With Thon Maker skipping college and heading straight to the NBA, sports enthusiasts are questioning if this will indeed re-open the Pandora’s Box of too early, too young. This subject has been sort of taboo and has been a close cousin to the conversation of paying college athletes. Cause and effect to a lower degree if you will; players with pro-level talent should surely go straight to the league right?
A controversial question that comes down to several factors. Is the player mentally and physically ready? And can the player endure a season that is at the least four times longer than his previous high school term? The upside of going straight to the NBA is the obvious financial boost in one 18 year old’s life. The downside is that players who are not ready tend to run out of gas in the middle of their first season and face the threat of being out of the league by the end of their second season. The highly skilled Thon Maker potentially can be a huge success story in the NBA. His game film is testament to why he was advised by his circle of confidants to make this bold move. But in the rearview mirror it is an obvious chatter among the elite players in high school’s class of 2017 and even ’18 that if this works for Thon Maker, what says it can’t work for the next man with those type of skills. Stay tuned.
Problem…Sports enthusiasts and self proclaimed experts suggest early comparisons of high school basketball players to pro players is a bit premature. Solution…Show them game film on Jayson Tatum, Trevon Duvall, and Harry Giles and then see if they retract these thoughts. Different styles, bright futures, and bonafide present-day all stars. These words are a short description of three of the most talked about stars in high school basketball. The comparisons of these young talents to former pro stars come easy to any true basketball fan. Watch Tatum for a game or two and its hard not to see shades of Tracy McGrady.
The similarities are uncanny. McGrady had the ability to take over games at the high school and pro level. A perennial all star who decided to skip college competition to enter the pros, McGrady was noted as possibly the best at using his length. A long guard that forced countless match up problems with the opponent, McGrady goes into the basketball history books as collectively one of the most electric scorers of all time. That said, watching class of 2016 Duke commit, Jayson Tatum moves fans of the game to seeing an obvious comparison to McGrady. Tatum too creates incredible miss matches as the best point forward on the present day high school basketball scene. If you haven’t heard the story on Tatum yet here’s a quick breakdown. He’s a 6’8 small forward from Chaminade High school in St. Louis, Missouri. As said earlier, the five star athlete is a Duke commit and will more than likely make a huge splash on the college scene that can only be compared to what Jabari Parker did only a short time ago. Tatum’s highlight reel explains a lot and while its a respect to the game not to place high schoolers in the category of future hall of famer, it is more than fair to say that Jayson Tatum has game and skill level comparable to a young McGrady. Meanwhile another class of 2016 commit, Harry Giles certainly brings up comparisons to another recognizable former pro in Shawn Kemp.
Most famous for his role with the former Seattle Supersonics who were relocated to Oklahoma City, Kemp was a big man who mastered his role of playing above the rim. He also became a legend with his lethal accuracy from the “top of the key.” Giles who is presently at Oak Hill Academy and also a Duke commit doesn’t necessarily try to imitate the ways of Kemp but has the default game of the latter because of an almost identical skill set. Very much the high flier and above the rim player, Giles will too knock down those mid to long range shots with a level of accuracy normally seen in the best guards. And let’s not forget the defensive similarities between the two. Supreme verticals usually begets supreme shot blocking ability and Giles has taken up an advanced course in rejecting the opponents’ attempts. Obviously Kemp is a historical figure in the terms of professional basketball success even more for those who watched the game during the 90’s era. This generation may indeed catch their version of the Kemp-like skill set in Giles. Finally Trevon Duval is the top guard of 2017 and has earned the right to be compared to a pro star. Duval’s humble but fierce approach to the game has garnered the respect of the high school basketball world. It’s hard not to see the resemblance between Trevon Duval and NBA legend Kevin Johnson.
