What a recruiting period. What an off-season. The Hype for next season is unreal. In this Summer Basketball Series we'll take a look at the players we have acquired along with how our current players have progressed this year. We will culminate the series by looking at our 2015-2016 team, how we expect them to line-up and what type of offense and defense we could be running next season.
Part 2. Jaylen Brown.
Oh man. What a recruit we have on our hands. He's rated by every recruiting outlet as a Top 5 Prospect, and even named as a top 4 pick in most 2016 NBA Mock Drafts. Simply put, his name and style of play alone can lift the level of any program in the country. It just so happens he will be doing that at Haas Pavilion in UC-Berkeley. Before announcing his decision to attend Cal, Jaylen spent quite a bit of time in the showcase circuit and with his High School in the Dick's Sporting Goods High School Nationals.
Jaylen was invited to play in the Jordan Brand Classic as well, but he took that time off after playing a good chunk of the McDonald's All-American game and having the High School Nationals in one week's time. He had a solid outing in Chicago playing for the East, scoring 9 points on 4-8 shooting, 0-2 from 3PT. He added 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals all in 21 minutes of PT. One statistic that did not look good for Jaylen was shooting 1-7 from the free throw line.
Two weeks later, Jaylen was suiting up one last time for Wheeler High School. His opponent was Indiana Commit Thomas Bryant and Huntington Prep. The two were the stars of the game and Jaylen ended the game with 29 points on 10-24 shooting with 3-6 from 3PT. He also had 15 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. Once again though, his free throws hurt him, 6-11. But his 4 TOs also hurt his team as well. (Fun note: Jaylen's teammate Bilal Abdur-Rahim. Last name sound familiar?) Having to be the primary ball handler is not his forte and that will change and help him be more comfortable with Tyrone Wallace and Sam Singer getting him the ball in better positions.
Jaylen's improvement on the basketball court is not easily noticeable like it was for Ivan. He was always great at getting to the basket, amazing in transition and played the game with high intelligence. His skill set is refined and he is not a tweener by any means, and that does not take away from the fact he could probably play any position in college from the 1 to 4. His body frame does not need too much work, and his natural athleticism helps his development immensely.
His first (and biggest) improvement is the bounce in his step (No pun intended). In other words, he has gotten better control of his legs and plays on his toes and not on his heels. Jaylen now can explode into his first step from a drive or on the break and it has to keep defenses honest because of his outstanding ability to finish around the rim. Its actually impressive to see a player with so much athleticism add such a small tweak to his game that helps elevate his game further. That's only taking into account the offensive side of this enhancement. On defense, it allows him to attack the ball handler and create turnover opportunities because he can make a quick first step at the ball. Following that he is already in a running stance to be off on a fast break should he convert the turnover. When he isn't attempting a steal, Jaylen stays about half a step in front of his assignment now, giving him the chance to take a charge or block shots from the weak side, which he has an uncanny knack for.
His second improvement is his footwork. He was already a great ball handler and very good at ISO's and initiating the Pick-And-Roll, but his footwork in the post and paint stood out. Earlier in his tapes, Jaylen would come to a stand still once he picked up his dribble, forcing a hard jump shot or contested lay up. Now he has become adept at using his pivot foot and shot fakes to work his way around a defender for an open shot or pass.
It'll be interesting to see how much work he gets in this summer with the coaching staff, before they head to Australia. With that time spent in the gym and with all our great shooters, If Jaylen can add a consistent midrange or deep ball, it will be pretty hard to stop his already elite game. And if you were not already excited? I leave you with this mix tape.