Commentary

2012 prospect Austin making noise

Originally Published: July 9, 2009
By Joel Francisco | Scouts Inc.

During the second week of the evaluation period, more and more prospects began to trickle in from the East and West. Still, the overall depth, specifically the West Coast All Star Camp No. 2, was rather ordinary.

The Fullcourt Press All-West Camp, on the other hand, had a significant amount of underclassmen including 6-10 sophomore Isaiah Austin (Mansfiled, Texas/ Grace Prep), 6-8 junior Angelo Chol (San Diego, Calif./ Hoover), and a major sleeper in 6-5 junior Juan Anderson (Castro Valley, Calif.).

Austin, with his length and extraordinary perimeter skills, has an unlimited ceiling if he is willing to polish his game and stay focused. Meanwhile, Chol needs a lot of work to tighten up his jump shot (winds up and has a slow release), but his go-to move (jump hook) and face-up skills are progressing nicely.

Standout players

Isaiah Austin (6-10, 200) Power Forward
2012, Mansfield, Texas/ Grace Prep

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Austin
Stephanie Stovall/ for ESPN.comIsaiah Austin has been one of the breakout prospects on the summer circuit.

Austin, in terms of talent and upside, was clearly in a league of his own at the Fullcourt Press event. He is far from a finished product and has much work to do on his body, fundamentals, and skill. Still, his ceiling is immense. He is extremely long, bouncy, and possesses remarkable timing at both ends. The most intriguing aspect of his game is his ability to break down smaller defenders off the dribble. He keeps his handle very low and his crossover, going in either direction, is swift and decisive. He can finish with either hand with equal aplomb off the dribble and his overall length is extraordinary. He rarely forced the issue in the half court set and demonstrated some solid savvy by handing out assists. His post game is virtually nonexistent, and he'll need to get better and stronger in that area to complete his game. However, his jump shot is fairly solid and his release is smooth. Defensively, he is one of the most prolific shot-blockers in the nation, regardless of class. Overall, Austin has as much upside as any prospect in the country. If he can stay focused as a student-athlete and possess a desire to be the best, the sky is the limit. Although it's early, he along with fellow classmate Andre Drummond (St. Thomas More School) are the two most promising prospects in the ultra-talented Class of 2012.

Jordan Tebbutt (6-5, 190) Forward
2012, Canby, Ore./ Horizon Christian

Tebbutt is one of the most physically-gifted players in the West, regardless of class. He has a mature frame with very good length and better-than-average-athleticism. He plays the game at a relentless pace and gives an honest effort each time out at both ends. At this stage, he resembles that of a high-major 2/3, but his position projection could change in the future depending how his body develops. On the other hand, he has a pure stroke out to the stripe and gets great lift on his shot. He is equally effective getting his shot off in a pull-up situation or a catch-and-shoot offensive set. He has a solid perimeter handle and can get to the rim. Due to his physical nature at such a young age, it will be interesting to see how his body and skills develop in the coming seasons.

Angelo Chol (6-8, 200)
2011, San Diego, Calif./ Hoover

Chol continues to demonstrate why he is considered one of the top prospects in the West Coast Class of 2011. The lengthy lefty has steadily improved each season, but like most bigs his age, there are a couple of areas of his game that need attention. He already has one of the best jump hooks and he does a nice job facing up his opponent. Still, his jump shot needs an overhaul. He takes too long to get it off and has an awkward release. In addition, it would be nice to see him utilize his right hand more often to keep defenses honest. He has a tendency to turn over his right shoulder too often, but if he can develop a counter move, that will make him a load to deal with in the paint area at the next level.

LaBradford Franklin (6-2, 165)
2010, Murrieta, Calif./ Great Oak

No prospect in the West has elevated his game as much as Franklin. First and foremost is his mental approach to the game. He commands the point guard position at a much higher level and is really learning how to manage an offense. He doesn't take as many bad shots as in the past. As a result his assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting percentage have shown marked improvement. His frame is terrific, and he has become much quicker in the past year. He can explode in transition and get to the rim or drop off a nifty pass. His jump shot has greatly improved and his release is smooth. Franklin is quickly becoming one of the top point guards out West.

