Archive for January, 2011

By Marcus Shockley

There were two reasons why I wanted to have as conversation with Ryan Blake, the Director of Scouting for the NBA.

The first is obvious; I love basketball, own a basketball site, have a large player database and scout players from time to time. There’s nothing better for me to pick the brain of someone who is one the foremost authorities on scouting players for the top basketball league in the world. Ryan Blake motorcycle
However, the second reason doesn’t have anything to do with basketball.

One of the causes I always support and pay attention to is cancer research, having lost my own mother to a brain tumor over 25 years ago. That’s why my first questions to Ryan were not about basketball, but instead about his efforts to raise awareness for cancer research with his Coaches vs. Cancer Ride, in which he embarked on an ambitious journey to attend multiple venues on a Triumph motorcycle while promoting the American Cancer Society and Coaches vs. Cancer. Accompanied by Shirley, a mannequin, Blake started his journey in Chapel Hill as North Carolina took on Lipscomb.

Blake tackled the project quickly, organizing it himself, and managed to accomplish much of what he set out to do, including hitting 6 venues in 7 days, and a grueling 1,000 mile journey between New York and South Carolina. He had to curtail his efforts due to family illness, but says he definitely intends to do another ride in the near future.

It’s a commendable effort and one to be applauded, especially by myself.

However, I couldn’t have a conversation with Ryan and not talk about basketball. So let’s turn now to some thoughts about what’s going on in the NBA, the draft and a few other topics.

The first thing I wanted to ask Ryan was about how they scout a player. Do they factor in things such as a player’s personality and attitude or do they simply observe from afar, looking at their play on the court?

Ryan says they don’t have a holistic approach to scouting; meaning, they don’t delve into everything about the player on the court and off. However, they do pay attention to more than just how a player performs during the game.

Their job is to find players and tell the teams who they should start taking a look at, and then it’s up to the individual teams to take it from there. Ryan’s organization has scouting all over the world, and they are on the NBA’s pre-draft committee. They don’t limit their scouting to games, either. They will attend practices as well.

They’ve cut back on scouting international players and D1 players, simply because NBA commissioner David Stern has decided that he wants the NBA teams to manage more of that themselves.

I asked Ryan about mock draft sites, especially now that so many have cropped up. Are they credible? Are they a nuisance? Ryan said that some are indeed, credible. “DraftExpress puts a lot of time in, actually talks to people, goes to games”, but that many online sites are not that far-fetched. There is an added wrinkle, however, as even as draft sites are updated in real time based on games occurring during the college season, no actual team is going to tell anyone who they really like as a player. In fact, a team might employ misdirection to say they like a certain player, only to throw others off of the trail as to their true intentions. Blake also says that the draft order and player position changes from minute to minute in the seconds ticking up to the first pick, and no one on the mock draft sites is privy to that. He also said that they do offer some insight, because scouts like himself cannot talk publicly about undergraduates. Scouting isn’t an exact science, and Blake says when attempting to predict the draft, “No one’s ever going to be right”.

Blake also said that the mock drafts don’t impact him or his scouts, but they do contain misinformation from time to time, such as when Ricky Rubio was thought to be a lock for playing in the NBA.

This also coincided with several highlight clips of Rubio becoming a phenomenon online, as fans got a chance to see the young point guard for the first time, albeit in an edited form.

Blake, who is well aware of what teams are looking at and the players who may be coming into the league, knew there was no chance of Rubio arriving at that time, and got blasted when he went did a television spot and said as much, because fans were convinced he was wrong from reading online reports.

Ricky Rubio basketball
Flikr/jordimonti
Blake also said that while some sites are indeed credible, and people love the mock drafts, he said “people who say, ‘I’ve talked to all of the NBA scouts’ are lying”.

Next, I asked about the most common mistakes or areas of improvement that basketball players have when attempting to move from the college game to the pros. Ryan replied that most young players try to use their athleticism over substance, while veteran players know several key things that keep them in the league, such as:

  • How to play without the ball and play defense.
  • How to make other players better
  • How to be versatile enough to play a role. Do whatever the team needs done.

I wanted to know about high school recruiting rankings, if the NBA pays any attention to them, or what Ryan’s thoughts were. Ryan says his organization has people who keep up with the rankings and high school recruits, but that the age limit established in the NBA has helped tremendously when evaluating talent, and that after seeing players go up against D1 talent for a year, “you get to do a better evaluation.”

Ryan says that tons of players seem hyped until they reach D1, and they look like All-Stars while they are going against other high school players. The extra year tends to expose weaknesses and brings their prospects back down to reality. I mentioned to Ryan that if the one-year age limit has improved the product on the court for the NBA, would a further increase help even more? “Absolutely, it could,” he says, because more time evaluating only improves the chances of success when picking a player.

