AAU Nationals: Torin Francis

<i>I see him playing spot duty anywhere along the front-line at the next level and wreaking match-up havoc.</i>

Torin played a lot of games over a seven-day period. His team (BABC) made the finals of the Super Showcase and turned right around to compete in the AAU Nationals the same day. BABC was stocked with the likes of Keith Butler, Marshall Strickland and a very impressive rising junior - William Blaylock. As a result, Torin was not required to carry a huge load. Nevertheless, he still managed to average over 18 points after the first three games.

Playing next to a seven footer like Keith Butler may make Francis look less imposing than a normal 6-9 player. While he may not be as big as Shelden Williams and Sean May, Francis has an excellent body that allows him to be very versatile and play a number of positions. In fact, I really think he could some play wing forward at the next level based on a couple factors. First, he is skilled with a very athletic build for a big guy (not bulky or too tall). Second, his perimeter defense and footwork is outstanding. On numerous occasions, he shut down smaller and seemingly quicker players trying to get past him on the perimeter. This included even the likes of Bracey Wright when they were matched up on one occasion.

Actually, I was more impressed with his perimeter defense than interior defense. He's certainly a very good defender, but I would not classify him as dominating shot-blocker or rebounding machine at this stage. When most guys say they don't want to play center, they mean they don't want to bang with some behemoth on the defensive end. In his case, I think the sentiment is justified because Francis' real strength would be smothering smaller players. I see him playing spot duty anywhere along the front-line at the next level and wreaking match-up havoc.

As for offense, he's fairly polished down low. He showed some nice low post moves and even beat a triple team once. I particularly like the way he puts the ball on the floor down in the low-post and maneuvers for better position. Most big men that put the ball on the floor just end up losing it - Francis didn't. I would only like to see him get off the floor quicker - a la Antawn Jamison - when making his move to the hoop.

In short, Francis easily passes the look test and impresses even more when you notice how polished he is on both ends of the court. Like McCants, don't worry about position, just put him out on the floor.

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