BERKELEY, Calif. -- Losing the likes of Ivan Rabb and Paris Austin certainly has hurt Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd, and the Dragons' coach, Lou Richie, said that they won't be an Open Division team this year. But, the future is bright in Oakland. With point guard Elijah Hardy, center Raymond Hawkins, B.J. Shaw (son of Brian Shaw) and guard Naseem Gaskin, the future is bright, indeed.
Gaskin is an intriguing prospect, very bouncey with plus body control and a nose for the rim. While he's shooting 38% from the field -- a stat that's gone down throughout the season -- he shows flashes of brilliance, as he did against Mountain View (Calif.) St. Francis.
In the MLK Classic game last Monday at Haas Pavilion, the 2018 guard poured in 19 points, and though he went 5-of-14 shooting, he went 9-of-11 at the free throw line. That's one place where Richie thinks Gaskin can excel, especially since he gets to the basket with such regularity.
"He's playing better, without a doubt," Richie said. "He makes more free throws than the other team attempts."
Gaskin is averaging 2.5 assists per game, and dished out four helpers against the Lancers on Monday. He's shooting 34% from three on the season, but went 0-for-4 on Monday. One thing Richie wants Gaskin to do is to be able to trust his teammates -- Hawkins and Hardy -- more, and go to them more often when he's bottled up in the lane. That's going to be something that Gaskin learns as he gets older -- to not just be a driver, but to drive and dish.
"First half, we had seven turnovers," Richie said. "Elijah and Naseem probably wore down, and that's from them having to play so many minutes. They start to make the little, careless turnovers. They finished with 11 turnovers between the two of them. We just have to learn from it, be patient, and we'll see how we do in league. Next year, we'll probably be an open team."
Gaskin didn't play last year, because, Richie said, "he had some issues," but he's quickly improving.
"He can get to the rim at will, made a careless turnover in the back court, took a charge tonight, but we've just got to be patient," Richie said.
Gaskin's mother is 6-foot-2, and he could wind up being 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8, before all is said and done, and develop into a deadly wing.