Scouting: Spiece Run-N-Slam

Before I give my scouting reports, I feel obligated to tell you a little bit about my fun trip down to Fort Wayne. Because I’m afraid it might get boring, I’ll give you the abbreviated version. After driving two and a half hours to the Spiece Fieldhouse, I realize the second I step out of my van in the parking lot that I forgot the video camera. On my way back to Ann Arbor, I get a speeding ticket. The officer tells me going 88 in a 70 “just isn’t worth it,” and after seeing the amount I owe for the ticket, I have to agree with him. After getting the video camera in Ann Arbor, on the drive back, I run into a possum. Solidly. Soon after that, as if God himself was smiting me for splattering one of his creatures all over I-69, my right front tire pretty much explodes. This happens at around 3 a.m. I call AAA, who picks me up about 45 minutes later. The driver of the tow truck gives me comprehensive history of Tom Spiece (turns out the guy started as a shoe salesman) and drops me off at a Motel 6 that is directly next door to a pretty rowdy strip club. All told, I got into my room at about 5:30 a.m. And then, I went to sleep.

There was actually a point to telling you all of this: my forgetting the camera and subsequent car trouble resulted in me missing quite a bit of the tournament — all of Friday and most of Saturday. Since most of the teams of interest were eliminated byt the time I started watching games, the trip turned into essentially a scouting of Indiana Elite, which I thought was okay because Michigan is actively recruiting four of their players. I got to watch some other teams as well, but the only video you see will be of their games. Indiana Elite features recruits Marshall Plumlee, Yogi Ferrell (a sophomore who is playing with the 17’s), Cody Zeller and Spencer Turner.

Marshall Plumlee (Indiana Elite, 2011, 6-11, C) Overall, I was mildly impressed with Marshall. It’s tough because there’s a lot of hype surrounding him, but the kid is good. He is mobile and at home in his own body, which is definitely a commodity for young big men. He moves around the court like a guard–everything is fluid, not herky-jerky–and made a few moves near the basket that I would expect from a guard. I wouldn’t call his offensive game polished, but he has nice moves and knows how to get to the basket. Wherever he goes, the first thing his college coach is going to do is get him in a weight room. Right now, he’s really good; with some muscle, he’d be great. His defense wasn’t very good. He had a few impressive blocks, but they were few and far between and most of the post players Elite played scored inside way too easily. Same goes for rebounding, just way too soft inside. That said, those are all fixable issues that can be cured easily with some weight room reps and an attitude adjustment.

Yogi Ferrell (Indiana Elite, 2012, 5-11, G) Yogi is really good. His scoring ability is off the charts. He can get a shot any time he wants because he’s too quick to stay with and his handle is too nice to get a hand on the ball. His best move is a midrange pull-up jumper that he can knock down with consistency. His jumpshot is pretty, natural, and it goes in. And don’t let his size fool you; he’s tough inside, and built solidly. He’ll put on some weight by the time he graduates and he’ll be fine. His athleticism also helps him score inside. His defense was solid. I think because of his height, he’ll be playing point guard wherever he goes. It’s not a bad thing, but if that’s true he does need to work on his passing. Right now, he is definitely a shoot-first PG. However, with the right instruction I think he’ll be able to develop into a really good passer. He’s got a good feel for the game anyway, I think it would come naturally.

Cody Zeller (Indiana Elite, 6-11, PF) I was actually more impressed with Zeller than Plumlee. He’s stronger and his moves inside are more developed. He’s also a better rebounder, but not by much. He has a really nice baby hook shot that’s reliable, and he can step out and shoot from the 3-point line as well. He’s a strong finisher in the paint. In the games I saw him in, there were times when it looked like no one could stop him — and he was playing some talented teams. He’s creative near the basket offensively, but decisive. Really, really impressed with his offensive game. The gripe I have with him is the same one I have with Plumlee. Teams just scored on him inside too easily. Whe you’re that size and move that well, players shouldn’t be scoring and rebounding inside on you like some teams were this weekend. Other than that, he stood out as one of the best players at the tournament, certainly the best big man I saw.

Spencer Turner (Indiana Elite, 6-3, G) Turner, just like in high school, is playing on a loaded team, which makes it kind of hard for him to stand out. However, it may be that thats the kind of situation he thrives in. He knows his role: shooter. And boy, he can do that. Turner is one of the top shooters in the class of 2011, and he showed it in the games I watched. His shot is fluid and reliable. It’s not the prettiest–it comes from his right shoulder, not his forehead–but it goes in with impressive regularity. He had no qualms about letting it fly from anywhere on the court, and most of the time, it went in. Definitely a talented shooter.

I did actually get to see some other players Michigan has been watching, down in the 16’s (Dylan scouted all of these players last week at the King James Classic):

Denzel Valentine (Michigan Mustangs 16’s, 6-5, W) Valentine is definitely talented. He’s big and strong for a guard his age, and has impressive handle for a guard his size. He plays with a knee brace on his right knee, and I think he was playing hurt because he was limping noticeably. Like Dylan said, his athleticism isn’t great, but his smarts and his vision make up for it. He knows how to find people. In the game I watched, it looked like he got caught up in a dick-measuring contest with the player guarding him and tried to force the issue himself a few times. He’s a decent shooter and plays good defense.

Lorenzo Cugini (Ohio Basketball Club 16s, 6-6, W) Cugini didn’t do much in the game I watched. It was clear he could shoot, but I think the other team was keying on him because he had a hard time getting open looks. He did show impressive versatility–he handled the ball surprisingly easily for his size. He could really make some noise, though. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Malik London (Ohio Basketball Club 16s, 6-foot-8) I really liked watching London. I don’t know if it as just the dreadlocks, but he seemed like he played at a more frenetic pace than everyone else. He was scrappy, grabbing every rebound he could get his hands on and cashing a few really impressive putbacks, one I remember he got fouled in the air and still put it in. He takes defense seriously, and did a really nice job of protecting the paint in the game I saw. Like Dylan said, he’s really raw, but his athleticism is obvious–he was this close to posterizing this poor kid on the Wisconsin Playground team on Sunday.

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