I got out to IWB's Milwaukee Pro-Am at Greenfield High School again today. As always, it was a good time, and I was especially glad to be joined by a number of other Marquette fans. A small group of us took in the action and tried to get some impressions of what we might have in store for next season. Here's what I came away with after another look at some of these guys.
Junior Cadougan: If the Pro-Am is any indicator, Junior is on the verge of stardom. His shooting form has improved, though he still has problems when he adjusts in mid-air. He was very good at the line, hitting 9 in a row at one point. He's in better shape, accelerates very well (sometimes too fast for teammates), and is faster than I ever expected. I also liked his defensive instincts. He seemed aware of Otule, and when he couldn't cut a guy off he would funnel them inside to CO, who was constantly altering shots. He did run into some frustration when teammates wouldn't put the ball up despite him getting them the ball in position and when he outran everyone else on the fast-break, but when he's surrounded by guys like DJO and Jamil Wilson, that shouldn't be a problem.
Chris Otule: When Chris is down low, he seems to have an impact on virtually every shot that goes up. It will surprise no one that he is a flat-out shot-changer. But what I really liked was what I saw on offense. On more than one occasion, Otule demonstrated a reverse-pivot move that allowed him to finish with his left hand. I can't remember seeing this from him last season. If Otule can develop another reliable post move or two, he could really help open things up for us by keeping defenses honest.
Jamil Wilson: He is one heck of an athlete. Jamil seems to be able to do a bit of everything. At times he brought the ball up, he showed off shooting range with a few 3's, he got rebounds and put-backs in traffic, and even tried to take a charge (though was called for blocking). He looks like the basketball version of a "five-tool player".
Juan Anderson: When I think of JA, I think of a guy that has a very high basketball IQ. He has excellent court vision, unbelievable creativity when passing, and is willing to defer to his teammates. Some of the passes he makes, including one stunning left-handed bounce pass while on the run, are simply things of beauty. He needs to bulk up a bit, but when he does, expect him to be an exciting and intriguing player to watch.
Jake Thomas: This guy is going to have a positive impact on Marquette next year. I know, he's not eligible to play until 2012-13, but he will be a dynamite practice player. Thomas ran the point for his team today and also continued to demonstrate ridiculous shooting range. Thomas isn't your typical walk-on. He looks like a high-major contributor. Jake's a hard worker, a great shooter, and a tough defender. I have no doubt that our guards will be better players for having to play against him on a daily basis. I'm looking forward to this kid being a Warrior.
Vander Blue: I only watched the first half of Blue's game. He can drive and score and put in a good effort, but his shot still needs work. He tends to push it more than he does shoot it. On the plus side, it's actually falling more than it did last season. If nothing else, hopefully the Pro-Am will help build his confidence. Still, I can't see him as anything more than a sixth or seventh man right now.
Jamail Jones: I love Melo's new body, but I want to see him use it more. He tends to stick to the perimeter on offense, just waiting to knock down the three. He got inside a few times, but I think with his strength he could actually develop a bit of a post-up game. Physically he looks like he should be ahead of the curve, but if he doesn't add more diversity to his game, I could see people like Mayo and Anderson passing him in the rotation come fall.
- Dwight Buycks is built for the Pro-Am, but if and when he plays professionally, he needs to be a 2-guard. He's a score first, score second, score third, pass fourth kind of guy. Still, he's fun to watch. Some of the fade-away 3's he hit were incredible.
- Dunk of the day goes to Trend Blackledge (no surprise there). At the end of their game, Cadougan fed him an alley-oop that saw Trend's hand a good foot above the rim as he just seemed to hang for a second before slamming it down.
- The best non-Marquette guy I watched today was Dejuante Wade. The big man was matched up against Jamil Wilson and looked unstoppable early, hitting shots down low, from mid-range, and displaying good post moves. The former UW-GB Phoenix player led his team to a rout today.
- Watching Junior, Otule, and Keaton Nankivil on the same team makes me wonder what might have been. Nankivil played well both in the post and in shooting from outside. He's the kind of mismatch player that would have really helped Marquette over the past four years, and it's no surprise that the Scion Dental team, even without Wes Matthews, is dominating the MPA.