Posted On: 02/7/18 2:57 AM
Evaluating athletes isn’t that hard. Anybody can see greatness. It gets difficult seeing nuance and anticipating growth, both physical and mental, in a teenage boy.
This venture will attempt to identify five players that I initially underappreciated. Maybe the player had a bad game the first time I watched. Maybe I missed a skill in their game. Possibly the included player is shorter than is ideal for his future position.
For whatever reason the following players did not strike me as nearly as good as they now appear.
Like Cane Ridge, Ensworth has a lot of similarly talented guards. When many players are cast in overlapping roles the onset of redundancy blurs value. For instance, Dominic Wynn barely touches the ball for a future point guard largely because he defers to older more established players like Jaylan Clemmons, Warren Zager and dual-sport star Keshawn Lawrence. Wynn will be really, really good. I expect the lefty to hopefully grow an inch or two, but his outside shooting and current efficiency indicates a rich future in this game.
Any time a football player plays basketball he is expected to rebound well while also lacking the ability to handle, shoot from the outside, and create much offensively. In essence football players are known for being basketball grunts. ‘Go get us an offensive rebound and try not to foul out,’ imply coaches. Well, Jorden Starling does what you would expect from a football player and then also provides leadership and a soft touch. While most D1 colleges aspire to lure power forwards taller than 6-foot-6, many LM-MM teams wind up with shorter than ideal frontcourt players. Starling will be a college football player, but the success he had against Oak Hill Academy and Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (and Ensworth two weeks ago) suggest he would easily adapt to a D1 college program. Those three opponents boast multiple college prospects and he was not overwhelmed or minimized. Starling seems to always be in the right place on the floor. He can bang with any high school big.
Disturbingly thin for a junior starter, Keyshawn Collier can really score the basketball. Like Wynn, Collier’s touches are not always directed towards the basket in the halfcourt. Don’t mistake his passing instincts for fright or timidity. When Collier decides to attack he can succeed several different ways. Collier’s outside shot will be the marketable skill that eventually attracts college interest.
Though he still makes some questionable decisions, Juwon Carpenter is undeniably strong with the basketball and fast enough to get by good defenders. Playing against East Nashville, Carpenter was the best player on the floor for stretches. It shouldn’t take more than one game to get a good read on Juwon, but my first evaluation was one of his first games of the season (Marshall County) as he began later than the whole Stratford team. Suffice it to say Juwon has settled into his role as starting point guard and offensive creator.
HHCA has lost more games than customary. The challenge of replacing two HM guards is wearing on the team. Lately two starters found themselves demoted to bench players, maybe because the team didn’t come out committed to dominating early. Regardless, Wheza Panzo started since late fall. Last year the 6-foot-6 wing filled in capably as a utilityman. With added responsibility Panzo now solves problems. The Canadian does everything better than average. He rebounds very well, shoots very well, passes well, etc. Panzo didn’t dominate the scoring column until this season, but certainly earned his recent @PrepHoops #4 ranking with versatility.