Keith Gatling coach Wesleyan Christian NC basketball

By Marcus Shockley

Scouting notes from the 2014 Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, MA, starting with Findlay Prep (NV) taking on Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC). Wesleyan stayed close until the second half, where turnovers and lack of defensive intensity allowed Findlay to open it up and pull away, winning 73-43. Wesleyan is missing two key players in JaQuel Richmond (PG, ’14, committed to Houston) and Harry Giles (PF, 6’8″, ’16) who are both out with injuries.

Theo Pinson (SG, 6’6″, 2014) Wesleyan – Theo continues to refine his game in ways that I think are being overlooked. It irritates me when I hear analysts call him a small forward – I see him as a prototype high major shooting guard. He can play the 2 or the 3, but at the college level, he’s going to see a lot more time at the 2 because of his ability to drive and shoot from deep, which brings up the other point about analysts’ comments regarding Pinson that I don’t understand. Many times I’ve heard he can’t shoot from deep; yet I’ve seen him blister teams from outside many times- he shoots in rhythm, with a high, quick release and he’s very accurate. The other knock I’ve heard on Pinson has been his defense; but I noted last season that he really committed himself to guarding on the perimeter. Pinson is not a point guard, although he did run the point for Wesleyan quite a bit in this game due to Richmond being out. But he is very effective at driving to the basket and either finishing in traffic or finding open teammates with the pass. Pinson also works hard at the mental game, he approaches the game as a teammate and doesn’t try to make plays that he shouldn’t. Pinson will see significant minutes at UNC.

Kelly Oubre (SF/PF, 6’7″, 2014) Findlay Prep – Listed as a small forward, but right now he’s more of a 3/4 hybrid. Explosive and active on the defensive end, Oubre guarded the perimeter well and had a couple of open court steals. Plays above the rim and has great awareness. Oubre is a good athlete and has a decent ability to drive. However, I would be concerned about how well he can guard or drive against collegiate small forwards. He will need to develop a mid range to shoot over quicker guards and forwards, and he is susceptible to the quick drive or step back jump shooters. That said, he’s definitely a high major player who will get a lot of minutes at Kansas and should continue to improve. Definitely an active, impact player. Excellent timing on blocks. Has a lot he could add to his game, in a positive way. Excellent free throw shooter. Oubre is committed to Kansas.

Derryck Thornton Jr. (PG, 6’1″, 2016) Findlay Prep – very quick, solid handle and a true point guard. Thornton is more effective in the transition game – has excellent vision on the break and good speed. Had trouble finishing inside – was able to beat his man off of the dribble but didn’t finish effectively until the fourth quarter. However, he didn’t turn the ball over and was solid as an on-ball defender.

Rashad Vaughn (SG, 6’6″, 2014) Findlay Prep – one of the few unsigned top prospects in the 2014 class, Vaughn is a great deep shooter who also can put the ball on the floor and drive. Has a collegiate build already and looks like he will make an impact adding points as soon as he arrives at the college level. Definitely has the size to cause matchup problems and has good poise to his game.

Dillon Brooks (SF, 6’6″, 2015) Findlay Prep – Brooks was a nice surprise, coming off of the bench and contributing several nice plays – hit from deep and finished above the rim with a massive dunk. Has a good build and can play some at the 4.

Michael Buckland (SG, 6’4″, 2016) Wesleyan – Buckland ran the point some as he and Pinson worked to make up for the loss of Richmond. A solid athlete, Buckland was a little overwhelmed at the point in this game due to playing out of position, but he has good athleticism and continues to show he is a Division I athlete. I feel strongly that Buckland is a player that Division I colleges should actively be recruiting.

Craig Victor (PF/C, 6’7″, 2014) Findlay Prep – A true big who has excellent strength and poise in the post. Even though he has the strength to finish with ease, he has a soft touch around the basket. Committed to Arizona.

Horace Spencer (PF, 6’8″, 2015) Findlay Prep – Excellent athlete with good timing. Had a couple of really nice blocks and has some upside. Decent hands and likes to get in and mix it up on putbacks, but had trouble finishing at times.

Donovan Gilmore (PF, 6’7″ , 2014) Wesleyan – Gilmore is one of the best athletes in any game he plays in, and I expect him to likely be in the upcoming Ball Is Life dunk contest at the Triad All-Star game in March. However, he had trouble getting his hands on the ball against the athletic big forwards of Findlay. He did have a nice looking pull up jumper, and I would like to see him develop a more active ability to get open for the mid range shot. With his explosiveness, if he could consistently show the ability to hit the mid range, he’d be able to use a pump fake and blow by the defender for the dunk.Had a couple of putbacks in this one. Committed to the College of Charleston.

