final piece. If I’m John Calipari, I want him to put me that much closer to being a true contender even with a super-young team. If I’m Sidney Lowe, I want to reclaim him for State because he’d be the best pure player they’d have since Julius Hodge. If I’m Roy Williams, I want to get involved – pronto.

Kendall Marshall/Reggie Bullock, North Carolina: I think I caught these guys on a bad night. Marshall was very ordinary and couldn’t finish on the rare times he got to the rim, but I heard later he had a wisdom tooth issue, so I’ll give him a pass. But I think he has a very tough time with Kyrie Irving a few times a year. I didn’t even know Bullock was there until I looked up at the scoreboard late and he had 11 points. I have no idea when those baskets happened. I just have to assume these guys are better than I saw last night, especially Bullock.

No looking back for Lamb Doron Lamb, Kentucky: I watched him score 49 points in an upset loss to St. Peter’s Prep back in February, all on jump shots. Sort of strange player for Kentucky; his athleticism isn’t off the charts or anything. Mostly he’s just a shooter, though a very good one.

Cory Joseph, Undecided: Solid, tough player – unselfish and good passer, played tenacious defense. I think his gritty style would be a great fit for Villanova and I could see him doing very well there, but lure of family in Connecticut and Findlay Prep teammate Thompson going to Texas may be bigger potential lures.

Perry Jones, Baylor: Relatively ordinary game (8 points, 6 boards) for a decidedly unordinary player. I see him stepping in nicely for Ekpe Udoh well, though he won’t play at that level right away.

Roscoe Smith, UConn: Very quiet game, feeding into what I’ve come to expect from Roscoe. He’s either going to impact the game greatly, or drift a bit. I still would have enjoyed watching him play for Duke, but seeing him on the same court as Barnes makes it stark how there’s simply no comparison between the two players, though Smith would have you believe there is.

Will Barton, Memphis: Pure scorer and a terrific addition for Memphis, who lose Elliot Williams to the NBA Draft. I talked to Barton’s mom outside for a minute, and she was simply ecstatic after he slashed his way to 15 points. He’s part of a top-notch recruiting class, and I see him as a solid scorer in college.

Esoteric

2 Comments

  1. Agree re Irving. A summer in the weight room will add 5-10 lbs, putting him near his ideal playing weight. His D needs to improve, but I am confident it will. One, somewhat serious problem I have noticed, and it was corroborated by tweets from practices throughout the all star circuit, was that he stands arround off the ball. When he has it in his hands, or is actively involved crashing, being an outlet, whatever, he moves and flows. But when he passes to another player on the perimeter, or another player acts as the primary ball handler, Kyrie sort of stands arround and watches. I don't think it is conscious, but next year he will share the ball handling with Nolan, Tyler, and probably Seth. His development off the ball is the only major thing he has to work on, outside conditioning. But the ceiling is very high.

    Re: Barnes. Yikes. What a stud. He doesn't have as much natural, eye dropping athleticism as a lot of elite SFs, but he has a Hansborough like intensity and effort level that might ultimately make up for not being quiiiiiiite as athletic. Barnes's motor isn't as good as Tyler's was, but he has a lot more natural ability. Like how Battier had a good motor, but nowhere near the less talented Laetner's moter, Barnes compare similiarly to Hans. Being that he isn't a white guy likely to stay multiple years, I doubt Roy runs the O through HB like TH, but he will be good. I think he might have considered the benefits of playing with Kyrie at Duke, but, AT THE TIME, he probably made the best decision for himself. Kyrie was considered anywhere from the 3rd to 5th best PG heading into the Season back in October, behind at least Knight and Selby, and maybe a few others. We now know better, but then? Also, Kyle Singler was sort of stinking up the court, relative to expectations, back then. Also, both Plums were getting huge minutes.

    Harrison looked at Duke and saw a team with a good to great PG recruit, and the high probability of a beloved Sr in Singler at his position when he arrived. At UNC, the expectation by everyone, including me, was that Davis would be gone, and John Henson would be one and done, leaving a front court of the Wears (oh no, not the WEARS said Briar Rabbit) and Zeller, plus a collection of EH in the backcourt. Even now, Barnes probably made the best decision for Barnes. Barnes will be THE guy at UNC next year, or at least the CO-guy with Henson, who I still expect big things from. A front court of Barnes, Henson, and Zeller aint too Shabby, and Drew came on in the NIT.

