2021 Draft Watch: Evaluating Cam Thomas
September 14th, 2020
By Alan Lu
Recently, I took the time to watch LSU’s 6-3 incoming freshman point guard, Cam Thomas play for Oak Hill Academy against Wasatch Academy in a high basketball game that took place on December 21st, 2019, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via BallerTV. Thomas is a speedy, fleet-footed combo guard that can put up points in a hurry, and he is a 2021 draft prospect that may be projected to go in the late first to the second round range. Here are my thoughts on how he fared in this game, as well as how his skills may translate to the NBA.
Cam Thomas is an athletic, skilled playmaker that can really attack the basket to score inside. He possesses a solid ability to score off the dribble, as he has a quick first step, and he will often draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line. He also was able to score on a floater, and he also used a quick ball fake to score on a layup off of a drive in transition another time. Sometimes though, he can tend to rush his shots, and he may miss shots especially when he doesn’t get foul calls. He also managed to get the ball on a cut, as he went up strong to score in traffic, and Thomas showed good strength and acceleration to make the shot around the basket.
He also has a decent mid-range game. He runs the floor well, and he can knock down mid-range jumpers by pulling up from mid-range, getting them off catch-and-shoot-opportunities, or by running off of ball screens. Thomas changes directions well when taking the ball to the hoop, and he can get his shots off effortlessly. However, he can be streaky with his jump shot, as he struggled more to score on pull-up jumpers.
Though he ran off of a ball screen to make a deep three, Thomas generally struggled to knock down three-point shots in this game, especially when he would take them off the dribble. On the plus side, he showed a solid ability to draw fouls when taking outside shots, as he is a foul drawing expert that will contort his body in ways that will allow him to get many free throws.
Thomas also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. He has a heavy, score-first mindset, and he didn’t look to pass the ball often, but he showed a solid ability to pass off the dribble, as he can consistently find the open man when he commits to looking for his teammates. Sometimes though, he would be careless with the basketball on offense. He stepped out of bounds on a drive once, and he also tried to split a double team when handling the ball in the backcourt before losing it later on. On a separate play, he threw an inaccurate outlet pass that went behind his teammate, as his pass sailed out of bounds that time.
Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Thomas would chase down balls and leap up to collect defensive rebounds, as he can haul in boards in traffic, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court to create early offense and transition scoring opportunities for his team.
He also played adequate defense. Thomas was able to force a tie-up on an opponent after his man was thrown an up for grabs pass to get a steal. On another possession, he contested a shot when defending a bigger player in the post to force a miss. On another play though, he was caught ball watching and was late to rotate back to his man, which led him to allow a three-point basket to his opponent.
In general, Cam Thomas is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can rack up points to help his team on offense, but he will need to improve his ability to make shots from long-range, and he will need to show that he can effectively run the point at higher levels. I feel that he has the ability to be a point guard in the future, but he would then have to have more of a team-oriented disposition to do so, and display more of a willingness to pass the basketball. Still, he seems to be a fairly solid prospect that may have considerable potential to develop as a prospect for the NBA, and he could project to be an effective role player similar to Houston Rockets’ guard, Austin Rivers in the association.
Georgetown’s 6-8 incoming freshman forward, Jamari Sibley played very well to help Oak Hill Academy get a win over Wasatch Academy. He is an athletic, energetic combo forward that can make solid hustle plays, and he also did a very good job of using off-ball movement to score the basketball.
Sibley excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He runs the floor very well, and he would catch long passes to score on thunderous dunks on the break. He also would run in and leap up to score on tip-ins, and he grabbed an offensive rebound once to score on an athletic tip slam late in this game. Plus, he also scored on a high-flying two-handed dunk off of a cut, and he also scored on a roll to the rim early on.
He also did a good job of scoring on mid-range jumpers. He showed a penchant for making quick, pull-up jumpers, but he did miss completely when he ran off the ball to take a mid-range jump shot off the catch late in this game. He also missed on a high post drive in traffic, and he also missed on an open three-point shot another time.
Also, he passed the ball well in this game. Sibley would swing the ball to open shooters to notch assists, and he also can pass out of the post to find the open man. Plus, he also was able to leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, as he can haul in his fair share of rebounds when he is on the court. Defensively, Sibley looked to be about above average. He closed out on a three-point shooter to force a miss once, but he also sagged too far off his man on a switch to allow a three-point basket on a separate possession.
In summary, Sibley is a very athletic combo forward that can make energetic plays to help his team on both ends of the floor, and he especially excelled at scoring on off-ball movement plays. He will need to improve his jump shot and also show that he can guard multiple positions, but he is an intriguing prospect that may have considerable upside, and he could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.
Cincinnati’s 6-0 incoming freshman point guard, Mike Saunders is a versatile scorer that can knock down a variety of shots, and also is a committed rebounder that will help his team on the glass to get boards for them. He only seemed to possess fairly average physical tools, as he may be at best an above average athlete, and his lack of size may limit his defensive potential, but he impressed with his ability to create his own shot and to score, especially late in the second half.
Saunders possesses a decent ability to knock down jumpers, and he did a good job of making threes late in this game. Though he was streaky with his jump shot, and he struggled to make shots from beyond the arc, he was able to make a pair of pull-up threes, and he also made a corner three late in this game. He also tried to score from the high post, but he missed on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper.
He also did a fairly good job of scoring off the dribble. He can use either hand to get scores on quick drives to the hoop, as he was able to score on a switch of hands layup, and he also scored on a floater. Plus, he also will drive hard to the hoop, which can allow him to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line. He also can push the ball up court as he has good acceleration to score in the open court. Sometimes though, he will try to force the issue too much, as he may occasionally miss shots around the basket at times.
Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Though he displayed a heavy, score-first mindset, Saunders can throw solid passes off the dribble to notch assists, and he has the court vision to find the open man in the process. However, he did throw an inaccurate pass that went behind a teammate that sailed out of bounds once.
Plus, he also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. Saunders was active in crashing the glass to get boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court afterwards.
Defensively, he looked to be fairly average. He was able to run in to deflect a pass out of bounds to nearly get a steal, and he also helped trap an opposing ball handler in the backcourt to indirectly force a ball handling turnover. Plus, Saunders would contest a slew of jumpers to force misses. Sometimes though, he would sag too far off his man, which would cause him to allow three-point baskets to the opposition. Other times, he would struggle to defend drives or cuts, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.
Overall, Mike Saunders is a skilled combo guard that can score the basketball in a variety of ways. He will need to show that he can effectively run the point and defend taller, quicker players on the court, but he is a player that could potentially help Cincinnati right away next season.
Wasatch Academy’s 6-7 high school junior forward, Fousseyni Traore played very well in his team’s loss to Oak Hill Academy. He is a strong, athletic big man that showed off solid inside scoring, rebounding, and defensive skills to help his team in this game.
Traore excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He would run in to score on put backs after leaping up to get offensive rebounds, and he also scored on an acrobatic, reverse layup off of a backdoor cut. He also ran the floor to get the ball as a trailer in the post, and he managed to score on a powerful jump hook. Plus, he also ran the floor to catch a long bounce pass to score on a powerful, two-handed slam in transition another time.
He also displayed adequate low post scoring skills. He used a drop step move to score once, and he also managed to get open underneath the basket to score another time. However, sometimes he would miss on hook shots, as he may not always display great touch on his shot. Traore also attempted a three-point shot, but he missed that time from beyond the arc.
He also displayed average at best playmaking skills on offense. Traore was able to throw a quick pass off of an offensive rebound to find an open man once. Plus, he also set an off-ball screen to help get a shooter open that set up a score for him. However, he threw a bad up for grabs pass another time that led his teammate to get the ball tied up, which led to a team turnover. On another play, he appeared to score on a two-handed dunk off of a cut to the hoop, but he instead was called for basket interference after he was caught hanging on the rim to try to score that time, which led to another team turnover.
Also, Traore did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would chase down numerous balls to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to bring the ball up once off of a defensive rebound. Plus, he also scored on a put back and on a tip-in to provide his team with second chance points.
Plus, he also played solid defense. Traore is an active help defender that can make numerous plays on the ball. He would rotate to block shots off of drives to his teammates, and he also helped trap an opponent in the backcourt, as he dove for a loose ball on the ground to get a steal. Plus, he also did a good job of contesting jumpers to force misses. On the other hand, there was one play where he got beat off the dribble to allow a score. He also rotated on a drive, but was called for committing a foul after being too aggressive in trying to block the shot.
Overall, Fousseyni Traore is an athletic combo forward that made solid plays in the interior to help his team on both ends of the floor. If he were several inches taller, he would probably be a highly regarded recruit for college basketball, as he would then have ideal size to play either the four or the five there. But since he is undersized to play inside, recruiting services seem to only regard him as a mid-tier prospect, though he has received offers from solid NCAA Division I teams. Traore will need to improve his face-up game and most notably improve his jump shot, and he will likely need to show teams that he can comfortably play out on the perimeter. Still, he has been a solid contributor for his team, and over time, he could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA if things break his way sometime down the road.
Wasatch Academy’s 6-1 high school sophomore point guard, Richard Isaacs Jr. had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Oak Hill. He is a crafty playmaker that can maneuver around defenders to get his shots off, and he can make deft passes to set up numerous scoring chances for his teammates.
He showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team. He can aptly make spot-up threes off the catch, as he has plenty of range on his shot, and he also ran off of a ball screen to get open to knock down a three from long distance. Isaacs also dribbled right to make a pull-up three from way out. However, he also can be streaky with his shot, as he also hoisted up many threes and missed his fair share of them from downtown.
Also, Isaacs flashed the ability to score off the dribble. He tends to favor going to his right, and he can get to the hoop to score around the basket. Plus, he also can draw plenty of fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line. However, he can sometimes struggle get all the way to the hoop or to score in traffic, and he ended up having several of his shots blocked. He also is sometimes prone to rushing his shots, which can lead him to miss on off-balanced shots.
Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills. Isaacs can aptly throw solid passes off the dribble, and he can quickly get into the lane and find open teammates to set up scores for them. He can throw timely passes to them, and he also can find teammates on the move. However, he threw a sharp interior pass that a teammate dropped that led to a turnover, and he also was called for a carrying violation another time.
Isaacs also was able to haul in his fair share of boards when he was on the floor. He can chase down balls to get rebounds on both sides of the ball, and he also pushed the ball up the court off of one defensive rebound once.
However, he will need to improve his defense. For the positives, he was able to get his hands on a ball, as he poked it away to nearly get a steal. He also contested a long two-point shot force a miss. On the downside, he tended to struggle to defend quicker players, as he would get beat off the dribble to allow scores, and he had trouble cutting off penetration when defending them in this game. He also had trouble defending screens, as he would sometimes take bad angles, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
Overall, Richard Isaacs Jr. is a skilled, crafty playmaker that may have the potential to excel in college basketball, as he can make some really solid passes with the ball in his hands. However, he will need to make more shots consistently, and he will need to improve his on-ball defense. If he can make those adjustments, he could end up thriving in the future, and in a favorable scenario, he could project to be an effective rotation player one day in the NBA.