Back in the summer 1996, an unknown player named Tracy McGrady dominated the ABCD Camp and launched a career that included seven appearances in the NBA All-Star Game. That kind of thing rarely happens in today's grassroots world, however, where players are covered so much more thoroughly than they were two decades ago.
And while I'm certainly not suggesting that Steven Enoch will ascend to a McGrady-like level, the timing of his debut onto the high-major radar does echo of a time past.
Enoch had generated some buzz in the early summer, but it wasn't until the Pangos All-American Camp in June that he established himself as a rankable prospect. An easily rankable prospect, as it turned out, given the power forward's athleticism and developing skill set.
Enoch earned an invitation to that month's NBPA Top 100 Camp but was restricted there due to injury. Still, heading into July he'd attracted offers from Connecticut, Memphis, Kansas State, Arizona State, Rhode Island and Drexel.
The Huskies always stood as the favorite. The Norwalk, Conn., native had an elite program within his home state, and UConn certainly wasn't going to blow the opportunity. Although Enoch remained uncommitted through the summer, he pledged to Kevin Ollie earlier this month while undertaking his official visit.
Enoch's game involves two primary traits: He has the body of a traditional power forward but the fluidity and skills to be a more modern, hybrid.
At 6-9, 220 pounds, he's amply tall and sturdy for college. He possesses a solid lower base and broad shoulders, and thus he should become a very strong and powerful athlete as he develops under the tutelage of UConn's training program.
|Enoch's emergence became a national grassroots story|
But despite his size, Enoch isn't at all bulky. He's a very fluid athlete who looks natural roaming the perimeter and running the floor. The combination of size, strength and fluid athleticism make him among the more long-term promising frontcourt prospects in the senior class.
Though he continues to refine his offense, Enoch already holds some tools. He's a pretty good medium-range jump shooter who likes to fire away from 15-18 feet and is far more comfortable shooting from the baseline than most big guys. Along with that, he's an effective transition finisher who leaps well enough to throw down slams yet also possesses the body control to stay under control while at full speed.
His ballhandling has potential as well. He already dribbles fairly well with his right hand and should be able to exploit perimeter mismatches against slower big men.
Defensively, he uses his length to disrupt opposing post scorers yet also moves well enough on the perimeter to defend other face-up forwards in high ball screen scenarios.
Enoch is something of a 'tweener. He doesn't yet possess a consistent jump shot and has a long way to go in terms of a post game. While he may want to gravitate more fully to the perimeter as his career progresses, at his size he needs to be able to score with his back to the bucket as well, and especially in college.
He'll also need to improve his left hand dribbling and learn to play in structure alongside other blue-chip athletes, as he's behind the curve in that regard relative to his peers.
Enoch should play early at UConn, though initially he may be more of an energy presence than someone who's consistently productive. He must raise his all-around skill level and bring together the components of his game into harmony, as right now he can be piecemeal more than a consistent weapon.
Still, it doesn't take a discerning eye to recognize his talent. He can do a lot of things already and simply needs time to bring together the entire package. Look for him to have an outstanding career for the Huskies and, more likely than not, to enjoy a professional career somewhere as well.
UConn is assembling its next national contender on the basis of tough, strong, physically impressive players such as Enoch and guard Jalen Adams, and the fit with Kevin Ollie's style appears to be exceptional.