2022 Draft Watch: First Assessment of Michael Foster

April 26th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Recently, Hillcrest Prep’s 6-9 all-around forward, Michael Foster recently signed on to play for the G-League Ignite for the upcoming 2021-22 season.  I wanted to know more about him, because he was the G-League Ignite’s first signee for their second season, and he is a highly touted recruit that will be the next player that will take the G-League path.  Essentially, Foster has some big shoes to fill, but in looking at his MaxPreps’ statistics, he seemed to have a really intriguing profile, as he is a versatile, skilled stat stuffer that seemed to do virtually everything well at the high school.

It was hard to find both full game footage and footage that was smooth and not choppy.  I was hoping to watch him play in his normal high school setting, but I instead saw him play in an AAU game with the Dream Chasers against SFBA that took place on October 24th, as I saw this with thanks to YouTube via BallerTV.  This was also because it was both a full game, and the picture came in crystal clear.  Unfortunately, he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as much as he normally would, so it may be difficult to get the full picture of his offensive skills, but Foster still showed a wide array of skills, nonetheless.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Former Hillcrest Prep standout forward, Michael Foster will be suiting for the G-League Ignite to play in the NBA G-League next season.
(Photo:
Gregory Payan/Associated Press)

Michael Foster is a strong, mobile combo forward that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  Though he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as much as he normally would on offense, he was efficient as a scorer around the basket, and he is a solid defender that may have the defensive versatility to be able to guard a wide range of positions.  He has a solid first step combined with having the foot speed and enough ball handling skills to be able to evade swipes from defenders on the break to regularly score on fast break drives.

Foster excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He ran the floor to catch an outlet pass, and he then drove up court and effortlessly used a Euro-step move to his right to score on a smooth, yet powerful two-handed dunk while getting an extra free throw afterwards.  Plus, he also managed to score on a quick layup off of a fast break drive another time. 

He also showed a satisfactory ability to score in the post.  Foster is a good athlete that plays above the rim, and he would leap up to catch high lob passes.  He was able to score on a two-handed, alley-oop dunk, and he also drew free throws on another alley-oop dunk attempt.  On the downside, he tried to post up another time, but he took a really tough, contested fade-away jumper that ended up missing.

On the downside, he did not take many shots in this game, and he did not seem to take a jumper from the mid-range or from behind the three-point line.  The only field goal he took that remotely resembled a jumper was when Foster took a contested, fade-away jumper from the post.  He was able to get good elevation on that shot, but he ended up taking a tough, off-balanced shot while fading backwards that ended up missing to the right.  On a play where he tried to attempt a shot in the post where he was called for a clear out, he was able to get the height and the footwork to make a turnaround jumper, only for it to be waved off because the officials called it an offensive foul on him.  The main takeaways from those plays are that he gets good elevation to get his shot off, but he needs to make sure to stay on balance to consistently score on turnaround jumpers.

Fortunately, Foster did manage to take three free throws, and he made all of them when he was at the foul line.  In evaluating his free throw shooting stroke, he has a quick, but fluid motion that allows him to repeat and make the shot.  It’s a bit of a line drive shot so he may need to get a little more arc into it, but his shooting touch is soft enough where he can make a good number of his free throws, so that his motion may not need tweaking.  Foster showed good shooting touch at the foul line, and that may be a promising sign that he could perhaps develop some range moving forward.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Foster can capably pass and handle the basketball.  He can throw sharp interior passes to find teammates on the move, and he also passes well off the dribble, as he can make an assortment of passes to get the ball to his teammates on the break.  However, sometimes he would be called for committing offensive fouls, as he would drive in too hard, or would be called for a clear out when trying to create separation to try to score in the paint.  He also was called for shuffling his feet, which led to a traveling violation when he was hounded and heavily pressured by multiple defenders.  He also would sometimes drop passes that would lead to team turnovers. Also, Foster did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get a handful of defensive boards, and he would sometimes push the ball quickly up the court to create early offense and transition scoring opportunities for his team.

Plus, Foster played good defense in this game.  He is an agile, active help defender that excels at getting blocks and steals for his team.  He was able to swat shots when defending in the post and off of a drive, and he has solid length and footwork to consistently contest shots in the paint to force misses.  He also would chase down balls, intercept passes, and poke balls away to get numerous steals and deflections.  He can quickly recover from biting on pump fakes, as he was able to quickly use a second jump to contest a shot in the post to force a miss.  He also does a good job of staying in front of opposing ball handlers when defending out on the perimeter, as he will play angles to prevent them from being able to easily get to the hoop.  On the other hand, sometimes he will take bad gambles, which will sometimes lead to him be out of position.  Other times, he will sag too far off his man, which can lead him vulnerable to giving up open jump shots to shooters.

In general, Michael Foster is a strong, athletic forward that has a variety of skills, and his defensive versatility may make him an intriguing prospect for the 2022 draft.  If he can show that he can consistently knock down outside shots, it could really help his case to be drafted next year.  He may be one of the most intriguing prospects that could be in next year’s draft.  He is a talented, versatile player that has the talent to be a lottery pick, and he could end up being a solid role player similar to current Philadelphia 76ers’ forward, Tobias Harris in the NBA.

