Lourawls Nairn: Evaluation

At the moment of this writing, Michigan State boasts the nation's top-ranked team. Tom Izzo's program doesn't always possess the best talent, but the Spartans typically are a cohesive bunch filled with similar personalities who always seem to equal more than the sum of their parts.

Introduction

Lourawls Nairn is impossible not to notice. That's true either watching him on the court or merely glancing upon his name on the lineup sheet. His name derives both from his father (Lourawls Sr.) and from legendary singer Lou Rawls. A native of the Bahamas, Nairn's introduction to American basketball thus landed more loudly than ordinarily would be the case.

Nairn caught our eye as a rising junior at the 2012 Peach Jam, where he excelled with Mo-Kan Elite. His game proved easy to define: speed, speed, speed.

His recruitment unfurled relatively slowly, but by this past March he claimed offers from Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Kansas State and others. He toured once again with Mo-Kan and performed well, if not spectacularly, on the 2013 EYBL circuit. His play translated better to in-person viewings than it did statistically.

"Tum Tum" cut his list to three in August: Oklahoma, Indiana and Minnesota. His path appeared to be set, but a meteoric occurrence altered his trajectory. Michigan State became heavily involved in mid-September after Tyler Ulis spurned the Spartans in favor of Kentucky. He visited campus and committed to Tom Izzo later that month.

Assets

Nairn arguably is the fastest player in the class endline to endline. Not only is he a cheetah with the ball in his hands, he accentuates the effect with relentless aggression and an indefatigable style. Is it any wonder why he shared a mutual attraction with MSU?

He's also a capable finisher on the break, but he's better as a distributor who spots big men filling a lane and shooters spotting up on the perimeter. He makes quick passing decisions, which is essential given how quickly his legs propel him forward.

His defensive potential is superlative. Nairn has a lean strength and bulldog attitude to jam an opponent's dribble, and he's very effective sneaking inside and stripping the ball from big men, then racing the other way on the break.

The tough guy approach is no façade: He's a truly dogged competitor who doesn't register a foe's reputation; he simply wants to compete.

Deficits

Nowhere in there did you read anything about a jump shot, and that's no accident. Nairn has a long way to go as a perimeter scorer, and for that reason defenders can afford to back off him and thereby negate some of his penetration.

He also didn't score as well as his ability might suggest. He had too many single-digit scoring games on the EYBL circuit, and he'll need to strike a healthier balance between scoring and playmaking in East Lansing.

Outlook

Michigan State hasn't experienced the damaging one-and-done attrition that some other elite programs have, and Nairn fits that same mold. He projects as a feisty, immediate contributor, but also as someone who projects to play all four years of college.

To surpass my expectation for him, he'll need to become a vastly improved shooter and overall scorer.


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