Scouting & Video: Larry Nance Jr. vs. Highland

Dylan Burkhardt

I made the trip down to Richfield, OH to watch Larry Nance Jr. in action. The senior forward prospect recently popped up on Michigan’s recruiting radar as a potential candidate to be offered Michigan’s final 2011 scholarship. Joe posted a lengthy interview with Nance and you can also find some video from earlier this year on his profile page. Nance had 16 points in tonight’s game versus Highland and here’s the video:

Scouting report after the jump.

Unfortunately, the level of opposition that Highland provided was subpar at best. Nance’s Revere squad was up by 20 points for almost the entire game and put in the the entire JV squad at the start of the fourth quarter when they were ahead by over 30 points. Attempting to judge talent is much harder against inferior talent for a number of reasons. It doesn’t prove anything to say that the player you want to watch is significantly better than the other team, so you are left trying to guess how much better. Add in the fact that the quality of the game generally deteriorates and you’re left with a tough puzzle.

The Good: Nance influenced the game in a number of ways with his length and was also solid offensively when he chose to be. He scored on a three, a dunk off an inbounds play, a midrange jump shot, and with a couple different moves in the post. The most impressive aspect of his game was his ability to use his length to block shots and force turnovers on the defensive end. He racked up a number of steals and blocks which usually led to easy points for his team. Nance appears to be a very good athlete and he displayed his athleticism several times, including a 360 dunk attempt. He’s not an electric athlete like his dad but still can elevate and finish. He was also solid on the glass, but level of competition comes into play there.

The Bad:  I would like to see him be more assertive offensively. Highland packed in its defense quite a bit but Nance didn’t really post up much until the second half. When he did go to the post he was very successful but he settled for too many threes early. He was playing on the perimeter for long stretches and didn’t seem to be able to generate much offense off the bounce. He didn’t appear to be a great shooter. He was something like 1-4 on threes and was probably around 50% from the free throw line as well.

Overall: Nance seems to be a classic jack-of-all-trades guy that can do a little bit of everything but won’t necessarily wow you in any one department. In a way, he kind of reminds me of Saginaw’s Tommie McCune (disclaimer: I haven’t seen McCune play in a while.). He’s this sort of undersized power forward with an offensive game that’s stuck between the perimeter and the post. He could play the four for Michigan but he would have to continue to develop his three point shot. His role would be similar to Colton Christian’s but I have a hard time comparing the two. I’ve seen Christian play 100 minutes of basketball against Division I competition and Nance play 24 minutes against a bad high school team.

His length seems like it could be very intriguing in the 1-3-1 zone as he tipped so many balls in Revere’s trapping defense. There’s also always the big x-factor, will he continue to grow? His dad grew 3 or 4 inches in college and a similar growth spurt would completely change Nance’s game.

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  • MHoops1

    Obviously, I’m watching a cut-up video and not the complete game like Dylan, but what struck me very positively was his ability to handle and pass the ball especially in the open floor–he’s got ball skills which are unusual for a kid who would play at the 4. His shot form (including free throw form) clearly needs work, as does his touch in general, but he appears to have a good feel for the game and good athleticism. Hopefully, someone will see him again against better competition–he’s intriguing in terms of long range potential, but I’d like to see how it translates against a good opponent.

    • tin mad dog

      I think the write-up that was posted here a day or so ago mentioned he was a PG up until he hit a growth spurt in High School.

  • Hey Dylan, did you happen to see any Michigan assistants in attendance?

    • Dylan Burkhardt


      • Apparently they were all watching Biefeldt…

  • sven

    Bielfeldt had 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks tonight for Peoria Notre Dame. The article mentions Coach B and Bruce Weber both being at the game.

  • Dylan Burkhardt
    • tin mad dog

      I guess since quality of competition was mentioned is regards to L.N. Jr., it should be noted that the team Bielfeldt played was 11-11 after losing.

  • Ben

    Hey Dylan, I may have asked you this before but whatever happened to Eric Katenda?? That kid is 6’9 athletic and can shoot it…. seems like he would be the perfect fit for what there looking for……. did Katenda stop showing interest??

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Katenda didn’t do a lot this summer and missed a lot of time with appendicitis. He’s reclassified to the class of 2012 and is now at some prep school in Kansas. I think Michigan cooled a bit given all the circumstances.

