A couple weeks ago, I made the trek across the Bay to Berzerkeley for two days of the Cal Team Camp. Why would I do such a thing when the camp aims to bring in Northern California schools with very intentional Cal recruits with no grades? In two words: David Padgett. Yep, the Reno team was invited for the weekend, which provided me another opportunity to see David in action. I was interested to see how he played in the environment of his high school, as opposed to the AAU style of ball. Additionally, the early scheduled games were going to pit him against Modesto Christian and Bakersfield Garces, which meant individual matchups against Liam Hughes and Robert Swift, respectively. I got to see both, and they were very telling about David's prospects at the college level against true 7-foot big men.
Pete and David Padgett
Before delving into the games, let me first give the context of the rules and environment in which the games were played. First, the courts were quite short, being played across the width of Haas Pavillion rather than the length. That lets Ben Braun watch twice as many guys at one sitting, but it makes it difficult for a flow to develop in the games. Additionally, the clock did not stop for dead ball situations, and ran from start to finish of each half. That moved games along in a predictable and timely manner, but it certainly shortened the amount of live game action. This means you should also keep in mind that stats per game reflect less than what a full game could produce. Finally, there were no free throws shot until the final two minutes of the game. Fouls in the act of shooting resulted in two points, and the ball went immediately the other way. So rather than report total points scored, I will report shooting on actual field goal attempts, and then give foul scoring separately. Got all that?
Friday night, David matched up against Liam Hughes (profile) and had easily the most difficult and frustrating game I have ever seen for him. Liam is someone who has gotten press on PrepWestHoops from Tracy Pierson and Greg Hicks as a project center, but after I saw him in Fresno at the Mats Madness, I dismissed him out of hand as too much of a project. Well, he defensively shut down David Padgett in every way, utilizing his 7'1" frame, long reach and imposing mass. He just takes up so much space, and he prevented David from getting off any clean shots. Padgett started the game 2 of 11 from the field before finishing 4 for 15. His mini-spurt of a couple good baskets at the end of the game came as he wore Hughes down and was finally able to move around him to get to the basket. But for the 85% of the game before that, Padgett was forced to take off-balance shots well away from the basket. It was frankly eye-opening. I've watched David dominate many AAU games, in which he admittedly draws more double teams than he does legit big men. But David came to this camp for exactly this opportunity, and he'll learn from it.
On the flip side, I caught a glimpse of what Liam Hughes may be able to do to Pac-10 centers - clogging up the paint and just shutting guys down. It is true that he has a lot of work to do to reach his upside, but it could be huge. Liam's two glaring liabilities right now are his raw and undeveloped offense, plus his slow-footedness getting up and down the court. The diminutive court for this game actually favored Liam and took away a great strength of Padgett's, with the former laboring up and down the court and the latter exceptionally smooth running the floor. Put these two against each other in a high school game on a regulation court, and I bet David does better simply because Liam wouldn't be able to be in position to defend him each possession. On the offensive end of the court, he uses a one-handed mini-hook every darned time he shoots the ball, and that's ridiculous. Somebody has to teach this kid how to take a two-handed set shot.
The one shining moment for Hughes' offense came in the low post. He had David right on him, and gave a really nice pump fake to the near side of the basket, and then rotated his body for a clean shot toward the middle of the key. Absent that move, Liam really struggled to show offensive moves, but that one move is something you hang your hat on if you are recruiting this kid. He is originally from Great Britain and is just still learning how to play the game. Unquestionably you would redshirt him to give him more time to learn and mature, but it's a calculated risk.
Liam told me that he is carrying a 3.3 GPA and a 1210 SAT. He heard from Stanford some time ago, but not recently. If I'm Stanford and I see this matchup against David Padgett, I get on my horse and start recruiting this giant with a little more gusto. No question.
