You hear it all the time. A talented young center comes along and the scouting reports inevitably read that his defense is ahead of his offense. And that happens because typically it's true. Most underclass post players — and many upperclassmen, too — haven't yet had the maturity and seasoning required to mount a consistent scoring attack.
Guards have it far easier. Every kid grows up running around and shooting at a hoop, but playing with your back to the basket is an acquired concept. And considering that big guys need more time to grow into their bodies, the development curve becomes even steeper.
All that is a way of saying Diamond Stone is different. This isn't your crude, shotblocking defensive specialist: Stone knows how to put the ball through the hoop.
Starting and starring in his freshman season, Stone appeared destined for big things. In a state playoff contest as a frosh, he notched 15 points, 15 rebounds and 14 blocks in a single contest. His blue-chip ability was obvious from day one.
Stone advanced to the Nike Elite 100 in 2012 and impressed colleague Evan Daniels as "arguably the top overall prospect" at the event. His scoring ability turned heads at each stop along the way. By the start of his sophomore season, he'd claimed offers from Wisconsin, Marquette, Indiana, DePaul, UConn, Georgetown, UCLA and Texas A&M.
He became Scout.com's top-rated sophomore and has been a mainstay among the 2015 elite, and odds are he won't find himself dropping anytime soon. His 2013 summer included a stop at the LeBron James Skills Academy, where he competed impressively versus a loaded crop of frontcourt prospects his age and a year older.
Stone is proceeding through his junior season with lofty status and recently scored 20 points in a head to head tilt versus promising rival Henry Ellenson, who himself scored 18. He recently took an unofficial visit to SMU, as his sister lives in Dallas and he wanted to check out Larry Brown's Mustangs as well.
On the court, Stone continues to demonstrate impressive post offense. His footwork is highly refined for a young center, and he delivers via turnaround jump shots, hooks and, of course, dunks. Because he's both tall and solidly built, he projects long-term as a power low-block scorer who also possesses a finesse scoring touch.
Stone can step out to 12-15 feet in and knock down shots already, and his range should expand over time. He might enjoy more consistent success now if he'd raise the release point on his shot, which is low. He's able to get away with it largely because of his size, but that stands as one area he could improve.
His athleticism doesn't overwhelm, but he certainly isn't suffering from a deficit. Stone won't be Shaq II but is on pace to become an interior anchor offensively and defensively. His solid physique and long arms make him an effective shotblocker, a talent he should carry through the remainder of his career.
The competition among Stone, Ivan Rabb, Skal Labissiere, Stephen Zimmerman and the other elite 2015 big men will be fierce, and Stone certainly holds a fighting chance of emerging from that group as the top dog.