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July 11, 2004Saturday at the Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis, Ind., saw a second match up between Richard Hendrix and Tyler Hansbrough. The only problem was that Hansbrough's teammate Andrew Bynum spent much of the game matched up against Hendrix, since Hansbrough was rotating into the game with another line up.
As far as numbers go, it was a wash between the three, but here is a take on the abilities of these prospects.
Tyler Hansbrough (8-foot-6 reach)- Hansbrough plays with as much energy as any player on the circuit, which says a whole lot for a post player. He runs the floor very well and constantly attacks the basket with his offensive moves and rebounding. His range is very limited. In fact, after watching him closely throughout the camp, I never saw him make a shot outside 8-feet. His free throw looks solid, however. When he attacks the basket from the perimeter, he almost always turns his back to the defense, trying to spin his way to the basket. In other words, he turns his perimeter moves into post moves. He does not have a reliable jump hook yet, so he has difficulty scoring over a bigger player if he can not get an edge on him. His attacking style does draw a lot of fouls. Lastly, he never displayed noticeable passing skills.
Defensively, he does a terrific job keeping his man in front of him, and he has the strength and love of contact to effectively defend in the post and rebound. He did give up some buckets on the perimeter and in the post when he did not leave the ground to contest the shot. Never, however, did I see him let his man get by him for either a score or a rebound.
Richard Hendrix (8-foot-9 reach)- Hendrix possesses as good a set of hands of any big man I have seen play. If he gets a hand on a rebound or pass, it is his. In the post, he has the ability to attack the rim or score over bigger players with a jump hook. In the game Saturday, he led the break twice, once finishing it with an accurate behind the back pass to his teammate running the lane. He was very fast and solid with the ball on both occasions. He is also good with the ball on the perimeter. He can make the three-pointer when the defense backs off. He can also put it on the floor and hit the midrange pull up jumper. Not a great passer, he is a good passer from the low and high post. His jumper and fee throw have an extremely low trajectory, but they go in.
Defensively, he is effective like Hansbrough, but he uses his strength more than his quickness. He is, however, a better shot blocker than Hansbrough.
Andrew Bynum (9-foot-3 reach)- Bynum is not in the class of either Hansbrough or Hendrix right now. With his enormous reach and huge size, Bynum is a potential NBA center while Hansbrough and Hendrix are power forwards. The keyword for Bynum is potential. He is too heavy in the upper body and not in good enough shape to keep up with the pace of NBA or high major basketball. Once he makes it to the paint, however, he is a force to be reckoned with. He does not have the agility or quickness to make sophisticated post moves, but he is big enough to catch, pivot, and score over most defenders. He also has the hands to go up and catch a lob pass in traffic. At the Nike Camp, I never saw him do much as far as passing the ball, and he has very limited skills outside the paint. What he does have is NBA size.
Defensively, he is an imposing figure in the paint. The only problem would be if he has to guard a player who can step out and shoot and put the ball on the floor.
Now the post player with the most rounded game at the Nike Camp was Josh McRoberts.
Josh McRoberts (8-foot-9 reach)- No one on the circuit ignites a fastbreak any better than McRoberts. He can fire an accurate outlet pass easily past half court, and he specializes in busting out with a couple dribbles after a defensive rebound to create an angle for either a outlet pass or assist pass. On one classic play Saturday, the left handed McRoberts ripped down an defensive rebound, took a couple dribbles with his right hand, and then flipped a one handed right hand pass over an oncoming defender for a lay-up on the other end. Further displaying his lethal combination of size, mobility, and skill, McRoberts later drove past Brandan Wright with his right hand and then threw down a crushing right hand dunk on Magnum Rolle, never touching the ball with his dominant left hand. His range is pretty consistent out to 17-feet, and he can make the three-pointer like Hendrix. In the post he has a plethora of moves and finishes all based around his patented up and under move. In fact, he sometimes gets too complex with his moves and works himself into a less open shot. In short, McRoberts is the perfect power forward to run your offense through in the high post and then screen down into the low post after he swings the ball.
Defensively, he gets the job done just as Hansbrough and Hendrix do. Not quite as strong as those two, he is more used to guard perimeter players. As a shot blocker, I would put him ahead of Hansbrough and behind Hendrix.
As far as a top performance on Saturday, 2006 prospect DeShawn Sims would get the honor. He hit threes off the pass and off the dribble. He scored in the midrange area and around the basket. He is both physical and skilled and almost impossible to guard one on one. He is certainly one of the better prospects in the class of 2006.