Over the weekend, we made our annual winter trip through the Washington, D.C., area. This year, we mixed in a quick visit to Philadelphia as well. As usual, there was plenty to digest. Here's a look at what we learned.
Providence stole one
After getting another look at Providence-bound Brandon Austin, we can't give enough credit to Ed Cooley and his staff for getting into Philadelphia and locking up the 6-foot-6 do-it-all wing from Imhotep High.
Let's make it clear that Austin is not some finished product who is going to single-handedly change the direction of the Friars program. He has to get much stronger, he has to expand his midrange game and he has to get a little bit tighter with his ball handling.
However, Austin is a high-level talent who is currently under-ranked at No. 74 nationally, and he should have been recruited much more heavily by some of the nation's power programs. He can play point guard, he's very quick off the dribble, has athleticism to finish in traffic and is dangerous as a jump shooter. He's going to be a very dangerous and versatile weapon as a college player and, alongside guys like Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo, could be instrumental in steadying the Providence program.
Wiggins the best, but expectations getting out of hand
Andrew Wiggins is the best high school basketball player in the country. On this point, there's not much debate. However, the 6-foot-7 senior wing at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep isn't a flawless prospect, and some of the expectations and hype that are starting to build around him may be unfair to the 17-year-old.
Because of his ridiculous athletic tools, great bloodlines and demonstrated dominance, it's understandable that there are going to be high expectations for the Canadian-born high school superstar. There should be high expectations. It seems, though, that Wiggins is being built into an almost mythical prospect and it's almost like he'll be considered a bust if he doesn't make seven to 10 all-star games before his NBA career is over.
For all we know, Wiggins could end up achieving that type of success. However, it isn't fair to a high schooler to think about him in those terms. Let's focus on the fact that he's the best player in the country and has the tools to one day be great, but it won't come without hard work. Frankly, Wiggins looks to be a bit bored at times and can go through stretches where he floats a little. His ball handling needs work, and his jump shooting -- while much improved -- remains a work in progress. Of course, his athleticism is virtually unmatched, he's an incredible defensive player, he has an inside/out game and he's a winner.
Bottom line, Wiggins is the best in the country and there isn't much disputing that. But let's give him time to be a teenager, and let's be more reasonable about the expectations and hype that we shower on him.
Derrickson belongs among early 2015 four-stars
As a freshman and during the summer before his sophomore year, Marcus Derrickson built a big reputation in the D.C. area. However, when Rivals.com had opportunities to watch the 6-foot-7 power forward from Fairfax (Va.) Paul VI, he didn't play at the level of his billing.
That being said, the sophomore forward wasn't a stiff, either. He showed a feel for scoring, some strength, touch from the outside and upside. However, he seemed content to hunt 3-pointers, was a bit inconsistent and seemed a bit out of shape. So, when time came to designate a first group of sophomores for either five- or four-star status, Derrickson missed the cut.
After watching Derrickson again over the weekend, he has made the cut and has been elevated to early four-star status. Playing against national power Oak Hill, Derrickson was the big man on the low block, the most physical player on the floor and showed a willingness to compete. The 3-point shot is still a part of his game, but it looks like he's learned how to balance his power and finesse games better.
Georgetown, Indiana, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Rutgers, N.C. State, Virginia and many others are giving early chase.
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