Okaayyy it is way to early to say too much about new UCLA B-Basketball recruit Norman Powell but I for one am very excited. Why? Well he is "only" a four star recruit and only the 15th best shooting guard in the country. That not good enough for you?
There is one word in all the reviews and comments of those who have seen Powell play it is "athletic." Actually it is usually variations on that word, like the tWWL: "ultra-athletic". Or better yet than reading, watch this video mostly of him dunking. Remember the old adage, you can teach someone to shoot and play basketball, you can't teach athletic ability.
However, in basketball, I realize "vertical leap" often means the same thing as "40 speed" in football, most likely to be exaggerated and should always be taken with a grain of salt. That said as you watch the videos, you find yourself believing that he may really have a "45 inch" vertical leap as is claimed. He also does not have bad "forty speed" either as shown in this video of one game with him driving to the hoop or this one which includes him dunking over two bystanders.
More on the rest of Powell after the jump.
So what about the rest of Powell. Okay he is not perfect, his stats show his outside shot needs work (as he admits), he only shot 29% from three (60% for 2 pointers). He needs to work on going to his left also but, and this is a big: His attitude sounds great.
1. Every review, in addition to saying he is a great "athlete", says he has a great attitude and is working hard.
He also has a terrific demeanor and plays the game with an even keel. He needs to work on his ball skills, particularly his left hand, but he is very potent pushing the ball in transition and generally makes good decisions. Due to his consistent play and terrific upside, Powell is making a push towards becoming the No. 1 prospect out West for the Class of 2011.
2. He is a good defender.
Defensively, he affects the game in multiple ways. He is a terrific defender who slides his feet very well and he has very quick hands. . . .
Powell is the fastest rising senior prospect on the west coast. He virtually shot out of cannon during the state playoffs and his play has continued to improve and excel.
3. Some interesting UCLA psuedo-connections:
NP: . . . But really my name came out at the last tournament in July. I was playing against Mater Dei and [UCLA Freshman] Tyler Lamb. I dunked on Tyler Lamb and that’s when it all kindof happened. ESPN was there and ranked me an 88. Right now I’m a 96. I’m ranked 33rd in the country though. . . .
SLAM: So who would you compare yourself to in the NBA?
NP: In the NBA? That’s hard! Russell Westbrook, from Cali. He dunked on Lamar Odom and he didn’t dunk until his senior year of high school and look where he is now!
I found the last when I searched for RW and Norman Powell. Obviously he is not there yet but of course neither was RW at his age. I do think he may be more a combo-guard than a straight shooting guard much like RW when he started. I am excited to see him and I think CBH and staff deserve kudos for a great job for I have no doubt he is only going to get better.