With high school basketball in full swing, Vander Blue, Reggie Smith, and Jamail Jones have all begun their senior seasons at their respective high schools, showcasing the talent that they will bring to Marquette next season.
Over the last two weeks, I have been fortunate enough to watch games of all three 2010 recruits, and even though Marquette has two open scholarships for next season, it is off to a great start with these three studs. My Scout.com articles are linked at the beginning of Blue’s and Smith’s reports, but you must be an insider to read them. If you are not, here are some quick recaps of what I saw from each player.
Reggie Smith , 6-1 G, Thornton, Illinois
I was able to watch Smith play in the first round of the annual Big Dipper Classic on Sunday and came away impressed by what I saw. Of the three tournament games I watched, Smith was the quickest guard by far and also kept complete control of the ball while slicing through double teams and zones.
Pegged as a “dribble-drive point guard,” Smith showcased his outside game by connecting on three very deep three-point shots while also driving strong to the hoop. His passes were crisp and he seemed to have good leadership on his team, making Thornton one of the strongest teams in the tournament.
In pre-game, Smith threw down a few dunks that gave me flashbacks of Marquette guard Dominic James. Despite being just 6-1, Smith has some of the best hops in Illinois and is a consensus top-10 dunker in the 2010 class.
That elevation carried over to his defensive game as he finished the game with nine rebounds and multiple altered shots. His defense was lazy at times, but the game was out of hand when this occurred, so it’s nothing to be concerned about.
Smith’s Marquette outlook is bright because he will be the fastest player on Marquette the second he steps on campus and loves to penetrate and dish to open teammates, perfect for Buzz Williams’ offense.
Vander Blue , 6-3 SG, Madison, Wisconsin
The top prospect in Buzz Williams’ class next year, Blue did not disappoint in front of his future coach when his Madison Spartans played in the Al McGuire Center two weeks ago. Williams was on hand to watch Blue drop 22 points in a close game against fellow powerhouse Rufus King.
Blue was a perfect 12-12 from the free-throw line and with his team down five toward the end of the third quarter, connected on back-to-back three pointers to give his team the lead. He has a confidence about himself that allows him to take over games whenever he is feeling it.
After securing any rebound, he was off to the races looking for a teammate to whom he could pass the ball up-court. His team ran mostly a half-court offense and his teammate, Tre Creamer, had the hot hand for most of the night, but Blue was still able to penetrate the defense and get to the line.
Playing out of position on defense, Blue showed athleticism with the way he battled down low in a one-three-one defense and also had a few key steals that led his team to victory. In true “spotlight” fashion, Blue stole the ball with about 10 seconds left and the game out of reach, and capped his performance off with a thunderous slam dunk that got the crowd (or at least me) on my feet.
His Marquette outlook is that he should be starting from day one. Whether that is at shooting guard, point guard, or “small forward,” he needs to be on the court logging close to 30 minutes a game. The pure talent is there, and one can only imagine what he will be able to accomplish with a whole year of college coaching.
Jamail Jones , 6-6 SF, Montverde, Florida
Jones plays for one of the best high school teams in the nation, and I was able to watch Jones online in the City of Palms Classic. The feed was not the greatest, and it was hard to tell who was who at some points during the game, but my report on Jones is a positive one nonetheless.
He has very good size from what I could tell and should have no problem playing small forward at Marquette. He has a great upper body that he uses in traffic, but the main thing was his outside shot. He scored 32 points in one game and hit everything that he threw up.
His basketball IQ is already very high, and he understands what to do in certain situations. He will not take a bad shot if he knows he can get a better one by rotating and moving without the ball. His dribbling needs work and he had a few turnovers that could have been prevented through better ball management.
He has a lot of room to grow physically once he gets to Marquette, but his outside shooting touch and smart decisions make Buzz Williams’ Wesley Matthews comparisons even more spot on. Supposedly, Jones is very humble and is always looking to get better, a good combination for a Buzz Williams player.