When Jordan Adams was recruited many of the scouts were skeptical. He was too fat, too un-athletic. Things were said like he may have trouble getting his shot off. About the only good thing they said about him was he had unlimited range and was a great outside shooter. Of course, Adams arguably did everything well except shoot outside where he only hit 30% of his threes. In other words the scouts had it exactly wrong on Adams.
Then there was Jerime Anderson. The point guard of the future. As Rivals wrote of him when he was in high school:
"Anderson is a pure point guard with upside. He can score the ball off the dribble or the catch, but has a pass first mentality. Defensively, he is a tough 94-foot on the ball defender."
Anderson foibles are well documented but let's just point out one detail: the "pure point guard" Anderson lost his point guard job his sophomore year despite the fact UCLA did not have a backup.
There are of course a number of reasons for both of these events happening but I want to focus on one, attitude.
Adams came into UCLA likely to be the third string 2 guard, never to play a meaningful minute his freshman year. At the beginning of last season he was behind Shabazz, Tyler Lamb, Kyle Anderson (who began the year as a starting 3), and Norman Powell on the depth chart for the wing positions. It would have been understandable if Adams enjoyed Westwood and the west coast. He could have taken things slow his freshman year. He was seemingly only slightly more likely to play than a walk-on.
Of course, Adams did the opposite. He lost weight. He worked extremely hard in Howland's grueling practices. He never got upset when he was ignored in interviews. When the press bothered to ask him a question it was usually "when do you think Shabazz will be eligible?" He never complained and got his chance and took advantage of it. He played so well, Kyle moved to power forward and Lamb transferred. He did not stop there but keep working on his defense. He went from the kid who looked lost and was a liability on D to the team's best defender.
Adams became the fan favorite because he worked so hard and delivered.
Compare that to the scout's darling Jerime Anderson. Jerime allegedly partied his way through his freshman year. He could have been learning from a future NBA pro DC who was a senior. Instead Jerime, if stories are to be believed, was learning the LA nightlife. Jerime also was given his big break, when, according to Howland at least, Jrue Holiday unexpectedly left. As a sophomore Jerime was now UCLA's only point guard. So did Jerime work hard between his freshman and sophomore seasons? Nope. He admitted to his mistakes later but at the time was eventually suspended for being too lazy to even show up for treatment to a nagging injury. He was benched despite UCLA not having a backup point guard.
Attitude. If you look at scouting reports Jerime Anderson was a lock and Jordan Adams was a huge gamble. But attitude made the difference.
Which brings me to UCLA's current recruiting. First let me say that I have not seen either guy play. But this year's version of the JAs may be Trevon Bluett and Stanley Johnson.
Bluett is an Indiana guy who has problems with his shooting technique and athleticism. As Jack Wang writes:
Trevon Bluiett is a skilled swingman who boasts a diverse offensive game. He played for UCLA assistant Ed Schilling when the coach worked at Indianapolis' Park Tudor School, and won the state championship game MVP as both a freshman and a sophomore. That feat becomes even more notable once you consider that he played with Indiana's Yogi Ferrell during that first title run.
The 6-foot-5 forward has great shooting range, but his release - while quick - is a little low and could get blocked more often at the next level. Playing on loan with Indiana Elite for the rest of the summer, he started his week strong in Thursday's Battle at the Beach (Redondo Union HS), pouring in early points just an hour or so after getting off a delayed flight. Also impressive was his passing; even playing with a new team, he made plays easily, whether with a bounce pass to feed a fast break or swinging the ball out from the post to an open man.
What could hold Bluiett back as a prospect is his lack of athleticism. Though he has the ballhandling skills to take the ball upcourt, he isn't very fast and doesn't have much bounce. On one fast break, he missed a wide open dunk. Some of Bluiett's struggles could be due to his playing on knee contusions, which he chose not to mention when asked about fatigue. He's a good rebounder - flirting with a triple double on Saturday - but cleans the boards by positioning himself well rather than out-leaping opponents.
Now compare that to Stanley Johnson. Mater Dei's Stanley scores the most points in every game he is in. He is physically ahead of other high school boys.
Johnson, at this level, is a man among boys most of the time. He uses his huge frame, ball skills, and tenacity to dominate games. He is tough to stop in the open court where he utilizes his strength to power his way to the rim.
Not sure you can be a 6'5" bully at the next level. You never hear words like "pass" with Johnson either. Another flag to me is after USC fired Kevin O'Niel as their head coach he kept USC on his list (along with UCLA and Kentucky).
Of the ten schools that Johnson tweeted USC may be the most interesting as the program is currently being run by interim head coach Bob Cantu. Cantu replaced Kevin O'Neill, who was fired by the school less than two weeks ago.
Maybe I am reading too much into everything. I must admit a bias against Mater Dei players since almost all tend to be overrated. Not saying bad but not as good as they are rated.
Bluiett seems like a good kid who works hard and does not complain. Johnson seems like a good athlete who is all about me. Unfair? Definitely. I am going on media reports from players I have only seen highlights for.
Further, scouting is a difficult profession. For a scout to figure out a kids athletic ability is one thing, his head something else.
Even basketball skills seems hard to figure out. As people here have pointed out, Zach LaVine whose range scouts' love, did not shoot that great from three in high school. On the other side, one BN member who regularly saw him play said Noah Allen is underrated.
Alford and his staff are working hard going across the country. We will see how they do. One thing is for sure, they need to get enough bodies here to make sure they have enough good JAs to over come the occasional JA miss.