Tag Archives: Tom Rubinson

Top 10 SF Stanley Johnson has Duke on his short list

Stanley Johnson is a 6'6" SF/Wing, class of 2014, playing at traditional power Mater Dei High School in Southern California.  He is a physical specimen -- strong, long, agile, with a game to match.  Johnson is a relentless worker at both ends of the floor.  The versatile young man was the MVP of last weekend's Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, and deservedly so.  He was super.  Duke is on his final list of 8 schools.  See what he has to say here:


(apologies on this one guys - the camera malfunctioned for the first few minutes of the interview so it starts in the middle.  In those first few minutes we had been talking about his experience with his Oakland Soldiers AAU squad at the recent EYBL events and then transitioned into a discussion of Stanley's physical strength and the maturity of his body and how that combines with the tremendous motor that he has to give him a big advantage over so many opponents.)  OK here goes:

Stanley Johnson at Pangos, 2013



National Talent Scout Van Coleman Sizes Up the Prospects at Pango’s

Van Coleman is one of the most well-respected scouts of high school basketball talent in the land.  He has long been a friend of Mark and BDN.  He took in the action last weekend at the Pango's All-American Camp in Long Beach, and was kind enough to give me his impressions of a number of players of interest, their strengths, areas to improve upon, recruiting outlook, and other good stuff.  Here it is:


Van Coleman at Pangos, 2013


One Man’s Impressions from the Pangos Camp

Pangos logoWe'll be along shortly with a video of veteran scout Van Coleman's take on some of Duke's actual or potential prospects, and I'm certainly not a professional scout.  But I did spend a fair amount of time last weekend watching these kids play in multiple games and in case anyone's interested, here's what I saw:


Stanley Johnson was the MVP of the camp, and deservedly so.  He's a solid-bodied, athletic SF/wing, and the thing about Stanley is he really, really competes hard.  Nobody is outworking this guy.  He has really worked on his outside shot, and it is much improved.  He was hitting them all weekend, but nowhere more visibly than in the end-of-camp all-star game, where he nailed 4 3-pointers from range.  But I think he's at his best taking it to the hole.  He's strong with the ball, he can play through contact, and he's just relentless in there.  Johnson is also a serious defensive player, locking down mostly opposing 3's, but also can play 2-guards easily and in the all-star game was matched up with bigtime PF Elijah Thomas inside.  Johnson plays at a very good high school (Mater Dei) and in a top quality AAU program as well (Oakland Soldiers) and comes from a solid background.  I spoke at length [private] with his father, who is a smart and thoughtful guy, and says that while he will have input, the decision will be Stanley's to make.  Duke is in his list of 8, and it's between Duke and Kansas for the fifth and final official visit -- Stanley said that the first four have all been recruiting him longer and he thought they deserved a visit for sure.  I would not expect a decision too soon.  The other thing is that Stanley has an outgoing personality and was clearly one of the most popular kids at the camp.  People around him all the time -- likable kid.

Colorado point guard Josh Perkins, also Class of 2014, helped himself perhaps more than any other player in this camp.  He was just super.  He's the main guy that I didn't get that I would've liked to get an interview with, but just couldn't squeeze it in at the end.  But his game: his handle is tight, and man can this kid dish it.  He really, really sees the floor well.  Stats don't mean much from this camp, because other than the all-star game the games are played with a 40 minute running clock, so they're short.  But in one game, Perkins amassed 17 assists.  And these are to kids he perhaps has never played with before, as the teams are just put together for the weekend with kids from all over the country.  Perkins also has a solid outside jumper to complement his outstanding floor game, and he's a natural leader out there.  Perkins is fearless going to the hole, and finishes well.  He'll even be better in that department when he gets a little stronger, and he should be in the weight room to do so, but he has time.  Defensively that would help him, but it's not like he is a liability or anything at that end right now.  Good overall athlete.  Despite his transfer to Huntington Prep in West Virginia, right now Josh seems to be focused more on west coast schools -- UCLA, USC, and Gonzaga (among others) are involved, and undoubtedly he is aware of Duke's pursuit of Tyus Jones to play the point out of this class, but I had heard earlier that Duke was interested in him as well, so we'll have to see where this one goes, if anywhere.  As far as point guards go in this class, there is Tyus and there is Emmanuel Mudiay -- who everyone seems to think will end up at Kentucky -- and Perkins is right at the top of the next group.  He's not at the level of Jones or Mudiay, but he's not as far behind them as he used to be after what he showed this past weekend.

