Colleague and West Coast specialist Josh Gershon wrote an introduction to California native Marquese Chriss in the spring of 2013, and from that time forward Chriss has become a regular on Scout.com pages.
Much of that owes to the fact that Chriss has been prolific on the travel circuit. He competed with Team Superstar on the Under Armour circuit, played at individual events such as the NBPA Top 100 Camp and Pangos All-American Camp, and generally seemed to show up wherever meaningful basketball action was taking place.
During his junior season Chriss identified Washington, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Gonzaga, California and others as giving serious chase. He followed that up by making a commitment to the Huskies this past January, giving the Pac-12 program a key win in the Golden State as it began to assemble its Class of 2015 haul.
Chriss enjoyed a fine summer thereafter and ranks No. 46 overall in the senior class entering his senior year.
Chriss has two highly significant qualities in his favor: He's tall and solidly built, and he's a tremendous straight-up leaper.
I frequently devote space in these evaluations noting the difference between leaping ability that requires a running start and that which a player gets while stationary — the purest definition of a "vertical" — and how valuable straight-up leap is for big men, in particular.
Chriss jumps very well by any definition, but in a relative sense he's more even more athletic than people realize due to the fact that he explodes so quickly from a standing position. Whether he's elevating for a rebound, blocking a shot or throwing down a slam — he's a lob-catching specialist — he gets the most of his highly functional athleticism.
|Chriss is a particularly ferocious dunker|
As mentioned, and although having narrow shoulders, Chriss has a solid frame and should be able to gain muscle easily for the college level.
His offensive game is rudimentary but does include some jump shooting promise. Truth is, I don't quite know what to think. At Pangos, for example, I noted that Chriss was struggling in his attempt to be a face-up shooter, but then in the next game he drilled multiple medium-range jump shots.
So at the minimum, there's offensive promise. And while he continues to develop on that end, he can concentrate on doing basic big man things in power player style.
Whatever promise does exist, Chriss may be two-three years away from realizing it. And he's actually more refined as a face-up shooter — inconsistent though he may be — than he is with his back to the basket, where he's still quite raw.
Chriss at times has struggled in marquee head-to-head matchups, including against fellow ranked big man Chance Comanche at the Jayhawk Invitational this past April. He'll need to develop a hook shot along with cultivating improved footwork in order to score over other long athletes.
Realistically, Chriss may project primarily as a defensive stalwart and utility athlete his freshman season at Washington. That role may persist into his sophomore campaign as well, but the hope is that by his junior year he's ready to take on a more significant offensive role in the halfcourt game.
The Huskies play an uptempo style and that should suit his primary attributes very well. Chriss could become statistically productive based on his transition contributions alone, because at Washington he'll receive plenty of opportunities to make plays based on his natural talent in the open floor.
It's no wonder, then, why Lorenzo Romar prioritized him early in the process. Chriss also will fill a vital frontcourt need given some recent perimeter-heavy classes for the Huskies. That reality could enable him to notch more of an early impression than one might assume.
Long-term, Chriss could develop into an NBA-caliber big man. Even if he doesn't, he should become a standout at Washington.