The other thing to consider about high school rankings is that NBA teams have so many players to evaluate, from the D-League to college and international, that it helps for them not to have to focus as much on high school. It’s a matter of finances and people to do the work, and focusing on scouting the veterans who want to secure jobs has made things more manageable.

One of the major topics looming over the NBA right now is the potential for a lockout, or work stoppage, in the coming year. “I just hope they can come together,” says Blake, who also added that commissioner David Stern has brought the groups together “brilliantly” in the past, and that there are so many good players who do great work in the community, it unfortunately gets overshadowed by their high paychecks and a few “bad apples”.

Finally, we discussed players entering the draft, and I asked Ryan if he felt players actually get enough quality information on their draft status and potential before entering. He said it’s a case-by-case basis. Some players do get good information, while others have people pushing them into the draft before their ready, or with inflated expectations. The numbers of early entry guys who were supposed to go in the first round but don’t are high. Blake says there are only 30 guaranteed contracts, and if you aren’t guaranteed to be a first round pick, it’s tough. Players trying to get into the league have to take a job away from a veteran, who isn’t going to want to give up his own contract for someone coming into the league. There are some cases where people with a vested interest in a player push the player to go pro because if the player can actually manage to get a contract in the second round, there’s money to be made.

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Mustafa Shakur Update

By James Blackburn

Mustafa Shakur
Flikr/keithallison

The Wizards signed Mustafa Shakur last Friday to a 10-day contract. Shakur had been playing in the NBA Development League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, after spending time in the New Orleans Hornets training camp before the season.

Shakur was averaging 16.7 points, 5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds through 23 games with the Vipers organization. I will believe Shakur will bring much needed scoring and depth to a Wizards team that has yet to win a road game all season.

So far, through 3 games with the Wizards, the ex- Arizona guard is averaging 4.7 points, 3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in a little over 12 minutes a game. He is also posting a +/- score of +9 while on the floor, showing his ability to influence a game with his defense and by doing the little things that do not necessarily show up in the box score.

I will not be surprised to see the Wizards reward Shakur with a second 10-day contract and then ultimately land with a NBA team for good.

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By Al Woods

Where is it written that it’s only the high school coaches’ responsibility to help get their players recruited and placed in college? It is assumed that the job of a high school coach is to see to it that the players are getting exposure to college programs.

The problem is that high school coaches do not have the time or the resources to consistently get their student athletes exposure to college coaches.

It is a known fact that most high school coaches are also teachers because that’s the job that pays them the most money and that’s the job that they’re going to protect first.

high school basketball
Flikr/CapeLawOffice

Generally, you’ll see a lot high school coaches get out of coaching because of the enormous amount of time spent coaching. I’m sure it’s hard enough to be a full time school teacher and a full time coach and on top of that, being asked to assist student athletes with the recruiting process.

The parents have a responsibility in the college recruiting process but their problem is more of laziness and an assuming that the high school coaches are somehow college recruiting experts.

Parents become upset with the high school coaches because they feel that their coach is not doing enough to help their kid with recruiting when it should be the parent’s responsibility first with the assistance of the high school coach.

When you think about what you actually have to do to get a student athlete recruited for college, it would be impossible for high school coaches to be involved in the many aspects of college recruiting. There is a lot of work involved in this process.

Just to be a full time college recruiter would require emailing college coaches, making phone calls, mailing out DVD’s to college programs, mailing out athletic resumes, being available for return calls, and responding to emails from a college coach in a timely manner and the list of responsibilities can go on and on.

Now there is a solution to this problem of the limited role and responsibility of many high school coaches and that is coaches at a private high schools.

Many private school coaches have more time available to them to deal with the many aspects of college recruiting. This is part of the reason many student athletes enroll in private schools because of the personal attention that a student athlete would receive as opposed to being at a public school.

Many of the coaches at a private school have limited classroom schedules and are dealing with smaller class room sizes. Many of the student athletes who attend private schools seem to fair better academically and athletically because of the individual attention they are receiving.

The bottom line with recruiting is getting the exposure to college programs but it ultimately comes down to the responsibility of the parents of high school athletes consistently working with their high school coaches to effectively gain exposure for these student athletes.