I caught a little of 6'6" wing Jalen Lindsey this weekend, but not as much as I would've liked, making it disappointing that, though selected, he did not play in the all-star game.  I think he had to catch a plane.  In any event, he has a very smooth outside jump shot and is athletic.  Doesn't get beaten much on D.  But I see him as being a little passive out there.  He has a tendency to hang on the perimeter too much rather than force his defender to play him all over the floor.  I would like to see him get stronger and more importantly, get more aggressive.  He's highly skilled, but he doesn't impact the game as much as he could if he were to change his mindset a bit.

Moving to the 2015's, obviously Elijah Thomas, PF out of Texas, was the man.  He has a wide body, wide, round shoulders, and soft hands.  And an ample derierre -- in a good way.  He has a knack for scoring in traffic, with a soft touch.  He has lost a lot of weight so is in much better condition.  I could easily see him gaining 20 pounds of muscle too, and being just a man-child at 255 pounds or so.  Not baby fat, but muscle.  He's a lefty, but I saw him shooting FT's right handed all of a sudden, and when I talked to him about it, he told me that he considers himself ambidextrous.  Huge plus for an inside player to be able to shoot naturally and shoot well with both hands.   I won't be surprised if he ends up a top-5 player in the Class of 2015.  Just like Stanley Johnson, Thomas is really an outgoing personality, lots of people around him, kids laughing with him all the time.  His high school team at Prime Prep in Dallas is going to be a monster this year, and his AAU squad has been solid in the EYBL events, so he'll be center stage at the Peach Jam at the end of the summer.  He has a lot of the top schools in the nation after him, and he seems like the kind of kid who won't be in a rush to make his decision.  But he mentioned Duke prominently in our interview, and that can't be a bad thing.

I got my first look at 6'11" Stephen Zimmerman out of Bishop Gorman High in Vegas -- that's Shabazz's old school.  He doesn't look like much standing on the sidelines, long neck, thin, gangly, holds one arm a bit funny that he told me resulted from breaking it as a 2 year-old, but it's a whole different deal when he steps on the court.  The left-hander looks smooth and polished on his 15 foot face-up jumper.  He somehow powers through guys underneath and scores in traffic.  He has good fundamentals -- when he catches it high, it stays high.  He's very athletic and showed it by catching numerous poorly thrown alley-ooops and finishing them anyway.  Oh, and he had one of the weekend's highlights when he got a pass about 10 feet out, took one dribble and just threw down right in the face of this 6'10" kid named Idrissa Diallo out of LA.  Lots of oohs and aahs on that one.  Defensively, he showed that he already understands and can execute concepts such as the show-and-recover.  Underneath, he doesn't just put his arms up and hope for the best.  He challenges shots.  Zimmerman is only about 215 pounds now, but he hasn't even begun to fill out.  With his frame, I can easily see him at 235 or 240, and Van Coleman said he could see him at 255 or 260.  The kid is more reserved than many others.  While he gets along well with the other kids, in the interview I had with him -- and others confirmed this as well -- he is not all that forthcoming with information.  His mom and dad were here for the whole weekend, and perhaps have coached him to play it close to the vest, which of course is his decision to make.  He's also really just busting out now, so this level of attention may be so new for him that he's not sure how much to divulge.  That's understandable as well.  Stay tuned on this one -- the camp director thinks Zimm is really a Duke-type of kid.

Tyler Dorsey is a skilled 2015 combo guard out of Southern California.  He's from Pasadena but is playing down at St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, which is a traditional power.  Dorsey has grown several inches and now at 6'4" has excellent size for a point guard, which is where he's focused on developing his skills.  He held his own this weekend when matched up with Emmanuel Mudiay, taking it to him for an and-one, not turning it over, finding teammates frequently, and hitting the open J.  There's a smoothness to Dorsey's game.  He never seems rushed or in a hurry and seems to see the floor very well and know where guys are going to be.  Reminds me a bit of Kyle Anderson (now at UCLA) in that way, except he's much more athletic than Anderson.  But with his strength and power, Mudiay was tough for Tyler to handle defensively, but then again Mudiay is tough for every point he plays against to handle defensively.  While it's very early in his process, Duke has initiated contact with him, and Tyler told me that he really looks at who the coach has put in the league at his position.  He is quite aware of the name Kyrie Irving, let's just leave it at that.  As you can see in the interview, very nice and respectful kid as well.

