Notebook: Realized potential

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

Metu continues to progress

Two years ago, there were reasons to be optimistic about 6-foot-8 Lawndale (Calif.) post Chimezie Metu (pictured above), but also plenty of concerns.

The 2015 prospect had very good size, length, hands, feet and athleticism; the most important tools for an up and coming big men. Despite those natural tools, Metu's motor was extremely inconsistent; way more often than not, he didn't play very hard.

Further, instead of focusing on using his natural ability to dominate inside, he was determined to show he could play on the wing, and it led to a lot of inefficiency from him as a sophomore.

As a junior, Metu made steps forward with his motor and desire to play inside, which led to Scout placing him in the Top 50 before he ultimately committed to USC.

On Monday, Metu had his first game of his senior season and he showed further progress. Metu's athleticism has only increased and he's playing harder than he ever has in the past. That combination led to some big time shot blocks, rebounds and finishes. He also made some terrific passes and his jumper has only improved.

The transition from prospect to player hasn't always been smooth and there is still work to be done, but Metu is playing the best basketball of his career and is on path to being a guy who is counted on early at USC.

— Josh Gershon

Two Underclassmen stick out at Prep Showcase

The National Prep Showcase always provides attendees and college coaches with a look at some of the nation’s best unsigned players, but historically a couple underclassmen manage to stick out as well.

This year, a pair of 2017 guards – Hamidou Diallo and Matt Turner – caught my eye.

Heading into the event, I wasn’t familiar with either. But I left New Haven, Conn., ready to research and follow both young players, as each has the potential to land at a high-major school down the road.

Diallo, of Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, is an electric 6-foot-4 guard that showed tremendous leaping ability and quickness. His scoring attack stood out, as he scored points from all levels. He has a couple high major schools dabbling with him, including Minnesota, which he says has done the best job with him to date.

Turner, who plays for Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy, used his speed to impact the game. He’s quick and tough for defenders to keep in front. A true combination guard, Turner played both on and off the ball and was effective in both roles. He’ll need to cut down on his turnovers, but he has a lot of raw ability and an impressive upside.

— Evan Daniels

Walton showing improvement

For K.J. Walton, this is a big time. He is starting his senior season, one in which he hopes to have a shot at Mr. Basketball in Indiana, and also focusing on his academics. The four-star shooting guard is one of the few unsigned players in the country that could really see his recruitment explode to the significant high-major level.

On Tuesday night, Walton tipped off his senior season with a 33 point performance, and as usual he was extremely efficient. The 6-foot-3 Walton is as good as any prospect in the country at getting to the foul line and finishing through contact, and he did just that on several occasions. Also, Walton showed more assertiveness and a better focus in the areas of defense and rebounding, which at times he has underachieved in the past.

If Walton takes care of business in the classroom, high-major schools from all over the country could be making their way to Brownsburg (Ind) High School to track him, and his decision could be one of the most anticipated of the spring.

— Brian Snow

Busy month of hoops on tap

Given that it’s Thanksgiving, this week not surprisingly is light on major high school basketball action. But beginning in a few days, December will usher in a key period for tournaments, showcases and other marquee matchups.

Albeit still fairly early in the season, December always is critical because, more than any other month during the high school year, we get to watch elite players square off head to head.

Events do extend through February, but during conference play most teams face a more restricted travel schedule. Prep schools and major high school programs loom as an exception, but by an large the next four weeks will gives us our best shot to watch big-time, national games prior to the spring.

We’ll watch closely as teams square off at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, plus multiple strong tournaments in the South and Midwest prior to and following the Holidays.

Meanwhile, ESPN will televise a full slate of individual games designed to showcase top players, including Scout’s elite seniors such as Jaylen Brown and Ben Simmons.

So, everyone can catch their breath this week and even a week or so into December, but after that it’s game on.

— Rob Harrington

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