Al Woods is a college recruiting expert who writes daily about the college recruiting process and highlights the achievements of high school student athletes. For more information about Al Woods, go to http://woodsrecruiting.com

By Justin Shockley

January 17, 2011

Thirty-five, ten, twenty-one. These numbers are related to a lottery, although maybe not the one you may be thinking of. The thirty-five scouts, ten general managers, and twenty one total NBA teams represented at Baylor’s home game against second ranked Kansas had a lot to do with potential lottery pick Perry Jones III. While there were several potential NBA players in the game like Kansas’ freshman sensation Josh Selby (PG-SG, 6’2”, Freshman) it is no surprise that many of the NBA scouts and GMs were there to see Baylor’s Jones. Perry Jones

The Jayhawks from Kansas dismantled their Big 12 rival 85-65 with outstanding ball control and efficient shooting. The Jayhawks had an average second half but only missed six shots in the first half, shooting 79% from the field and built what turned out to be an insurmountable lead over the Bears.

Player Notes and Scouting Reports

Baylor

Perry Jones, PF-C, 6’10”, Fr. (38 Min, 6-11 FG, 8-8FT, 20 Points, 3 Rebs)

Jones is a very respectable replacement for the 6’10” Ekpe Udoh who has moved on to the NBA. Offensively, Jones is more than capable of replacing Udoh, however, Udoh set the Big 12 single season record for blocked shots last year so Jones has big shoes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. Before Monday night’s Big 12 matchup Jones was averaging 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game with the 4th best field goal percentage in the conference with 57.1 percent.
The freshman sensation bears a striking resemblance to NBA star Tracy McGrady. In fact, Jones even plays a little like McGrady in some facets such as his shooting form, free-throw style, and demeanor. While Jones was a little too laid back at times, especially on the defensive end he showed great athleticism throughout the game. The freshman easily dunked over defenders in half court offense and showed tremendously soft hands when catching the ball on the interior. Jones rarely hesitates when going up for a shot and his quick leaping ability makes it difficult for opponents to defend him.
Perry Jones relies too much on his leaping ability to grab rebounds and is not as sound at boxing out as he should be. Jones has good touch out to around 17 feet but will need to improve his consistency on his outside shot. The 6’10” potential lottery pick showed surprisingly good court vision and ball handling ability considering his size and seems to enjoy creating shots for teammates. Jones is a good on ball defender as well as a solid free-throw shooter and has overall fluid movement on the offensive end.

LaceDarius Dunn, PG-SG, 6’4”, Sr. (35 Min, 3-9FG, 6-7FT, 13 Points, 3 Ast, 5 TO)

Dunn was one of the main catalysts in Baylor’s impressive showing in last year’s NCAA Tournament where the Bears made it all the way to the Elite Eight. Dunn has good height for a guard, good overall strength, and can shoot lights out. However, Dunn has flown under the radar most of his career and is an undervalued player at the college level.
The senior guard tried to take everything in stride in the first few minutes of the game, not rushing or forcing bad shots. This is impressive in itself for a senior with range playing in front of a throng of professional scouts and GMs. Points were hard to come by all night for the Bears and so were possessions so Dunn did well to get into double figures.
Overall Dunn has a smooth jumper, although it was off against the Jayhawks and he moves fluidly with and without the ball. Dunn did take some questionable shots and it seemed as if he was trying to shoot the Bears back into the game by himself. Dunn needs to improve his ball handling, court vision, and ability to handle pressure as evidenced by five costly turnovers.

Kansas

Marcus Morris, SF-PF, 6’9”, Jr. (31 Min, 10-14 FG, 4-5FT, 25 Points, 5 Rebs, 3Stl)

The slightly shorter half of the dangerous Morris twins, Marcus Morris was the high scorer in the game and showed why is making a run for Big 12 Player of the Year. Marcus showcased a tremendous mix of inside-outside play and it is likely that scouts thought highly of his solid post moves coupled with his ability to bring defenders outside and hit the three. Going into the contest, Marcus was leading the conference in field goal percentage with an impressive 60 percent.
Morris needs to improve his ball handling because he often dribbles to high and makes it easier to get the ball taken away. In addition, Marcus needs to improve his consistency on the defensive end because his intensity seemed to wane at times. Overall the Morris twin is strong, has above average athleticism, and is a consitent scorer with decent range.

Markieff Morris, SF-PF, 6”10”, Jr.(33 Min, 9-10 FG, 19 Points, 9 Rebs, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk)

Markieff Morris may be one of the most improved players in college basketball this season and showed that he has the ability to fill up a stat sheet on any given night. Markieff started re hot for the Jayhawks, going seven for seven in the first half and showed that he also has really good range for his size.
While Markeiff is still playing in the shadow of his twin brother, he is making it clear that he really has a strong game as well. Markieff does not seem to like contact as much as his sibling but more often ops for finesse type moves in the post. At times Markieff tries too hard to get blocks and finds himself out of position for getting rebounds. While he needs to improve his conditioning and how much he relies on his brother for support, Markieff has good skills that could translate into significant minutes in the NBA.