Those who were fortunate enough to see Johnson in play saw one of basketball history’s greatest floor generals. He was also one of the best at spreading the floor and creating his shots during clutch moments. Although Duval is only a junior in high school the fanfare that he has experienced is understandable. He has been described as having an advanced knowledge of the floor and pro level skills. More than that is put a tape of Kevin Johnson and Trevon Duval next to each other and you see early legendary status connecting itself with the young man from Advanced Prep Academy. Pundits will of course dig in and place question marks next to these young prep stars and say action speaks louder than words. Fans of these three will cheer them on regardless. Their comparable mentors wouldn’t hesitate in saying stay tuned.
At first glance Nick Meunier seems too small for division one college football. After all why would major programs that constantly reload their receiver units with 6’2 and taller receivers take a chance on this young man. Seems like Meunier is set for a bright future outside of football as he shines a Rhode’s scholar-esque 31 score on his ACT. Is it tangible to move him into the category of overlooked prospects? The answer is pretty obvious to any scout or college coach who are wired into the recent successes of smaller, quicker receivers. Nick Meunier comes out of GCMS high school located in Gibson City, Illinois. He is a senior whose team touted one of its more successful seasons in its long football history. Meunier comes straight from the pages of Cole Beasley and Mike Dudek. Beasley as you may already know was a standout at SMU and is now catching passes with the Dallas Cowboys, while Mike Dudek has reached stardom level for the Fighting Illini. Meunier knows that he has the work ethic and skill to be an effective weapon in any type of offense. The question on college coaches’ minds is if Meunier can be as effective as the Beasley and Dudek types, and if so does he have the frame of mind to take the physical pounding that comes along with that role. Nick Meunier would answer any questions about his skill and toughness with a marine-like confidence. He already understands that with every opportunity given there comes with it a responsibility. In this case the responsibility would be preparing for the physicality of a level of play that is much more faster and physical than what he may be used to. Any fan of football or just sports itself would have to love the unflinching hardihood in Meunier eyes when knowing he may indeed be on a division one football field this time next year. If asked where he would like to continue his football career, Meunier would sternly look any coach in the eye and answer, “Wherever and with whomever i get the chance.” Stay tuned.
Keep John Embrey’s aggressive nature at a minimum. This is what offensive coordinators who face the Montini Catholic defense are hammering into the heads of their players. Embrey on the other hand torments skilled position players with a brand of very old school hitting. “Butkus-like” with his style, the senior linebacker unleashes hits and tactical style fierceness that has garnered the respect of Montini’s past and future opponents. Much more than that, his demeanor has impressed linebacker coaches in the SEC and Mountain West conferences. “Plays faster than his actual times” is a common theme used when talking about John Embrey. The mainstay in the middle of a “seek and destroy” style defense will continue to impress fans of the mighty broncos, as they move towards another championship run. When all is said and done the college program that welcomes this young man into their defensive family will not only get a gritty gamer, but will also gain a welcomed attitude throughout the locker room. It’s not a surprise for upcoming opponents to stay tuned for upcoming film on Embrey. Montini’s plans are to keep winning. Football fans plan on anticipating the next big hit. John Embrey, well he plans on doing what he does best and that is introducing his opponent to an old school physical brand of football.
Four games and 70 tackles later, Peyton Finkbeiner has confirmed himself as a future college football player. Although he is listed as a linebacker on his football roster, Finkbeiner fits the mold of a PAC 12 conference safety. Often identified as very aggressive and as some of the best textbook tacklers in college football, PAC 12 safeties over time have gained the respect of football experts as the best at this craft. One of the surest tacklers coming out of the state of Illinois, the stout Finkbeiner has now solidified himself and his skill set as division one caliber. At 6’0, 195 pounds, the tenacious young athlete was closely watched this summer to see if he could drop his then 4.7s 40 yard dash speed. Not only did he drop his time, but impressed several schools with a current shuttle time of 4.4s and legitimate 40 yard of 4.59s. Finkbeiner was once considered off radar. Not anymore though. Finkbeiner has caught the eye of local as well as a number of national scouts as far as the southwest region. As the Centennial charger continues to aggressively hunt down ball carriers, his push to 70 tackles in only four games cannot be ignored even by the most scrupulous stat committed recruiter. Introducing himself to the national scouting scene may be a little overdue. Scholarship offers are right on time. Being one of the nation’s leading tacklers…stay tuned.