      • Ben

        Thanks Dylan,

        I just wanted to let you know that your doing an amazing job with this site. I have memeberships to two other site and your always the first one to get the stories up, sometimes a week before them. We really appreaciate your hard work.

  • Ben

    Also i just read a rivals article that where Staukas said his top 4 was Kansas, Michigan, wake forest and someone else. He also mention that he talks to michigan coaches through facebook and e-mail. As for Larry Nance Jr, I see potential and if we pick him, he will redshirt and work on getting bigger.

  • Brian W

    Thanks for the video of Larry Nance Jr. It looks like he has some abilities (dribbling and passing) similar to Evan Smotrycz. Coach Beilein would probably tell him if you’re going to dunk it, just dunk it and don’t worry about the 360 during the game.

    Stauskas could be hearing from coaches that are following his teammate, Kaleb Tarczewski. Kansas is going after Tarczewski pretty hard.

    Denzel Watts had 19 points as Carman-Ainsworth beat Flint Powers Catholic last night. Javontae Hawkins scored 22 points.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I think we had a couple readers at the Powers/Ainsworth game. Stay tuned for a scouting report.

      • Beast1530

        Javonte Hawkins was reportedly impressive in that game.

        Out of all of the remaining targeted players, I want Javonte Hawkins. He’s the best athlete of all and he’ll fill the need for an athletic wing player.

      • Sam

        Indeed, me and seven of my friends made the hour-long trip up to Flint to watch Carman-Ainsworth take on Flint Powers Catholic (at C-A). The game lived up to the hype, with Carman-Ainsworth digging itself out of an early 10-point hole to take the game 62-57. We were mostly interested in 2012 wing Javontae Hawkins of Powers and 2013 PG Denzel Watts of CA. Patrick Lucas-Perry from Powers will also probably be playing at the mid-major level and Anton Wilson of CA is a prospect for some schools. Here is my take on the two players we went to watch:

        Denzel Watts, listed at 6’0, finished the game with 19 points (6-18 FG, 2-8 3pt., 5-6 FT), four assists, three rebounds, three steals, and five turnovers. First off, Watts was extremely impressive for a sophomore. He definitely looks older, as his upper body has filled out nicely. He’s not huge but he is not so skinny like so many other prospects. He has a pretty smooth jump shot with good rotation and a little bit of leg-kick that will need to be worked on, but nothing major. Here’s the breakdown of strengths and weaknesses:

        Strengths: Perhaps the best part of Watts’s game is his passing. He always made the right pass, although he tends to jump to pass, which could cause him to commit turnovers if the teammate he found as he jumped was then covered. Nevertheless, he had four assists and two or three other passes that just weren’t converted. Watts’s body control is also admirable. He made a couple very nice pull-ups completely under control, something many college players struggle with. He also can use the glass when needed, banking in a couple nice mid-range shots, including one very nice turnaround jumper. Watts is fairly fast, but doesn’t explode out of control. His quickness doesn’t jump out, but he always seemed to get past his defender when he wanted to. Unlike many high-schoolers, Watts also knew when to shoot and when to pass. 18 shots seems like a lot, but he never seemed to just try to take over by himself, for better or worse. Two of his missed threes were on long buzzer attempts as well, and couple other shots just didn’t fall. On defense, Watts was also fairly adept at getting his hands into passing lanes, tipping a couple balls leading to turnovers and fast breaks. PLP and Vince Adams were always up in Watts’s grill on defense, but he never appeared rattled and let the game flow through him rather than taking ill-advised shots. He also appears to be a very good free throw shooter, making 3-4 in the fourth quarter.

        Weaknesses: While Watts finished with a pretty nice stat line, he was quite streaky. 14 of his 19 points came in the second quarter, which quickly turned into the Denzel Watts show as Carman-Ainsworth pulled back into the game to trail by only three at the half. In the second quarter, Watts was five of seven from the field, including two for four from three-point land, and collected three assists, one rebound, one steal, and one turnover. In the first quarter, I was wondering if I was watching the wrong player, because Watts was nearly invisible as Powers ran out to a 10-4 lead. Watts combined for five points on one of nine field goal shooting the in second half. While he was integral in the comeback, he never put the team on his back and really only had one fantastic quarter. Defensively, Watts appeared to be a little uninterested at times playing at the top of the 1-1-3 and 1-2-2 zones that CA threw out. His defender often blew by him, making Watts appear fairly slow laterally. He also jumps off his feet far too often on defense, either leading to a foul or a blow-by. He needs to learn to stay on his feet.