Josh Selby, G, 6’2”, Fr. (29 Min, 5-11 FG, 3Ast, 3 Stl, 3 TO)

With his height and athleticism, Josh Selby improves the point guard position left vacant by Jayhawk great Sherron Collins. However, only time will tell if Selby can live up to the high standard of poise, ball control, and scoring ability that Collins displayed during his collegiate career. Selby did show some flashes of greatness in the game, like his outstanding agility and lightning-quick first step but also made some freshman mistakes along the way. At one point in the first half Selby had a great steal but then made the bad decision to shoot a three-pointer during the fastbreak. Selby took several questionable shots that may have been disregarded by many because Kansas had such a sizable lead but in a tight game, those ill-advised shots can be costly.
Selby needs to improve his outside shooting range, his intensity on defense, his decision making, and his ability to lead. In essence, Selby is a typical freshman in college basketball except that he has talent and potential that is far above average. Selby has the ability to become one of the best point guards that Kansas has ever had if he does not opt to go pro early. Selby is a very good young point guard with loads of potential; however, he is not ready to be an NBA player at this time.

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By Marcus Shockley

After another big week of high school hoops, here are some updates on various players and notes regarding their recruitment.

Jordan Adams (SG, 6’5″, 2012) is considering three schools at the moment, Memphis, Miami and UCLA. He says he is considering all three equally. Jordan plays for Oak Hill Academy and is currently working on his point guard skills. He feels the strongest part of his game right now is his shooting and fundamentals.

Ryan Kleffer (PG/SG, 6’3″, 2011) is a player who is most known for his 54 point outburst a couple of weeks ago, and he’s already garnered a lot of interest from D2 schools and Jucos. He’s currently looking at major Juco programs and he’s a guy that D1 schools should be considering as well, with his quick first step and ability to finish in traffic. You can see a lot more of Ryan at www.RyanKleffer.com. Ryan has become a scoring machine in his high school career, quickly nearing 1300 points since his sophomore season and routinely putting up 30 plus point performances.

Waymond Wright (PG, 5’10″, 2013) plays for Upper Room in Raleigh, NC, the same high school team as Louisville commit Rodney Purvis, and often runs the point. He’s a solid ballhandler and has displayed a very accurate mid range shot when I’ve seen him play. Waymond has interest from NC State and Alabama, but I’d suggest that more schools who need a solid person to run the point should be looking at him.

Reggie Dillard (SG, 6’3″, 2012) has the most interest right now from Wake Forest, VCU, Miami, Clemson and Tulane. He says that VCU is in the most contact with him at the moment. Reggie is averaging 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists per game for Dudley High School.

Jordan Nelson (PG, 6’1″, 2011) has had heavy D1 interest and already has a load of D2 offers. Jordan plays for Lincoln High School in Illinois and Peoria Irish Travel Ball. You can see more of Jordan here, including a game against Morton where he scored 39 points, including 9 three-pointers.

Jerran Foster (PG, 5’10″, 2012) plays on Winston-Salem Prep with Greg McClinton and had to take the scoring load when Greg went down with a concussion earlier this season. I’ve watched Jerran play multiple times, including a scoring explosion against NC State commit Tyler Lewis. Both Lewis and Foster were pouring in buckets during their match up at the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic this year. Foster is sure handed and a collegiate level ballhandler, strong with a pit bull mentality about getting into the lane and scoring. He’s had multiple 30 point outbursts this season and has interest from Clemson, UNCC, UNCG (Greensboro), Winthrop, Winston-Salem State, Baylor, UNCP (Pembroke), South Carolina and several others.

Braeshaun Dozier(PG/SG, 6’0″, 2012) plays for the #1 ranked 4-A team in North Carolina, Ronald W. Reagan High School, along with sophomore Matt Madigan (SG/SF, 6’4″, 2013). Both are part of a team that executes extremely well and plays smart basketball, with effective passing, crisp guard cuts and excellent shot selection. Dozier has some interest from Furman, while Madigan has interest from Notre Dame, Appalachian State, Davidson, East Carolina, South Carolina and Xavier.

