After being out of town for most of July, I was able to return to Winston in time to catch the last few nights of the Triad Pro Am league, held this year at the Gateway YWCA. The league features local college players and players from Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State, and Guilford College, as well as pros from the area. The notes below are some reports from the standouts during the playoffs.
Andre Washington (Wake Forest, 7’0″, C, JR)
Andre played as good as I have ever seen him play in any setting. Was matched up against pro player, Justin Manns and was able to more than hold his own. Looks better- new and improved- more confident- dunking hard and with authority. Playing w/ good energy. Protecting the rim and was getting solid post position. Washington was simply a beast in the paint all night. Needs to continue to improve balance but will have an impact this season at Wake playing like he did this week.
Lepreece Lynch (Lees-McRae, 6’4″, G, SO)
One of the better all around pure scores I saw. Not lacking any confidence when it comes to putting up shots. Rebounding well on both ends and follows his shot. Was able to get to middle of floor and making good kick outs to teammates.Takes some bad shots- but is always a threat to score.
Craig Hinton (VMI, 6’6″, F, SO)
Is stronger and playing with good energy on both ends. Very impressed with his improvement on the defensive end. Showed he could protect the paint and move his feet on the perimeter while staying in low defensive stance. Providing the highlights that he always does with his out of this world athleticism. Shot looked a bit flat early on- but hit a few outside jumpers and threes as well.
Justin Manns (Lebanon, 6’11”, C)
Upper body looks stronger then last year and is playing tough inside the paint. Showing some solid footwork and patience in the post. Had numerous blocks tonight from the weak side.
Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest, 6’3″, PG, JR)
Looked solid all night. Running the show- had numerous assists- sharing the ball and being unselfish. Was hitting his pull-up. Changing speeds better in the open floor. Just looked like he could do whatever he wanted on the floor at any point.
Robert Holcomb-Faye (Holland, 6’1″, PG)
Terrific lead guard. Plays the game as a pro should- is patient, takes care of the ball, and has terrific court vision. Is in good shape and can score when needed.
Trever Hyatt (Guilford, 6’3″, G, SO)
Possibly the best shooter in the league. Saw him back to back nights and was impressed both times. Great body language and doesn’t get rattled. Showed the ability to get to the rim and score as well over taller shot blockers.
WyKevin Bazemore (Winston-Salem State, 6’4″, G, SR)
One of the top 3 overall scores I saw. Terrific one on one player who can score from the perimeter and at the rim. Does a good job of drawing contact and getting to the line. Should have a huge season at Winston-Salem State this year.
Aaron Rountree III (Wake Forest, 6’8″, F, JR)
Love his motor and energy. Excellent in transition. Capable of leading the break. Has a quick 2nd jump which combined with his timing and athleticism, makes him one of the best shot blockers in the league. Needs to continue to improve ability to hit open shots. His team won the championship for the 2nd year in a row.
All of Aaron Rountree’s strengths could be summed up very easily in a couple of words…”Plays Hard”. Other words that could be used would also do a good job of defining his game include “Active”, “Energetic”, and “Tenacious”. Rountree is a coach’s dream in that he plays every possession like its his last, diving on balls, sacrificing his body to save a ball, blocking shots, and running the floor. He plays 100% all the time. His high motor, activity level, and energy level culminate in nearly every part of his game on both ends of the floor.
Defensively is where Rountree makes the biggest impact. He is extremely versatile and is capable of defending 3 different positions, from a 2-4. He uses his long frame and great wingspan to corral and hound the opposing teams ball handlers. He is a tremendous defender, to put it mildly. Wake uses him at the top of their zone pressure full-court defense and he causes problems with not only his length and activity level, but his foot speed as well. He can cover a lot of ground quickly and is capable of sliding his feet and staying in front of quicker/smaller players. For a 6’8” guy he is above average in his lateral quickness. He plays the passing lanes well and gets a ton of deflections. Even though he was only credited with 1 block this game and 0 steals, he must have deflected or gotten his hands on almost 10 balls. Many times even when he wouldn’t get a steal or deflection this game he forced the opposing PG to have to call a time out because of pressure or he would make a mistake like travel or make a bad pass that led to a steal for a teammate. He is third on the team in total steals for the season and as his minutes increase I can see him leading the team in that department by the end of the year. Smart defender- at one point on the press- he got a hand in and deflected ball handlers dribble- he picked it up- Aaron left him and denied closest man- he had to call TO. Gets around screens and does a nice job of caboosing off the ball screens and contesting shots. Blocks and influences shots- contests shots on the perimeter. Leads team in blocks even though he is only averaging 13 minutes a game. He is also a terrific rebounder on both ends and he attacks rebounds both in and outside his area- crashes offensive boards nearly every play.
