Since the AAU season was the first opportunity many scouts had to watch Rose at the 17-and-under level, the buzz around the rising junior dipped a little. Fair or not, it was a case out of sight and out of mind for Rose.
But after receiving a scholarship offer from North Carolina in October, Rose is back in the national conversation and primed for a big year, according to Second Baptist coach Roger Kollmansberger. Not only did scouts miss their chance to see the player Rose was entering the summer, they missed the player he's become since then.
"He's probably put on 20 pounds of muscle since last year," Kollmansberger said. "I think when he gets back people are going to be like ‘Whoa.'"
While some point guards dazzle with their speed and athleticism, Rose's talents start between his ears. He's a great distributor with an exceptional understanding of the game. Rose has the ability to score in the 20s but is at his best using his size to see over defenses and set up teammates.
"He probably sees the floor better than anyone I've coached," Kollmansberger said. "He has one of the highest IQs of any kid I've come into contact with."
Terms like basketball IQ are tough to quantify but with Rose injured, Kollmansberger quickly found out how important Rose is to his team. Not only does the offense fail to run as smoothly without Rose, it doesn't run at all. Kollmansberger had to take out several sets because Rose was the only point guard capable of handling them.
"When you see a team play with him and without him, I think therein lies his value," Kollmansberger said. "With L.J. we have a team that scores 70 to 80 a game. Without L.J. we are a team that scores in the 50s at best."
Rose's basketball savvy is perhaps most evident in the way he manipulates the pick and roll. He doesn't just run the screen and roll to set up a diving big man or create a jump shot for himself -- he strives to understand every nuance of it.
"L.J. knows how to run the screen roll to where he might pull up if the guy goes underneath, he might split the trap, he might reject it and go the other direction. He understands how to get pick and pop," Kollmansberger said. "It's a rare thing."
Rose also showed the ability to consistently knock down the perimeter shot last year, making the set even more effective. From there Rose can either shoot the long ball or exploit the defense with a deft touch in his mid-range game.
"If he has a go-to move, it's probably the floater," Kollmansberger said. "He shoots the floater incredibly well."
The early knock on Rose is a perceived lack of elite athleticism but his coaches are hesitant to condemn his athletic ability.
"He's not a high flyer," Kollmansberger said. "But he's not a plodder either."
Houston Hoops coach Marland Lowe doesn't foresee any problems with his athleticism at the next level. Lowe said it's hard to judge Rose's speed because he always plays under control.
"I've seen him outplay pro players," Lowe said. "He's been in the gym with professional players that are in the NBA now and I've seen him come out on top."
Lowe has plenty of experience with top-notch point guards, too. As the coach of Houston Hoops, Lowe coached NBA'ers T.J. Ford and Daniel Gibson -- and says Rose is a similar talent.
"He's an elite, premiere point guard," Lowe said. "He's just as elite as those guys."
Moving forward Rose needs to improve in two specific areas this winter, according to Kollmansberger: his on-the-ball defense and assertiveness offensively.
Away from the ball, Rose uses his vision and length to get into passing lanes but Kollmansberger said he's capable of being a lock down defender as well.
Offensively, Rose needs to look for his own shot more consistently. Sometimes Rose gets so focused on including his teammates, he forgets to look for his own shot.
"I've got to get him to want to be that (scorer) night in and night," Kollmansberger said. "He has that ability."