As we continue to focus on possible Kansas recruiting targets from the class of 2006 we have reached the last four big men that we’ll be spotlighting. As always, this list is by no means a complete list of players that have heard from Kansas, however it should provide a good starting point for fans wishing to follow the class of 2006.
THE REMAINING BIGS
Alex Stepheson, 6-9 BF, North Hollywood (CA) Harvard-Westlake- Because of his quickness, length and overall athleticism, Stepheson has already been very impressive in stretches. However, the engaging and intelligent Californian still hasn’t shown that he can be productive on a consistent basis.
The good news is that inconsistency is a trait shared by virtually every young big man in the country and Stepheson certainly has plenty of positive traits to work with. He races up and down the court like a much smaller player and gets into position very quickly. He’s a good stand-still leaper and has soft touch around the rim and does an effective job of tapping the ball to areas where he can control it if he can’t snare a rebound right away. Because he is on the slender side, Stepheson struggles against physical big men and can get discouraged when his shots don’t go down. If he adds strength and a little more confidence he could develop into the type of big man who could contribute at an elite high major program.
Perry Stevenson, 6-9 BF, Lafayette (LA) Northside- There may not be another big man in more desperate need of strength than Stevenson, but that doesn’t stop him from being very productive. Even though he only weighs around 200 pounds he’s able to control the lane as a dominant shot blocker thanks to his long arms, quickness and exquisite timing.
Obviously, adding more bulk is the biggest key to Stevenson’s improvement but he does have other fine qualities to his game. Because of his slender build, Stevenson has learned to slither his way to the basket in traffic and is a very capable scorer. He’ll catch lobs, shoot short jump hooks and he’s also got the ability to face up from 16 feet and bury a jumper or get to the hole with quick one and two dribble drives. He doesn’t fit the prototype that schools are looking for, but his shot blocking will take him a long way and if he shows that he can add some weight his stock will soar.
Bryce Webster, 6-10 BF/C, Mendota Heights (MN) St. Thomas- After showing flashes of promise on the club circuit and at Nike camp, Webster is developing into a very reliable big man. He’s got a 235 pound frame that can carry much more weight and muscle to go along with his height and has already proven to be a very hard worker willing to attack his weaknesses.
Perhaps Webster’s biggest strength is that he is already fairly skilled on the offensive end. Unlike other young big men who rely on athleticism or bulk, Webster relies on solid footwork, deft touch and patience to do his damage around the basket. Much like Sean May at the same stage, Webster isn’t the most explosive player and makes up for it with his intelligence and ability to softly bank home 12-15 footers at will. He isn’t quite as skilled as May was, but he doesn’t suffer the same weight problems that May did and with Webster it is always important to point out that he’s just a pup could be a member of the class of 2007 by age.
Brandan Wright, 6-9 BF, Nashville (TN) Brentwood Academy- Unlike many flash in the pan prodigies who are anointed the next big thing at an early age only to fall off, Wright -- who began making headlines in hoops circles as an eighth grader -- has proven to be worthy of the early hype. He’s received several favorable comparisons to Chris Bosh and he’s considered a threat to skip college altogether for early entry to the NBA.
An easy going kid with a slow southern drawl off the court, Wright is a multi-dimensional and athletic big who is virtually impossible to stop once he takes the court. Around the hoop Wright utilizes his absurd quickness and long arms on several go to scoring moves. He’s got half hooks, spin moves and fade-away jumpers from the blocks but can do more once he steps away from the hoop. He is very good off the dribble and either elevates for strong pull up jumpers from 15 feet or goes all the way to the basket for jams. Defensively he blocks a lot of shots and can be a dominant rebounder when he is willing to get physical. The knocks on Wright are that he settles for too many three-point jumpers and needs to add weight to his 205 pound frame but other than that he’s pretty complete at this point.
Editor's note: Rather than just having a focus of "who is leaning where", this series of articles by Phog.net Recruiting Analyst Eric Bossi is designed to help KU fans familiarize themselves with the talent the KU coaches are evaluating for the Jayhawks' 2006 basketball recruiting class. You may wish to bookmark these stories for future reference.
Previous editions of "Focusing on 2006":