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January 21, 2010

Scouting Jon Horford

Michigan could take two more players from the class of 2010 and has two targets, apparently, at the top of the list. In addition to Mount Pleasant (Mich.) wing Trey Zeigler, Grand Ledge (Mich.) big man Jon Horford has emerged as one to watch closely.

Horford and Grand Ledge scored a 59-37 win over Pewamo-Westphalia Jan. 19 behind Horford's 20 points, 19 rebounds and four blocked shots. Several were able to get a glimpse of him against better competition when the Comets faced Lansing Eastern a week earlier, led by Division I prospect LaDontae Henton … even more thanks to the full game video provided by LifeinLansing.com.

The scouting report:

Horford is long (a legit 6-8 plus) but skinny, and will need some hours in the weight room before he moves on to the next level. He's got great hands, however, a nice touch around the basket and outstanding work ethic on both ends of the floor. Henton took advantage of Horford's lack of strength to bully his way to the rim a few times, getting Horford into early foul trouble (two fouls in the first half).

Horford scored seven points in the first quarter, working hard to establish position but hounded by two or three defenders on every touch. He showed off good footwork in the post but usually had very little room to move, missing a baseline turnaround hook, scoring on a nice up and under after receiving a pass and making his move before a second defender could arrive, and getting fouled on two other post moves. He went to his right hand on all three occasions - twice he'd have had it easier if he could have used his left, and probably would have finished despite being fouled.

Where he was most impressive was passing out of the post. He kept his head up and hit the cutter on Grand Ledge's first possession and did it again on three or four occasions throughout the game - sometimes his teammates finished, sometimes they didn't. As some have mentioned, Horford's young supporting cast isn't all that talented, making him the obvious focus of defenses, but he's supportive and doesn't try to force it (with one exception - when Grand Ledge fell behind by 25 in the third quarter, he launched a 23-foot triple off the dribble out of frustration that ended up a foot short).

Horford was active on the offensive glass, scoring two on a tip-in (following his first missed tip) and another two on an offensive putback. He went to the free throw line four times, making three (despite awkward form, one foot forward, he does sport some touch), but missed two of his three shots outside of three feet, including a turnaround jumper from five straight away off the back iron. He also scored once off a couple dribbles, putting his shoulder down and shielding to finish.

He runs the floor well … he finished once with a four-footer off the glass when he hurried down the floor on the break to quickly establish position, then kissed a righty off the glass from the right block. His other two hoops came on scrambles when Eastern lost him, allowing him to finish (he showed off his athleticism on one alley-oop finish).

Henton and Eastern ran Grand Ledge out of the gym, with Henton scoring 29 points and adding 14 rebounds, surrounded by a much better supporting cast. Horford finished with a quiet 17 and eight rebounds, protected for much of the game on the interior in the Comets' 2-3 zone after getting into early foul trouble. His teammates had a hard enough time getting the ball up the floor let alone making entry passes, often lobbing them up and putting him in bad position when he came down.

Horford told TheWolverine.com recently U-M remains his leader, though others continue to watch him closely. He'd prefer to stay instate and would like to play immediately … gaining strength should be his first goal toward that end. Expecting him to help significantly immediately would be a stretch.

U-M has been keeping close tabs, however, having seen a few of his games already this year, while Horford has been on campus at least twice in the last month.


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