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By James Blackburn

Jordan Williams

Maryland wins 74-55
Box Score

Game Recap/Thoughts

1st Half

  • Wake Forest shoots a lot of bad shots resulting in easy fast break buckets for Maryland. They are playing too much 1 on 1 and are standing around.
  • Wake had a tough time scoring in the first half, at one point they went over 3 minutes with out a field goal. They missed several easy shots close to the rim.
  • Wake Forest is turning the ball way too much and even is having trouble inbounding the ball.
  • Wake Forest showed some flashes of good defense in the 1st half- mostly playing a tight zone- but they had too many breakdowns.
  • Maryland showed good patience against the zone.
  • Maryland showed they can play half-court basketball against a zone and they have the ability to get out and run. Wake is sluggish in the half-court and is much better in transition.

2nd Half

  • Wake is passing the ball much better and playing better team basketball early in the 2nd half to cut the deficit to 6.
  • Wake is sloppy with the ball, does not value each possession.
  • Just when Wake goes on a good run, they shoot a bad shot, resulting in a lay-up for Maryland; a few minutes later, Maryland has a 20 point lead.
  • Maryland again did a good job against Wake’s zone of going inside-out. Wake switched to a man-to-man defense towards the end of the game.
  • The officials let the players play this game, it was a physical game.
  • Wake lost because of turnovers and bad shots. Maryland won because they played good defense and got easy scores off of Wakes TO’s.

Scouting Reports

Wake Forest

CJ Harris (G, 6’3”, SO)

Strengths- Smart defender who possess a high basketball IQ. Poised player. Still making the transition from playing off the ball last year, to being the primary ball handler this year. He looked comfortable playing PG-leader on the floor, directing traffic and not turning the ball over. Is an improved passer from last year. Good FT shooter. Has a convincing shot fake.

Weaknesses- needs to get stronger finishing inside. I believe he needs to be more assertive offensively and make more plays.

Overview- CJ is one of the few bright spots on this young Wake Forest team this season. Has done a nice job developing into a PG, learning the position well from ex-Deac Ish Smith. I would compare his situation to current Bobcat PG, DJ Augustine. DJ had to make the switch to PG, after Felton left. Both players were/still are good set shooters from outside, but both are undersized and not athletic enough to play the 2 guard. CJ will be a good 4 year player at Wake. His future in the NBA is dependant on how well he can continue to be molded into a true 1.

J.T. Terrell (G, 6’3”, FR)

Strengths- Athletic, high volume scorer. Can get to rim or shoot the pull up. Had a nice back door cut and finished with a creative up and under reverse in the first half. Ability to create own shot. Is a good shooter, but brings his FG% down because of his poor shot selection.

Weaknesses- Terrible shot selection. Settles for deep fade-aways and shoots ill-advised shots early in the shot clock. Shot 4-13 from field this game. Forces the issue on the break when there are no numbers. Is TO prone. Missed an open dunk in 2nd half.

Overview- Comes into Wake as a 4-Star prospect and a Top-50 talent, and has not lived up to that billing. He has pro potential because of his athleticism, but has a long way to go. Needs to develop into a PG; develop play making and passing skills. I would compare him to JR Smith. Both players have a fiery attitude and are explosive scorers, who either keep you in the game because of their scoring and shooting, or can lose the game, because of their poor decision making and bad shots.

Maryland

Jordan Williams (F, 6’10”, SO)

Strengths- Strong, physical player. Great rebounder at both ends. Surprisingly well conditioned- averages over 31 minutes per game. Uses his big body well to draw fouls. Is only a 50% FT shooter for season, but looked very comfortable at the line tonight and displayed good form. Finished the night 9-14 from the stripe. Showed off a nice spin move going baseline in the 2nd half. Looks calm/under control though out game- very good body language. Shot 1 midrange shot late in the game- showed good mechanics- but he ran the baseline mainly against the zone and rarely flashed to the middle. Hard working player.

Weaknesses- Likes to go over his left shoulder and use right hand with back to basket. Needs to develop left hand. Needs to develop his overall defense- he just looks lazy at times on that end and took some possessions off. He struggled tonight against the taller and longer Carson Desrosiers. He has a tough time finishing over taller players because he does not get much lift on shots in low post. Also had a tough time defending Wake’s taller players.

Overview- Williams is a double-double machine this season and eats rebounds for breakfast. At 6’10”, he is the perfect size to play the PF position in the NBA. He would be smart to stay another year at Maryland to work on his defense and playing a little more on the perimeter. I think he would be a good second round sleeper in another year.

Cliff Tucker (G/F, 6’6”, SR)

Strengths- Very good in transition. Is a good finisher and runs the floor well. He is an active defender and a good passer as well. Likes to go to the basket. Showed a nice in and out dribble move in transition and finished with a lay- up. Gets to the line at a high rate and is a good FT shooter. Athletic rebounder.

Weaknesses- Needs to improve shooting constancy and range. Also needs to continue to develop dribbling skills.