Surprise players

Juan Anderson (6-5, 180) Wing Forward
2011, Castro Valley, Calif.

Anderson is one of the top sleepers in the Class of 2011. He has an ideal lengthy frame for the next level with long arms. He has a versatile game and is equally effective inside and out. He likes to post up smaller defenders and his fundamentals are quite good. He does a nice job facing-up his opponent and his touch is very soft out to 15-feet. He handles the ball well out on the perimeter and has the bounce to get to the rim off the dribble. He needs to extend the range on his shot out to the stripe to take his game to another level, but that should come with time. A year from now, Anderson will probably be one of the most recruited wings in the West, especially if his game continues to improve at both ends.

Josh Ritchart (6-7, 220), Power Forward
2010, Auburn, Calif./ Forest Lake Christian

Ritchart -- think a poor man's Ryan Anderson of the New Jersey Nets -- is a good looking face-up 4-man for the WCC and quite possibly for the lower tier of the high-major level. He has a nice frame with long arms and solid length. He can step out and nail the spot-up jump shot and a feathery touch. He is deceptively bouncy and with momentum can finish with a powerful dunk in the paint area. In addition, he handles the ball well in the open court and utilizes the pump fake to free himself from pressure. He is more finesse at this stage of his career, but he will battle for rebounds. His hands are soft, but he'll need to gain significant amount of strength to become the inside-out threat that is expected of him.

Korey Thieleke (6-4, 175) SG
2010, Bakersfield, Calif./ West

Thieleke has been flying under the radar for quite some time. He isn't dynamite at any aspect of the game, but he is a solid all-around player. He has a wiry frame and can slash to the basket and he isn't afraid of contact. He excels in transition -- in fact, he's one of California's finest track athletes -- and never appears to wear down during a game. He plays the lanes very well and anticipates well in the passing lanes. He is a solid spot-up shooter with range out to 19-feet, but the trajectory of his shot is pretty flat. Overall, he needs to continue to refine his shot and improve his handle (doesn't possess the ability to break down an opponent), but he should be a solid prospect for the low to mid-major level.

Tony Wroblicky (6-9, 215) Center
2010, Los Angeles/Loyola

With most bigs, it takes time to see the finished product, and Wroblicky is no exception. The lefty has come along nicely in recent years and now projects to being a solid mid-major prospect. He has deceptive bounce and excellent timing, especially on the defensive end. His hands are soft and he has a nice touch out to 15 feet. He needs to get stronger, but he has the frame and shoulder width to put on weight. Offensively, he is very comfortable scoring over his right shoulder, but he is a bit methodical with his post moves and he brings the ball down too often to gather himself. With continued development, Wroblicky should be a nice fit in a motion offense and/or a pick-n-pop set because of his solid shooting ability.

Eli Mara (6-4, 210), wing forward
2010, BC Canada/ Whiterock Christian Academy

Mara has a physically maxed-out frame, but he is very tough and a better athlete than you might think. His frame is solidly built with long arms and he welcomes contact. He excels in the open court due to his savvy and burst. In addition, he has an extra gear, and if the defense isn't ready he'll ram home a dunk in traffic. His feel for the game is tremendous, and he is somewhat of a point forward. His passing is high-level, and he delivers passes with either hand with equal aplomb. He can knock down the midrange shot, but shooting isn't his forte. Mara doesn't have great upside, but he does have an advanced game and appears to be that perfect glue-guy for a low to mid-major program.

West Coast notes

• The fact that 6-6 sophomore Rosco Allen (Las Vegas, Nev./ Bishop Gorman) didn't make an All-Star game was alarming. He was easily one of the top 40 prospects in the entire Fullcourt Press All-West Camp. Not too mention he is currently one of the top 10 prospects in the West Coast Class of 2012.

