"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Milwaukee Pro-Am: First Impressions

It was great getting out to Jim Ganzer's Milwaukee Pro-Am at Greenfield High School last night. I really think this event has the potential to become one of those hallmarks of the season that we all look forward to, just like Marquette Madness or Buzz's BBQ. It was great to finaly get a chance to see some of these guys playing, to see how they look in the midst of the offseason, and what the new guys have to offer. I primarily looked at Marquette guys, and here are some thoughts.

Junior Cadougan: Last year's Pro-Am MVP looked better yesterday than he did when I saw him at Homestead a year ago. Cadougan showed range out to three, and was fairly consistent both hitting jumpers and when he would drive to the hole. His court-vision was spectacular as well. He was comfortable and confident on the ball. Junior punctuated his day with a beautiful steal, drive, and dunk that brought cheers from the crowd. Easily the best player I watched.

Chris Otule: Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with him. Last year he was much more of an offensive player in the games I saw, but he contributed little on the offensive end outside of a few put-backs. He altered some shots but wasn't the defensive presence I expected, though it is the Pro-Am. Hopefully CO will show more in the coming weeks.

Jake Thomas: The South Dakota transfer has incredible range. At one point, he hit a three that was from about the same range as the three Steve Novak hit against UConn. Thomas was probably the hardest-working guy I watched. I realize he's a walk-on, but I think he will be a great practice body this year, and he can hit the open three. He's a D1 player.

Juan Anderson: The first thing that struck me is that Anderson is taller than advertised. Looking at him next to Keaton Nankivil and Otule, I'd say he's 6'8". He's also very athletic and is one of the most creative passers I've ever seen. Anyone who has seen his highlights has watched some of the incredible dishes he hands off. He had a few like that on Friday. However, he will need to add 15-20 pounds of muscle before he becomes a major contributor.

Vander Blue: Probably the most disappointing guy I watched. While he did hit a three, he still had a bit of a hitch in his shot and missed more than he made. He was running the point and did have a good chemistry with Jamail Jones, but I still want to see more out of him.

Jamail Jones: Wow, what a shooter. Jones was hitting everything outside. At one point he made four threes in five trips, and while I didn't watch all of his game, it was clear that he is a very good shooter. Even more impressive was his muscular physique. In the shoulders, Jones is now wider than Davante Gardner. He's freakishly chiseled.

Davante Gardner: First of all, his body transformation is incredible. He is much thinner than he was last year, and it's made a huge difference. Last year at the Pro-Am, Gardner struggled to get up and down the court at times, this year he seemed to have a near-endless motor. He was quick to the ball, managed to get some steals, and was even getting out in front on the fast break. He also showed off his range, making a few threes. The only negative is that he spent too much time ranging out to the perimeter on both ends of the court. But with his new physique, his improved stamina, and his ability to be an offensive threat both inside and out, Buzz won't be able to keep him off the floor. He looked very good.

Jamil Wilson: Wilson just looks like a player. He's really long and athletic. He is a pretty good outside shooter, can defend inside and out, but I didn't see much post-up game from him. He's often going to be a physical mismatch inside and could really use some post moves.

Other Thoughts:

  • Dwight Buycks is killing it as he likely pursues a European contract. He's averaged 44.5 ppg over the first weekend of the tourney. This kind of event is perfect for a guy like him to showcase his skills, and I wish him luck in his pursuit of playing pro ball.
  • While he's not playing, DJO is at the Pro-Am. Like many, he was walking between the gyms to watch his teammates. Glad to see him leading from the sidelines.
  • The best non-Marquette guy I watched was undoubtedly Miles McKay of Whitewater. How on earth is he not a D1 player? He scored every way possible and had 27 in the first half alone.
  • Finally, I spoke to Buzz Williams for about 5 minutes on the way out. Not surprisingly I asked him about the schedule for next year. He said that the problem with last year's schedule was that the high end was really high and the low end was too low. Next year, the high end is still high, but the low end has come up, maybe a bit too much. It's clear Buzz won't be taking any of their opponents lightly.
Well, that's it for my night at the Pro-Am. I'll try to get back over the next few weeks and bring some more thoughts. And another thanks to Jim Ganzer for putting this on. It's tremendous fun for the fans and players, and I heavily encourage anyone in the Milwaukee area to get out there if they have the chance.


JohnPudner said...

Great report, I didnt know junior could dunk! Just kidding. Your report confirmed davante looks as fit on the court as he did on campus, that Anderson has grown and that Jake is legit in my mind. I'm resigned that otule and blue are defensive specialists for now, but everything else sounds great.

John Moran said...

Excited that it now looks as if everyone can play their natural position for the most part!