Thursday, May 16, 2013
10 things learned from Dallas EYBL
By Dave Telep
DALLAS -- Big D played host to the third Nike EYBL session of the spring, and the nation’s top talent was on full display, highlighted by the mega-point guard showdown between Tyus Jones and Joel Berry. Also making waves were ESPN 60 wings Justin Jackson and Daniel Hamilton, who committed late Saturday night.
Here were 10 things I learned from the Dallas EYBL.
Justin Jackson's high IQ and scoring arsenal make him a go-to guy.
1. Justin Jackson has won me over Obviously, I knew how good Justin Jackson was going into the EYBL season. However, my appreciation for his game has been enhanced after the past two sessions. Most kids with his frame and lack of weight are not as aggressive as he is and certainly lack the intestinal fortitude he plays with. The kid’s body is caught in between the high school stage of Kevin Durant and Tayshaun Prince. At first glance, he can appear awkward until you begin to realize how hard and skilled he plays the game. No joke, this guy might have the most accurate floater of any kid I’ve seen taller than 6-feet. He is exceptionally smooth and, though not vocal or demonstrative, he’s good enough to be a go-to guy offensively. What’s not chatted about enough is his overall basketball IQ. This kid, playing on a team with an abundance of wing talent, looks like a Top-10 prospect to me.
2. Never leave the gym early You can ask around. There’s a pride in my game, which is kind of obsessive compulsive. Frankly, I don’t care if it’s healthy or not but I get to the gym early and like to be first. If you’re going to use a place as your office for a day, it’s best to set up shot. For me, that almost always means I’m the last to leave. Some of the guys on the circuit make fun of me, but that’s cool. Here’s my point. Last Friday I watched my three games and saw the ICP game was still going on so I went over to watch it. With a few minutes left, I’d seen enough so I left thinking Saturday would be a long day and it was good to shut it down. Bad choice. The phone rings when I get to my hotel with a colleague laughing at me for leaving. Apparently, Daniel Hamilton, out of the blue, walked over to the two media guys left standing and announced his commitment to UConn. Lesson learned by me.
3. Team Takeover is for real Keith Stevens team won the inaugural EYBL, and his current squad has its sights set on another title as it attempts to be the event’s only two-time winner. The main man for the squad is Dion Wiley, who’s shooting 50 percent from 3-point range. By my count, there are as many as eight kids that could sign high-major scholarships on this team. Regardless, here’s the biggest reason why they win: They play together. I’m sure there are egos in this group, but every year Stevens manages to rein in his club and direct them with a higher purpose. I’ll let you in on a little secret. As an evaluator, it’s much easier to get a true reading on the prospects in this setting. This squad has defined roles, the kids will all be recruited at the appropriate level and you know they just may win the whole thing. In a system of grassroots basketball that often is described as dysfunctional, this is a model organization.
4. Explaining Angel Delgado I’ll admit it’s not easy to explain but Angel Delgado is a big-time rebounder, averaging 13 points and 12 boards at EYBL. I went to evaluate him and thought nothing of his rebounding in a contest only to learn he had 16! So enamored with his rebounding numbers, I needed to be sure they were accurate so I went to the source. The director of stats for the EYBL is Chris Jones. We looked at the guys at the table and checked their reliability. Jones himself went and watched a game to make sure. Turns out we learned one thing: Delgado is a helluva rebounder and the stats were correct. The native of the Dominican Republic stands at 6-foot-7 with long arms and a nice motor. That’s a start. So far in the EYBL, he has 44 offensive rebounds in nine games.
5. Duo works for the Playaz The N.J. Playaz have a pair of guys that like to shoot in Isaiah Whitehead and Isaiah Briscoe. Now, they don’t always take good shots, but last weekend they made more than they missed and it worked for the Playaz. Whitehead likes to shoot 3s and he’s as confident as they come. Briscoe reminds me of N.C. State forward T.J. Warren. He’s one of those guys that has a heavy body and takes difficult shots, often from mid-range and in. However, he’s got a knack for knocking them down ala Warren. In tandem, they’re quite the offensive threat.
6. Evaluating a cruise ship At 7-foot-3 and 260 pounds, CIA Bounce center Tanveer Bhullar is the biggest kid in the EYBL. But I had seen him before. A new face to me, however, is towering big Isaac Hass, who is listed at 7-2. Frankly, what’s the difference with the two inches anyway? The kid is 270 pounds and that’s not debatable. Here’s my take: he needs to be careful with his college choice because not all programs in today’s game are set up for this size. The good news is he changes ends well. Timing on his reactions is average and sometimes the speed of the game can pass him by. He has value somewhere along to mid- to high-major contingent. If I’m advising him, there’s no way I go anywhere that hasn’t catered to a player of my stature. I’d make the coach show me his blueprint for success.
7. Expect to hear more from Matt McQuaid I saw this kid during the Hampton EYBL session and liked him as a shooter. In Dallas, he went and started dunking along the baseline in addition to making more 3s. A lot of us watching him had to remind ourselves he’s a 2015 kid. The guy can pass too! Could he be this class’ version of Grayson Allen, a kid who recently rose up and committed to Duke?
8. Good things come in small packages It was kind of strange, seeing 5-10 Braxton Beverly, a scrawny freshman guard trying to hold off a powerful Mac Irvin squad that features a pair of top-10 prospect and make high-level decisions while facing its suffocating pressure defense. Most wind up folding and succumbing to the pressure but here was this 15-year-old, a buck and half soaking wet, keeping his cool and then winning the game. Afterwards, we spoke and he said he’d been playing varsity ball since the seventh grade and already had 1,000 career points. Here’s to the next 1,000 and 500 assists.
PG Tyus Jones (right) has shown a knack for bouncing back quickly after poor performances.
9. You can learn from Tyus Jones and Joel Berry This matchup of elite point guards was one of the games circled on my schedule to watch. About five minutes into the game it was onto the next spot. Joel Berry and his revamped E1T1 squad rolled Pulley and Tyus Jones. They beat them bad. Berry picked Jones twice and according to Jones, his former USA Basketball teammate sat on his crossover and out-scouted him. Berry, who is having a strong EYBL campaign, wasn’t messing around and that was great to see. It was one game and he’s not a better point guard than Jones, but he was that game. The big indicator of the mental makeup of a player is how he responds from adversity. For instance the day Brandon Knight dismantled Kyrie Irving at NBA Camp fueled Irving for the long run. Well, though he lost next time out to Mac Irvin, Jones was back. Sitting a few courts to his right, I heard the dunk Jones threw down and play in the EYBL almost stopped solely to deal with the buzz created by the finish. The moral of the story is the great players always have an answer to a setback.
10. Good players need help Shooting guard Devin Booker (Alabama Challenge) and guard Allonzo Trier (Athletes First) are lone rangers. Their teams are not talented enough, leaving each star with an enormous burden to carry offensively. Booker’s trying to do it in a number of ways by handling the ball, creating and hunting good shots but his percentages are going to be down because of it. Trier, only a rising junior, has the same issue on his team. He’s got to be point guard and point scorer for a squad with mediocre talent for this event. Here’s the scouting takeaway, both guys know the odds they face. Both would love to get some help but know it’s not coming. They don’t get visibly frustrated and continue to play hard. They’re doing what they can with what they have and aren’t complaining. Combined their teams are 6-20 and that’s not going to cut it in terms of qualifying for the Peach Jam.