Overview- Came off the bench this game and led the team in minutes played and total points with 21. Is athletic enough and tall enough to be a 2 guard in the NBA, but lacks the jump shot and dribbling skills to make it in the NBA now. I think he will make an NBA summer league roster and will probably wind up playing overseas or in the D-League next season. Reminds me of ex- Wake Forest player, Trent Strickland, who now plays in the D-League.

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7 Questions With…Alan Stein

By James Blackburn

Alan Stein is the owner of Stronger Team and the Head Strength & Conditioning coach for the nationally renowned, Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball program. He spent 7 years serving a similar position with the Montrose Christian basketball program.

Alan brings a wealth of valuable experience to his training arsenal after years of extensive work with elite high school, college, and NBA players.

Alan Stein Kobe Bryant

1. Who are some of the NBA guys you will be working with this year or have worked with in the past? Are there any thing other camps or other ventures that you will be doing this year that you have not done in the past, that you would like our readers to know about, or any new clients?

It is too early to know what NBA players (or players preparing for this year’s draft) will be in DC this off-season. I have had the great fortune of working with several current NBA players when they were in high school and college – Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Tywon Lawson, Michael Beasley, and Greivis Vasquez to name a few. While I certainly enjoy working with pros, my main clientele are junior high and high school age players. I am in the process of finalizing my summer schedule, but am looking forward to being a part of several new camps – in Englad, Jordan, Canada, and maybe Italy! I will certainly continue my staple of events in the US – the NBPA Top 100 Camp, the Nike Skills Academies, and the Chris Paul Elite Backcourt Camp. But I am excited to use basketball as a vehicle to take me all over the world. I am overwhelming thankful to do what I do for a living.

2. How did you break into the business?

I have always loved the game of basketball and became fascinated with strength & conditioning in high school. I decided this was what I wanted to do for a living my junior year in college. Basketball specific strength & conditioning was almost non-existent then (late 1990’s) so I saw this line of work as a unique niche. I haven’t looked back since!

3. What is one of the main things players need to improve on/work on when they make the jump from HS to college or from college to the pros? What area do you think most players struggle to translate to that next level.

Every time you go up a level the players are stronger, faster, and more explosive. Those are the areas players need to improve to compete at the next level!

Alan Stein

4. Do you ever turn players down that want to work out with you? If so, is it because of your schedule or players attitude, or a little of both?

As long as I can accommodate schedule wise, and as long as the player has a great attitude and is committed to their own development – I don’t ever turn away players.

It doesn’t matter to me if a kid is trying to make his JV high school team or he is a McDonalds All-American – I want to work with them if they meet the aforementioned criteria.

5. Do most players that come to you for help come with an agenda of what they want to improve on?

Yes, most of the players come to me with set goals in mind…. Which is GREAT! And for 99% of basketball players they are the same goals – get stronger, gain weight, improve vertical jump, improve quickness!

6. How is your team doing at Dematha Catholic this season? Any player who is under the radar that we should keep an eye on?

I am so thankful to be at DeMatha and surrounded by such great kids and coaches. We have an outstanding team this year. We suffered our first loss of the season this past weekend but are confident that it will serve as a valuable learning experience. We are currently ranked #14 in the nation by ESPN and have upcoming games against St. Anthony’s (#3) and Norcom (#6) – in addition to our intense WCAC schedule. We are a fairly young team and have tons of potential talent. I say ‘potential’ because they need to stay focused and keep working if they want to be as good as they can be!

7. What is next for you and where do you see yourself and the business going next?

The next major things for me after our season is over is the McDonalds All-American game (Chicago) and the Jordan Brand All-American Classic (Charlotte)… both are always tremendous events. As for my business, I just want to keep being a resource for players and coaches of all ages… all over the world.

To learn more about Alan’s work, check out Stronger Team online and you can follow Alan on Twitter or Facebook.

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By Marcus Shockley

Troy Williams (SF, 6’7″, 2013) is a player who has flown somewhat under the radar, but that’s likely to change considering the class of 2011 will soon move on, and the fact that scouts already consider him an elite talent. There hasn’t been much reported yet on the specific schools looking at Troy, who plays for Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia. I caught up with Troy to get some idea of who he’s been considering for college choices, and what he’s working on to improve his game.

1. What’s your school list, and who’s offered that you are looking at?

So far, I’m trying to keep my options open. Virginia Tech, Virginia and Georgetown have been highly interested.

2. Since you are trying to keep your options open,
do you have a timetable for a decision, or just remaining patient for now?

Just being patient. I’m not going to narrow my choices [until] my junior year.

