As the summer drags on, I’m going to take a closer look at the various recruits that Mike Montgomery is pursuing. To start off, we’re going to take a closer look at the biggest recruit of this class: Brandon Ashley. Plenty of ink has been spilled on him already in these parts, but today it’s a look at what Brandon Ashley brings to the table as a basketball player; not where he’s going to high school, not the odds of him ever making it to Berkeley, or anything else. Just what he can do on the low block.
At this point, the hype around Ashley speaks for itself. 5 star recruit, top player in the Bay, and John Calipari personally calling him to tell him he’s a top recruit. He did this all at Bishop O’Dowd, where he’s started three years and averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. He won a pair of NorCal titles during his time at the school, and came through plenty of times in the clutch for the team. But does the hype live up to the skill?
I’ll preface this by saying big guys are the toughest to scout without actually seeing play in person multiple times, but I’ll do the best I can with what I possess.
Athleticism: First thing first: this kid can throw down. In traffic, off a feed, or on the break, Ashley can dunk it. If you thought Richard Solomon had some highlight reel finishes last year, then wait until you watch Ashley. Has great bounce. Long arms allow him to get pieces of shots that he has no business getting near. Very quick; for a man his size (6-8) he sure gets up and down the court fast. A threat on the break, something that that is invaluable but rarely seen.
Rebounding: Very few highlight videos show someone boxing out and getting a defensive board, so my evaluation is a little lacking. What I have seen of his put-backs is that he has pretty good timing on the boards, swooping in at the perfect time and timing the jump properly. He’s a terror on the offensive glass; if left unboxed out, he will make you pay with his length and speed.
Post Moves/Technique: For all of his physical skills, Ashley remains lacking in some of the finer points of the game. From what I have seen, I’d say his footwork is poor. He’s constantly off balance and fading away from the basket. I don’t think he’s soft, so that’s definitely a product of poor feet. From the few clips I saw, he did appear to have a nice spin move and a hook shot. Those moves probably won’t be enough to make it in Pac-10 hoops, but it’s a nice start. He did appear uncomfortable finishing with his left hand, a potential red flag.
Jump Shot: His jumper appeared to have a nice arc and he has a high finish, meaning the shot will be tough to block. Not a very good evaluation, but I’d guess he has a decent mid-range game for a power forward.
Overall Evaluation: I don’t think Ashley is the kind of prospect that can change a program the day he steps on campus, but big men with this kind of athleticism are rare. If he got the tutelage of a great coach (such as Mike Montgomery), he could easily be a beast of a big guy. I wouldn’t expect him to be a one and done type player who dominates the day he steps on campus, but he could easily be a two and out type player. If Kentucky or some school expects him to be the next Terrance Jones, they’ll be disappointed. In all, Ashley is a very good prospect with huge upside for the future. If Cal (and not Coach Cal) lands him, I’d be overjoyed. Go Bears!