• He is currently a Texas commit, but 6-8 junior DeAndre Daniels (Woodland Hills, Calif./ Taft) needs to work on other areas of his game besides scoring. His shot selection was disappointing to say the least throughout the camp. His tendency to go 1 on 5 will hurt team chemistry from here on out unless he develops some savvy.

• Kalob Hatcher, a 5-11 senior out of El Cajon, Calif./ Foothill Christian, has a slight frame and questionable upside. However, he is a competitive point guard with good quickness and a solid shooting touch beyond the stripe. He'll eventually end up on a Division 1 roster a year from now.

• One of the better defenders on the West Coast is 6-5 senior Kareem Jamar (Los Angeles/ Westchester). He has very good length and he slides his feet very well.

• A year ago, 6-2 senior Thomas Feeney (Anchorage, Alaska/ West) was one of the more intriguing point guard prospects in the West. However, in the past year he has developed much more of a scorer's mentality rather than a facilitator, and as a result his stock in the eyes of scouts and coaches has dropped.

• It's remarkable that 6-5 Roschon Prince (Long Beach, Calif./ Poly) has yet to play a regular season high school game. His skill and savvy for this game is a site to see for an incoming freshman.

• Michael Kurtz, a 6-11 senior out of Roseville, Calif./Woodcreek, may have more upside than 90 percent of the campers at the West Coast All Star camp, but only made the Honorable Mention All Star game. He needs to gain considerable strength, and he is almost assuredly a redshirt candidate at the next level. Still, he's tough and mobile and can stick the jump shot at the elbow with regularity.

• Malik Thames, a 5-11 freshman out of Pleasant Grove, Calif, is the younger brother of incoming Washington State recruit, Xavier Thames. Malik has a terrific frame and an already natural feel for the point guard position.

• Two of the most explosive wing-types out of the West are 6-5 junior Kevin Bailey (Fresno, Calif./ Clovis East) and 6-5 senior Shelton Boykin Long Beach, Calif./ Poly). These slashers have the ability to affect the game on many different levels.

• Santa Clara got a good one in 5-9 junior T.J. Taylor (Oakland, Calif.). This stocky point guard has long arms, plays to win, and makes good decisions.

• Okachi Okugo, a 6-0 sophomore out of Carmichael, Calif./ Jesuit, is one of the more promising point guards on the West Coast. He possesses ideal size for the point guard position and has the fundamentals (keeps his handle low) to boot.

• One of the better shooters as well as competitors is 6-2 senior Chris Adams (La Verne, Calif./ Damien). His frame should fill out nicely and he could end up in the Big West before it's all said and done.

• He is still far from what you want in a point guard -- he shoots too much -- but 6-2 senior Jordan Gathers (Los Angeles/ Loyola) plays hard each time out and has the athleticism and skill to play at the Mid-Major level.

• Ikenna Iroegbu, a 5-11 freshman out of Elk Grove, Calif./ Sutter Middle, plays a bit too fast and leaves his feet while passing, but his skills and athleticism are quite good considering his youth.

• Joe Rahon, a 6-1 sophomore out of Del Mar Calif./ Torrey Pines, has a smooth looking stroke, but he hunts for his own shot too much rather than getting others involved.

• He doesn't have a true position as of yet, but 6-2 senior Julian Caldwell (Ontario, Calif.,/Colony) has the athleticism and blossoming skills to play Division 1.

• Maceo Bell, a 6-4 sophomore Oakland, Calif./ Skyline, may be the best athlete for his class in the state. He has a high-level frame as well, but his skills (handle and shooting) need a lot of polishing.

• Malik Love, a 6-2 senior out of La Jolla, Calif./ The Bishops, has a thick and strong frame and above average athleticism. He utilizes his physique to get into the lane and he can knock down the 3-point shot.

• The Big Sky Conference may want to take a long look at a blue-collar 5-man in 6-7 senior Max Foder (San Jose, Calif./ Bellarmine Prep)

Joel Francisco covers basketball recruiting for ESPN Scouts Inc.