Scouting fundamentally involves settling two questions: 1) How good a player is now relative to his peers; 2) How likely that is to change after high school in one direction or the other.
In a sense it's production versus potential, and of course the former speaks vociferously about the latter. One frequent conundrum when scouting guards, then, is how setting affects that production.
Trey Kell provides a model example. The sturdy shooting guard had drawn his admirers but didn't begin to make appearances on Scout.com until 2013. He was linked closely to San Diego State and appeared to be on the rise, but relatively subpar camp performances restrained his game and his recruitment.
He simply didn't appear to possess the requisite athleticism to become an impact player at the high-major level, and accordingly he began to receive the "high-major reserve" designation that few players desire to carry.
But that affixation mostly occurred due to camps such as the NBPA Top 100 Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy. Those events feature individuals loosely assembled into camp teams that lack familiarity and cohesiveness.
Late July brought to light an entirely different scenario. Performing for SDA Pump 'N Run at the Best of the Summer tournament and then the Fab 48, Kell vaulted himself into the national conversation.
Over the next month he expanded and then culled his college list. By the end of August, he'd cut down his list of contenders to SDSU, Oregon, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, USC, UCLA and U.C. Irvine. Pursuit from those programs expressed in very clear terms that Kell had made believers out of both scouts and college coaches.
Here we have another senior wing who buries jump shots. Kell brings outstanding accuracy to the table from deep when he's granted sufficient space and time for his shot. His release and follow-through are pure, and the results typically are outstanding.
But everyone knew that heading into late July. Players who make wide open jumpers actually aren't that difficult to discover, and it's what Kell did at the end-of-summer events that altered his image.
Short and to the point, he started working the mid-range areas. Kell isn't a guy who sets himself up all the time off the dribble, but he possesses a keen sense for spacing and utilizes screens — both on-ball and off-the-ball — to free himself for shots. He shoots comfortably even when drifting to his right or left, something that tends to be elusive for most high school players.
His ability to stand out in structure bodes well for college, where he'll play in far greater organization than he does now. He also possesses a solid frame that should enable him to become a power guard.
College basketball brings more than increased offensive structure, as defenses become more intense and organized as well. Thus, how effectively will Kell be able to get open?
He's below-average in terms of quickness and leap for a high-major prospect, something he'll have overcome at the next level. In fairness, he's a pretty good finisher on the move and especially off the glass, so he's able to score even when defended. Nevertheless, his quickness ranks as his primary challenge versus the elites and of course he must prove he can defend as well.
Depending on where he goes to school, Kell projects as either a primary scorer around whom plays will have to be designed, or else a fourth or fifth starter for a strong high-major team. He's unlikely to generate significant offense on his own, but surrounded by capable teammates he should be able to step up and bury jump shots.
And in a possession-by-possession, big game situation, he'll be a great choice to fire in a clutch shot on a set play. Given the hunt and peck offensive nature of the NCAA Tournament, in particular, that talent could carry him — and his future team — to very lofty heights.