One Last Look Back at Orlando

New England Recruiting Report | Monday, August 2nd, 2010

One Last Look Back at Orlando

The New England Recruiting Report spent five days in Orlando last week watching the action at the 17u Super Showcase, 16u AAU Nationals, and 17u AAU Nationals.  At the end of the week we came away having learned some things about the state of AAU basketball, realities in today’s recruiting world, and how New England stacks up. 

1.  Nerlens Noel could the best shot blocker in the country - It’s one thing to watch him block a bunch of shots in an MIAA game.  It’s another to see him block 20 shots in one game at AAU nationals and then see him take over down the stretch of the national championship game, turning potential lay-ups away left and right.  Noel left Orlando having been anointed as the best shot blocker in the country, not by NERR, but by college coaches and national media members who have seen the best of the best. 

2.  These guys can score against a high level of competition – Georges Niang and Rene Castro proved that they could still make plays and score points against the highest levels of competition.  Tavon Allen and Freddie Wilson were two guys who proved the same for CBC in their run to the semifinals of the u17 tournament. 

3.  The NCAA should bring April back and trim July –By the end of the July players, coaches, parents, and college coaches are all exhausted and ready to go back home.  The problem is that without the April live period, coaches are still scrambling to evaluate potential talent in July instead of locking in on their top priorities like they used to.  Best case scenario in our mind is to bring back the April live period and shorten the July period. 

4.  Pat Connaughton blew up – We’ll have our top ten stock risers of the summer later this week.  Suffice it to say that Connaughton is tops on the list.  He went from America East, Ivy, and NE-10 offers to Notre Dame, Tennessee, and UCLA in a matter of ten days.  Disney should make a movie about it!

5.  AAU basketball needs a shot clock – You can’t blame coaches for taking advantage of the rules and right now the rules don’t include a shot clock.  That resulted in a variety of teams trying to freeze the ball and run the clock.  It makes for a brand of basketball that isn’t fun to watch, isn’t productive for college coaches to evaluate, and doesn’t have any correlation to the college game that these kids are supposedly preparing for.

6.  Division II is still pretty good – While the u16 and u17 national champions were crowned this week, so were champions at the division II level.  The notion that there isn’t any talent competing at the division II level was proven dead wrong, you just have to know where to look.  Connecticut Gold and the Central Connecticut Hoopstars finished 4th and 5th respectively at the u17 level while CMAC Hawks, MBR, and Boston Warriors all had teams competing at that level.
7.  B.C. got a good one in Dennis Clifford – Because Clifford is already committed, coaches obviously weren’t flocking to see him.  But make no mistake about it, had B.C. not wrapped this one up early they would be in a recruiting war right now.  There just aren’t that many near seven footers who make jump hooks with both hands on the block and shoot three-pointers.
8.  It’s a Numbers Game – When you spend the week in Orlando and get the chance to watch the top talent from around the country it helps to put recruiting levels in perspective.  Consider this – there are approximately 75 BCS level schools right now.  Say roughly 2/3 of those schools need a point guard for next year, then that means there need to be 50 high major point guards in the country…guess what…there aren’t.  Bottom line, the reason why many mid-major talents are ending up at the high major-levels is because of lack of better options. 

9.  Calling all point guards and shooters – speaking of point guards, there aren’t a whole lot of them anymore.  There are plenty of guards who need the ball in their hands to be successful, but a terribly small percentage of them really understand what it means to run a team and make their teammates better.  The same can be said for knock down shooters as there are a lot of kids who love to fire from long range but not a lot of guys who really thrive in that area anymore.
10.  New England has never been stronger – BABC takes the gold medal at the 16u nationals and CBC runs to the Final Four of the 17u nationals.  Meanwhile Middlesex Magic, Granite State Jayhawks, Boston Warriors, and others make nice runs during the course of the week.  All of this without programs like the Playaz, Rivals, Expressions, and Hawks even participating in nationals.  Pretty impressive to say the least.  Stay tuned for more on this later in the week.