High School Team: Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy
Ranking: #9 (2014)
Recruiting: Committed to Syracuse
While the timing of the announcement was a bit of a surprise, it was absolutely no shock that Chris McCullough selected Syracuse. The Orange have been the perceived leader for McCullough since the summer, and here is a look at what he will bring the Syracuse team.
This is the end of the floor where McCullough's potential is absolutely tantalizing. He is a legit 6-foot-9 with near elite athleticism, long arms, and has a semi refined skill level already both facing the rim and with his back to the basket.
When on the interior McCullough doesn't have a go to post move or anything like that, but he does have a nice touch. McCullough has a decent hook already and even can post up and then turn and face from the mid-range. He definitely needs to get stronger in order to play down low on a consistent basis, but that should come with age and maturity.
While McCullough plays down low a good amount of time, he seems to be making the transition to the perimeter more and more, and unlike some big kids who try it and fail, McCullough is actually showing a good feel for how to do it.
McCullough can handle the ball well for a prospect his size, and is developing a fairly reliable jumper in the mid-range off of a dribble or two. When he does attack the rim using the dribble he goes one way only and can't really crossover and make multiple moves, but none the less his skills as is are already impressive and advanced.
The potential is clearly there and he has all the tools to be a prototypical power forward with some small forward potential down the road, consistency does lack for McCullough on the offensive end, and most of that is related to effort and a desire to crash the offensive glass while recognizing that he must demand the ball every trip down.
On defense McCullough flashes nearly as much potential as he does on the offensive end, and actually will be more ready to contribute on this end of the floor from day one. The main reason for that is he has versatility and athleticism to make an impact at multiple positions.
While offensively he can play some small forward, on defense he is much better suited to be a power forward or even a center. Ideally he would defend a power forward because he can guard both inside and out, and could mitigate the advantage of a stretch, or mismatch, power forward while also being able to defend the post with a more traditional player at the position.
McCullough has really long arms, pretty decent natural timing, and the athleticism to be a high level shot blocker. He isn't the elite shot blocker like someone such as Anthony Davis or Nerlens Noel, but he can change things when he is in position and will make an effort to do so.
Rebounding wise he gets more than his share. Once again he could be better if he went to the glass every time and simply attacked more with the mindset that every rebound has to be his, but he is well above average in that regard and is a threat for double-figure rebounds every time he steps on the court.
With the way teams like to use ball screens on the offensive end, McCullough's ability to move his feet is a major plus for an interior player and is someone who can be very good to great as a defender given his natural gifts.
On paper this looks like a great fit for the Orange. Syracuse loves to utilize long and athletic forwards on the back end of their vaunted 2-3 zone. McCullough could come in and fill the role of a guy like Hakim Warrick who was a vital piece to a dominating Syracuse defense which helped them to a national title in 2003.
Also on the offensive end Syracuse runs more of a free flowing system without a ton of set plays. McCullough is clearly at his best in that type of situation. He likes to run the floor, and can be bogged down in more of a half court setting because it can mitigate his natural athleticism and show some of the flaws in his game where he isn't a natural scorer.
Overall this looks great for the Orange. McCullough has huge NBA potential and is someone who brings the specific skill set that Jim Boeheim and his staff have long coveted, and now he is in the fold as the first commitment in 2014.
Josh Gershon and Brian Snow contributed to this story.