Barber struggled at times last night, but also showed flashes of greatness
Last night Louisville fans got a chance to watch two of their biggest targets go head to head with some of the other top prospects in the class of 2013. Anthony “Cat” Barber and Troy Williams’ Boo Williams AAU club made an appearance on ESPNU to take on the Harrison Twins and the Houston Defenders in Orlando, Florida. All four of the schools still being mentioned by Barber (Alabama, Kansas, Louisville and to a lesser extent, NC State) sent their their head coaches and they all sat in a line on the front row to take in the action. Anthony Grant (Alabama), Bill Self (Kansas), Mark Gottfried (NC State) and Rick Pitino all showed their support on the opening night of the final live evaluation period of the summer. While the Defenders pretty much blew out Boo Williams (73-54, to be exact) Louisville fans were able to get a much better idea of what to expect from the Louisville recruits. Here’s a sample of what I took away:
*Remember, this was just one game. Granted, both sides were playing extremely hard due to the coaches being there and the fact that it was on national television, but still, it was just ONE GAME.
– First thing’s first: whoever gets the Harrison twins are going to be contenders right off the bat. They’re that good. Aaron Harrison (the shooting guard) led all scorers with 21, burying 4 deep threes, getting to the line at will off the dribble and sticking a few mid-range jumpers. He possesses an explosive first step, despite wanting to mostly go left. He crossed over Barber and a few other defenders more than once to free himself up for an open look. Andrew (the point guard), who later said he was limited by a sore back, was pretty damn productive himself. I’m not sure how many points he ended up with, but I can tell you that he had at least 6 assists alone on alley-oops to future 2-sport Texas A&M commit, Derrick Griffin. Griffin is a beast in his own regard, standing an imposing 6-6, 220 lbs, he’s not only a 5-star WR on the football field, but he’s a 4-star top-100 player on the basketball court, too. He put on a freakish athletic display all night and punished the Boo Williams front-court with dunks, put-backs and rebounds consistently. But back to the Harrison twins for a second. Not only are they outstanding offensive threats, but perhaps their greatest attributes are their size and defensive prowess. At a legit 6-5 (maybe bigger), both possess outstanding size for either guard position (specifically Andrew at the point) and both move their feet incredibly well on defense. They used that size and lateral quickness to give Louisville prospect Anthony Barber trouble all night.
– Barber had a pretty rough night. Plain and simple. He was bothered by the twins’ size out front and could never really get into the groove of things. The only time he really stated getting into the lane and make consistent plays was when Andrew Harrison went to the bench for a few minutes. But the key word there was consistent. He certainly had his moments, even with Harrison guarding him. He flashed an insanely-quick crossover on more than one occasion and really thrived the few times that he tried to focus on getting into the lane and finding teammates. He was looking for his shot too much in the first half and once he settled in and began looking to make plays off the dribble, he looked a lot better. Defensively he was ok. He has quick, somewhat active hands, but you can tell that there’s just not much coaching going on with that team. They looked selfish on offense and lost defensively throughout the game. Once a college-level coach gets a hold of Barber, it’ll be a much different story.
– Troy Williams looked great offensively. He finished with around 15 points and 7 boards and showed a variety of moves around the rim as well as from the 15-foot range. Unfortunately he had the unenviable task of guarding Griffin for stretches of the game, so defensively it was hard to tell just how effective he was. He has good size (around 6-6) but he has outstanding length…….if that makes sense. What I’m trying to say is, the dude has long arms and his lanky frame could one day be transformed into a defensive juggernaut. Right now though, just like Barber, he looked a bit lost on the defensive end. Again, I blame much of that on coaching. There were stretches when the Defenders (coached by the Harrison’s father, Aaron Sr) looked like a well-oiled machine, running plays up top and throwing back-door passes (a-la Princeton) for wide-open dunks and lay-ups. Conversely, the Boo Williams squad ran a variety of 1-on-1 plays and then failed to get back in transition multiple times. Again, with proper coaching, big things could happen. Tons of potential there for Williams.
– One other interesting note: at halftime the announcers started talking about Louisville recruit Kentan Facey and actually began comparing him to Chris Walker. The 6-9 Walker, a consensus top-10 player, just committed to Florida over Louisville and a few other schools and seems to be one of the top prizes in the entire class. Facey, on the other hand, is relatively late bloomer and is a rising 3-star not even ranked in the latest scout.com top-100. But he appears to be a diamond in the rough and Louisville is reportedly after him very hard at this point. The announcers went on to say that while Walker has a better offensive game right now, the 6-8 Facey could be a better player down the road.
Here’s a video with some highlights from last night.