Naadir Tharpe did not produce astronomical statistics this season but the junior did a little bit of everything for Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy and that's why coach Jason Smith has such high praise for his point guard.
"He's not like the traditional high school kid," Smith said. "He's playing against top-flight competition night-in and night-out but from Day 1 Naadir has always been a true point guard. He's definitely a pass-first kid.
"A lot of people will get caught up in the fact he averages 10 or 11 points a game but he's also playing with Will Barton, C.J. Fair, Mo Walker. We don't really need him to score per se.
"We need him to value the basketball every possession, don't turn it over and defensively keep his man in front of him and that's where he's made the greatest improvement is on the defensive end putting forth that effort you need on a daily basis."
That's not to say Tharpe hasn't put up big numbers. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect scored 30 against South Kent recently and had 26 points against St. Thomas More earlier this season.
In terms of recruiting, Boston College and Providence are on top and UNLV and Virginia have recently picked up a lot of interest.
"His two leaders are definitely Providence and Boston College primarily because they are regional schools for him and they've been recruiting him the longest," Smith said.
With so many talented players around him Smith wants Tharpe to lead the team, make smart passes and play solid defense. Tharpe has done that all season and helped lead Brewster Academy to the NEPSAC Class A Championship last weekend.
"There's no question Naadir has always been a true point guard," Smith said. "He's as pure of a point guard in terms of basketball IQ and understanding the game as you'll see at the high school level. The one area where Naadir has to continue to improve is being more consistent.
"We've tried to communicate to Naadir the most important thing is we'd much rather see performances of 8-10 points, 6-7 assists and 1-2 turnovers and defensively keeping his man in front of him all the time."
Arizona and Xavier have also offered Tharpe, a four-star recruit rated as the No. 80 prospect in the 2011 class by Rivals.com, but Smith said more programs would probably be involved if coaches could look past statistics alone.
Smith pointed to Reggie Moore, who averaged about 11 points at Brewster Academy last season and now is scoring about 13 points in his first year at Washington State, good for second on the team. His point is that the competition is so high in the NEPSAC that Tharpe, even though his numbers aren't mind-boggling, is getting great experience playing against future Division I standouts.
"A lot of times it's hard for college coaches to understand the amount of talent that's in our league on a nightly basis plus who he's playing with," Smith said.
"The college coach that doesn't have a lot of knowledge or experience recruiting the New England prep league, they don't understand how tough the league is. The majority of coaches do but some coaches want to hear stats and the stats don't tell the whole picture."