Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Telep's Top 10: 2014 late bloomers
By Dave Telep
If you’re reading this blog, we’re going to assume that you’re somewhat of a hoops junkie. Well, no more of an addict than I am, and that’s why the spring captivates us. It’s the time of year when our beliefs about the big-timers are either confirmed or quashed. As we sort through the rubble of the evaluations, new names emerge. Some of them are players who ascended their games, while others essentially emerged without notice.
There are a few players on this list who you’ll know. We recognize them for taking the next step. There are equally as many prospects who bumped and pushed their way to the front of the line. It’s their time, and they seem intent on announcing their presence.
Here are my top 10 late bloomers in the 2014 class.
1. Myles Turner, C: This is the name that’s quietly circulating through the highest levels of college basketball. His candidacy for inclusion in the national top 25 is white-hot, and he’ll be on display this weekend at the Under Armour event in Dallas (I’ll be there, front row). I can tell you this. While most college coaches were front and center at places like the Nike EYBL and other large gatherings, some programs (like Kansas, Duke and Texas, to name a few) snuck out to the smaller venues to see this potential heavy hitter.
2. Kameron Chatman, SF: A transfer from the Pacific Northwest, Chatman was forced to sit out his junior season at Long Beach Poly. This spring, he’s made up for the downtime. Though he hasn’t shot the ball exceptionally well, he’s consistently demonstrated a huge hoops IQ. With him, you have to see the forest through the trees. Others, even guys on his team, have bigger names. My guess is his frame fills out, his perimeter skills are enhanced and he evolves into a late-blooming forward with big upside. I know this: There are a lot of guys achieving more national recruitments and few I’d take ahead of him. It’s still somewhat of a hunch, but the markers are there for him to grow into.
3. Isaac Copeland, F: These are the facts, and they are indisputable: For half of his high school career, Copeland was more prospect than player. He received token minutes for a very good high school team, missed most of his then-junior year due to injury, reclassified at another school and then proceeded to grow into his body and the expectations that came with it. Within a year of the transformation, Georgetown had scooped him up. He went from acing the look test to passing the play test at the highest level.
SF Mikal Bridges has offers from the likes of Temple and St. Joseph's.
4. Mikal Bridges, SF: Back in the day, Leuzinger High in California kicked out Dorell Wright and Russell Westbrook in back-to-back years, two of the all-time best late bloomers. Last year, Team Final produced B.J. Johnson, a late bloomer headed to Syracuse. See where I’m going with this? Every now and then there’s a program that gets in a good groove and makes things happen. Bridges is a motivated, athletic small forward with a motor and an upside. No reason to think he can’t be a high-major player.
5. Dakota Mathias, SG: To be a late bloomer, you don’t have to be ultra-athletic or have a baby face. Mathias has neither. What he is appears to be a guy who is late to the party but eager to become the center of attention. The kid is tough, and when others wavered, Purdue didn’t. Mathias then went out and put a hurting on some higher-profile teams, earned his accolades and looks to be a very good college player. Two months ago? Who knew?
6. Angel Delgado, PF: If memory serves correctly, Ricardo Gathers and Julius Randle were the last two rebounding leaders in the EYBL. Delgado doesn’t have the offense of either, but he’s currently Numero Uno on the EYBL circuit in rebounding, and that counts for something. He’s not 6-8, and he’s only been in the U.S. a year after emigrating from the Dominican Republic. But what he’s done every weekend since April is go out and get double-digit rebounds a game. Since we know rebounding translates, this forward easily makes this list with room to spare.
7. Michael Gilmore, PF: The Tallahassee Rickards product doesn’t have eye-popping stats at the EYBL. However, in canvassing the country, it’s clear kids like him are rare. He’s a big with a nice jump shot. After seeing him in two different spots, he’s piqued my interest. Last year, his travel team produced Chris Perry. This year, maybe Gilmore is that guy.
2014 PF Angel Delgado helped his stock by flexing his rebounding muscles during the Nike EYBL circuit.
8. Sandy Cohen, G: When’s the last time Green Bay kicked out a high-level Division I player? Cohen’s got work to do in terms of replicating the effort, but he’s a big combo guard who burst onto the scene last month and had everyone ducking in to see him.
9. James Palmer, SG: The last big-time player to come out of his high school was Chris Wright. Here’s the deal: People know about Palmer and they like him, but they like other bigger-name shooting guards better. Once a few of those guys pop and programs pick on their secondary targets, you’ll hear a lot more about this guy. If it were me, I’d move with a little more alacrity.
10. Justin Hollis, PF: He’s a 6-9 forward from Houston, and there’s a solid chance you’ve never heard of him. I didn't either until I watched him at the adidas Exclusive VIP Run. He’s not on a good team, doesn’t always start and, frankly, he’s hidden pretty well. His high school résumé is littered with question marks: Why hasn’t he played much? What are his grades like? If I could get Penelope Garcia of “Criminal Minds” to profile him, I’d be happy to use her services. What I know is that this is an athletic big who blocks shots and has offensive potential. The rest of the equation, well, we need to figure that out.