Some thoughts and musings about the Oakland Soldiers while at Peach Jam:
– Brandon Ashley is absolutely the real deal. Offensively, he has everything. He’s mobile and skilled enough to operate on the perimeter, and he’s got the 15-18 foot jumper down. He’s also capable of playing on the low blocks, but more importantly he’s not afraid to do it. He doesn’t shy away from contact, and if his opponent tries to bully him down low, it makes him more eager to bang inside, not less. Seeing him go against Julius Randle, who was intent on scoring down low in that game, gave me a lot of confidence in Ashley regarding his ability and desire to play in the post.
Ashley also has a good handle, when he gets the ball in the high post area he’s very good at driving to the hoop and has a nasty spin move that I’ve seen him use effectively time and time again. He’s similar to Derrick Williams in that he is too quick and too dangerous off the dribble to be guarded by slower, bigger defenders, and he is too tall and too effective in the paint to be guarded by shorter, quicker defenders. Please note that I am pointing out one similarity in their games, I am not saying they are similar players.
The biggest knock on Ashley is his strength. While he will probably never be a very bulky guy, his strength at this point is a non-issue. Rounds will put the necessary muscle on him to make him very effective at the college level.
– Aaron Gordon is ridiculously athletic, anyone who’s seen him should know that, but I honestly believe he’s a consistent jumpshot away from being the best player in 2013. He passes like a guard and has great vision in the open court. He’s devastating on the fast break because he can lead it and finish it – on the same break.
His handle is decent, and it looks like it has been improving rapidly over the past year. If I’m correct in assuming he will play at the 3 for most of his career beyond high school, it seems like he will be equipped to handle what Romar or Miller asks of his position (I’m also assuming he ends up at UW or UA). If he can make defenders respect his jumpshot, then he will be much, much more equipped to handle what his coach will ask of him. I know others have disagreed on this board, but I don’t want to see him go to a PAC-12 school other than Arizona. I fully understand the importance of the conference getting talent, but he could end up terrorizing us.
– There was a time when I thought the Robinson twins were a no-brainer for Arizona. They are hard working, defensive minded, strong, and athletic guards. In other words, Miller could kill with guys like them. But considering that Arizona has considerable momentum on the recruiting trail, and that we are in on some ridiculously talented guards in 2013, the Robinsons should be plan B. I hate to say it, but Arizona can probably pull better guards in the class, and the fact that they are a package deal makes them harder to justify taking. I love the Robinsons because they are genuinely good kids and they play their hearts out, but right now there’s just not enough room for them if Arizona lands the guards that people expect them to be able get (Chris Thomas and Jabari Bird). I will be rooting for the Robinsons no matter where they play.
– Isaac Hamilton is great. He’s still very young and he has to develop a lot physically, but he is definitely a very very good guard. My only qualm is that I don’t know how well he can play the point guard position. He’s a very talented scorer and he has the potential to be a great scorer. But if Arizona gets their top 2 guard prospects (Thomas and Bird), do they really need another 2 guard or combo guard? I’m not sure, and I’m certainly not saying Arizona should pass on Ike for that reason. I hope that Hamilton proves capable of running the point full time because he has very good chemistry with Brandon Ashley 🙂
– Jabari Bird is the truth. Offensively, he’s dynamite. 6’5″ with elite athleticism, a great jumpshot out to 3 point range, and he can get to the hoop whenever he likes. And when he gets to the hoop, look out because Bird is a vicious dunker. Bird’s effectiveness at the rim, from midrange, and from the three point line make his potential absolutely jaw dropping.
If the knocks on Bird right now are shot selection and intensity, I have zero concerns about those two aspects of his game if he plays for Sean Miller. I’m also not worried about his defensive potential. With his length and athleticism, Miller could turn him into a lockdown defender.
GoAZWildcats Interviews Jabari Bird
– Dominic Artis has come a long, long way. I have to admit that I’ve been a bit of a hater towards Artis, I questioned whether he could really play at the high major level and I thought him more suited for a program on the level of UCSB, not UCLA. But if he can shoot the ball like he did today and pass like he has all year, there’s no reason he can’t be a backup PG on a high major team. Sure, he’s short. It’s an obvious problem defensively. But I don’t see why he can’t hold the PG position down for 20 minutes, especially if he’s on a roster and in a system that can mask his weaknesses. He’ll likely be the best or one of the best ball handlers on whatever team he ends up with, and he’s very used to playing with high level talent. Those are great qualities. I admit that my first perceptions of Artis were premature.