3. What parts of your game do you feel are the strongest?

Shooting and backdoor cutting.

4. What parts of your game are you currently working on right now?

On-ball defense, ball handling, and shooting off the dribble.

5. Do you feel, as some people are saying, that the recruiting process has become overhyped?

It causes some players to act big headed, but to me it’s not really a problem. Just can’t let it get to you.

6. Do you have a player (at any level) who’s game you admire?

For high school, I admire Harrison Barnes and for the NBA, it’s Kevin Durant.

7. If you could tell people one thing they don’t know about you, what would it be?

Even though my uncle is Boo Williams and my aunt is the head coach of the Georgetown girls basketball team, I worked hard to get where I am with their help, but it was mostly because of me.

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Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (R) and Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng go for a loose ball during the fourth quarter at the United Center in Chicago on January 8, 2011. The Bulls won 90-79. UPI/Brian Kersey
By James Blackburn

Bulls Win 90-79

Box Score

Note- Noah did not play for the Bulls due to injury.

Game Recap/Thoughts

1st half

  • Game is a battle between division leaders.
  • Boston is the best passing team in the NBA- EVERYONE on the team can pass, including big men.
  • Boston is a half- court team, Bulls like to run, but also can play half-court basketball.
  • Boston did a great job on the boards early in the game. Bulls started getting a lot of second chance points at end of 1st quarter. Ended the quarter on a 10-0 run.
  • Turnovers hurt the Bulls the entire game, especially in the first half. Ended game with 21 TO’s. A lot of the TO’s were unforced. Bulls looked sloppy most of the game.
  • There is a night and day difference when Rondo comes out and N. Robinson comes in the game for Boston. Boston needs a better back up PG. Robinson is TO prone, shoots bad shots, and can’t defend very well. He is out of control on offense and reaches in too much on D.
    2nd half

  • Boston is a veteran team and they play like a veteran team. They are smart/poised/ and under control as a team. When the Bulls would go on a run, the Celtics would not panic. A lot of this can be attributed to Rondo.
  • Coach Rivers should have given more minutes to L. Harangody in the 3rd quarter. Glenn Davis did not have one of his best games.
  • The Bulls crowd started shouting “MVP” when D. Rose was at the FT line in the 3rd quarter.
  • The Bulls did a poor job of defending Davis on the perimeter. They went for his shot fake multiple times, even though Davis had missed the 15’ jumper all night, allowing Davis to get to the rim and draw the foul.
  • Big win for the Bulls ending a 2 game losing streak to 2 non-playoff teams.
  • Bulls got the win because they knocked down open perimeter shots off great ball movement in the 4th and they protected the paint.
  • Celtics lost because of the inability to guard the P/R with Shaq in the game and they turned the ball over on crucial possessions at end of game.

Scouting Reports

Bulls

Derrick Rose (38 min, 10-19 FG, 15-19 FT, 5 reb, 4 TO’s, 36 TP)

Strengths- Strong/athletic/Explosive PG. Slashes to the rim hard and finishes strong. Protects ball well when attacking the basket. Showed an improved jump shot- has ability to shoot pull up off screen and roll situations. Good FT shooter and gets to the line a lot b/c he attacks the rim. Has an unusual 1 handed floater/pull up shot that he along baseline. He shoots it when he is off balance, but he hits it with surprising effenciency. Well conditioned player- played almost the entire game, but never seemed to slow down or lose speed or momentum.

Weaknesses- TO prone- jumps in the air to make passes most of the time. Forces the issue at times- shoots bad shots- plays out of control at times. Needs to continue to work on 3 pointer and show that he can hit it consistently.

Overview- One of Rose’s best games of the season. Rose has improved every year and continues to establish himself as an elite PG in the NBA.

Celtics

Ray Allen (39 min, 7-13 FG, 3-5 3pt, 4 reb, 19 TP)

Strengths- Knock down shooter- who can hit the set 3, the set midrange, and has the ability to come off screens and shoot- very quick release. Underrated passer despite his 0 assists. Is a good defender especially against another shooter- shut down Kyle Korver this game.

Weaknesses- Needs to do a better job of finishing with contact at the rim. Has a tough time of creating his own shot against a good defender.

Overview- Allen shows game in and game out why he is the leader of 3 pointers made amongst active players. Defenders respect his shot so much, that Allen is able to get to the rim in a couple of dribbles because the defense plays so tight on him. Does not get the credit he deserves of being a solid overall basketball player who really knows the game, because of legendary shooting ability.

