Posted On: 06/22/18 3:06 PM

A small purple-wrapped gym, early June 2018 hosted promising, elegant face-up forward Justin Headrick and Stone Memorial High.  Justin Headrick (PrepHoopsTN #62) will ultimately land somewhere DI-DII.  The tall forward instantly brings shooting touch and a surprising willingness to distribute.

What does the Tennessee Tigers 17u/Stone Memorial forward Justin Headrick do well and what are his weaker spots?

Offense (0-15)
HS PF perfection = James Wiseman

Justin’s score: 11

Justin Headrick banks on an incredible shooting touch.  Open shots, when they arrive, are converted at a high clip. The forward offers a high release point and consistent form.

Headrick’s senior season will be infused with devoted defenses.  Much of his time will require shot creation.  Thankfully, the coaching staff and teammates understand how to utilize Headrick’s talents well.  More on that in the Passing section.

Outside shooting bigs used to be an oddity.  By the late 90’s taller shooters became a novelty.  Since Kevin Durant made a Hall-of-Fame career out of it the elite shooting big man has evolved into a requirement.

Headrick’s style of play could not exist in a more appropriate era.  Outside shooting is highly valued and floor spacing seems to be a part of every coach’s gameplan.  With Justin Headrick’s velvety shooting touch as his most bankable asset college coaches need to make detailed evaluations soon.  His skill is worthy of a long look.

Too often he will get nudged out of his intended spot.  The ability to hold his posting position will determine how active Justin can be on the blocks.  He is a slender young man now.  Broadly speaking very tall young hoopers have trouble keeping on weight until their early 20’s.  Because opposing bigs tend to have lower centers of gravity they can often knock Headrick off his selected starting position.   Defenders will get taller as he climbs the basketball ladder, but they will not get weaker.

Improving lower body strength and balance are glaring priorities.

Defense (0-10)
HS PF perfection = Kevin Garnett

Justin’s score:6

Headrick is very active.  He takes pride in his help defense.  With a relatively short team at the other positions, Stone Memorial definitely needs him helping away from his man.  Headrick cannot guard perimeter players, so imagining him as a future wing is difficult.  With Justin Headrick’s wonderful outside shooting touch it would be lovely for a college coach utilize him as a 6-foot-7 wing.

That doesn’t look realistic.

For that reason I must evaluate him purely as a post defender.  Headrick’s instincts and investment are wonderful.  His leaping ability is good, not great.  He doesn’t explode in to the sky and most of the blocks he records now will be near misses at the college level.  Guards beyond high school are incredibly explosive and much more physical in the paint.

Headrick’s upper body strength must improve to allow him to defend DI post players.

With his timing blocks can happen.  Of course the more stout college players manage to be in the perfect position to make those blocks.  Headrick projects as a shotblocker from the helpside.  With added girth he could become a shotblocker on-ball too.

Rebounding (0-10)
HS PF perfection = Kevin Garnett

Justin’s score: 6

Thin yet tough, Justin Headrick records high rebound totals with Stone Memorial High.  If you look purely at the numbers, then there are not many better rebounding forwards in the state.  What worries me a little is that Justin routinely plays against 6-foot-4 bigs.

When faced with a daunting Blackman High team (March 5) Justin wrangled just a single defensive rebound (2 overall).  Surely an outlier the game still needs to be acknowledged.  Blackman in 2017-2018 was a physical team with four college bball-bound seniors.  Blackman owned the glass against Headrick and his SMHS teammates.  Specifically, Brandon Thomas tucked away two rebounds while Trenton Gibson hauled in nine!

Can Justin rebound better outside his area?  He has the agility.  He has spry legs and long arms.  It takes a special kind of hunger to be an elite rebounder and Justin Headrick should be able to get there.  He must develop a craving for looseballs even though some opponents will not force such carnivorous tendencies.

Passing (0-10):   9

Stone Memorial Head Coach Neil Capps operates with the principle that the threat of Justin scoring is just as powerful as the actual scoring.  Headrick flashes to the basketball and entire defenses react.  The scouting report easily informed Christian Brothers High of Justin’s outside shooting prowess and the smart defenders reacted accordingly.

Abusing this over-reaction from the weakside, Justin Headrick found teammates with ease.  He sees over high school defenses really well and loves to involve distant teammates with a skip pass.

Headrick’s shooting touch can be seen through two prisms.  First, when he shoots it often goes in the basket.  That is good.  Secondly, when Justin gets the ball it often enter’s the defenses’ mind that he will shoot and it will go in the basket.  What a wonderful opportunity for baiting the defense!  In this second instance Headrick is able to utilize his exceptional passing vision and passing touch for the team’s benefit.

Intangibles (0-5)
HS PF perfection = Shane Battier

Justin’s score: 4

Bright kid.  Trains hard.  Justin Headrick gets rave reviews from all who coach him.  Personality is a plus.  Coachability is a plus.

For all the success he has earned to date, Justin Headrick’s team did lose 18 games last winter.  Never place the entire burden on a single player, sure.  Close games do require the great players to play great.  Can Justin close out close games with timely finishes?  His skills and size indicate he should be and will be a go-to scorer for Stone Memorial in 2018-2019.

Scoring or drawing fouls in high pressure spots is mandatory for Headrick’s basketball climb.  Though guards get more touches, Headrick needs to grab the game by the neck and finish it off offensively.  How great would be it to watch Headrick power up an and-1, make his free throw, and then pull down a game-ending defensive rebound?   That is the kind of dominance that a D-I prospect like Justin Headrick needs to inject to every contest in his final high school season.

FINAL SCORE (0-50): 36

Justin Headrick immediately demands your attention.  Standing 6-foot-7 Justin Headrick looks like a top basketball player and frequently performs as such.

There are wrinkles in his game (strength, grit) that are likely to improve with physical and mental maturity.  Then there are a few shortcomings that might be baked in (average lateral mobility as wing, explosion vertically).  Considering his strengths and weaknessess Justin Headrick showcases as a low major face-up forward.

The skills and size make him attractive.  The thin frame is a concern, but not a deal-breaker.  Teams need outside shooting from their bigs now more than ever.  He runs with Tennessee Tigers 17u in July.

Look for him.  Both Justin and his shot are hard to miss.

Previous evaluations

33     F Brandon Thomas (2018 Blackman)        Signed Bryan College-NAIA

36     WG Brandon Miller (2021 Cane Ridge)

37     PG Caleb Fields (2018 Marshall County)      Reclassed to 2019 with Aspire Academy