Back in 2011 at the Real Deal on the Rock, Shaqquan Aaron rolled in to the Arkansas event as one of the most ballyhooed freshmen on the West Coast. Playing with Dream Vision, he proved he could shine even when competing for attention with Shabazz Muhammad and others.
He tantalized with his quickness, length, coordination and ability to knock in deep jump shots. As you'd expect, then, he had earned letters and more from Pac-12 powers along with national Eastern schools as well.
As a sophomore, Aaron transferred from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei to Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft and was forced to sit out due to transfer rules. Nevertheless, during that season he claimed to have picked up offers from UCLA, Arizona, St. John's, UConn and UNLV.
But he performed unevenly on the travel circuit in 2012. Perhaps due partially to the fact that he accumulated rust as he sat out his sophomore season, he didn't shoot as well and appeared too three-point happy for a player with such impressive dribbling ability.
He also transferred schools again, this time to Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. On many occasions schools will shy away from prospects who demonstrate such academic instability, but not so in Aaron's case. He visited Louisville this past February and committed to the Cardinals shortly thereafter.
He reestablished himself on the court this summer. He was among the very best performers at the Reebok Breakout Classic in July, showing improved offensive balance and maturity. He enters his senior campaign as a top-35 prospect and has at least an outside chance to earn postseason All-America honors.
Aaron is a slinky athlete who dribbles very well for a 6-7 player. He's one of many over-sized wings in the Class of 2014, and's one of the very best handlers of the group. He can dribble against pressure and possesses the moves to shake defenders that enable him to penetrate the interior.
When there, he's an above-average finisher and a talented passer who has improved that aspect of his game significantly.
He's also a streakily effective shooter. Streakily technically isn't a word, but it ought to be in order to describe guys like him. When Aaron is cooking, he's capable of drilling enough shots that enable him to top the 30-point mark in a given contest.
But the real key is that he no longer appears dependent on his jumper. He gets more out of his ballhandling skill because he has more options than merely trying to finish at the rim. He can pull up short for bankers or, as mentioned, kick out to an open teammate. Even when molested in traffic, he's tall enough to pass over aggressive double-teaming.
You're never going to read an evaluation here that wholeheartedly endorses a chicken wing jump shot. And Aaron definitely shoots with a chicken wing, and historically (though not always) those guys struggle to hit shots at the sport's highest levels. Shooting form is less important in high school than it is later, and that's a legitimate concern.
He also remains quite thin and has such a narrow frame that he may require a couple of years to bring his body to college-readiness. And while a fairly good athlete, he doesn't quite rank with the elites in his class.
Aaron didn't emerge so early without reason. He combines a tremendous skill package with height and above-average quickness. First, he'll need to gain muscle in order to hold his own against ACC competition. Second, he must prove he can be consistent as a shooter, whether that's burying jumpers despite unorthodox form or else tinkering that form.
Ultimately, he projects as a reliable scorer/facilitator for the Cardinals. Whether he can become more of an alpha scorer remains to be seen, but he clearly possesses the talent to contribute early and increase his role over time.