Wednesday, May 8, 2013
10 things learned from Spiece Run-N-Slam
By Dave Telep
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Many times at weekend travel team events, people approach me and offer their own insight into my job. Look, it’s a good gig -- don’t get me wrong. But scouts don’t look at it through the lens of one big basketball fiesta. This is work, really.
A weekend event is no different than attending a college lecture. You take tons of notes, pay attention to as much as you can and then try to make sense of what you learned so you can score well on the test.
Last weekend, my travels took me to Indiana for the Spiece Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam. Spiece is a long-running event originally started by the late Bill Hensley, whose son, Todd, has kept the event going in his father’s honor. We’re all grateful he did – it’s a fantastic event with fantastic talent.
Here were the top 10 things I learned from this year’s Spiece Run-N-Slam.
2015 point guard Glynn Watson should see his recruitment rise after a strong showing at Spiece.
1. Bet on the late bloomer Before last weekend, 2015 point guard Glynn Watson (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph’s) wasn’t in our database. Now he’s firmly on our radar. He’s on an Illinois Wolves AAU team that is very talented. In fact, there are a number of prospects on the squad who did winter tours of schools and collected early scholarship offers. Watson, meanwhile, doesn’t have any offers but could be the best guard on the team. Watch how this plays out. Recruiting and improvement are individual components of the game. Players get better and improve at their own rates, and that’s why if I were a college coach, waiting to accept those offers would be my style. Watson is going to be recruited hard. His time is coming.
2. Liking Looney a lot isn’t crazy Top-10 2014 power forward Kevon Looney (Milwaukee/Hamilton) is an uncommon young man. He’s mature, a strong student, and a player of character and conviction. Looney is coveted by colleges because of his game, his frame and his ticker. He’s finally 6-foot-8, but with his length he plays much bigger.
3. Roles can change Junior shooting guard/small forward Justin Bibbs (Dayton, Ohio/Montverde Academy) was a role player for the National High School Invitational champion and No. 1-ranked Montverde this past season. Now he’s stepping out with the Ohio Basketball Club and it looks like he’s enjoying the extra shots. Bibbs was on fire last weekend. Mix in his college-ready body with a suddenly consistent jump shot and the big dogs are going to have to look his way. When he returns to Montverde, don’t worry: Coach Kevin Boyle will be there at the airport waiting to harp on him about his defense.
4. Not Bragg-ing, he’s pretty good Sophomore power forward Carlton Bragg (Cleveland/Villa Angela-St. Joseph) has a whole lot of talent in his game, and you get the feeling he’s merely scratching the surface. From his length and shot-blocking ability to his overall upside on offense, don’t be surprised to hear a great deal from Bragg in the future.
5. What a difference a year makes Sitting a row behind 2014 small forward Riley Norris (Albertville, Ala./Albertville), was sitting on the tarmac in Fort Wayne, Ind., last weekend when Kevin Stallings and Vanderbilt ) on the airplane out of Fort Wayne, it was evident that Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings had been paying attention to Twitter over the weekend. With every made 3-pointer from Norris, Stallings drew closer to offering a scholarship. By 5 p.m. Sunday night, he’d likely heard enough and called Norris before we took off to offer a scholarship. Here’s the deal. Last year, Norris was a standstill shooter. This season, he’s much more well-rounded, especially on the boards, and it’s broadened his appeal.
6. Swanigan’s rise blindsided me Freshman center Caleb Swanigan (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) is a big boy on a talent-laden team. Picture Michael Oher on the basketball court and you’re in the ballpark. Soft, huge hands and good touch will make him a commodity in a few years. He should be looking for a college coach with a history of making big men better.
2014 SF prospect Trevon Bluiett is a deadly shooter and an intense competitor.
7. Shooting is a premium skill, but there’s more I’ve seen 2014 small forward Trevon Bluiett (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) twice this spring, and what stands out the most is his overall game. Instead of settling for jumpers, he’s gone out of his way to show his ability as a passer and hasn’t shied away from getting dirty in the lane. It’s been a good look. By the way, he’s also a heckuva shooter. With the way the college game is set up, Bluiett is a premium player because of his shooting skill, but he’ll get on the floor faster because of his overall game.
8. Breakdown players look great in this setting Truth? I watched 2015 shooting guard K.J. Walton (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) all weekend incorrectly thinking he was a 2014 recruit. This happens on occasion, and it feels good to admit a dumb error. Regardless of what class he’s in, Walton does one thing exceptionally well: get to the rim. If he cleans up his body language, he could find himself playing high-major basketball. In an open-floor game -- which is what we saw all weekend at Spiece -- Walton’s specific skill set stands out even more. When you’re elite at getting to the rim, it’s going to be more pronounced in a setting like this because of the matador defense.
9. Be open to surprises If you aren’t learning something new from these weekend forays into the world of travel basketball, then you’re wasting your time. I learned this past weekend that 2014 small forward Malek Harris (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) can handle the rock. He’s a legitimate small forward with a dose of athleticism, and there’s a hint of Dorian Finney-Smith in his game. If you aren’t sure who that is, don’t worry -- you’ll be in tune with the Virginia Tech transfer next fall when he’s playing for the Florida Gators.
10. Quick views require more homework Admittedly, I only saw 2015 forward Cody Schwartz (De Pere, Wis./West) for a half, but the consensus was that he had a good weekend. He’s a big man with a brain, a feel for the game and a good shooting touch. He makes the Wisconsin Blizzard worth a look going forward. As is often the case in weekend basketball settings, you never see the player enough. Here’s where the research comes into play. Typically, around midweek following an AAU event, you begin breaking down what you learned. In this case, a call will go out to the AAU coach and maybe the high school coach to build the background on Schwartz. The first impression was great; now it requires follow-up.