More often than not, patience needs to be exercised when evaluating young big men. With sophomore M.J. Cage, it doesn't look like much patience will be needed because the four-star power forward is improving at a pace much faster than expected.
A 6-foot-9 power forward at traditional power Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Cage has gone from a passive freshman who showed glimpses of ability to a dependable and productive sophomore.
"I'm getting more confidence from my coaches and teammates," Cage told Rivals.com. "I also have confidence in myself that if I go out there and play my hardest that good things will happen."
The son of former NBA player Michael Cage, the sophomore big man has a great frame, excellent feel for post play and great hands. He says that he has worked hard to make sure he catches everything but playing another sport as a youth may have helped him develop such sure hands.
"I used to play soccer and I was a goalie," said Cage. "I think stuff like that really helped me with my hands."
Playing alongside of high level players like 2014 superstar Stanley Johnson and 2015 four-star Rex Pflueger, some younger players might have trouble asserting themselves. That hasn't been an issue for Cage who has established himself as a post presence that his teammates can trust.
"Ive gotten better at defense and I'm starting to jump a lot higher," said Cage. "I've been scoring more on shots around the basket. I want to make more moves with my left hand and become more consistent with the 15 footer."
Currently unranked, Cage will be making a move into the 2016's top 25 when rankings get updated before the end of March. His recruitment has also started to take off.
"Recruiting isn't crazy yet but I'm starting to get more offers," said Cage. "I have offers from Arizona, Kentucky, Gonzaga, USC, UCLA, Washington and San Diego State."
With San Diego State, there are deep ties. Cage's father played his collegiate ball there and he has been around the program quite a bit while growing up.
"They are just recruiting me as me," said Cage. "I'm a different player than my dad was when he grew up so they are talking about me only. I went to a lot of games there growing up so I'm used to it up there."
According to Cage his father doesn't try to push him in one direction or another and keeps his advice pretty simple.
"He mostly tells me to work hard no matter what," said Cage. "When he made the NBA he just worked hard on thh floor and that's what he did mostly."
Cage is currently in the process of trying to help Mater Dei win their fourth straight CIF state title. After his high school season is over he will play in Nike's EYBL with Cal Supreme. As for making a decision, that is one area where people will need to show some patience because he is in no rush.
"I'm just taking time," said Cage. "You never know who is going to sign with what school or what coaches are going to move on so there is no rush to decide."
Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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