        Overall: Watts is a tremendous prospect at this point. If he is only the fourth-best point guard in his class in Michigan (as I have seen some people put him at), I would be very surprised. I still want to get out and see Derrick Walton and Monte Morris, but Watts can assuredly hold his ground with them. I always hate comparing players, as each individual is unique and has his own game, but if I had to, I would say Watts is something of a combination of Kalin Lucas and Jordan Taylor. He is very strong and is built like Taylor and really reminded me of Lucas with the way he played on offense.

        Javontae Hawkins is a 2012 wing prospect listed at 6’5. Hawkins was very impressive late in the game, and recorded a final stat line of 22 points (9-17 FG, 3-7 3pt., 1-1 FT), 12 rebounds (8 offensive), one assist, one block, and four turnovers. Hawkins is very long and extremely athletic. He shot the ball pretty well and displayed some great range on his three and some tremendous leaping ability, especially on the offensive glass. Here is a breakdown of strengths and weaknesses:

        Strengths: As I stated before, Hawkins is an athletic wing that either shoots from deep or finishes inside. He has a nice three point shot, but it is a little bit of a slow release. The rotation is nice and he can create a shot for himself, but rarely shot in a catch-and-shoot situation. His length and athleticism allowed him to be a great rebounder, and he always seemed to get his hands on Powers’ misses. He brought the crowd to its feet one time with a huge put-back throwdown and missed two big one-handed dunks. He didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes and never panicked, even when CA was making their run at the end. He clearly wanted the ball in his hands and did all he could to bring his team back at the end, but they just came up short. He made two NBA-range three-pointers and converted on an array of put-back around the hoop. He also showed a bit of driving ability, one time going baseline and converting a reverse layup, but for the most part he either received passes, took a couple dribbles and shot or rebounded misses and put them back up for his points. He was excellent on defense, always staying with his man and recording one nice block (although his teammate Quinn Langston-McNeal had perhaps the most authoritative block I have ever seen in my life). His free throw stroke is also very pure, and he calmly converted the and-one chance in his only trip to the stripe.

        Weaknesses: Some of Hawkins’s mannerisms were interesting to say the least. His facial expressions seemed to suggest that he didn’t care about the game, but he often called for the ball and nearly willed his team to victory. The thing that disappointed me most with Hawkins was that he didn’t really drive the ball at all, which Michigan could use a little more of. While he was great on the offensive boards, he also missed a couple of close shots around the hoop, one time getting the rebound, bricking the put-back off the front of the rim, got his own rebound again, and then proceeded to miss off the front of the rim again. He also missed two dunks that could have been easily dropped in with his athleticism.

        Overall: Overall, Hawkins was also very impressive, easily leading his team in scoring. He is a super athlete and an above-average shooter and can impact the game defensively with his length. As he develops, I expect him to gain a little bit of a dribble-drive game to go along with his shooting and athleticism. I would not be disappointed at all if he came to Michigan. I also can’t really think of a good comparison, but I guess I could throw J.R. Smith’s name out there, because he simply can shoot or finish athletically from what I have seen (I hate the NBA). It’s hard to say who I would prefer out of Hawkins and Dorsey-Walker, but based off of just one game apiece I would give the slight edge to Hawkins.

        Other: PLP recorded 14 points and will make for a solid player at the mid-major level. He is extremely quick but undersized and not the shooter he could be.

        Wilson didn’t have very much impact on the game. He made one nice long three but didn’t do a whole lot else.

        A name to watch out for: 2014 guard Cameron Morse of Carman-Ainsworth. We didn’t keep track of his stats, but he made at least two or three three-pointers and was quite impressive for a freshman. He easily scored in double figures and, while he is very small right now (listed at 6’0 and very skinny), he will certainly be one to watch in the future. I expect Carman-Ainsworth is going to be exceptionally good right now, as arguably two of their three best players are underclassmen.

  • georgeesq.

    Plusses were ball handling and quick off his feet. Shot needs work. I liked that he finished with his left hand a couple of times. Above average athlete, but not outstanding. If we offered him, it would be a risk and based on his potential as opposed to what I saw on the video. If he grew to 6’9″ and got stronger, he’d be something. Not many guys that size have ball skills.

