Wow. December sure was a busy month. The HoopSeen team was all across the nation scouring the hardwood for some of the top talent and a few others that may have escaped the naked eye in previous viewings. My travels took me to the states of Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania which leads me to a few things that I learned along the way.
MARKELLE FULTZ’S STORY CONTINUES TO GET BETTER AND BETTER
If you follow the high school basketball scene, I am sure that you have already heard about the story of Markelle Fultz. The DeMatha Catholic product was on the jayvee squad just two years ago during his sophomore campaign and now is within most top-10 rankings nationally. In getting a look at the future Washington Huskie over the past few weeks, it should be stated that the senior guard is nowhere close to hitting his ceiling.
I have always appreciated Fultz but have been a bit less optimistic with him compared to other analysts. I questioned his long term spot on the floor and his motor, the latter more so. The 6-foot-4 playmaker has sometimes relied on his shot making abilities in contributing and could go silent for prolonged periods. Sure, that is okay for most in high school basketball but when it comes to the elite of the elite, they can have none of this. It seems Fultz has become accustomed to the spotlight and developed his ball skills further. Outside of his elite mid-range game, the DeMatha star can create for others on the drive to the basket and the body control on the drive and off his feet is unbelievably good, something we only see from those within the NBA realm. Thus, count me in on the Fultz’s bandwagon, a section that gets more and more crowded by the day where it seems that his stay in Seattle will be very short before he takes his talents to the league come the summer of 2017.
SHOT MAKERS ARE A PREMIUM
Now knee deep in the college basketball season, it becomes more and more evident just how crucial it is to have shot makers on the floor. Heck, as I write this on the morning following the spectacle that was the Oklahoma-Kansas, three-overtime contest, it brings me back to the fact that if you don’t have guys that can make shots, in no way can you succeed as a team, regardless of how good your defense is.
Steph Curry took the professional ranks by storm these past few years and it’s not because of his Herculean-like body that LeBron James exhibits, or the unbelievable athleticism that Russell Westbrook sports. It is the uncanny abilities to put the ball through the basket and it is that same thing that has made Buddy Hield a demon of a guard to contain from off the perimeter. Furthermore, Virginia Tech knocked off Virginia last night because it made over 50-percent of its long distance attempts, a deficiency in past games for the Hokies.
In the 2015 class, high level shooters were coveted early and many committed before even reaching their senior summer. The same could be said with this current senior crop and now with more and more programs looking to get ahead within the 2017 class, we peek ahead and try to pick out some of the guys that could become prioritized recruits. Who could these prospects be? Michael Hueitt lit up the nets at the High School OT event in Carolina, Brandon Randolph is due to explode as a national recruit because of his size and shot making prowess out of the Westtown School, and Canadian import and Vermont Academy star Christian David has the smooth jumper and ideal body type that could turn his limited high-level offers into a highly monitored and needed wing this summer.
With this being all said, if your team isn’t able to find the goal as often as it might like, hopefully your program is chasing after capable and efficient shot makers of the basketball in the coming years or it might be left in the dust.
CANADIAN INFLUX CONTINUES
It was mind-numbing a bit whenever the USA Basketball squad failed to secure the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. That right there was the time that many realized that the rest of the world had caught up with the United States on the basketball hardwood. While things are now back on solid ground as the country has secured win after win within international play, the development of skills and talent from across the globe continues to occur. This couldn’t be more accurate in speaking on the Canadian basketball program. Guys like Nik Stauskas, Anthony Bennett, Cory Joseph, and Andrew Wiggins have made giant strides in past years on the college side of things before heading to the professional realm. With no end in sight, it seems that the influx of talent from north of the border has never been as strong.
Within the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to catch sight of the some of the best prospects throughout at the nation. What is more intriguing is that you begin to realize the amount of foreign born prospects that are making a name for themselves on the amateur circuit, more importantly, those from Canada. It was RJ Barrett, a freshman wing from Montverde, which took the City of Palms Classic by storm with his monstrous 31 point output against Chino Hills. Playing alongside him at the Florida powerhouse is Simi Shittu, a 6-foot-8 lethal athlete with giant upside. Up north, it is Christian David making major headways at Vermont Academy with his outside shooting and excellent feel for the game. Lindell Wigginton is a menace of a combo guard suiting up for the mighty Oak Hill bunch and is a guy that continually leads the team in scoring against the best of competition. Suiting up for another powerhouse prep program is Jon Kabongo, a 6-foot-2 lead guard with great passing skills who is the younger brother of former Texas star Myck Kabongo. Out west, Oshae Brissett is a highly coveted face-up 4-man out of the Findlay Prep program. Alongside Josh Jackson at Prolific Prep is Abu Kigab, a tough playmaker who does everything that you could ever want.
What do all of these highly coveted prospects have in common? Just like Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dillon Brooks, and Jamal Murray, they each call the country of Canada home. While it will be difficult to ever surpass or come close the amount of talent that the United States boasts, Canada definitely has its development system in place in producing future star after future at the highest level of play within the college realm.