Las Vegas Evals Pt. 2, Big Men

The 2008 class has a number of talented big men and the Cats are shopping for at least two. We made it a point to scout out a number of the big men from that class, and other classes, that the Wildcats are considering.

Jeff Withey I really liked what I saw from Withey a year ago at Pangos and the Arizona Elite Camp, but by the time the AAU season rolled around the seven footer was relegated to back-up status behind the Lopez twins.

This summer he's logging a lot of playing time for EBO. He was sidelined in the early part of the season with an injury but now he's back up to speed. Withey is improved over last year. He's playing with far more confidence and aggression. Although his offense is better, it is his defense that is really impressive. He has become a phenomenal shot blocker and was cleaning up on the boards.

It was tougher to evaluate Withey on the offensive end as most of his scores came off of dunks. He positioned himself well to receive passes from the EBO guards who loved to drive and dish. He did showcase a nice touch on his hook shot and looks like the jumper can become a weapon by the time he gets to a college campus.

Matt Simpkins The athleticism is there and the game is starting to catch up. He still has a lot to learn in terms of fundamentals but he is a terrific athlete and has great size and athleticism.

In Vegas he lacked consistency on the offensive end. One game he'd dominate and the next he'd struggle to finish. He is a terrific dunker, who can really run the floor and finish in transition. He showed off a nice mid range jumper and can put the ball on the floor a little bit. With some good coaching Simpkins may be able to develop into an elite big man.

One big knock on Simpkins is his academic standing. As of now he is a 2007 player but it appears he will need an extra year to get his academics in order. He has made no secret that he plans on reclassifying to the 2008 class but the question remains where he will be able to play. California does not allow players to play fifth year in high school but claims that he has a number of options but won't know for a few weeks.

Andy Poling Poling is an interesting prospect. He is all about what he will be able to do down the line. Poling is athletic, thin but athletic. Poling can get up and down the floor and has some nice offensive moves. He's best with his hook shot but looks like he could have a reliable face-up jumper down the line.

Poling does not do anyone thing well but gets it done. He doesn't jump out at you but by the end of a game he has 20 points and 10 boards. He won't jump over people and throw down monster dunks but he can score and rebound.

The biggest drawback is his strength. Poling needs to add a lot of muscle to be able to compete against D-I post players. He works hard on defense but can't hold back stronger players. He's got the footwork and positioning but a bigger player can have his way with Poling down low. Conversely, his lack of strength hurts him on the offensive end. He's best around the basket but can be pushed off the block.

Despite that, the sky is the limit for Poling. Few kids his size can get up and down the floor and has the footwork that Poling has. He should add some muscle over the next two years and will be an elite player by the time he steps on a college campus.

Emmanuel Negedu The sky is the limit for the Nigerian big man. He's strong, athletic and explosive. Since he was mostly playing against younger players, he was utterly dominant. Negedu can throw down with the best of them. He is a leaper, but has the strength to make the slam even more impressive.

Negedu has an okay outside shot, but he rarely shows it off in games. He mostly relies on dunks to score but in warm-ups he showed that he can hit from behind the arc.

He's a hustle player. He is usually the first player down the floor on the break and can really move. He plays hard and tough, but is not as good a rebounder as he should be with his physique and leaping ability. He compares himself to Shaun Marion, but he may wind up being more like fellow Phoenix Sun Amare Stoudamire.

Steve Tchiengang The 6-9 power forward is an "upside" player. He's good now but should be better down the line. He's long and athletic and can move very well. He lacks bulk, but is not weak. He works very hard on both ends of the floor, so you can't fault his work ethic. In the game I saw him play he had trouble finishing, but other reports had him putting up big scoring totals.

Luke Babbitt Babbitt did not play his best basketball in the game we saw him, but he still did enough to impress. Babbitt faced a number of double teams and did not get a ton of touches from his teammates.

Babbitt has a nice mix of power and skill. He's not afraid to mix it up inside but can also play on the perimeter. He has a nice touch from the outside but is also a very effective low-post scorer.

It is clear that Babbitt has a great feel for the game. He's very polished in terms of fundamentals. It is rare to find a player so willing to get dirty but at the same time having so many skills. He won't blow you away with raw athleticism but he impresses by being a basketball player.

Some younger players have a lot of promise. The Wear twins get lumped together all too often, but there is good reason. Both David and Travis are in the range of 6-9 and play a very similar style. Right now Travis seems a tad more advanced than David, especially in terms of athleticism. On several occasions we saw him grab a rebound and race up court dribbling like a guard.

Both players are tall and shockingly athletic for players their age. Both can shoot and they have the size to be effective post players, while being skilled enough to do some damage on the outside.

Deandre Metlock is another 2009 player who could be one to watch. He played sparingly for the loaded EBO team but is tall and moves very well. He has some work to do but has some materials to work with.

Need to see more from Andy Brown but the Mater Dei forward is another long, skilled player. Not sure if he's a three or a four down the line, bit you know he will be well coached at the Santa Ana program.

Colin Borchert is a big, athletic forward from Phoenix. He's long and can run the floor. He floated on the perimeter a little too much but when he did bang inside he was very effective. He has some decent ball handling skills but probably shouldn't be dribbling as much as he did in the game I watched. Not as good as the Wears, but he could develop into a similar player.


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