2017 Intro: Demari Milstead
BT's Take: Demari Milstead was the youngest – just barely 14 – player in attendance at California's two-day team camp this weekend, but damned if he didn't look it, drawing close attention from much of the Bears staff.
In his early afternoon game on Saturday, Milstead scored eight points in the first five minutes of the second half -- and did so almost sneakily. The bottom line: He has a lot of upside, and there are plenty of reasons why.
The son of Oakland Soldiers coach Jules Milstead, it's apparent that young Demari has been around basketball all his life. What he may lack in size at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, he more than makes up for in vision and tenacity, particularly on defense.
Milstead has a good feel for the pace of a game, and plays up to the level of competition. He did not show any inkling of intimidation when facing former Washington commit Jalen Canty -- a good nine inches taller than him – and he is unafraid to guard much larger players.
It's not very often you see a physical, tenacious sense of defense develop so early, but that was the first thing that struck me about Milstead. He has a knack for on-ball defense and is a pesky, determined defender who, while persistent, knows when to back off the press and get back into the half court.
At the moment, Milstead can play either the one or the two (he played mainly the two on Saturday), but it's very likely he grows into a three, if his feet and long arms are any indication. His coach at Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic -- Frank Knight -- has a bevy of youngsters on his squad for next season, a fact he is both excited for, and dreading, but says that by the time Milstead is done, he could easily be a 6-6 wing with choice of colleges.
Of course, Milstead is still just an incoming freshman, and at times, it shows. He plays fast, but oftentimes too fast, and his handle suffers as a result. While his youthful exuberance will get him steals, you'll notice that he's a very inconsistent finisher. That said, he gets to the cup frequently and isn't afraid of contact, and it stands to reason that his ability to finish will come with age. As it stands, he can move the ball well in transition, get to the hole, take fouls, and he has the right ideas, but it's just the final bit of execution that's lacking. Not bad for a kid who just finished eighth grade. Playing with Oscar Frayer will help him develop even more as a passer and as a facilitator of the offense, and that will help round out his game very nicely once he comes into his own.
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BearTerritory.netYesterday at 11:54 PM