Justin Young has been a high school basketball recruiting analyst for the past 15 years. Based in Atlanta, Young specializes in the talent coming out of Georgia and Florida. Formerly with Rivals.com, Young launched hoopscene.com last year. He has watched the development of Maryland prospect Trayvon Reed closely.
Here are some thoughts Young shared with the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. (He was also quoted in my profile of Trayvon Reed that ran in today's Sun.)
When did you first see Trayvon Reed play and what were your first impressions?
I think I saw him going into his sophomore year. Obviously, the first thing you say is ‘Wow, who is this really tall, long kid?’ Some kids at the elite level play like they’re 18 years old and some kids play like they’re 12. I think he was more on the back end side of that, just a guy that was just at that really early stage of development. I still think he is, but you can see when he walks in the gym, he’s just so unique. There’s been a few guys across the country from coast-to-coast that have that kind of length and just natural gift of being tall.
What impact do you think Trayvon will have immediately and how long do you think it will take him to be a factor defensively?
We all know that basketball is a vertical sport and when you get a guy like that, I think the taller you are, the longer stream of patience you have. He’s the kind of guy who you have to invest some patience with him, but the end result is what keeps everyone kind of enticed for what he can become. He’s one of those guys from a collegiate standpoint, by the time he’s a junior and senior in college, can he help your team and defend the other team well enough to keep eight to 12 points off the board because of his length. To become a shotblocker so much so that it eliminates four to six baskets, five to seven baskets, a game. When you look at that kind of data, that’s pretty amazing. How many times can you really quantify something like that? With a really tall lengthy big man, that’s a really unique trait. He’s a kid that needs a lot of time to develop but as a junior or senior in college, I think he’s got that kind of impact. As you’ve seen in college basketball the last couple of years with everything becoming equal, four to six baskets a game means a lot of wins and losses at the end of the day. He’s got that kind of uniqueness about him where in the box score he’s not going to score 20 points a game, but I’ll be darned if he didn’t block four shots and affect three or four others. That’s pretty valuable and that’s why guys like him really become such a highly recruited guy because there’s not so many of those dudes out there.
When you saw him play, was there any particular matchup where you said, ‘Wow, this kid has potential?’
I don’t know if it’s matchups, because I don’t know at this stage of his development if he’s a guy that’s going to win a lot of individual matchups. Physically he’s not that strong and a lot of guys at his position in this class who are these African kids who can bend titanium with their pinkies. If you get those guys matched up with Trayvon, it’s not going to happen. Going into this summer I wasn’t really that high on him, I thought the national pundits had him kind of overrated, to be perfectly honest with you. But then going into the Peach Jam, the World Series of travel basketbal, he’s playing with a bunch of really good kids from Florida and he did very well with four very talented players around him. He’s the kind of guy that’s going to thrive when he’s got talent around him, which will allow him to thrive. He had five or six moments where you said, “There it is, we’ve been waiting to see that for a long time. There’s that moment.’ He’s never had that type of talent around him. I think kids overthink things and they kind of limit themselves, they get into their own head. But when you have big time players all around him and here’s Trayvon, he just kind of shows up and has the ability to do things naturally – jump high, block shots, rebound, rip and run. Very simple stuff. Those were the type of things that made me go, ‘Okay, I’ve got it now.’ If he’s got a lot of talent around him, he can be an important cog.
What do you think Trayvon has to do to compete with bigger, stronger players?
I think the thing about Trayvon, whatever the popular place around campus that serves good college food, he needs to go there once a week and order the most caloric food and gain weight. He needs to put on the freshman 50 [pounds] instead of the freshman 15.That will help him gain confidence. Once he gains confidence, it kind of trickles down. I don’t think he has a body that can put on a ton of weight, but I think that comes, you kind of see this domino effect for everything else. It’s a slow process. I always worry about kids like him with high expectations, people think he’s going to come in and average 15 points and 12 rebounds with three blocks, that’s not going to happen. It’s like a very safe stock, 20 years down the road, you’re glad you invested in that but at the moment you’re not going to cash out.