Offensively Rountree knows his limitations and provides positive contributions in several areas. One area where he has impressed me with is his playmaking ability. He is averaging twice as many assists than turnovers on the season and makes smart passes to open teammates. He is underrated and willing/unselfish as a passer and his IQ for the game is also underrated. Even though he isn’t a great ball handler, he has shown repeatedly this season and did so again tonight, the ability to drive the ball and kick to open teammates. He also knows how to enter the ball to the post. He is at his best in transition offensively, and is capable of finishing above the rim. He attacks the basket and draws fouls. Part of that is due to the fact that his shot is inconsistent and needs work, but it also speaks to his aggressiveness and what type of player he is. Didn’t shoot anything outside of a FT this game- but he is shooting 50% for year from the 3-point line. I watched him shooting in warm-ups and he has a high release and good arc- but needs to work on mechanics. He is also shooting over 60% from FT line and the field.
Rountree is still raw in several ways, most noticeably offensively. His shot is inconsistent, even though he is shooting over 50% from every area, as noted above. His mechanics are flawed and he flicks the shot more so then shooting it. He puts his left hand on top of the ball slightly and his left elbow is out. The ball doesn’t get much rotation either. On the FT line he doesn’t really bend his knees and uses mostly his arms in his shot. He also needs to get stronger and fill out his frame some more. His dribbling isn’t bad at this stage for his height, but it needs to get tighter and he cant really change directions/speeds with ball at this point either. He didn’t show the ability to create his own shot or get by quicker players on the perimeter consistently. Also has a tendency to put ball over head in half-court situations.
Still tends to make some freshman errors, which you would expect, especially early in the season. These include being out of position and turning his back to the ball at times. He plays so hard and contributes in so many ways though that it is hard to take him out after a mistake.
Another strong performance tonight from Rountree to help lead his team to a much-needed win over Furman. I don’t think I have ever written so much on a player who had so little to show in the box score, but it just reinforces everything I noted above about the way he plays. He is a fan favorite and its easy to see why. He makes team better when he is on the floor and is active teammate while on bench as well. He is a coachable player who is a solid teammate and displays a great attitude at all times. He hustles on both ends, provides great energy off the bench, doesn’t complain, just competes. He is someone you want on your team. He is a leader and encourages his teammates.
I would love to know Aaron’s +/- score- on the floor as it seems his team goes on runs when he is in game and he makes so many positive contributions.
In my opinion he is the best pro prospect on the team and it would not surprise me if becomes a 1st round pick after finishing his career at Wake. Depending on how fast he improves and progresses on the offensive end, he may be a first rounder after his junior year. His defense, length, high motor, and offensive limitations remind me of Michael Kidd Gilchrest from Kentucky. Rountree’s rebounding and defensive skills will translate at the next level nicely. He has a ton of upside and will continue to improve as he gets more time on the floor.
Game Recap/Thoughts 1st Half
Wake wins the tip and CJ scores the games first points on the Wake’s first possession, prompting Coach Miles of Nebraska to take off his jacket.
Cornhuskers respond with a 8-0 run.
Wake is struggling to find a rhythm offensively to start shooting 2-9 from the field w/ 5 turnovers and find themselves down 11 to 4 with 13 minutes remaining.
Andre Washington, Wake Forest 7’ freshman checks in 7 minutes in- some of the first action he has seen all season (played 5 minutes up to this point).
Wake has employed a Full court press that has rattled Nebraska a bit and has them playing outside their comfort zone.
Wake is throwing fresh legs in the game and is turning Nebraska over to tie the game.
Fischer is on fire…he is 3-3 from the field since entering game- giving Wake a huge boost and getting the crowd into the game like I haven’t seen this year.
Nebraska’s center Andre Almeida is a load to handle inside….he is 6’11” and weighs 314lbs. He moves his feet pretty well for his size and has great touch.
Wake finishes half struggling offensively and getting beat on the boards and finds itself down 28-24.
Rountree is starting to open up the second half.
Nebraska is beginning to get into foul trouble, but Wake can covert on the line.
Codi Miller-McIntyre turns the corner on a P/R and gets the lay-up to go pulling Wake with in 5.
Ray Gallegos for Nebraska can really stroke it from deep- Nebraska on a run to go up double digits with 13 minutes remaining.
Wake is getting beat on the boards and fins themselves down 12 half way through the second period.
Ray Gallegos is 5 for 5 for his last five shots and Nebraska has extended its lead to 18 w/ 8 minutes and change remaining. Time Out Wake Forest.
Nebraska is shooting a blistering 70% from the field this half so far and Wake is turning the ball over….the result…a 24 point Wake deficit.
Wake making a run to pull with in 13 w/ 2 min. remaining. A little too late I am afraid.