Rajon Rondo (37 min, 6-14 FG, 5 reb, 8 assist, 5 st, 13 TP)

Strengths- Changes speeds very well. Showed a nice touch on up and under lay ups and had a nice left hand finish over the defense. Great passer- if someone is even remotely open, they will get the ball. Poised, under control, a great leader. He seems to never be rushed or in a hurry. A true PG- he does a great job of directing traffic and directing the offense- making sure that guys are in the right spots to run the play. A true quarterback on the court. Does not rush his jump shot- good form- he knocked down a few 17’. Very quick hands on defense. Smart player and defender.

Weaknesses- Some times over penetrates and gets his lay up blocked. Needs to do a better job of getting over/ fighting around screens and overall P/R defense. Needs to continue to extend range of jump shot. Did knock down a couple of jumpers, but needs to make it consistent so the defense will respect it.

Overview- May be the best pure PG in the NBA this side of a healthy Steve Nash. Is like another coach on the floor. Directs the offense and is not afraid to tell fellow future Hall of Famer teammates where to go and what to do. People have been saying for years that if Rondo could develop a decent jump shot, he would be an all-star level PG. Well I am saying he is already an elite PG with out a shot, once he improves his midrange- he will undoubtedly be the best PG in the league.

Luke Harangody (13 min, 0-1 FG, 2 reb, 0 TP)

Strengths- He didn’t necessarily fill up the box score but this was a solid showing for the rookie out of Notre Dame. Strong and physical player. Very good rebounder who boxes out well. Is not very athletic but makes up for it with toughness. Is a good defender, who hedges screens well to stop the ball handler from turning the corner and then gets back to his man quickly. Hustle player who gives 110% on every play. Has a low release on his jumper and shoots it from the side of his head, but he showed this summer that he can shoot and has 3 pt range. Moves his feet well for his size.

Weaknesses- Needs to be more of a threat on offense. Had a rookie mistake at the end of the 3rd quarter- passed the ball when the shot clock was at 1, when he should of shot.

Overview- Very smart player. I thought he deserved more minutes this game. Was coming off his first double-double the night before in a win over Toronto. Even the Celtics like him, Coach Rivers minutes for the rookie have been erratic. Minutes are soon going to be hard to come by when Perkins and Garnett come back from injury. I believe Harangody will become a good player in this league. Reminds me of other players who are not the greatest athletes, but have found ways to be effective in the NBA because of heart, hustle, rebounding, defense, and strength. Such players include ex-Celtic Leon Powe, current Celtic Glenn Davis (who eats a lot of his minutes) Dejuan Blair, and Paul Millsap.

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By Marcus Shockley

Greg McClinton (SF, 6’6″, 2013) is an AAU teammate of Rodney Purvis and a great prospect from North Carolina. Greg has length and a ballhandling ability that will allow him to play the 3 in college and probably a lot of the 2. He’s a big time athlete with a good head on his shoulders, a quick first step and an ability to get above the rim. But all of that doesn’t tell you one of the most important things: He plays under control, keeps his emotions in check and just wants to help his team win. He doesn’t jaw at the officials or other players or showboat, which makes his explosiveness that much more impressive. It’s hard, as a fan of the game, not to like McClinton’s approach, and it’s not a surprise that he admires Harrison Barnes’ reputed work ethic.

He can defend multiple positions and moves very well laterally. If he can improve his consistency on his outside shooting, he’s going to really be difficult to guard and has the talent and potential to play beyond the college game.

Here’s our 7 Questions with Greg.

1. The first question (it always is): Which schools are you considering,
what offers have you received or what colleges have been communicating with you?

Offered:
Wake
Xavier
Virginia Tech
Miami

High Interest:
Louisville
Clemson

2. What visits have you taken or plan to take?

I have visited
Louisville
Wake
Virginia Tech
Xavier
I plan on visiting Miami sometime next year when I have the time.

3. What are the parts of your game that you feel are the strongest?

I feel that I do the little things. I can rebound, I have a nice pull up mid-range, I can get to the basket, and I think I’m a good defender. I have a good basketball IQ.

4. Are any coaches giving you feedback on your game, and if so,
what are they telling you they want to see?

They want me to play harder and be more consistent. They also want me to improve my shooting ability from deep.

5. What are the parts of your game you are currently working on?

I’m doing a lot of shooting and ball handling, and working on being a better finisher around the basket.

6. Can you name a current or past player or a coach (at any level)
that you may admire and why you admire them?

Harrison Barnes. I really like his game. I hear from people all the time that he has a great work ethic. I think he’s going to be a great player one day.

7. If you could tell people one thing about you that you wish
they knew, what would it be?

That I’m a good kid and I’m just trying to get better and be the best I can be.

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