Finally, there is Thon Maker, the 7 footer, class of 2016, originally from the Sudan, then Australia, now at the Carlisle School in Martinsville, VA.  He is incredibly long, with a huge wingspan. And very, very thin.  I saw him play at the EYBL in LA a few weeks ago, and he didn't make much of an impact.  Then in his first game at the Pangos camp, same thing.  Many minutes would go by and he would just run (gracefully) from end to end but not really be involved in the action.  When he did get the ball, it was usually 20+ feet from the basket, and what Thon did show out there was a surprisingly good handle, going between his legs, crossing over, all of that.  But then he would try to get too fancy and he turned it over a number of times.  And he really likes to hoist up 3-pointers.  I think all weekend I saw him make one or two, but he missed a lot more than that.  Funny thing is, he has a really good looking stroke, both from the FT line and beyond.  Very good mechanics.  But obviously that's not where a 7 footer, especially at this level, should be playing.  That said to me that he needs to learn his game and play to his strengths much more.  That's a matter of coaching, in a big way, as he needs to learn how to play the game and how to approach it properly.  The kid is athletic, no doubt.  He's very thin so he can be pushed around.  His handler from Boo Williams says he's already gained 35-40 pounds, which is almost hard to believe, but that he plans on putting another 35 or so on Thon.  We'll see if his frame can handle that.

But getting back to his game, I must say that as the weekend wore on, he got better.  He got more aggressive with his post-ups, he held position better, he took the ball to the hole some, and he was very aggressive on the boards and in going after shots at the defensive end.  He really seemed to turn his energy level up, which was really good to see.  If a kid this tall with arms this long, who is already athletic, can bring passion and energy to the defensive end, challenging shots and making life very difficult for the opposing offense, he's going to be a major presence.  And then if his coach can get him to learn a post move or two, look out.  Get him off the three point line, get him on the blocks, so that he'll be a true inside-outside threat.  Keep in mind, the young man is not only not from this country, he's only just finishing up the 9th grade.  Plenty of time to grow, both on and off the floor.

For you guys who like to follow national recruiting, some other guys who were impressive, in no particular order: Leon Gilmore, 6'7" out of Texas, Craig Victor, 6'8" out of New Orleans, Alex Robinson, good looking point guard out of Texas, Kodi Justice, 6'5" shooter out of Arizona, PG Emmanuel Mudiay of course, who is just so strong for a point guard, he can shoot it and he just plays very physically -- he's a handful, but the question is: is he a floor general?, Jabari Craig, 6'10" out of Atlanta, Daniel Hamilton, 6'7" HS teammate of Tyler Dorsey and brother of former Texas guard Justin Hamilton (Daniel has already committed to UConn), Carlton Bragg 6'9" out of Cleveland, Dwayne Morgan 6'7" committed to UNLV, 6'5" Rashad Vaughn, clearly one of the top players in the class of 2014, maybe the best and smoothest SG out there, co-MVP of camp all-star game with Mudiay, being recruited hard by among others UNC (even with Theo in tow), 6'7" Terry Larrier out of Pennsylvania, who was a big surprise but really impressed, and Chris McCullough 6'9" uber-athlete already committed to Syracuse --they've got a real good one here.

From a Duke perspective it was just a shame that Kevon Looney and Myles Turner couldn't make it.

That's it, guys.  Great weekend of hoops and hope to provide more down the line.

Talk about this article or ask questions to Tom for further analysis on the BDN Premium Message Board.




2016 7-Footer Thon Maker Can Be a Game Changer — BDN Chats With Him

Thon MakerThon Maker is a 7 footer who is incredibly long and with arms that never seem to stop.  He is Class of 2016, which means he's finishing up the 9th grade.  But the young man is very much on the radar of numerous major powers, and he played very well at last weekend's Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, making the all-star game.  Thon originally comes from the Sudan, then lived in Australia, before settling a few years ago in Virginia.  He runs with the Boo Williams AAU squad.  In a separate post to come, I'll describe what I see in his game, but suffice it to say at this point that based on the skills he already possesses, if he learns to maximize his height and length, and puts on weight, the sky is the limit.

One of Thon's coaches at Boo Williams accompanied him to Long Beach last weekend, and sat in on our interview as well.  He also chimed in with regard to a few of the questions, when Thon deferred to him.  Here's how it went:


BDN: All right.  I’m here at the Pangos Camp with Thon Maker, who is certainly the tallest and longest young man that I’ve seen here so far at the camp.  So Thon: I thought that first, you’re kind of a new guy on the radar for a lot of fans, so I thought maybe you could introduce yourself a little bit and tell us a little bit about yourself.  I know you have an interesting back story.  If you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.


TM: I’m Thon Maker.  7 feet tall.  Just turned 16.  From Australia.  Right now living in Martinsville, Virginia.  I play for Carlyle School.


