Taking a look back at Michigan’s College Practice Camp on Saturday, here are some takeaways from what we saw. Keita Bates-Diop established himself as the most talented player in the gym but he was far from the only impressive prospect in attendance. While it wasn’t a loaded camp, there were plenty of players who stood out and some who made it clear they are ones Michigan will have to keep an eye on.
We’ve already scouted the underclassmen and the upperclassmen, but here’s a look at some major talking points from throughout the weekend including the top post prospects, intriguing shooters and an impressive crop of young guards.
Debating the Post Players: 2013 vs. 2014
Sean O’Mara was being closely watched by the Michigan coaches, and clearly established his skill set. O’Mara is a true post-up center in an era when coaches tend to want players they can put anywhere on the court, but that shouldn’t take away from his value. He already has great footwork and with some coaching he can be a consistent threat on the block. In camp, he scored in a variety of ways against anyone who was on him — his drop-step was almost unstoppable and his free-throw line jumper was consistent. He has all the tools to be a great rebounder but didn’t rebound particularly well in camp. His passing out of the post was excellent. If the Michigan coaches are looking for a pure big man for their 2014 class, they may have found him in O’Mara.
On the other hand, one of the most surprising players at camp was 2013 big man Vitto Brown. Brown is a year older than O’Mara and would have to fill a spot in the already crowded class of 2013 – but he came to camp looking to play for a scholarship offer. During scrimmages he was dominant at times in the post, playing with energy. Being a year older than most of the campers definitely helped him, but he used his size and strength to his advantage and didn’t let up one bit. He had trouble with his jumpshot in scrimmages but was knocking it down in drills — it looks like it just needs some more reps. He was strong and relentless on the boards and has excellent athleticism, which makes him a distinctly different player than O’Mara and opens up the question of whether Michigan would take one more big in the class of 2013 instead of going with a big in 2014.
Brown did all he could in camp to make his case. Minnesota and Kansas State are already calling on the 2013 big and it will be interesting to see how involved Michigan becomes in the coming weeks.
Pick Your Shooter: Grant Evans vs. Peyton Allen
Peyton Allen was extremely impressive at camp and may have played his way to a Michigan offer. He drilled well, showing off his jumpshot and ballhandling ability, but he was even better during scrimmages. He already knows how to use his bigger body against smaller guards in a Darius Morris-like way: he may not be quicker than everyone else, but he can still get by his defender consistently using his strength. He was very strong around the basket and played with poise in traffic. He shot the ball without fear and was able to shoot over almost anyone. His vision was great and he was very comfortable in a drive-and-dish role. Allen did a bit of everything and really didn’t show any weaknesses, even holding his own on the glass.
Grant Evans came in with a big reputation as a shooter but he ended up pushing Peyton Allen as one of the top campers. He was all over the court at both ends and grabbed an incredible amount of rebounds. He was aggressive and seemed intent on proving he isn’t just a shooter, though his shot looked extremely smooth. He is strong and played very smart, always in the right spot on the court, always making the right cuts.
Devin Booker and Keita Bates-Diop are the two prospects that appear to be “sure thing” offers but Allen and Evans could be on the edge. Does Beilein make a move for one of the talented shooters? Evans took an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor on Friday – a first step toward an offer – while Allen already holds a pair of major offers from Oklahoma State and Iowa.
Guards Highlight Class of 2015: Prentiss Nixon, Chandler White, Lamonta Stone & Bakari Evelyn
There is a rising crop of talented, skilled guards coming out of the 2015 class, and manyof them were in attendance at Michigan’s camp on Saturday. All of them brought a little something different to the table, but all were impressive. Chandler White showed off his remarkable body control with the ball in his hands — his size combined with his quickness made him almost impossible to stop going to the basket. Prentiss Nixon doesn’t have the size White had, but is just as quick and has a much better jumpshot, perhaps the best jumper in his class at the camp. Lamonta Stone didn’t have great scrimmages, but he isn’t a one-on-one player and his teammates weren’t moving around. He has serious skills and even though he’s small, he’s extremely quick and has probably the best vision in the group. Bakari Evelyn did a bit of everything but was especially impressive during 3-on-3′s. He could shoot midrange as well as consistently find cutting players.
All of these young guards stood out and will be names to remember in the coming months.
Rating the Field
Last year’s camp boasted an incredibly talented group of prospects but the talent level at this year’s camp was down a notch or two. Much of that was for reasons outside of Michigan’s control as there were a pair of high profile events (Nike Elite 100 and Adidas Nations) taking place during the same weekend. It would have been nice to see Devin Booker, Trevon Bluiett and Jae’Sean Tate in attendance and perhaps even more highly touted underclassmen (Hyron Edwards) but the field was still strong and had some top flight talent such as Keita Bates-Diop.
While the field wasn’t nearly as strong as last year, Michigan fans can take solace in the fact that John Beilein has hosted an array of talented youngsters for unofficial visits in recent weeks. Devin Booker, Keita Bates-Diop, Ryan Fazekas and Grant Evans are among the notable recent visitors in Ann Arbor.