Eric Gardner has returned to offer his services, and we're all thankful for it. I know we're all hungry for basketball recruiting news, especially with the 2014 class loaded and three scholarships waiting there to be taken. Before Marko gets going on his contributions Eric has contacted me with another write-up about this weekend's Purdue Team Camps. He has also included the bracket for the Purdue shootout. Here is what Eric had to say:
Kendall Stephens - St. Charles East (IL)
I got to see Kendall last year in high school ball and was very impressed from a talent standpoint. Kid could really shoot but other parts of his games still hadn't developed into much yet. Plus he was a stick. A little over a year later and he has progress so much. Stephens has put on some muscle and looks like he will put on more over the next year.
His skills have also progressed. Last year his only real tool was his ability to knock down the outside shot. Now, Kendall will use his mid-range game a lot more which helps to balance out his improved 3- point shot. Another area that is more visible is rebounding. In the few events I have seen this spring, Kendall uses his length to gain rebounds at a decent clip. I wouldn't consider him anywhere near great but becoming more and more effective at it.
Defense is where Kendall's biggest upside is in the future. You could see flashes of it on Thursday. It may not really flourish until after he gets to Purdue but it was nice to see him use his length to be a nuisance. Purdue fans will love this kid.
Joel Okafor - Richmond
Joel is a beast of a guard. He is only about 5'11" but he is all muscle. He also looks like that of a 30 year old man. Plays like it too. Joel's game right now is defense and driving. It looks like he will be a lock down defender at the Point Guard position. He's very good now for his age. Joel is probably the best defender in the 2015 class that I have seen in Indiana. (Side Note: I (T-Mill) saw Okafor in February against my Kats, a good defensive team, and he played them like a fiddle. He's legit.)
Offense may be a problem for him just because of his height and length. He doesn't have great length so getting shots off may cause issues. Right now he relies on his ability to get to the hole. It is a strength for him but he isn't playing against too many kids bigger than 6'6". He does attempt jump shots but is nowhere near adequate at this point.
Okafor has great speed with the ball and makes good decisions. He doesn't turn the ball over a lot which is what you like to see out of a PG. He loves to push the ball in transition but knows how to run an offense in the half court.
Just need to remember how old this kid is. Doesn't look 15 but he is. He picked up his first offer this past weekend from Wright State and will probably get other offers soon. Purdue will keep a close eye on him. Painter and Richmond coach Joe Luce are pretty close and would give Purdue an advantage if they decided to offer. Wouldn't expect anything anytime soon from Purdue though.
Tyler Wideman - Lake Central
I have been Tyler's biggest skeptic but he finally is starting to show me why people are in love with him. Every time I have gotten to watch him he has looked tired/lazy and isn't more than a big guy that has potential but has never shown it. This past week he was really active and looked like he wanted more offers.
Wideman was moving well on the court, even looked like he lost a few pounds. He's still strong as hell and probably the biggest improvement other than just playing like he cared was his hands. For such a big guy, I always thought that he should be catching everything within his grasp. Thursday he was getting everything and taking it with authority. As a big PF he needs to get rebounds. Purdue has had enough big men that can't rebound well enough and wasn't sold on them taking another. If this continues to improve for Wideman then I think I like the fit a lot more.
Tyler did show off his jump shot a little bit. Still not sold on it but it's nice to see that he is trying it and doing it when that scenario fits. A lot of times you will get big guys that just toss up a 3 because they want to make it. Wideman will do it when it is actually a good option.
Not sold on him or his offer but with the lack of options at his position and if he can continue improving this may change in the near future. Want to see him more this July.
P.J. Thompson - Brebeuf Jesuit
This wasn't Thompson's best outing but it wasn't terrible. He is better in the AAU setting because he has more talent around him and he is much more of a running type PG. The one thing that always shows is his effort and attitude. He is a winner.
I absolutely love P.J. and think he is good enough to overcome his biggest obstacle, height. He gets to the rim with ease and finishes better than most people. When he comes across a taller defender he has the ability to pull up and knock down the jumper. His range extends well beyond the 3-point line and shoots a good enough percentage that you have to honor it. He kind of has the Lewis Jackson fade-away shot down pat already. P.J. knows how to create space to get his shot off.
Defense isn't a problem for him but should continue to improve over the next two years. Purdue will be in on him but an offer won't come unless they find a need for a PG. Thompson is good enough to possible play in the Big Ten and wouldn't be surprised if he gets offers before his senior year.
Derrik Smits - Zionsville
Until last week, every time that I had seen Smits he improved. This event wasn't a setback but just showed how raw he really is. He is 6'9" now and will only get bigger. Thought is he will reach 7'1" or larger and if he can have some skills to go with his size Smits will be a valued commodity.
I saw him at the beginning of the high school season last year on the JV team and he was coming off the bench. Oh how times have change. Now a starter on the Varsity team, Smits has grown in so many ways. He is active and smart on the glass. He knows how to use his length and usually is in good position to get the rebound.
Smits can knock down shots as well. I've seen him step out to 3 and hit them. He will be a very adequate shooter for a big man. If he can round out that part of his game, he may become a mismatch. Most of his points come off of rebounds and that won't change. He gets hacked a lot and will shoot a ton of FT's wherever he goes.
Purdue is very much aware of the talent that Smits has and they should be a player for his services. Time will tell with Smits because he won't be offer worthy for at least a year or two. Derrik's personality seems to lend itself to the Purdue type atmosphere more so than others but he is completely capable of handling the big spotlight if that is what he chooses.
Bryant McIntosh - Greensburg
He is 6'4", can shoot, and I may be sold on him as a PG. Didn't think I would be a month ago but he changed my mind last week. Ultimately he may be a combo guard but I wouldn't mind seeing him at the point.
Built in the mold of the new generation PG, Bryant can do a little bit of everything. He is an excellent, rangy shooter who puts up some big number in a hurry. I never really go to see him play point because on his AAU team he played the off-guard position. Now I'm fairly sold on him. He passes well enough and knows when to set up teammates. Bryant's ball skills are legit and with his height it makes him a pain to guard.
Defensively he can get after it. He pinned one of Okafor's shots on the backboard in their matchup. Bryant is built well enough now to take the bumps and stick with his guy. Still needs to improve his face up defense but that will come.
As far as Purdue's interest, it seems watchful. The good thing for Bryant is that he can play all 3 of Purdue's guard positions. Ideally, he would fit best at the SG because he adds a second premier ball handler on the court. He just started to get offer this past week and is getting a lot of attention lately.
Sean Sellers - Greensburg
I though Sean played pretty well but wasn't great. He is skinnier than I realized. Most of the time I hadn't been that close to him so maybe I just didn't notice. He does have a good frame that will allow for more muscle to be put on.
Another reason I hadn't noticed was that he takes the hits so well. He finished around the rim pretty well and even had a couple nice dunks. One came off of a drive which was pretty sick. I would have liked to see him play a more balance game. Most of the time he was playing as a post guy and maybe that is just how Greensburg has him but I still would have like to see more of a mid-range game. I have seen it before just not that day.
He is pretty physical for a guy his size on the defensive end and just kind of seems like he gets it. He doesn't let you just have an easy basket, he makes you work for it.
Purdue has been in touch with him recently and I would think that this will be a position of need for the for the 2014 class. Hopefully, with a little more time, Sellers game will round out a bit. He is still raw right now but good enough to get some interest from the bigger programs.