An intense battle at quarterback is taking place in the midwest and it involves Brandon Wildman and DJ Lee. Scouts everywhere have become engaged on these two young talents’ gameplay that although are completely different, are still lighting up the stat sheets. Wildman has consistently impressed college coaches with his premier pocket passing ability. The senior from Monticello High School has been extremely accurate this season, as he has passed his way to nearly 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in just three weeks of play. Wildman has prototype size at 6’4 208 pounds, and more importantly has proven that he possesses the arm strength and touch on his throws that are commonly seen in major college programs.
Meanwhile 30 miles north in the town of Champaign, DJ Lee’s dual threat skill set is now a heavily talked about item amongst college coaches in the midwest as well as southern region. It’s understandable, as Lee has emerged as one of the more refined athletic passers in the class of 2017. A continuous question on this fleet-footed athlete from St. Thomas More High, is whether or not his passing ability can remain consistent throughout a more sinister college football schedule. In Lee’s mind he is confident that his shoulder has been well trained to sustain the rigors of a defensive onslaught that will definitely be presented on the next level. At the end of the day though, he knows that his scrambling ability will give him that extra second to find his targets. Both Wildman and Lee have brought themselves to the next step of being bonafide bluechippers. Wildman of course being a senior will have the opportunity to compete on a division one level sooner rather than later. As for Lee, he will sit in film study sessions and sharpen his skills week by week. As for the two together? Wildman and Lee meet in week seven of the 2015 season and one can expect a number of scouts to be watching and breaking down the two qbs for strengths and weakness. To the fans of high school football…stay tuned.
As some high schools around the country are headed into week 3 while others week 4 of the 2015 football season, many players are heading toward the level of top notch recruit while others are still working to gain headway on scouting lists. There is still a lot of season left and plenty of things can happen on the field but even the most fact finding scout will recognize these players as solid top threats going into the upcoming weeks.
Offensive- Running Backs/ATH
Najee Harris-’17/Antioch (CA) The Alabama commit is averaging close to 300 yards per game rushing and for good reason. He’s made it his business to carry the offensive load on his back by breaking down defensive fronts with his shifty, yet powerful running style.
Quardraiz Wadley– ’16/Kennedale High (TX) Wadley will continue to aggressively attack gaps in opponents’ defenses as eyeing a 1500 yard rushing season is runner up to his first goal of early team success. Although his team has a solid defense, Wadley’s rushing success may indeed be the cornerstone for the Wildcats’ future success.
Vic Johnson– ’16/Cookeville (TN) If any back in high school football is running harder than Vic Johnson, that player needs a standing ovation. Johnson’s 260 yards per game haunts the minds of his future opponents due to his old school style of running. Tough, low center of gravity, and refusing to go down by one defender is what this down south runner has shown the high school football world to date.
Jordan Green– ’16/Greenwood (AR) This straight line runner has left his previous two games with the complete respect of both opposing defenses due to his no-nonsense approach to running the ball. Green may indeed find himself in the slot position in a division one program with his “Welker” like running ability. A 250 yard rushing average per game isn’t a bad statistic to carry around early season but future competition may indeed be cringing because of what Jordan Green can potentially do in the slot position.
Tyreace James– ’17/Centennial (IL) New to the recruiting scene but certified ability is what future opponents are realizing about James. A true slasher and retroactive type of talent, this hometown hero is becoming a statement and no longer a question mark in the notes of college scouts. His 6.4 yard per carry average should remain consistent in a conference full of defensive juggernauts.
