The Undiscovered League: Players to Watch
This weekend, I flew out to Lewisville, Texas for week seven of the Creating Young Minds Undiscovered League. In the three games on Sunday, there were some talented players that flashed their unique skill sets. I wanted to highlight five athletes that played far above any expectations that were set for them.
Keith Smith: The 18 year old combo guard from Tribulation Prep had a great game against The Prospects. Smith had 21 points with a true shooting percentage of 51.5%. He posted a free throw rate of 0.5 (one made free throw for every two shot attempts). He did a great job of creating his own shot. He showed this off immediately by hitting a step back jumper plus the foul from 20 feet. He has a great fluidity to his game that allows him to find space and snake throughout the lane. He struggled a bit with finishing around the rim (5 of 14 from two-point range), but he does a good job of taking contact that results in free throws. He showed off on defense as a ballhawk, getting steals on-ball and turning those turnovers into emphatic finishes at the other end.
Marcus Brooks: Brooks has a unique versatility to his game. On offense, he can add value at the one through three spot. He is at his best in transition, which opens up his eurostep and hopstep to the rim. When he has time to load, he can finish above the rim with power. In the half court, he is an impeccable midrange shooter, especially off the dribble. Against The Pros, he had 25 points and 13 rebounds with a true shooting percentage of 58.1%. He has a craft to his game when set up in the triple threat. Brooks is also a willing passer off the pick and roll. Expanding his shooting range would do wonders for his game. On defense, he uses his 6’6” frame well to body up his man and initiate contact. He communicates well when he is off the ball and remains active at all times.
Donta Smith: Smith most recently played internationally in the Spanish LEB Silver league. He averaged 16.1 points and 9.7 rebounds that season and absolutely held up to those expectations during his two week seven games. He averaged 13.5 points on 66.4% true shooting. He was a small ball center for The Pros. He fit in well to that model with his 225 chiseled frame. He was a force around the hoop all day, demolishing the rim a few times, and even adding to his highlight film with a massive poster dunk. He showed a willingness to shoot the outside shot as well, putting down one of his two three-point attempts. On defense, no one could stand up to him in the post.
Jarrett Henderson: Henderson showed a ton of improvement from both the CYM Summer and Fall leagues. He showed off an impressive motor, especially on the offensive glass. He posted an impressive 16 points and 13 rebounds. The most impressive statistic from the day was that he put up 16 points on only 5 shots. He went 8 for 9 at the free throw line. He flaunted an impressive quick initial and second jump when attacking the rim. His energy was contagious as if every rebound he pulled down brought life to his teammates. On defense, Henderson moves extremely well laterally, refusing to open up his high hip for point of attack scorers to get downhill. He is locked in and adds a ton of value as a complimentary defender. The next step for his development is improving his verbal communication on defense and working on his defensive rotations, specifically as a secondary rim deterrent.
Balsa Bazovic: Bazovic took a step toward showing value as a floor spacing role player. The first time I saw him play, he operated strictly behind the three point line. He lifted up at least 15 shots from behind the NBA three-point line with average efficiency. He has gone on to expand his repertoire of shots as he can now attack in secondary transition as a trailer, create space in the post, and attack off catch and shoot situations. He posted 17 points with a true shooting percentage of 53.5%. He added on with 14 rebounds. There is so much variability in his scoring now, that defenses cannot put him in a box. On defense, Bazovic is still not a plus player by any means, but he does give effort. He does not use his frame that well, but adds value as a positional defender. He stalls plays before they happen.