Nike Camp notes hinted at Sweet 16 prospects
With the Sweet 16 set, it was worth a look back at Tom Herrion's notes from last summer's Nike Camp to see what they hinted at, writes Andy Katz.
When Ron Lewis hit the shot that sent shock waves through the Xavier community and sent Ohio State nation into euphoria, Tom Herrion knew it was in Lewis' arsenal all along.
We're not trying to make Herrion, the former College of Charleston coach, out to be some sort of hoop version of Nostradamus, but checking out Herrion's notes from when he was working out players at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis last July showed him to be prophetic.
Ron Lewis, 6-4, 195, Right, Sr., Ohio State
Good body and size; Must improve ball skills; Not a great feel for the game; Streaky shooter and range must improve; Pretty good finisher; Hard worker; Physically should be a good defender
Lewis had to find his niche on this Ohio State team. He wasn't the first option. He wasn't always the second. Shoot, sometimes he could be further down the list, even though he was second on the team in scoring. His progress, though, is evident to Herrion.
"He's a better shooter than I thought he was, not just because he made that one shot but clearly he's a better perimeter shooter," Herrion said. "What he had to do this year was defer."
Roy Hibbert, 7-2, 283, Right, Jr., Georgetown
Has improved body; Must work to build body; Has effective hook shot in low post; Has trouble changing ends; Very good passer for position; Can be effective defender because of size; Really put a lot of time and work in throughout the week
Jeff Green, 6-9, 235, Right, Jr., Georgetown
Looks slimmer; Combo forward who looks more comfortable on perimeter; Has a good feel for the game; Improved perimeter shooter who showed 3-point range; Good defender; Active rebounder on both ends
Not bad at all with the description of these two. How did Herrion's opinion evolve after watching this pair win Big East regular-season and tournament titles as well as earn a spot in the Sweet 16?
"Roy put in the most time of any player during those sessions," Herrion said. "He may be the most improved player in the country. He changed his body. Watching him [against BC] was like a clinic. He made himself so much money that day by the way he played, scored and passed. He's a true center.
"Jeff may be as versatile a forward offensively as there is," Herrion said. "He can post you, shoot it over you and is a hard guy to guard for his position."
Herrion also worked out the core of Florida's team, as well as Texas A&M's. First, here are his summer breakdowns of the four Gators who were in attendance:
Taurean Green, 6-0, 177, Right, Jr., Florida
Great feel for the game; Sometimes plays in "cruise control"; Settles for deep jumpers too often; Could be more aggressive using ball screens; Would like to see him play in the lane in half-court; Deep-range shooter; Could be more of a vocal leader
Corey Brewer, 6-8, 185, Right, Jr., Florida
High-wire and explosive athlete; Great runner in transition; Finishes very well; Plays out of control at times; Handle is high and must improve left hand; Sometimes loose with the ball; Improved perimeter shooter, but erratic at times; Could be excellent perimeter defender if committed
Al Horford, 6-8, 235, Right, Jr., Florida
Physical post player; Much more effective with back to basket; Has improved facing to 15 feet; Feel is getting better; Must trust and use his left hand in post; Extremely aggressive rebounder on both ends; Smart defender, guards ball screens well; Very bright future; Very coachable and hard working
Chris Richard, 6-8, 255, Right, Sr., Florida
Big body, a little overweight; Physical presence; Low-post player strictly; Showed improvement and must work on body; Limited offensive player; Physical defender
Once again, the notes in July proved to be prophetic. On several occasions Sunday against Purdue, Green shot too quickly, but then settled down. Horford was aggressive at both ends in the second half. Richard was physical and scored when he got the touches. Brewer's energy was needed as he made the hustle plays that helped win the game in the second half.
"[Taurean] does settle for bombs, but when he makes them he breaks the game open," Herrion said. "He's got a great feel for the game, a calming influence for those guys and his lack of emotion is good for that team.
"[Corey] is one of the best lock-down defenders in the country, which allows him to create offense. Al is a sponge who just keeps getting better and better and will be a true power forward at the next level. What separates him out is how well he rebounds out of his area. Chris Richard may be the most valuable sixth man. He's the least talked about of the three-headed monster [inside with Joakim Noah], but he's productive."
Acie Law, 6-3, 195, Left, Sr., Texas A&M
Needs ball in his hands to be effective; Needs to get stronger; Must learn to play without the ball; Not a pure shooter, but makes shots (shoots a twisted ball); Scorer's mentality; Good pick-and-roll player, but strength will help; Intelligent player with good feel and instincts; Not committed defensively; Must improve his ball-handling, especially right hand
Joseph Jones, 6-9, 240, Right, Jr., Texas A&M
Good size and body; Somewhat "stiff" athlete and isn't a clean runner; Offensive game must continue to improve; Not much range facing the basket; Active rebounder on both ends; Good instincts and timing blocking shots; Must improve conditioning and athleticism
Both players made huge strides this season, becoming the anchors for a team that was consistently one of the nation's best. Here's Herrion's take now:
"Acie is the biggest clutch shooter in the game," he said. "He just needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Joseph Jones is a force at the college level and has great instincts on the block."
All true. Sure, these were notes taken after just a week of workouts in Indianapolis, but they tell you a lot about where these players were last summer, how far they have come, and how much they took what they learned and applied it this season to help lead their teams to the Sweet 16.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Tarkanian home after hospital stay, son says
- Gophers suspend backup McNeil after arrest
- No. 3 Arizona turns on the D to beat Mizzou
- L'ville allows 7 in first half en route to romp