Since the Stanford basketball team started practicing on October 15th, the news hasn't been so great. There have been injuries a suspension and a general run of less than favorable news. However, things couldn't be going any better on the recruiting front as Johnny Dawkins and his staff have worked tirelessly to put together what promises to be an outstanding group of high schoolers from the class of 2010.
Let's be clear, the term "Fab Five" isn't being used to in any way compare Stanford's class with Michigan's fabled 1991 haul of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. However, Stanford's current class of Anthony Brown, Aaron Bright, John Gage, Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell looks to be incredibly important for the future of Stanford basketball because it's a deep and talented group that not only touches each position on the floor, but more importantly sets a solid foundation for the future.
Given that we're talking about kids who are still a year way from hitting a college floor, much can change. Maybe Anthony Brown never adds weight, maybe Dwight Powell stops improving. Those are things that you have to consider. But, more than likely these guys are all going to continue to improve and while they are already talented, they all appear to be guys whose best basketball is still ahead of them.
With that in mind, it's a perfect time to take a little closer look at what each guy brings to the table.
Aaron Bright, PG- The first of the 2010 bunch to cast his lot with the Cardinal, Bright is a gutty and intelligent floor general. A scoring point guard who can really fill it up from deep, the 5-foot-10 Bright will be able to help offset his lack of size or blazing quickness by his ability to command a defender's attention out to 22 feet. A competitive kid who gets after it on both ends, he makes up for what he lacks in some of the measurables with the things that can't be measured like heart, determination and feel for the game.
Anthony Brown, SG- Anybody who has seen the skilled and versatile 6-foot-6 guard knows that he has to add bulk and strength. However, what gets overlooked too much is just how competitive he is and that he doesn't play like a guy who is afraid of contact. One of a select group of elite prospects from California, he's a superior ball handler with outstanding vision. Brown is equally comfortable attacking from the wing and looking to score or setting up teammates and makes things happen with a smooth, no hitch style. A quality defender with long arms, he slides his feet well and has terrific natural instincts on both ends of the floor. His jumper has improved on a yearly basis to the point that it can't really be considered a weakness. Given continued development, Brown should emerge as a weapon that can be deployed in any number of ways.
John Gage, PF- Perhaps the least known of the bunch, the 6-foot-9 Gage is a very intriguing kid. A year young for his class and lean, he's a pretty good candidate to redshirt for a year to catch up physically if at all possible. Hailing from a small school, he's a skilled, face-up four man who has outstanding mechanics on his jumper and legitimate three point range. He runs the floor with long, fluid strides and has good agility in the lane. While his hands are good and he's capable of scoring over either shoulder, he struggles to hold low post position against high level competition because of his lack of strength.
Josh Huestis, SF- Technically speaking, the 6-foot-7 Huestis is probably more of a power forward at this stage in his development. But, it's more out of his high school team's necessity than any lack of wing skills. A fine athlete who can really run, Huestis is quite effective slashing to the basket on quick and decisive drives and he's a quality finisher in transition who attacks the rim for dunks. A well above average rebounder, coaches love the way he attacks the ball at it's highest point with two hands. When he comes down, the ball is tucked strong and secure under his chin and his razor elbows are out to ward off anybody trying to get their hands in there. On his jumper, Huestis has a high release point and plenty of arch while looking quite comfortable in the 15-17 foot range. Like Gage he's a bit of an unknown, but those who have seen him play understand that he could be a sleeper prospect on the national scene and quite likely a legit top 100 type player.
Dwight Powell, C/PF- A Canadian import who has been prepping in Florida, the 6-foot-10 Powell is the perfect big man to anchor this class. Long and wiry, he runs the floor swiftly and more often than not beats his opponent to a spot on the low block. Once there, he understands how to use his body for leverage and after the catch his above average footwork allows him to counter anything that a defense might throw at him. While he's got soft touch around the rim and finishes with either hand, it's his ability to play near the foul line that really helps. He can shoot the jumper, pass to cutters and is also capable of beating other bigs on quick one and two dribble drives to the hoop. Formerly a bit soft on the glass, he's done some work to his frame and gotten much tougher on the glass while also emerging as a good positional defender and shot blocking threat. Like Brown, he looks like a guy that should be able to step right in and make an impact in the Pac-10.