Aaron Rountree (F, 6’8”, FR)
Another great performance from the freshman forward after his breakout game the other night against William & Mary. Came in game and again (like last game) made an immediate impact- making a defensive play and a nice tip in offensive rebound basket with in the first minute on the floor. He plays so hard every possession and never gives up on plays on either end. He has the highest motor on the team and is very active. Versatile and active defender who can defend up to 4 positions. His length causes problems and he plays the passing lanes well and tries to block everything in and outside his area. He was out of position a few times defensively and gets a little over anxious at times and picks up a cheap foul, but over all is the best defender on the team in my opinion.
On the offensive end, he is still adjusting to the college game but he does impact the game on this side of the ball in a positive way as well. He is a highly underrated passer and is constantly making plays and setting up teammates perfectly. He can lead the break and is a pretty good decision maker in the open court. He isn’t afraid to attack the basket. His shooting is still suspect and he needs to develop a consistent mid range game but it will come. He also needs to develop a tighter handle and get stronger, but overall he is a solid prospect with great upside.
He has been the longest player on the court every game I have seen him in this year. If they did +/- scores in college basketball, he would constantly have a positive score- makes such an impact. Competitor on the floor- leads by example and by communicating- something you usually don’t see from a freshman. He finished this game with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks in just 16 minutes of play. He should be getting at least 20 minutes a night from this point forward for the rest of the season. With his length, versatility, youth, motor, great on court attitude, and his ability to rebound the basketball, I would say overall he is the best NBA prospect on the team, with Travis McKie being a close second.
Chase Fischer (G, 6’3”, SO)
Came off the bench and knocked a couple of spot up 3’s after struggling with his shot in recent contests. He is still a knock down set shooter who has great form and gets his feet and shoulders square to the rim. He can also knock down shots coming off screens. But Fischer’s overall game has improved from being strictly a set shooter like last year. This is what he is best at and known for, but this game he was talking and directing traffic while on the court and was the leader for this young Wake team. He is also passing the ball and defending better then last season and is creating shots for teammates. Overall he is much more active on the court and especially on the defensive end this year. Finished with 9 points on 3 of 5 shooting, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in only 13 minutes of action. If he continues to play like this, its going to be hard to keep him on the bench that long and his minutes will increase.
Dylan Talley (G, 6’5”, SR)
Dylan entered tonight’s game leading the Cornhuskers in points per game and assists per game, but struggled most of the night going 4 of 16 from the field. He needs to improve his ball handling and his ability to go left. He does pass the look test and appears to have an NBA ready body with good size for the guard position and a solid frame, but he doesn’t have the speed/quickness to by defenders on the perimeter. He is a great FT shooter however and a superb rebounder. He draws fouls at a high rate and attacks the rim. He has a quick second jump and attacks the offensive boards. Didn’t show the ability to turn the corner on the P/R even going to his strong, hand which is right and struggled to create his own shot this game. Had a quite 14 points on 4-16 shooting but was 6-8 from FT line and grabbed 8 rebounds. As far as his professional projections, I think he would be a great option for some 2nd division teams in Europe or possibly a first division team in a country that is not a major basketball spot, like Italy or Spain.
Brandon Ubel (F, 6’10”, SR)
Ubel was limited with foul trouble most of this game and would eventually foul out, but not before he cracked double digits in the scoring column. He has a good frame/build and a solid back to the basket game as well. He displayed anice up and under drop step move and the ability to score with either hand. Fundamental player who is solid in most areas. He sets good hard screens and uses his strength to not allow any of Wake Forests post players to get good position. Showed he could put ball on floor for straight line drives to the rim and score. Struggles to defend on the perimeter but does a nice job defending the post. Not an above the rim type player but works hard and has a high IQ. Will probably receive a couple work out invitations come draft time from NBA teams if he continues his solid play in Big Ten games (Currently averaging 15.6 ppg and 8 rpg), but will most likely ultimately end up playing his professional ball overseas.
Andre Almeida (C, 6’11”,SR)
Big time performance this game from the powerful center. Andre does a great job of carving space inside and getting solid post position. He is highly efficient offensively 5 ft and in and even showed he could hit the open midrange jumper. He has great hands and a soft shooting touch. He displayed a decent back to the basket game and has a hook and drop step in his repertoire. He proved virtually un- guardable one on one tonight and only missed 1 shot the entire game. He moves his very feet for someone with a 300+lb frame, showing the ability to hedge screens decently. He is foul prone and plays under the rim, but knows his limitations and doesn’t force anything. He does a good job blocking shots and protecting the paint and uses his body to get good rebounding position. Almeida also gets up and down floor decently as well for someone his size and played 27 minutes tonight. Completely dominated this game on both sides of the floor by shooting 9-10 from the field with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots (Also shot 2-2 from FT line). He has already dropped 40 lbs since arriving on campus and is down to 314 lbs. He is coming off a red-shirt year because of an injury and has had a solid senior campaign so far. If he can continue to drop weight and get in the 290 range, he would be an attractive D-League prospect being a legit back to the basket big, who can move his feet decently and has a great shooting touch.