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Tickets for the sold-out rematch between Greensboro Day and Wesleyan will be impossible to come by, but you can still see the game. NetCast Sports Network will be broadcasting the game online at this link.

This game will feature several future collegiate players as well as some of the top basketball prospects in the nation, including Christian Hairston (SF, 6’7, ’13) of Greensboro Day who has signed with Furman and his teammate Reggie Dillard (SG, 6’3, ’13) who has signed with Presbyterian.

Greensboro Day has several other solid collegiate recruits such as Reed Lucas (SG, 6’4, 2013) which helped them remain undefeated until last week’s loss to Shannon Hale-led Christ School.

Theo Pinson Wesleyan

Wesleyan has guard JaQuel Richmond (PG, 6’1, ’14) who has offers from Indiana and Ohio State, Theo Pinson (SG/SF, 6’6, ’14) who has offers from North Carolina and Duke, Donovan Gilmore (SF/PF, 6’7, ’14) who has offers from several schools including College of Charleston, Trey Mitchell (SF, 6’7, 2013), a VMI commit and one of the top freshman in the nation, Harry Giles (SF, 6’8′, ’16) who has interest from Duke, UNC, NC State and Wake Forest.

Watch the game at this link, game time is 7 PM ET on February 5.

NetCast Sports broadcasts multiple games during the high school and AAU season, and while monthly subscribers will automatically have access to the game, NCSN has made available ‘day passes’ at a discounted price of $1.99.

By Marcus Shockley

More player evals are coming, but here’s a few notes from this year’s EYBL Final Four matchup between the CP3 All-Stars and the Oakland Soldiers.

Oakland Soldiers vs. CP3 All-Stars

Oakland Soldiers 55
CP3 All-Stars 53

The CP3 All-Stars come in loaded with a couple of a high flyers, one of whom being Theo Pinson (SG/SF, 6’5″, 2014), who has an electric style of play as evidenced in the highlight dunk from the Saturday night win over E1T1 (video above). Pinson is a big time athlete with great length and bounce. Still working on his handle but has great elevation on his jump shot. Pinson continues to track as one of the top prospects in his class.

The Oakland Soldiers’ biggest name is Aaron Gordon (PF, 6’9″, 2013) a long player with great awareness and quickness from the big forward spot. It’s not unusual to see Gordon bringing the ball up the floor and finding an open teammate. He is a top flight basketball talent, excellent footspeed for a big and light touch around the basket. He is versatile and can pull other bigs away from the basket in order to drive around them. Still needing to add muscle to bang in the paint but Gordon is a future pro prospect and likely lottery pick when he makes the jump to the NBA.

Sam Hunt (PG/SG, 6’1″, 2013) continues to impress me with his ability to score, even against elite talent. Hunt is sort a forgotten man on CP3, since there are so many big names, but I currently have him as the #2 PG in NC in his 2013, so I’m not surprised to see him getting buckets at EYBL. Hunt is strong and has a consistent deep shot.

The Oakland Soldiers, in this game, went as Gordon went- they took an early lead, but when the big man picked up his third foul late in the first half, CP3 took advantage and built a small lead. Greg McClinton (SF, 6’6″, 2013) showed much of the explosive athleticism that highlight video guys desperately seek. McClinton has an agile ability to get putback shots and finish in transition, but also can shoot from mid range or deep, as we saw during the high school season.

Kendall Smith (PG, 6’2″, 2013) is a capable, sure handed point guard for Oakland, while the player who gives a real boost to Gordon is Stanley Johnson (SF, 6’7″, 2014), who has a great ability to do his work in the mid range, whether it’s exploiting gaps in the zone defense or getting off his own shot on the move. For CP3, Youssoupha Kane (C, 6’11”, 2013) continued to show he belongs on the national scene with his superb shot blocking ability and some decent offensive moves. Kane is a solid prospect with a lot of room to grow as a player. Definitely a guy who has slipped through the cracks of the national rankings due to his limited exposure in the United States. Reggie Dillard (SG, 6’3″, 2013) showed an improved ability to pump fake on the perimeter and drive effectively for CP3.

The final play came down to free throws at the last second, with Pinson unable to convert after being fouled on a three point shot, and the Oakland Soldiers advanced to face CIA Bounce in the championship game.