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Thorpe Report: Scouting MU, Washington

12/7/2011
Terrence Ross' tenacity and inside-outside game against Marquette was impressive. Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

Every Wednesday, the NBA Draft Blog will feature the "Thorpe Report," a genuine scouting report on a featured game each week from ESPN Insider David Thorpe. This week's game: Marquette versus Washington on Tuesday. Marquette won 79-77.

Terrence Ross, SG

School/Class: Washington, sophomore

Line score: 19 points (9-15 FGM-A), 1-4 (3s), 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 3 assists

Top 100 draft ranking: 25

Game play:I liked his willingness to get down and scrap for loose balls. He didn't show much discipline as a shooter, electing to take deeper shots than necessary multiple times. But he finally locked in on defense, staying on the ball, and he got through screens with his size and athleticism; he could be solid on this end in the future.

Though he did not pass a lot, he does see the game well. The passes he made were smart. He has very good jumping ability and looks to make plays above the rim, especially flying in for an offensive rebound. His combination of being able to crash the glass and possessing a sweet perimeter shot is a very intriguing -- and rare -- pair.

Basketball tools: Ross shoots from between his eyes, but that's manageable. His left hand is not involved with his shot -- a typical problem with a player who shoots from the center of his head. He owns a very smooth release on his jumper and has an effortless release and good timing after separation from the defender.

Ross does a great job of squaring his body after slashing toward the rim before taking a jumper. But he seems to prefer taking the jumper over going straight to the basket. This limits his value as an overall scorer. It's an interesting thing because he likes banging around to gain offensive rebounds. Perhaps he'll dribble-attack more if his overall ball skills improve. Not taking that final angle to the rim cost him free throw opportunities; he finished the game with no attempts.

Physical aptitude/comparables: He has some Paul George in him -- maybe better as a shooter but not quite as good as a slasher, though George does not slash as much as he should. Ross looks to make tough plays more often than George.


Tony Wroten Jr., PG

School/Class: Washington, freshman

Line score: 13 points (5-10 FGM-A) 3-7 (FTs), 7 rebounds, 3 assists

Top 100 draft ranking: 32

Game play: Wroten came in off the bench and turned the ball over on two straight possessions, then was taken out. He read both plays well but rushed to take advantage of the situation.

Wroten looked for the spectacular play almost every possession rather than the easy one. It's a problem, but not a tough one to solve. Think Rafer Alston and Jason Williams, both of whom were showmen who learned to value the ball more than "oohs" and "ahhs."

When Wroten slowed down, he looked better, and he was at his best looking for his own buckets. Great passers have to learn to be a little selfish first. Once they show scoring ability, help defenders start reacting to them more, which opens up the passing lanes to teammates.

He has a terrific feel for slithering to the rim for buckets. Wroten has no idea how to play basketball, but has a great idea how to score and see the floor. Once he learns to read and think the game, his talent can grow to enormous heights.

Basketball tools: Wroten is very left-hand dominant. He made a great play, though, blowing by his man and then going up strong to the rim with his left -- but before he did, he kept the ball in the middle/left side of his body. Swinging it to the right, which most players would have done, would have led to the ball being stripped by the defender next to him. Impressive.

He was not inclined to do much on defense in this game and missed some opportunities to get back on defense. I would have liked to see him handle that better.

Wroten is a slick dribbler with good change-of-pace action, using his long arms to extend and finish relatively well near the rim.

However, he is a poor free throw shooter thanks to rushing his way through the shot as if a defender is about to come guard him.

Physical aptitude/comparables: Wroten showed great top-end speed, pushing the ball in transition. He made me think of John Wall on a few occasions, due to Wroten's size and speed, though he did not overuse that speed as a hammer like Wall is apt to do.


Darius Johnson-Odom, G

School/Class: Marquette, senior

Line score: 23 points (6-17 FGM-A) 2-7 (3s), 9-11 (FTs), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal

Top 100 draft ranking: 55

Game play: Johnson-Odom has one big problem: He almost always tried to finish going left, and it's easily read by defenders. He has phenomenal ability to start and stop suddenly, and he got by his defender often enough, but he did not show great lift as a finisher.

Always on the attack, Johnson-Odom uses his power to bully through defenders to get decent driving angles. He played with great toughness and confidence, like Xavier's Tu Holloway, who we scouted last week. He's your typical senior who has lots of experience.

Basketball tools: Johnson-Odom is a good ball handler, maybe even very good, but frankly, he does not show talent to be an NBA playmaker. Can he manage the game? Yes, to some degree. He'd be asked to score less in the NBA, so his task would be much different than it is now.

His follow-through on jumpers is good, but he faded too often to make them consistently. Maybe he felt he needed to fade to get it off, which will always be an issue for him going forward. His 3-point stroke is impressive considering his build. This guy can shoot, though I can't see yet if he has NBA range. If he does, then his stock rises considerably as a scoring guard off the bench.

I did not notice him on defense as much as I expected to.

Physical aptitude/comparables: I love Johnson-Odom's body and quickness; he reminds me of a left-handed Will Bynum, but bigger. He's built like a tailback and moves like one, too.


Vander Blue, G

School/Class: Marquette, sophomore

Line score: 11 points (5-9 FGM-A) 1-1 (FTs), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

Top 100 draft ranking: 74

Game play: This kid is really fast with the ball or on a dead sprint. Has great quickness, too. Blue looks like he's a combo guard with some passing talent. He made a number of nice touch passes and frequent skip or diagonal passes against a zone defense.

I liked his overall court awareness. He knew when to use his athletic gifts and when to slow down. And he always knew where his teammates were. He handled the point guard duties well, though he had few chances to earn an assist. What he did do was move the ball well. He showed me enough to think he might be able to play full-time point guard in the NBA, in part because he did not force shots.

Basketball tools: Blue is a smooth dribbler with a nice perimeter shot. He mixed up his driving speeds well. He looked like he enjoyed playing defense and was up for the challenge of guarding Washington's talented guards without fouling.

Physical aptitude/comparables: Built like Raja Bell, Blue is totally proportional (as opposed to so many freakishly long athletes) but plays with more athleticism than Bell ever did. Blue is able to play with burst, but he's normally very smooth while still moving quickly.