I kept stats through this whole game...Padgett - 4 for 15 FG; 4 baskets on fouls; 4 fouls; 3 blocks; 5 def boards; 0 off boards
Hughes - 1 for 5 FG; 1 basket on fouls; 4 fouls; 2 blocks; 2 def boards; 2 off boards
On Saturday, I got to watch Padgett go up against Robert Swift. For those who don't know, Swift is almost unquestionably the top center on the West Coast in the 2004 rising junior class. I first told Booties about him after I saw him last summer with the Rockfish at the Adidas Big Time. While Robert Rothbart of local St. Francis could make a run at that top center spot, neither are going to be Stanford recruits academically. But putting the top 2003 center up against the top 2004 center is very educational.
Padgett vs. Swift
In sharp contrast to the game against Hughes, Padgett pretty much dominated. And Swift is no chump - he's figured by some to be a better player than Padgett down the road, if not now. But David clearly out-worked Robert on both ends of the floor. The two sat enough in the first half that I stopped keeping stats, but I did track the second half. The stats reflect the lopsided nature of this battle...Padgett: 5 for 11 FG; 3 baskets on fouls; 2 blocks; 4 def boards; 2 off boards; 1 foul
Swift: 2 for 6 FG; 0 baskets on fouls; 0 blocks; 3 def boards; 0 off boards; 2 fouls
David routinely caught the ball with Robert on his back about 6-8 feet from the basket and then used a spin move to get by him to the bucket. Padgett just beat Swift off the dribble and was able to get inside for the higher percentage shots. Contrast that with the plethora of chucks from the cheap seats Padgett launched in desperation against Hughes - striking.
The one down note for David in this game and the others I saw was that his outside shot just is not falling. That was a real gem in his game prior to his injury this past winter, and I have yet to see it come back. He still has an all-around game that deserves his elite status absent that shot from the high post, but it's disappointing to see it disappear.
Don't let my description versus Liam Hughes or comments about his outside shot color David's performance at the camp, though. Even on the short courts, he showed again how easily he runs up and down the court. When he drew triple-teams, he always had his arms up high and passed out quickly. When he was jockeying for position in the low post and felt a double-team, he would point to the open man on his team to direct the ball movement on the perimeter. David blocked a lot of shots, displaying his excellent timing. Interestingly, he also 'baited' some players into blocks, but taking a step away from the ball to entice the player to shoot. I loved it.
Padgett also loves to play the two-man game. He sets a lot of high screens for his guards, and loves to set up the pick & roll when his teammate can see it. This is a smart and advanced big man with a lot of skills. He is earning every bit of his reputation.
Another matchup I was looking forward to was derailed, though. Padgett was to go up against Kyle Jeffers of Montgomery, but Kyle hurt his ankle in the opening minutes and was gone for the rest of the game. Talk about bad luck, Jeffers (profile) hurt his other ankle at the beginning of another game earlier in the camp, and played just a few total minutes. He made the comment to me in half-jest that he didn't know about playing at Haas again with those results.
Though Kyle didn't get a chance to show much at the camp, he has had a strong spring and summer. From relative obscurity, he has gotten solid looks from Cal, Oregon and Stanford. I would say he's a legit prospect talent-wise for Stanford, and he has a strong GPA, but his SAT is thus far below 1000. That's not good.
Some additional Padgett notes: he is currently in Miami competing with 15 other high schoolers for the final 12 spots on the USA Basketball team that will travel to Venezuela at the end of this month. This final selection has been the end goal for David's work this entire summer. He has made some sacrifices along the way, including skipping the ABCD camp last week. If he makes this team, he will also miss the rest of the July period - including the Adidas Big Time and subsequent Best of Summer. This reminds me of Casey Jacobsen's situation four years ago, when he missed several AAU camps and events while he traveled with the national team to Russia. He slipped in some guru's rankings and was even left off the McDonald's All-American team when first announced. Don't be surprised if David is undervalued a bit at the end of this summer, though he did solidify his reputation nationally in a big way last summer...