As the 2009-2010 high school season winds down to a close and local teams prepare for district and sub-state playoff games, there was time to fit in at least one last trip. Friday afternoon, the Road Show headed across Missouri for an opportunity to check out two little known juniors that are starting to make big noise.
Friday night, 6-foot-5 shooting guard Ben McLemore of class 2A Wellston-Eskridge in St. Louis did his thing. Then on Saturday, 6-foot-8 forward Otto Porter of tiny class 1A Sikeston (Mo.) Scott County Central showed why folks in SEMO are going wild about his potential.
There were even a few other pleasant surprises
Introducing Ben McLemore And Otto Porter
Ben McLemore- Nearly two years ago, this writer saw a then 6-foot-2 McLemore and was impressed enough to call some Missouri Valley schools on his behalf and suggest that they try to add him as a late signee. As it turns out, McLemore was only a freshman at the time and not a senior as listed on the roster.
Now a junior, McLemore's recruitment has a chance to take place at the highest of levels. He's got legit 6-foot-5 size and all of the athletic ability in the world. He's quick, explodes above the crowd for dunks and rebounds and has outstanding lateral quickness. More importantly, he's an actual basketball player who is every bit as skilled as he is athletic.
Friday night, McLemore spent much of the evening running the point and managed to rack up seven assists doing so. That is, while he also scored 34 points on a dizzying assortment of drives and pull-up jumpers and snagged 17 rebounds. He also drew multiple charges, chased down several fast breaks to block shots from behind and was a one man wrecking crew on both ends.
Hardly anybody outside of Saint Louis has seen this young man play and his recruitment has been pretty quiet -- Missouri has gotten in there early and gotten him on campus, though -- but he has a chance to explode once schools get a chance to see him. Also important to note is that his high school is closing down at the end of the school year so he'll spend his senior year in new surroundings.
Otto Porter- Porter's Scott County Central squad might play in the smallest of Missouri's classifications, but they have a rich tradition and don't shy away from competition. Led by 38 points and 18 rebounds from the junior big man, SCC traveled up to Saint Louis and defeated two time defending class 3A champs Maplewood Richmond Heights.
Toothpick skinny, Porter isn't one of those kids who dominates because he's tall and outjumps everybody on the floor. Instead, Porter uses an incredible skill package to do his work. He's got a buttery jump shot that is good out to the three point line, can handle the ball quite well for a guy his size, runs the floor, plays patiently and scores with either hand around the bucket. And, if his initial move gets stopped, odds are he's got a counter move that is just as good, or better.
Also impressive is Porter's overall athletic ability. No, he's not a high flyer but he has superior body control, runs the floor without ever tiring and has excellent lateral movement. As a kid who has never really played summer ball, he's the product excellent coaching on the high school level and lots of work with his father, Otto Sr., who starred as a small forward at Southeast Missouri State who over 1200 points in just two seasons and was named second team All-American in 1981.
More Notes From the Road
Otto Porter isn't the only division one player on the Scott County Central roster. Senior point guard Bobby Hatchett is legit mid major prospect who will most likely have to do a two year stint in junior college. Generously listed at 5-11, Hatchett is strong, quick and extremely athletic as evidenced by him getting called for goaltending as a sub six footer. He's a bit out of control, but makes things happen off the dribble and dished out eight assists to go along with his 26 points on Saturday. … While Ben McLemore was showing that he's capable of playing just about anywhere in the country Friday night, 6-foot-4 junior Christian Thomas of Clayton helped his team get the win over Wellston-Eskridge. A wing prospect, Thomas is forced to play on the interior quite a bit due to his team's lack of overall size. He's athletic, tough, has a good basketball IQ and gets to the free throw line. He should draw some mid major attention on his own. … Finally, Maplewood Richmond Heights coach Corey Frazier has some talented freshman. While the more touted Kahlid Hagens struggled a bit, Kevin Baker was quite impressive in a 20 point effort. A long armed 5-foot-9 guard, Baker is more of a natural off guard at this point but he has the quickness and ball handling to slide over to the point down the road. …
Total games watched- 125.
Total teams watched- 201.
Total miles traveled- 15,947.