When scouts first glance at Max Meylor, they immediately note his prototype size and arm strength. 6’3 and 208 pounds of division one material is how Meylor should be identified. With the ability to complete each type of pass that big time college programs require, the Mt. Horeb/Barneveld Viking has drawn plenty of interest in early season action. Although Meylor may have come into his senior season under the radar of blue chip passers, college coaches are finding their way to his highlight reel with understandable interest. Is there dynamic ability in this young man? A more critical question would be whether or not Meylor can handle the adjustment of faster receivers at the next level. Without a pause, offensive coordinators at the college level would give these questions the yes nod as Meylor is more of a “show me, don’t tell me” type of player. Although its still early in the year, the current state of play from Max Meylor is an indication of confirming himself as a high caliber passer. Stay tuned…
There’s a slight rumbling going on in the world of college football recruiting. The subject of this noise is Thaddeus Moss. Who is he and why is he such a big subject? Thaddeus Moss is an elite tight end recruit out of Charlotte, NC. At a 6’4, 250 pounds, the Mallard Creek all star is the son of the future first Ballot hall of famer Randy Moss. Randy Moss of course revolutionized the meaning of a deep threat as he terrorized secondaries from the late 90’s all the way up to his final Superbowl appearance with the 49’ers in 2013. What Thaddeus Moss plans to do is learn the intricacies of the game from the elder Moss and display his own all-star skill beginning at the collegiate level. While he also plays defensive end, Thaddeus is the most effective on offense. Which part of Moss’s game will be more lethal to the opposition is still a question that only a further traveled career will answer. Will it be his already intimidating size, his sprinter’s speed, or the fact that he will be apprenticed by arguably one of the top two receivers in the history of the game? A valid fan of the game would say its a mix of all three. At that size he’s got a tremendous advantage over most defensive backs and his speed makes him uncoverable by even the most agile backers. With a mind as seasoned as the elder Moss coaching young Thaddeus on parts of the game that even most pro players have not experienced, we get a new and improved Randy Moss in a tight end’s body. Of course the critics will say that he’s just a kid and hasn’t proven anything yet and there’s tons of obstacles in his way. But the haters who proclaim doubt will have a front row seat as this young talent shows that he is up for any and all challenges. Hypothetically speaking, Moss has everything in his favor to get to football excellence. Building up his own football identity is a journey that Thaddeus Moss is taking and loving. As it was with the hall of famer, so it will be with the younger Moss and that is that failure is not an option. Defenses need to know this…Thaddeus Moss is coming. Stay tuned.
Every now and then you get an athlete from a small town who could make a big splash on the recruiting scene. Nick Bates is a small town talent playing at Tuscola High School in Tuscola IL, and he has the talent to be something special for the class of 2016. At 6’1 and a little over 210 pounds, Bates is a sort of “Johnny Bravo” for not only the team but his town. As the fans of the Gold and Black rally around their impressive-armed quarterback, college coaches are getting ready to take notes on this young man. Nick Bates has proven that he can throw a very accurate pass at the short and mid ranges with a lot of zip. His pocket presence is exactly on point with division one quarterbacks and his toughness has been forged into his character from playing linebacker over the past 3 years. After seeing Bates play the quarterback position coaches are left standing with an assured look on their faces. They are left in a confident state of mind knowing that Bates has every tool required to play on the next level. A 4.0 GPA validates the fact that he not only uses athletic ability on the field, but he also has a crafty intellect able to map out defenses before making his chess-savvy throws. If there was a college passer from the past or current day that Bates can be compared to, it would have to be Brian Hoyer. Hoyer of course had a good career at Michigan State and continued his career on the pro level. Same throwing style and an almost exact physical match later, Bates has answered all the necessary recruiting questions. Arm Strength…check, QB intelligence…check, desired size for a division one quarterback…check. What’s next for Nick Bates?…college football scholarship offers. The program that he will play for is a question that his fans and coaches will hope to be answered soon. Stay tuned…