On Tuesday the Road Show’s tour of America’s heartland continued by moving on from the Windy City of Chicago to the Circle City, Indianapolis. The venue was historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the snow covered campus of Butler University and the event was third annual Circle City Classic featuring some of Indianapolis’ top teams doing battle with other team’s from around the Midwest.
The draw wasn’t as much in the games, but in the talent on display during the five game event. With seniors like Josh McRoberts (Duke) and Deonta Vaughn (Indiana) on hand along with quite possibly the top two juniors in the country, Greg Oden and Brandan Wright.
KANSAS TARGETS IN INDIANAPOLIS
Brandan Wright - Because of his head to head matchup with perhaps the top big man in the class of 2005, Josh McRoberts, there were a handful of NBA types on hand to watch the 6-9 lefty from Nashville (TN) Brentwood Academy. One of the premier juniors in the country, the long, smooth and explosive Wright didn’t disappoint turning in a nice 23 point effort.
He’s very slender and needs to add weight, but his ability to hit pull-up jumper after pull-up jumper from mid-range or score around the basket is very attractive. He’s got extremely long arms and extends them fully for soft finishes near the hoop when he can’t jam and he’s a much improved ball handler. However, Wright should do a better job on the boards than he did on Tuesday and is way too talented to only grab four rebounds.
According to Wright the five schools that he’s most interested in are Duke, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. He says that he is planning on going to college for the time being but the plan is to wait for a while before picking a school so that he can see whether or not making the direct leap to the NBA is a possibility. He’s a very similar in ability and size to a guy who spent one year in college, current Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh.
Eric Gordon -This class of 2007 stud is probably a new name for Jayhawk fans, but it is one that they may want to pay attention to down the road. The 6-3 -- maybe even 6-4 -- WG/PG from Indianapolis (IN) North Central is one of the premier perimeter players in his class and he showed exactly why during an impressive 31 point performance against highly regarded junior Ramar Smith a 6-2 WG from Detroit (MI) King.
Despite his young age, Gordon plays a very mature brand of basketball. He’s already an ace at using his body to create space for his athletic drives, he hits jumpers all the way out to 22 feet and he’s a pretty reliable ball handler. He displayed some questionable shot selection, but for the most part he does a good job of recognizing and creating good shots.
He’s probably a combo guard right now because he is capable of running an offense and he was the primary ball handler for North Central. However, because of the size he already has, his ability to score and the likelihood that he’s still growing Gordon will more than likely end up as a WG on the next level. He’s still early in the recruiting process but quickly rattled off North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa State, Duke and Missouri as schools that he’s interested in.
OTHER NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
It is going to be awfully interesting to see if Duke commitment Josh McRoberts decides to investigate his NBA prospects. The 6-10 BF from Carmel (IN) High has always shied away from NBA discussion and it would still appear that he is going to matriculate to Duke next season but he’s just as -- if maybe not more -- ready for the NBA than anybody else in the class of 2005. He needs to get stronger, and he shoots a bit of flat jumper -- he kind of flings it from eye level -- but he makes up for any weaknesses because of his athleticism, impeccable footwork, ball skills and creativity around the hoop. Against Brandon Wright, McRoberts had a very impressive 20 point and seven rebound effort, but the three assists and six steals he added were eye openers. He did struggle at times with Wright’s length and athleticism, but adjusted and found ways to deal with it. He’s most likely going to play college basketball, but the question about whether or not he’s capable of making the leap is certainly out there.
Ramar Smith really struggled against Eric Gordon suffering through a nightmarish 6-20 (0-9 3 PT FG) shooting performance while turning the ball over five times during a 12 point effort. The 6-2 WG from the class of 2006 is a monster athlete and capable of getting to the rim, but he has to improve his jumper and decision making before getting to the next level….
In case you hadn’t heard by now, Greg Oden is pretty darned good. Playing without his usual sidekick, Mike Conley Jr. who was out nursing an ankle injury, Oden just went about his business and dominated like usual. The junior big man who measures in at just over seven feet tall really is a freak of nature. He runs the court as swiftly as any guard or wing, explodes off the floor with remarkable quickness and now he’s learning how to really play the game. Oden showed the signs of developing a reliable jump hook and he’s learning to use pump fakes rather than just barreling his way to the hoop. While he’s still a work in progress offensively, all it takes for him to be a factor on the defensive end is to walk in the building. He patiently waits through any fake you can throw at him, blocks shots with either hand and now that he is starting to show his emotions more he looks to be finding skills he didn’t know he had. 22 points and 11 rebounds is never a bad night, but his impact goes way beyond those numbers.
- Total games seen- 97
- Total teams seen- 62
- Total miles traveled- 7301