BDN: Before you were in Austalia though, you come from where?


TM: South Sudan.


BDN: How long have you been in the States?


TM: Two years now.


BDN: And did you start playing ball in Sudan, or in Austalia, or not really so much until you got to the States?


TM: In Australia.


BDN: Any of your family come over with you, or is your family still in Australia?  Could you tell us a little bit about your support system here?


TM: Coach Smith right here is the family I have right now in the States.  I’ve been with him since 2009-2010.  2009 actually.


BDN: So like I said it seems like your kind of new on the radar.  You’re getting a lot of attention here in a relatively short period of time.  If you could give us a sense of what that’s like.  Is life just crazy with all the attention from everybody or are you able to keep it under control or how’s that been?


TM: I have a plan and I just gotta keep it focused and keep on working hard.


BDN: What’s your plan?


TM: Eventually to get into the league.


BDN: Yeah, I think you share that with a lot of the guys that are here, of course.  If you, for the fans that haven’t seen you play, how would you describe your game?  Tell us some of the things that you think are your strengths, maybe some other things you think you need to work on . . .


TM: Well first off, I play hard to win.  You gotta play to win first.  And anything else . . . as long as I’m winning, I’ll have fun within the game.  And I just got to keep my team in control so we can get that win together.  And play hard.


BDN: I have to say, as I was just watching you play right now, for a guy your size, the handle that you have and the smoothness of the shot is pretty impressive.  You must’ve spent a lot of time working on that part of your game.


TM: Yes, we have.  (laughing)


BDN: Now tell me, what are some of the areas that you think you need to work on the most?


TM: Right now, I’m watching “Kobe Doing Work” and  . . .


BDN: Kobe’s doing some work on his Achilles right now . . .


TM: (laughing) The show “Kobe Doing Work”


BDN: I know.


TM: And I got to get the same mindset down or even better and doing a lot of skipping and working with a lot of squeezing a tennis ball to get my hands stronger.  You know, catching the ball.


BDN: Yeah, that’s an important thing obviously for a big guy cuz when you get a guy dishing to you, you want to be able to handle it.  That’s a smart thing, to work on your hands, your forearms, to strengthen that area?


TM: Yeah.


BDN:  What did you say you weigh?


TM: 200 pounds.


BDN: 200.  Most people would probably take a look at you and say, “hey.  It would be good for him to put on some weight.”  Is that part of the plan, or not necessarily?


Edward Smith:  We have a four year plan and so we figure that at 200 by his senior year he should be around 235.  We’ve come from 2011 when he was 165 and we’ve come –


BDN: Still 7 feet?


ES: No, he was 6’9”.  And so we’ve progressed.  You know, we’re putting on the weight smart and he’s working, doing a lot of band work and he’s lifting a little bit, just touching upon it, but you know, we don’t want to lose his speed, his quickness.  That’s his asset.


BDN: So many guys make that mistake.  They just put weight on for the sake of weight and then they lose their quickness, their agility.  Seems like you’re pretty determined to make sure that doesn’t happen with Thon.


ES: Well, it’s a different game these days.  The stretch 4 or combo forward is important in the game and he’s able to facilitate the offense from different areas, so we’re trying to get him to work on the elbows, the top of the key and the mid-post right now, for now.


BDN: Work on the low post later?


ES: He posts deep right now against these guys.  I think at the next level they’re going to move him so much because you want to get other big guys to chase him.  Bring him off pindowns.  If you can bring him off screens, with his shot, you get a big guy trying to chase him, you have a switch-out with a little guard.  He’s shooting over the top of the little guard and  --


BDN: That’s what the Heat’s doing with Bosh.


ES: Yeah, but (laughing) you want to give a little bit more –


BDN: (laughing) You don’t want to go there . . .


ES: (laughing) I’ll leave that . . .  I don’t want him to just sit on the perimeter because he could be a little bit more effective like . . . Chris Bosh could be a little bit more effective rebounding.


BDN: He could.


ES: That’s what you want him to do.  You don’t want him to be a guy that drifts.  You want him to get there, not just sit –


BDN: With a purpose.


ES: Yeah.  So he can find his game in other areas rather than sit in the corner.


BDN: Totally makes sense.  Thon, let me ask you:  list of schools.  Who’s been reaching out the most, who’s kinda making an early impression on you school-wise.  Of course everyone’s going to want to know that.


