So after going a little more in-depth about Kahlil Whitney and Brycen Goodine, I figured I’d just toss together one more post that serves as something of a catchall for the rest of my thoughts on the day I spent at Drive Nation in Irving for a day of EYBL action.
I didn’t get to see as many of the big-time players as I’d have liked, meaning I missed out on catching Cole Anthony and only saw a little of Vernon Carey. I was focused on spending as much time watching Syracuse targets as I could, so I wound up only seeing about 6 or 7 teams in total.
That said, I certainly have some thoughts on my Saturday watching some of the best young basketball talent in the country.
Isaiah Stewart is a freaking man
It shouldn’t come as any real surprise, but the 6-foot-8 power forward from Rochester is every bit the physical specimen you expect. Built like a young Karl Malone, Stewart proved himself to be an animal on the boards. He also showed some nice touch around the rim, and used his body well to clear space so that he could go up and finish. One particular sequence that stood out and showed a glimpse of the kind of talent he is involved him grabbing a defensive rebound and, once he realized he had no guards to outlet to, took it up court himself and finished a floater with ease.
Of course, Stewart drew some of the biggest crowds of the day, with Duke, Michigan State, Georgetown, and Villanova (among others) sending multiple players – including Coach K, Tom Izzo, Patrick Ewing, and Jay Wright – to check him out against BABC (and Brycen Goodine). Adrian Autry and Allen Griffin were there for Syracuse, and hopefully the Orange will be able to stay in the fight and, if we’re lucky, land the local kid.
Joseph Girard, unsurprisingly, can really shoot
Now, Joseph Girard’s scoring and shooting numbers weren’t as off the charts as I’m sure a lot of people were expecting. He averaged 12.2 points-per-game and shot a shade under 40% from three-point range. But it’s clear that the kid can really shoot the ball, and those scoring numbers shouldn’t concern anyone. After all, did you really expect the kid to pump in 50 against the best guards in America?
Now, Girard was interesting to watch. He made some tough shots, and showed off a pretty good handle as well as some toughness taking the ball into the lane. He did seem to struggle a little, at times, when being hounded by the quick, aggressive guards I saw him play against for Expressions Elite. They forced him into some turnovers, and made him take some tough shots. Full disclosure – that header image I used, featuring Girard? His shot was blocked on that play. More athletic guards seemed to give him a little bit more trouble than he’s probably been used to in recent months, considering what a step up in competition it is.
That said, I still wouldn’t be too worried about him averaging “only” 12 points over the course of the weekend. The City Rocks have a really deep and balanced team. Stewart was his team’s leading scorer at 13.2 points-per-game, with Girard right behind him as the only other player in double-figures. He hit some tough shots, and is clearly fearless when it comes to that department. By the way – Girard is listed most places these days at either 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2. He happened to walk by me at one point, and as someone who is 6-foot-2, I certainly felt like he was a little shorter than me. I’d peg him as 6-foot-1, legitimately.
This and that…
Instead of breaking down other players from here on out, I’ll just do some quick hitters, since I didn’t really spend as much time watching some of these other players.
- John Bol Ajak is an interesting prospect. At about 6-foot-10, he’s the kind of long, rangy post player Jim Boeheim loves to place in the middle of his 2-3 zone. It’s easy to see him developing into a Bourama Sidibe-type player, though he’s pretty raw offensively right now, from what I saw. Still, he’s got solid form on his jumper, and what I liked best was that he appeared to be a good and vocal teammate. He was communicating on defense, and when a teammate got knocked down and the other guys on the court were slow to react, Ajak yelled for them to run over and help him up. He strikes me as a guy who, if he winds up in Orange, will be a Dome favorite.
- I may have caught Khalif Battle on a bad day. The younger brother of Tyus really struggled in the game I watched, as he just couldn’t find his shot. His jumper was flat from the beginning, and like Tyus, his form (particularly in his legs) was a little funky. He did have one nice take that I saw, driving baseline and finishing with a pretty reverse layup. I was a little struck by how much smaller he is than Tyus, too. He looked about 6-foot-4 and maybe about 180 pounds, probably a little less, though he’s got such a baby-face that it’s clear he likely hasn’t finished growing, and certainly hasn’t filled out. He’s an interesting prospect, for sure, and again, I likely just caught him having an off-game. But right now, based on what I saw, he clearly looked a bit behind Brycen Goodine and Girard.
- Mika Adams-Woods and Symir Torrence both looked terrific from a physical standpoint, and are two guys to keep an eye on. I don’t think Adams-Woods will work his way up to Syracuse’s radar, but Torrence may well be a guy they look at in the future. Adams-Woods looked pretty solid in the time I saw him, and he’s clearly worked hard on gaining strength and some bulk. He’s still a skinny kid, but not nearly the beanpole he used to be. At 6-foot-3 and with a solid frame, he looked like a player who’s going to have a nice career – albeit likely at a mid-major.
- Kofi Cockburn is an enormous human being. I’m not convinced that Syracuse is truly a player with the 6-foot-11, 280 (at least) pound center, and he’s certainly a different type of post player than you typically see in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. But Cockburn is a strong rebounder, and showed off a surprisingly soft touch around the hoop. He’s got a chance to be a good, throwback center at the next level. By the way, his EYBL teammate and Cooperstown native Tyler Bertram can really, really shoot the ball… but he’s much smaller than I thought he’d be. He’s typically listed at around 6-foot-4, but he didn’t look to be more than 6-foot-2, in my eyes. When he was next to Jalen Lecque, for example, he clearly looked at least an inch or two shorter than the dynamic 6-foot-4 guard.
- Andre Jackson is a 2020 prospect that Syracuse fans should get familiar with, seeing as he already holds an offer from the Orange and, based on the early word, seems like a virtual lock to wind up on Syracuse’s roster. He’s 6-foot-7 and long, as well as really athletic. He didn’t get a ton of playing time for the City Rocks, but he’s got some tantalizing talent.
- Speaking of special 2020 talents, I can’t finish things out here without talking about Addison Patterson. Syracuse hasn’t offered yet, but I desperately hope that the offer comes sooner than later, because this kid is about to blow up, and I’m convinced he’ll become a really special player. The 6-foot-7 guard plays at AI Prep (which produced Howard Washington and Oshae Brissett) and CIA Bounce (coached by Tony McIntyre, father of Tyler Ennis), so he’s got some Orange connections. And, again… he’s one hell of a talent. He’s got offers from Florida and Oregon already, and more are sure to come. He can handle like a point guard, he’s long and very athletic and has the potential to be a real menace defensively, and he can score in bunches. His shot isn’t consistent yet but you can tell he’s got the ability to turn into a really solid shooter from deep. I firmly believe that, when it’s all said and done, he’ll be a lottery pick. Hopefully the Orange get in on him early and can lock him down.