    At Duke, even without Singler, Barnes is no better than the No. 2 guy, and probably worse than that. If Singler comes back, Barnes doesn't even start next year, cause K won't scroo Kyle by either sitting him or moving him back to the PF.

    But I will say that UNC's class is begining to look like Duke's 2005 DISASTER (I believe this about last year's UNC class as well). It features a guy at the top (Barnes v. McBob) and a PG who looks likely to become an albatross arround the neck of the program (Marshall v Paulus) along with Bullock, who doesn't really compare but won't be great, at least for a while. Although, I think Bullock will show better in a structured O with Bigs who can, and will, kick out to him. He was compared to a taller Ellington, and I think that may eventually prove dead on.

    Good write up. Kyrie and his dad continue to say 2 years, and the lockout may enforce that plan. But he looks more and more like a 1 and done. He projects as a more durable Chris Paul. Given the premium placed on elite, TRUE pg play, his value will be off the chart.

  2. Agree re Irving. A summer in the weight room will add 5-10 lbs, putting him near his ideal playing weight. His D needs to improve, but I am confident it will. One, somewhat serious problem I have noticed, and it was corroborated by tweets from practices throughout the all star circuit, was that he stands arround off the ball. When he has it in his hands, or is actively involved crashing, being an outlet, whatever, he moves and flows. But when he passes to another player on the perimeter, or another player acts as the primary ball handler, Kyrie sort of stands arround and watches. I don't think it is conscious, but next year he will share the ball handling with Nolan, Tyler, and probably Seth. His development off the ball is the only major thing he has to work on, outside conditioning. But the ceiling is very high.

    Re: Barnes. Yikes. What a stud. He doesn't have as much natural, eye dropping athleticism as a lot of elite SFs, but he has a Hansborough like intensity and effort level that might ultimately make up for not being quiiiiiiite as athletic. Barnes's motor isn't as good as Tyler's was, but he has a lot more natural ability. Like how Battier had a good motor, but nowhere near the less talented Laetner's moter, Barnes compare similiarly to Hans. Being that he isn't a white guy likely to stay multiple years, I doubt Roy runs the O through HB like TH, but he will be good. I think he might have considered the benefits of playing with Kyrie at Duke, but, AT THE TIME, he probably made the best decision for himself. Kyrie was considered anywhere from the 3rd to 5th best PG heading into the Season back in October, behind at least Knight and Selby, and maybe a few others. We now know better, but then? Also, Kyle Singler was sort of stinking up the court, relative to expectations, back then. Also, both Plums were getting huge minutes.

    Harrison looked at Duke and saw a team with a good to great PG recruit, and the high probability of a beloved Sr in Singler at his position when he arrived. At UNC, the expectation by everyone, including me, was that Davis would be gone, and John Henson would be one and done, leaving a front court of the Wears (oh no, not the WEARS said Briar Rabbit) and Zeller, plus a collection of EH in the backcourt. Even now, Barnes probably made the best decision for Barnes. Barnes will be THE guy at UNC next year, or at least the CO-guy with Henson, who I still expect big things from. A front court of Barnes, Henson, and Zeller aint too Shabby, and Drew came on in the NIT.

    At Duke, even without Singler, Barnes is no better than the No. 2 guy, and probably worse than that. If Singler comes back, Barnes doesn't even start next year, cause K won't scroo Kyle by either sitting him or moving him back to the PF.

    But I will say that UNC's class is begining to look like Duke's 2005 DISASTER (I believe this about last year's UNC class as well). It features a guy at the top (Barnes v. McBob) and a PG who looks likely to become an albatross arround the neck of the program (Marshall v Paulus) along with Bullock, who doesn't really compare but won't be great, at least for a while. Although, I think Bullock will show better in a structured O with Bigs who can, and will, kick out to him. He was compared to a taller Ellington, and I think that may eventually prove dead on.

    Good write up. Kyrie and his dad continue to say 2 years, and the lockout may enforce that plan. But he looks more and more like a 1 and done. He projects as a more durable Chris Paul. Given the premium placed on elite, TRUE pg play, his value will be off the chart.

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