  • Joe

    Obviously all we are seeing is clips from the game, but, I think he looks pretty good. His defense looked really good…stepping in the passing lanes & challenging shots. He looks pretty athletic and has a very nice handle for a big man.

    I know other people have been questioning his shot. I don’t think his shot looks that bad either. He has a very nice release on the ball. His form is not that bad. Certainly his shot is not as ugly as Shurna from NW and he has done quite well for himself.

    It is very difficult to project his skills to the next level, because, the competition looked pretty weak. If he were to get to 6′ 9″ or 6′ 10″ he would be really good prospect.

  • AC1997

    How could we resist signing this guy just so we could roll out this lineup in two years:
    J. Dumars
    T. Hardaway
    G. Robinson
    L. Nance
    J. Horford

    In reality I’m wondering if Dylan could help us understand the difference in talent, resume, and ceiling for Nance as compared to Christian and the preferred walk-on that Michigan signed. None of them have major offers, none have had a dominant high school career, none of them are a perfect fit at either forward, etc.

    I guess what I’m getting at is whether Christian was worthy of a scholarship last year and whether Nance is worthy of a scholarship next year.

  • Ben

    I just listened to Sam Webb’s recruiting round-up and he mention that beilein and company after watching a HUGE kid right now……He said this guy is really big…I have no Idea who Sam was talking about but maybe there is a third big guy that Michigan is watching…. or he could be talking about Max B?

    • Colby

      Hey Ben, what day was this recruiting roundup?

      • Ben

        Friday, it was the second part near the end he started talking about Michigan basketball. He also said that on the next RR he will tells us who this big is. SO I’m guessing Monday.

  • Thanks for the report. I trust Beilein can judge talent and the quality of players showing interest in UM is growing. However, I wonder if it’s worth using a scholarship on Nance or Beilfeldt (two marginal players if you believe recruiting services and what other teams are offering them), when we have so many quality players for 2012. I guess we will have to wait and see.

  • grandchamp

    Stauskas please.

  • Tweeter

    Tough to judge from the video since the competition was weak, but I do like the fact that he has variety in hsi game. The question is if he can add enough bulk to his body so that at the College level he can do similar things against vastly improved competition? To me there are only two scenarios in which you offer this kid or any other for that matter at this point, 1. he can contribute right away, next season, or, 2. his potential is thru the roof. Obviously, Beilein and co., have their own criteria and I do trust them to make good decisions.

    Both Nance and Bielfeldt seem like great kids, but to me, I’m not sure either of them fit my criteria. I dont think either would contribute next season and in terms of potential, I see some in Nance with his athletic ability and growing body, but not sure how much. I think I would prefer the German guy if I had to choose since he seems most ready to play next season.

  • Colby

    Dylan, any knowledge of visitors to today’s game? Also, I know the 13 class is a long ways away but do you think Haney is the number 1 target on the wing? Irvin is getting a lot of coverage it seems and Byron Ziegler has some big time potential. Thank you

  • maxwell’s demon


    You’ll probably hate this question, but do you think we will take any one of these guys we’ve shown late interest in and if you had to guess which one who would it be?

  • tin mad dog


    In that clip, Nance had 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks (and a 6th that was called a foul). Were there more stats (if you kept them) or was it pretty much what was on the video?

  • KAB

    Hey Dylan,any word on Watford?

  • Champswest

    Thanks for the video. It is great getting a chance to see these high school kids play before they get here.
    Nance looked more impressive on defense than offense. Showed good anticipation and knowledge of passing lanes. I wouldn’t mind using the last pick on this kid if JB does so. We need a 4 or 5. The potential for a growth spurt is intriguing.

  • Joe

    I too would love to get Stauskas. I see Kansas has now offered him.

    I think he is a perfect wing player for Beileins offense.

    • Ben

      Ya lets hope he wants to stay closer to home (Toronto) and picks Michigan. If we want to get this kid I think Beilein needs to work a little harder. He said he keeps contact through e-mail and facebook with Michigan……How about you send some coaches to watch him play so he see’s how much we want him…..Just a thought.

      • Ben

        Where did you see the Kansas offer??? All I have seen so far is that there showing interest…..This kid is starting to get a lot of attention so Beilein’s get going.