Commentary

Henson dominates in Florida debut

Originally Published: September 15, 2008
By Reggie Rankin | Scouts Inc.

Rakeem BucklesLes Bentley for ESPN.com Six-foot-8 combo forward Rakeem Buckles is bound for Louisville.
Daytona Beach, Fla. -- The Dodge Shootout at Embry Riddle University is one of the top fall exposure events in the country. This year about 180 high school players from the panhandle to Miami participated.

The top prospects at the event included Class of 2009 standouts 6-10 forward John Henson, who is ranked No. 3 on the ESPNU 100, and SF Rakeem Buckles (No. 74). Henson is committed to North Carolina. The Louisville Cardinals have secured the services of Buckles, who is out of Pace High School in Miami. There also were a number of talented, young perimeter players, such as Class of 2010 prospect Kasey Wilson, in attendance.

In addition to games, the shootout consisted of station work to provide the players with hands-on coaching to help aid in skill development and lectures about the recruiting process. This event was run and organized by coach Bob Horodyski, president of the Gainesville Basketball Coaches Association, and Conrad Foss of Florida Elite AAU.

Standout players

John Henson, F (6-10, 200)
Senior, Tampa, Fla./Sickles, committed to North Carolina
The No. 3-ranked player in the ESPNU 100 is as good as advertised, if not better. First of all, Henson is a small forward because his skill level is off the charts. His only weakness is the obvious strength factor -- he surely will add bulk to his slight frame in the coming months. This long, lean forward stuffed the stat sheet all day long. He can rebound and go coast to coast or lead the break, on which he makes good decisions and passes like a guard. Henson sprints the wing or middle in transition. On the run, he can finish above the rim or shoot the 3. He is a true triple-threat player (pass, dribble and shoot). From the wing, he can drive both ways and does a great job moving the defense with a ball fake before he starts a drive. Henson has a smooth pull-up jumper both ways; he elevates over defenders displaying his high release and excellent follow-through. He shoots the 3 off the catch without hesitation with great shot preparation. Henson is unselfish; he can deliver passes on the money with either hand from the perimeter or from the post, where he's a very adept passer against double-teams. When Henson goes to the post, he likes to fake middle and quick spin on the right block or shoot his left-handed jump hook to the middle. On the left block, he loves the turn shot to the middle over his left shoulder. Defensively he uses his length and timing to block and alter shots.

John Henson
Chris Johnson/ReebokJohn Henson enters the fall as the No. 3 prospect on the ESPNU 100.

Rakeem Buckles, F (6-8, 205)
Senior, Miami/Pace, committed to Louisville
Buckles also plays more like a small forward than a power forward. He scores in transition by sprinting the floor and beating the defense to the rim. He has good -- but not great -- bounce. What makes him a high major player is his ability to make plays off the dribble. Buckles can get his own shot at will. He has all the dribble moves in his package. Buckles does a great job raising up the defender before he explodes by him to the rim or into a pull-up jumper in the lane. When he drives left, he loves the step-back jumper, on which he creates space in order to get the shot off. He can also pick and pop to the arc, but he needs time and space to get off the 3, on which he is streaky at best due to a low release and little to no elevation. Buckles can rebound on both ends but must make it a priority to get to the glass on a regular basis and look to post when he has a size or quickness advantage. He is a capable defender but must play with more urgency. Overall, he's a good-looking prospect with great upside and should improve rapidly under coach Rick Pitino.

Jordan Davis, PG (5-10, 185)
Junior, Tampa, Fla./Sickles
Davis is strong and physical point guard who pushes the ball in transition on the pass or dribble. He handles the ball with his head and eyes up. Davis displayed great court vision as he consistently made good decisions with his passes in traffic. He did a good job moving the ball and looking to feed the post; he delivered right to the post player's target hand. Davis is a good ball handler who cannot be knocked off the ball due to his great upper-body strength. He beats defenders with crossovers and hesitation moves. He can finish through contact in transition and in the half court. On defense, he is a top-notch on-ball defender. Davis also has a tremendous understanding of how to help a teammate and recover back to his man. In order for Davis to take his recruiting to the next level, he must look to shoot the midrange pull-up when his penetration is halted and be able to make an open 3 on a consistent basis. Davis has a great attitude and displayed toughness in every game.

Kasey Wilson, SF (6-5, 195)
Sophomore, North Port, Fla.
Wilson is a tough and aggressive player who can do a little bit of everything. He can drive, shoot the 3 off the catch, rebound on both ends. As an offensive rebounder, he sprints in from the perimeter for tip-ins. On defense he takes it coast to coast after securing the ball. Wilson competes every second he is on the floor and seems to always come up with a play to help his team win. A sneaky athlete, Wilson can finish above the rim and can also move into the post and score with power. He constantly makes his presence felt on the floor with his defensive intensity, and he can defend both wing positions. With continued improvement this utility guy will have college coaches doing a double take.

