basketball Edit

McDonald's Nuggets: Winning traits, Stanford target, more

Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro (AP Images)

This week’s McDonald’s Nuggets discusses new traits to look for in scouting prospects, a new high-major offer for an unsigned senior and the Commit of the Week.


MORE: Top 50 player Julian Phillips eager for visits to resume

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team


WHAT’S ON MY MIND: What traits should scouts look for in a prospect?


Every recruiting analyst or scout has a hot take on many of the top prospects coming out of high school to college or coming out of college to the NBA. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re way wrong. Speaking for myself, sometimes there are prospects I go back and forth on because I can never get completely comfortable with a stance on the prospect.

One that I’ve struggled with for a few years now is former Auburn star and now Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Isaac Okoro. Let’s start with what I like about the former five-star prospect in the 2019 class. Bruce Pearl nailed it in his NBA Draft interview when the first thing out of his mouth about his former star was, “character matters.” That’s not just character off the court. It also translates to the court here, as Okoro works hard on his craft, always competes as hard as anyone on the court and he is the type of selfless teammate that will do the dirty work.

I love Okoro’s toughness and how he’s always playing with an aggressive mindset without getting out of control. He defends and rebounds his position at a high level. He’s a terrific finisher around the rim and he’s a much-improved ball-handler. He has impressed while playing for every team I’ve ever seen him play on, whether it was AOT in the Nike EYBL making a run at the Peach Jam, his McEachern team going 34-0 his senior year playing a brutal national schedule or Auburn last season. He’s been a key player on all of those teams, and those teams have each dropped off after his departure.

However, if you read any predraft scouting report on him, the biggest knock on the Georgia native was his struggles shooting from three-point range. It was a weakness in high school, and he shot just 28.6% at Auburn last season. In today’s game, it’s a hard sport to play if you can’t consistently make a shot from deep - or at the very least make the defense think you are a threat to do it. It’s why I could never completely get on board with him being a top-five pick before the NBA Draft.

He’s now three preseason games into his NBA career and has made five of his eight three-point attempts (62.5%). It’s obviously a small sample size, and I don’t expect him to keep up that rate, but if he proves to be a consistently competent shooter he’s going to be a star. He checks every other box you could possibly want in a player, on and off the court.

So, what’s the lesson to learn from Okoro? I can only speak for myself, but there are five traits I’m going to start putting more value into in the evaluation process. Character will be a factor in terms of what can be evaluated on the court. Is a prospect selfless? What’s his body language like? Toughness is important. Within reason, does the prospect play with an aggressive mindset? If a prospect checks those boxes, those will be the tiebreakers over prospects that don’t show those traits.


RECRUITING NOTE: Stanford offers under-the-radar senior

It’s no secret at this point that there are prospects all over the country in the 2021 class that have flown under the radar from a recruiting standpoint due to the extended dead period since March. One of those prospects, in my opinion, is Jarvis Moss from Cannon School in North Carolina. I had the opportunity to watch him at the LakePoint Live Showcase II back in August in a 9 a.m. contest, and he was terrific. He’s a three-level scorer with good size and athleticism at 6-foot-4. He finished the game with 25 points and connected on a few shots from three-point range.

On Wednesday night, Moss reeled in his first high-major scholarship, from Stanford. His other offers include Buffalo, College of Charleston, Furman, New Mexico, Northeastern, Penn, UNC-Greensboro and UNC-Wilmington. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Moss decides to end his recruitment soon in favor of Stanford.




Will Wade snuck in a commitment late last week from four-star small forward Devin Ree out of Mississippi. The late-night commitment didn’t grab a ton of headlines, but it’s one that the LSU staff is really excited about. The Tigers beat out schools such as Auburn, Memphis and many others for the 6-foot-7 wing. Ree’s length and athleticism immediately jumps out, but his skill level is impressive, too. He has a really smooth jump shot with a high release. As he adds muscle to his frame he should improve in a big way and turn into an impact player in the SEC.