Three-Point Play: Puff Johnson, Emoni Bates, shot-makers
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In today’s edition of the Three-Point-Play national basketball analyst Corey Evans breaks down Puff Johnson's options, dishes the potential of Emoni Bates and discusses the value of shot-makers in today’s game.
2021 Rankings: Rivals150
1. PUFF CONUNDRUM
The Johnson family experienced highs and lows last week. Things ended on a positive note with the Phoenix Suns selecting North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson with the 11th pick in the NBA Draft. Unfortunately, the week started off sour as Puff Johnson, the younger brother of the former Tar Heel standout, was ruled ineligible to play his senior year of high school basketball because he played high school ball as a 7th and 8th grader.
The Johnson family has appealed the ruling, but until the final word comes down, Johnson is exploring his options in case things don't work out. The four-star prospect is currently on campus at UNC working out with his brother, and it's possible that Johnson could receive enough credits to be ruled eligible to play college basketball this season. If that is the case, Arizona might be the team to beat, though Notre Dame, Pitt and North Carolina would definitely be options, too.
Prep school is also a possibility, as is Johnson moving to Phoenix with his brother and finishing his high school career in Arizona.
For now, Johnson will complete his travel career next month at the Nike Peach Jam.
2. THE HYPE SURROUNDING EMONI BATES
For the first time, NBA scouts were allowed into the building at the Simon Recreation Center in evaluating some of the future faces of the sport at the Nike Top 100. The headline was Emoni Bates, arguably the most hyped freshman in recent memory.
Bates was nothing short of spectacular in St. Louis. While he definitely has to get stronger and work on his lower body and core strength, there are spurts of magnificence that not many others can display. Just how good can Bates be and what is his down the road potential? I spoke with an NBA scout willing to give his own scouting report and predictions to what he can become.
“He is obviously a tremendous prospect for his age with his ability to get separation to get his shot off and basically get a clean look at the basket every time. You have a young guy that has status to him but didn’t carry himself like that. He played hard, at least on offense,” he said. “He still has a way to go physically and I didn’t think that he competed as hard defensively as he did on offense, but with my first time seeing him, he is definitely someone that the hype that he came in with, he definitely delivered some of it.”
Just what can Bates become? “If you really look at him, he is not this freak. Whenever you saw LeBron (James) at his age, you could tell that he was a freak. Even Kobe (Bryant), at his age, physically they were just freaks. Maybe he turns into KD (Kevin Durant) but if and when he gets to the league, that is a tall task to have. So, for how good he is going to be? Who knows?”
More time must play out and the right strides need to be taken if Bates wants to scratch the surface to all that he can become. In the meantime, attention and hype will be heaped onto Bates’ as he is squarely in the conversation as the best high school prospects is in America, regardless of class.
3. THE INCREASING VALUE OF SHOOTERS
NBA scouts were allowed to attend the Nike Top 100 Camp this week for the first time ever. While more work must be completed before any of those 2021 and 2022 prospects can taste the NBA waters, scouts continue to salivate over shot-makers.
Look throughout the various levels of the game and shot making has led to the greatest levels of success. The Golden State Warriors won multiple championships on the back of shot-making and we also just saw Villanova capture two national titles within a three year window due to its heavy reliance on the 3-point shot.
Due to the value of shot makers, Cam Johnson was able to secure a lottery selection in last week’s draft, just as Jordan Poole and Kyle Guy celebrated their own selection. Twenty years ago, neither of the three may have been drafted at all.
This greater emphasis on shot-makers is another reason why we are so high on Casey Morsell. It is also a reason for our ranking of Isaiah Joe and Noah Locke last year, and our belief in Bryce Thompson, Puff Johnson and Quincy Allen.
What it comes down to is if you can shoot the ball and have any idea of how to play the game, you’re going to have a place in today’s game.