Andre Smith, PG (5-8, 160)
Sophomore, Tampa, Fla./Blake

Smith is a 2011 prospect with tremendous upside. The point guard has good speed and quickness with the ball and the ability to change speeds and directions on a dime. But his greatest strength is his ability to shoot the basketball, which is a skill many high school lead guards lack. Smith has good lift, release and follows through on his jumper off the catch or dribble. He can get into the lane for the midrange pull-up or knock down the 3 when he catches the defender with his hands down or playing off due to his ability to penetrate and kick. Smith has a strong handle and likes to use the crossover move both ways. He has a good burst of speed after he completes his dribble moves that allows him to draw the second defender. At times, he overpenetrates or jumps into the air without any solution, both of which can result in a turnover. But, for the most part, he takes pretty good care of the ball. He is a hard worker on the defensive end; he applies good ball pressure. Continued improvement is the key for his mid-major recruitment.

Surprise players

Calvin Long, SG/PG (6-1, 160)
Freshman, Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz
Long is a lefty who runs the floor in transition for layups or spot-up jumpers with range to the arc. He has good form but must get stronger in order to get the ball away from his body -- that will allow him to get his shot off quicker and improve his release. Long is a good passer with excellent vision; he weaves through traffic with his between-the-legs crossover that is his go-to move when he must beat his defender. Long is a good athlete, and he takes the game seriously and plays hard at all times. On defense, he has a good-looking stance and possesses good lateral foot speed that allows him to stay in front of his man. He also works to contest shots. Long is a work in progress but he is another young guard with good upside.

Rashawn Rembert, SG/PG (6-2, 185)
Sophomore, Tampa, Fla./Sickles

Rembert is an athletic wing who can also help out at the point. He has long arms and a good basketball body for a sophomore. He pushes the ball in transition on the pass or dribble and is a threat to get to the rim from the wing or the point if the defense fails to get him under control. Rembert can shoot the 3 off the catch with good results. He must continue to work on shooting off the move by improving his footwork. His struggles in that area are a direct result of a lack of shot preparation. He must work harder on the defensive glass, which will provide him more coast-to-coast and fast-break opportunities because he will be able attack sooner without waiting for an outlet pass. He is an excellent on-ball defender who is capable of the defending all the perimeter positions because of his size and athletic ability. His rate of improvement will determine the level at which he next plays.

T.J. Hall, SF (6-6, 210)
Junior, Alachua, Fla./Gainesville

Hall is a talented wing whom I saw play well in Orlando at the 16U National Championship. He has good size, can score on the break and in the half court off the catch and dribble with range behind the arc. Hall has a nice pull-up jumper especially going to his left, and he can also go to the floater in the lane. At this event, he took possessions off and had trouble finishing plays. Hall is a capable defender and rebounder when motivated. At times, I saw him score in bunches, but he must learn to do it every time he steps onto the court if he wants to be one of the go-to players for the Florida Elite AAU squad. He's a solid mid-major prospect when he plays with consistent energy and effort.

Lukas Poderis, BF (6-8, 225)
Senior, Port Richey, Fla./Ridgewood

This pick-and-pop forward has range to the arc, a strong body and runs the floor pretty well. Poderis has good hands and body control that allows him to finish when he has a clear angle to the hoop. He benefits from drop-off passes created by guard penetration. A good ball handler and passer for his size, Poderis must play with more urgency. He uses his body well in the post on defense; he did put his chest on the offensive player several times to stop his penetration when making a post move. He has the skill to get more done, but at times he will become a nonfactor for a number of possessions and you can forget he is on the floor until his motivation kicks back in. The production of his senior year will determine his recruiting level.

Larry Taylor, PG (5-10, 150)
Freshman, Englewood, Fla./North Port

Taylor is a thin and small point guard, but he gets a lot accomplished when he is on the floor. He has an excellent basketball IQ and he is always looking to make a play to help his team. Taylor is not going to blow you away with speed and quickness, but he is good enough to beat his defender to penetrate and kick and to demonstrate his tremendous court vision and passing skills. Taylor is a good ball handler, and he has 3-point range off the catch. He advances the ball on the pass or dribble and can beat pressure under control. He competes and showed leadership skills; I repeatedly saw him directing his teammates on the floor and in the huddle at timeouts. Taylor has a nice skill package and tons of potential, but strength and continued improvement will determine his level of recruitment. This youngster was fun to watch.

Notes

• Michael Frazier (Tampa, Fla.) is another freshman with tons of potential. Frazier is a true shooting guard with 3-point range. He has good size and a scoring mentality. Frazier competes and plays hard on both ends of the floor. He seems cool under intense ball pressure and was able to deliver the ball to an open teammate. If he continues to improve this kid could make his presence felt in the talent-rich state of Florida.

• Kevin Paxton (Jupiter, Fla.) has a strong body and is a good scorer. He plays hard and has good breakaway speed when he is ahead of the pack in transition. Paxton has 3-point range off the catch and has the ability to make offensive plays in bunches.

Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was an All-MAC first-teamer his senior season.

Reggie Rankin

College Basketball Recruiting

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