TM: Again, that’s his answer.  (laughs)


ES: It’s so early in the picture and so when you start looking at schools like Duke, you start looking at Carolina’s from our area being in Martinsville, Virginia, you look at Virginia in the ACC, Maryland, those types of schools.  You want to make sure, even Duke, will the coach still be around in four years?  Because it’s more so than the institution, it’s also the coaching staff.  And so that’s important.  So when coaches are like, around like late sophomore year you start focusing on.  We’ve heard from Ohio State, Memphis, LSU, Arizona, UConn, Miami, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgetown.  I mean, those are the guys that  -- Virginia, Maryland – guys who have been in the mix.  We haven’t really heard from Duke yet.


BDN: That was going to be my next question.  Have you --  Duke hasn’t really reached out yet?


ES:  No, not yet.


BDN: You think they will, though?


ES: I think they will.


BDN: Let me ask you, Thon.  When it does come time, and I know it’s early, but how big of a factor is the educational quality of the school going to be for you.  Some guys it is and some guys, honestly, “I’m there to ball” and the academics may not be as important.  What about for you?


TM: I take my academics serious, you know.  I gotta compete on the court and with my books.  So right now I’m sitting on a 4.08, is it?  And the same thing, being on the court and with my grades.  I look forward to it.


BDN: What do you think, when the time comes are going to be the biggest factors for you?  Obviously we’re a very long way from a decision, but at this early stage what do you think are some of the most important factors that are gonna go into it when you have to decide between schools?


TM: Coaching, personnel also, you gotta see what type of school it is, basically that.


BDN: When it comes to Duke, coach, is it actually a concern, coach, as far as Coach K’s longevity and being there, because I haven’t heard of him showing any signs that he’s going anywhere.


ES: No.  Four years from now, things change for guys.  He does so much for the game.  USA Basketball, gets another gold medal.  Wins a couple more national championships.   Sometimes guys want to hang it up, and you have to look at that situation.  You kind of look at, guys who are getting guys to the league, guys who can say --  how he’s (Thon) going, if he keeps working as hard as he is, you’re looking at a two year window, at max, in college.  If we all do what we’re supposed to do, including everybody around the situation.  So you want to make sure that the right people are there, the right people are there to facilitate that and you stay along the path.  We have some good people in our AAU circle, Boo Williams, work with John Lucas also. We have a small little circle of people between Boo and John Lucas  that we work with, and so we have a plan with that.


BDN: That sounds good.  What are your plans for the rest of the summer?


TM: Just finish strong.  A lot of camps this month and leave a great impression.


BDN: What camps are you gonna be at?


ES: We have the Elite 100 in St. Louis from the 5th to the 9th.  Then we have the NBA Players Association Camp in Charlottesville the 12th through the 16th.    Then we’ll be at one of the Skills Academies, either Amare or Kevin Durant Skills Academy.  And that’s still June.  And then we have, early July if he makes it, the LeBron camp.   That would be capping your camp sessions.  Then we have the Peach Jam. And then we have Nationals in Orlando.  We shut it down after that.


BDN: He’ll be ready to shut it down.  He’ll be ready for a rest.


BDN: Well listen, I really appreciate your taking the time, actually both of you, to speak with us, and I hope to see you again on the circuit and catch up with you soon.


TM: Thank you.



2015 LA Backcourt Star Tyler Dorsey Talks Recruiting

Tyler Dorsey 2Tyler Dorsey is an exciting 2015 combo guard prospect now playing at traditional power St. John Bosco in Bellflower, CA, just a few quick freeway rides from his home in Pasadena.  Duke has initiated contact with the young combo guard, but it is still very early in his recruiting process.  Dorsey's game is smooth.  And he seems to have a very good sense for the flow of the game and that allows him to anticipate the game and stay a step ahead of his opponent.  He's grown a couple of inches so now has excellent size for the point guard position, which is where he would like to play.  It remains to be seen if Duke will show major interest, but Dorsey has landed on many schools radar and has a growing list of suitors.  He is a friendly and outgoing young man, as comes through in the following interview from the Pangos All-American Camp this past weekend.


More to come.


2015 Big Man Elijah Thomas Chats with BDN

Elijah Thomas is a 6'9" 235 pound power player out of Texas who is quickly moving up the rankings as one of the top players in the Class of 2015.  As Thomas discusses in the video interview, Duke appears to be showing major interest.  Coach K and the staff watched him several times on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring, and it's no wonder why.  The big guy has a wide body, round shoulders, and soft hands, and just has a knack for getting buckets down low.  He's gotten himself into much better condition, and that will only improve as well.  As the video shows, he's an extremely affable, engaging, and likable young man who appears to have his head on straight.  The following video interview took place this past weekend at the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, where ET was an easy selection to play in the all-star game.


More to come.