Friday, August 29, 2008

Elite 24: 2008

I ventured up to Harlem last week to check out the Elite 24. The Elite 24 takes place at Rucker Park and it's the only high school game that features the top 24 ball players, regardless of class. As is the case with every All-Star game, there isn't much defense being played and the ball doesn't exactly move on the offensive end.

With that being said, alot of talent made it's way to Harlem and I kept my eye on a a few guys that are expecting to make it to the NBA in a few years... Lance Stephenson (updated) and John Wall - Spotlights below:

In the Spotlight: Lance Stephenson (updated)

Lance Stephenson
Position: Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Ht: 6-6
Wt: 220
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: Senior
College Options: Memphis, Texas, Kansas, USC, St. John’s
Age: 9/05/90


  • At 6’6, 220lbs, Lance is physically advanced with a very muscular build.
  • Extremely versatile on both ends of the court. Lance posses the handle which allows him to play the point, the shooting touch to play the wing, and the strength to finish inside. Defensively, he has the flexibility to guard the 1 – 3 depending on match ups.
  • Scorer - Has the ability to completely dominate on the offensive end.
  • Great one-on-one skills, with an array of moves to take his man off the dribble… Exceptional cross-over (both left to right and right to left), hesitation move, and right in-and-out dribble.
  • Lance really knows how to finish around the rim, as he's able to use both his left and right hand to finish.
  • Fierce Competitor with a drive to be the best. Lance really flourishes when he's playing against other elite players. He always rises to the challenge and never shies away from guarding the opposition’s best player.
  • When Lance gets into the paint, he has a tendency to spin, as he's very adept at using his body to fend off his defender.
  • Very Pure Shooter with great form – He has the range to hit from deep 3, but also the mid range game to hit from foul line and in.
  • Further along in his development when shooting off the bounce.
  • Sees the floor well – As he begins to play with players closer to his skill level, his passing abilities will hopefully be showcased with more frequency.
  • Very confident player – Has a real swagger to his game. Lance can hold his own athletically, with the power to compliment.


  • Body language and maturity are real concerns - When things aren’t going well his immaturity shows as he pouts and point’s fingers… show’s disgust.
  • Needs to be careful that as he adds more muscle mass, it doesn’t inhibit his agility or mobility on the court.
  • Has a tendency to over dribble when he wants to break down his man, play to the crowd and make a statement… Needs to make a move and explode.
  • Lance has to work on getting himself into position so that he can knock down the jumper off the pass. He’s more comfortable shooting off the dribble, than spotting up.
  • He has to work on getting back on defense after he misses a shot, or turns the ball over. He has a tendency to compound a missed shot, by taking a few swipes for the ball to try and regain possession, rather than sprinting back.
  • Needs to get more committed on the defensive end. Lance tends to leak out to half-court looking to start the break. He also has to work on keeping his feet moving defensively and not just focus on the man he’s guarding, but also helping out on the weak side.
  • Lance can get up, but he’s not an extremely high riser.
  • Lance isn’t the most well spoken, polished kid off the court.


Lance is an extremely talented ball player and watching him play you can see how easily the game comes to him. Offensively, he has the ability to completely dominate the game, with his ability to score. He can take you off the dribble, shoot from deep, slash to the hoop, get out in transition, etc. Defensively, he needs to get better, but much of the improvement is about commitment and understanding, which will be demanded of him at the college level.

In the past year, Lance has bulked up and already has an NBA body. One thing he needs to be cautious of is that as he adds more muscle to his frame, it doesn’t affect his quickness, or explosiveness on the court. Finding the right balance will be crucial to his development.

The thing about Lance that’s been well publicized is his immaturity. He needs to become a player that teammates want to play with. He’s so much more advanced than his teammates at the HS level that he tends to show them up, when they fail to catch a pass, or convert on an easy assist opportunity. He needs to grow up on and off the court and act mature enough to handle becoming a future star.

This emotion that Lance plays with isn’t entirely a bad thing. If he’s able to channel this ‘fire’ the right way, it can be converted into a positive. With the right coaching, mentoring, and direction, Lance has a chance to be special. But it will depend on his willingness to be coached and his ability to change, that will determine his fate. Lance has to stay focused, keep practicing and not get complacent beating up on inferior competition.

The great thing about Lance is that he wants it. He has the drive, desire, and hunger to be the best.

In terms of NBA potential, there is no question it’s there. Plan to keep a close eye on Lance at the college level, where he should make a major impact.

In the Spotlight: John Wall

John Wall
Position: Point Guard
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 175
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Class: Senior
College Options: Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, NC State, etc

  • Extremely fast with the ball in his hands… Gets up and down the court in a hurry, leading the fast break.
  • Does a great job changing directions, keeping his defender off balance and on his heels.
  • ATHLETE – He can flat out fly and he finishes well with both hands around the rim. He can really elevate and flush it down.
  • Has a real knack for getting into the paint and penetrating past his defender.
  • Great cross over dribble (both left to right and right to left)
  • Shows a real burst when he accelerates; he’s able to turn it into another gear and leave his defender behind.
  • Very solid left hesitation move that he uses to freeze his defender before he explodes left.
  • At his best in the open court, but showed signs that he’s able to orchestrate and run the half-court offense as well
  • Great court vision.
  • Super quick with nimble feet
  • Long Arms


  • Very flat jump shot that needs improving - His form needs some work… He has to be able to hit the mid range jumper and step out passed the three point line…Neither of which, John can do with consistency right now.
  • Needs to be more assertive and go to the ball, not wait for his teammates to bring it to him.
  • Played zero defense and didn’t work hard on the defensive end of the court. (it was an all-star game)
  • John will definitely benefit from a year in college because he needs to add muscle. His natural build is of a thin frame; however John needs to add muscle to his upper body.

Player Comparison: Reminds me of Jamal Crawford…both his handle and frame; however John is a much more natural point guard.


There isn’t a doubt in my mind that John Wall has what it takes to be a solid NBA player. He can fly up the court with the ball in his hands and he’s phenomenal leading the break. He has great court vision and he doesn’t mind giving up the rock, or he can emphatically throw it down with either hand. His speed and quickness are evident, and he does a great job changing speeds and getting to the bucket.

It is imperative that John becomes a more consistent outside shooter. He needs to be able to knock down the jumper off the bounce and off the pass, which he’s unable to do right now. He also needs to improve his range, which will force the defense to play up on him, not sag back, making it easier for him to penetrate to the bucket. John also needs to commit himself to the defensive end and take pride in shutting down the opposition. He has great foot speed, but there were plenty of times that his feet were glued to the ground and thus he was beaten off the dribble.

The bottom line is that John has all the physical tools, talent and athleticism that will translate as his game progresses to the collegiate level and ultimately the pros. Look for him to be a one-and-done college player before entering the draft.

*Based off seeing John play at Elite 24 -8/22