Extensive coverage of
Tennessee High School Basketball
by Andre Whitehead

Carson Newman Showcase Evaluations (Syracuse 41-50)

Finally we begin our evaluations from the annual Tennessee Prep Hoops Carson Newman Showcase. This is a lengthy process with evaluations from myself and five college coaches who's input I sought when putting these thoughts and suggestions together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syracuse (41-50)

 

  1. Isaiah Benjamin (Cosby) 5'10 PG 2018

Effort point guard who really takes pride in his defense. He has a solid basketball mindset, plays very unselfish and doesn't mind running the show. "He really defends the ball", was a point made by almost every evaluation. He is quick, consistently gets by his defender and generally makes the correct decision with the ball. Offensively he needs to improve his overall game. His shot is a bit erratic and off balance, he has trouble finishing at the rim especially when he finds the pace a bit to frantic for his liking. "He has an offensive game in progress", was a point made by one coach and that seems to be the consensus. Really good kid who truly enjoys being on the court, he again plays with effort and has a motor and once he brings his offensive game close to on par with his defensive abilities he will be a solid contributor for someone on the next level.    

 

  1. Jordan Wilkerson (Rhea County) 6'3 SG 2018

"I'm starting to like this kid very much" says one evaluation for the rising senior guard from the Chattanooga area. Great size, good frame, he seriously passes the eye test and he has some abilities. He runs the floor, mid-range and rim game are solid, he uses his size and athleticism for easy buckets and has a decent stroke. "He plays without  emotion" and we always like that was another positive comment made for one of the better players at the camp. It was a mixed bag on his shooting prowess from nice stoke to needs to develop a jumper so I'm sensing some inconsistency, which is what I myself observed. Shot selection is another area where improvement can be made immediately. His athleticism is of the strong body type and he could benefit from some explosion and lateral quickness improvement. Needless to say I was impressed with his effort and his skill set.

 

  1. Drew Pember (Bearden) 6'7 WF 2019

"If he competed every time down the floor he could play at a very high level". This kid has ball skills, an excellent stroke, he has next level length and athleticism but we must question his motor. He can play inside-out, I need to see him become a better rebounder at that size, but he does have a knack for blocking shots especially from the help side. I'm sure he hears, till he cant stand it any more, but he must get his strength level on par with his skills. Confidence will take him to the next level, I know it. "His lack of girth keeps him on the perimeter much too often, he is a raw project though and once he actually gets it, he could be nasty, especially with that stroke from deep". The love fest from the evaluations was on point but to a man emphasis was on getting tougher, stronger and playing harder for longer periods of time. Simple as that.  

 

  1. Sawyer Smith (Morristown West) 6'4 PF 2020

Young big man has yet to grow into his body. He has decent size but lacks foot work and coordination at this juncture. He plays with effort, there is no doubt about this. He goes hard and seems to be the type of kid who will work to get better everyday. "He has to learn to move his feet ad take advantage of his size", was one quick note from the coaches helping me with the evaluations. He doesn't catch the ball clean, so hand strength will be an area he need work as well as making his body ready for the interior pounding of the high school game. His shooting touch is simply non-existent. He needs to work on his basic shooting fundamentals and get with a coach to work on his shot. Big kids are generally the slowest to emerge as they begin high school but once they seem to understand the maturation process is rapid. He will be a work-horse kid who gives you effort, keeps possessions alive, defends the other teams best post and gets you five worth your money fouls per game. Invaluable assets for coaches.  

 

 

  1. Kannon Oggs (Rhea County) 6'1 SG 2019

Rising junior has certainly improved his offensive game. Solid athletic kid who has a decent shot from the perimeter. He has good length and plays with confidence on the offensive side of the ball. He settles for the outside shot on way to many occasions and will need to use some of his natural ability to take some forays to the bucket. "He is much to good an athlete and competitor to be such an average defender" was the most glaring of the evaluations concerning his lack of focus on the defensive end. We understand its camp and the action gets going but as we mentioned before the camp even began you are being watched. He has shown marked improvement since last season and his confidence level is high. Translate some of that into more defensive effort and you will reap the results.

 

  1. Grant Reardon (William Blount) 6'0 PG/SG 2019

Tough, gritty guard who really did some good things at the camp. He has some POP, he is aggressive, gets to the rim, finishes well and will knock down the perimeter shot if left open. He is solid off the dribble and doesn't mind making the sexy pass for the easy bucket. "He has a good feel for the game but he takes a great deal of chances with the ball, coaches dislike turnovers so tighten up some of that action", was one quick note as was "He doesn't seem to care about playing defense". This one could be a concern but as most players who are trying to show their offensive prowess in the camp setting sometimes the defensive portion gets put on the backburner. He is a solid athlete with strength and some length who could be a really tough defender if and when he decides this is going to be something he holds as a priority. I think his best basketball is still in his future, it is entirely up to him as to which direction he wishes to take his game.    

 

  1. Josh Grooms (Polk County) 5'10 SG 2020

This kid just loves to play, not super skilled, not blessed with size but he gives effort and plays with heart and passion. Bully-style guard who actually has a good stroke but must work on making his body more basketball friendly. "Play to your strengths" was one glaring opinion, stop trying to do things your not physically capable of doing. "Don't force the issue" make the game slow down to your comfort tempo, make better decisions with the ball and work on the things you do well, keep possessions alive, get 50/50 balls, offensive boards and making your defender work for his buckets. You have to find your niche, find where you belong and how you can contribute.    

 

  1. Mason Rothwell (Bradley Central) 6'5 PF 2021

When incoming freshman come to the showcase, I generally like to observe how they handle themselves. Are they scared? We forget these kids have yet to suit for their first high school game. This youngster has some size and showed when open and all the fundamentals were observed he could knock down an open shot. He needs to work on keeping his head up and seeing the action in front of him. He did play a bit tentative and needs to work on getting his body tougher and more physically ready for the interior pounding of the high school game. His game will take a huge overhaul when he gains the confidence from being able to finish and hold his own on the block. I think he has a chance to be a solid player down the road, you cant teach size but everything else requires hard work and dedication.

 

  1. Keontai Windrow (Hillsboro) 5'6 PG 2019

Small defender but aggressive with the ball, he has decent court vision and actually is a good rebounding guard for his size. He doesn't have a shy bone in his body and he is quite the aggressor on the defensive side of the ball. He has some trouble finishing off the dribble and really need to be cognizant of making better decisions with the ball in his hands. He plays at too frantic of a pace at times and creates bad situations for himself. Controlling his tempo and using his overt quickness would allow him to be more precise with the ball. All the typical musings about his size and everything that comes with that permeate his evaluations, his effort was never in question. He loves to play, he is a gamer, he doesn't back down from anyone or anything so play your game young man, work on the things we talked about here.