Pine Crest School’s 6-6 high school junior swingman, Amen Thompson played well for the Dream Chasers in his team’s win over SFBA, and Thompson is a very athletic, high-motor player that excelled at making hustle plays on both ends of the floor. Thompson excelled at scoring off the dribble and in transition.  He would often score on speedy drives in transition, as he was able to score on a strong layup, and he also threw down a high-flying dunk over a big man on the break.  He also showed a knack for drawing free throws on aggressive drives to the hoop.  Plus, he also drew three free throws after hoisting up a quick, spot-up three another time.

He also showed off solid playmaking skills in this game.  Thompson is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can both push the ball quickly up the floor, and also throw accurate interior passes to find his teammates on the move.  He has the court vision to rack up assists, and he also can handle the basketball.  On the downside, he can sometimes struggle to handle the ball when pressured, and he had a ball poked away to lose it on a drive once. He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  He would chase down balls to get defensive boards, and he would sometimes quickly bring the ball up the floor afterwards.

Plus, Thompson played terrific defense in this game.  He is a very athletic, rangy defender that covers a lot of ground on that side of the ball.  He showed a fantastic ability to block three-point shots, as he would often swoop in to do so due to possessing great athleticism and recovery skills.  He showed a knack for swatting shots, particularly out on the perimeter, but he also hustled to make a nice chase down block on the break, as he was able to swat it to a teammate.  He also will intercept passes, poke balls away and jump on loose balls to help his team get steals.  He also did a good job of contesting shots both out on the perimeter as well as in the post to force a wealth of misses.

In summary, Amen Thompson is a very athletic, energetic swingman that played tremendous defense, and he is an outstanding defender that consistently played with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor.  Amen Thompson may be a name to remember for the 2023 draft, and he has a very good combination of having great athleticism and strong defensive skills.  If he can show that he can consistently knock down outside shots, that would really work in his favor, as that can add a whole new dimension to his game.  He played really well in this game, and he is a very talented player that could be a first round pick in the 2023 draft.

Pine Crest School’s 6-6 high school junior swingman, Ausar Thompson also played well for the Dream Chasers, and he played very well on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory. Ausar Thompson showed off versatile scoring skills, as he excelled at making quick, spot-up threes off the catch, and he showed a lot of range to knock down shots from beyond the arc.  He also ran the floor to score on a high-flying, two-handed dunk on the break.

He also passed and handled the ball well.  He showed a knack for throwing crisp, accurate interior passes to set up scores for his teammates on the break.  On the downside, he was called for traveling off of a backdoor cut, as he would’ve scored easily if that call had not been made.  He also threw a hard, inaccurate entry pass that was dropped out of bounds, which led to another team turnover.

Though he didn’t seem to grab many rebounds in this game, Ausar Thompson was able to leap up high to get a defensive board midway through this match.  Also, he played satisfactory defense in this game.  He is an active help defender that showed tremendous defensive instincts and anticipation skills, and he would quickly pounce upon passes to get steals and deflections.  He also was able to jump on a loose ball as he dove on the ground to get another steal.  He also would apply heavy ball pressure to opposing ball handlers.  On the downside, he would sometimes take bad gambles that would lead him to be out of position, which would put his team in scramble situations.  Another time, he got beat off the dribble, and he ended up committing a reach-in foul as a result.

Overall, Ausar Thompson is a very athletic, versatile swingman that showed off a good set of all-around skills in this game.  Like his brother, he played very well in this contest.  He will need to shoot the ball more and be more assertive on offense, but his versatile skill set and top-notch athleticism makes him a solid prospect to watch in the future.  Thompson played very well in this game, and he is a very talented prospect that could end up being a first round pick in the 2023 draft.

De La Salle’s 6-7 high school junior forward, Chris Bunch played very well for the Dream Chasers to help his team get a win over SFBA.  He is a very athletic swingman that excelled at attacking the basket to score the basketball, and he also was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor. Bunch excelled at scoring in transition.  He would often run the floor to score on emphatic, two-handed dunks on the break, and he also scored on a layup another time.  He did hoist up a couple of spot-up threes, but he missed on both occasions from beyond the arc. He also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  Bunch showed a knack for drawing fouls to get to the free throw line, and he did a good job of contorting his body to draw fouls upon his defenders. He also showed off decent playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he was able to make a drive and kick pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition.

He also defended fairly well.  He was able to poke a ball away to help his team get a steal due to possessing good length and anticipation skills.  He also would usually close out on shooters to force misses.  On the downside, he was called for hand-checking when defending an opposing ball handler once.  He also over-helped in the paint and was late to rotate back, as he allowed his man to score on a corner three another time.

Overall, Chris Bunch is an athletic, skilled forward that can score and defend when he is on the floor.  He will need to improve his outside shot, but he already has shown that he can make high-motor plays and also draw free throws at a high rate.  He would likely be a good get for the college basketball team that signs him, and he is a talented prospect that could be worth watching in the future.

Seton Hall’s 6-5 incoming freshman swingman, Brandon Weston played well for the Dream Chasers in his team’s win over SFBA.  He especially excelled as a scorer, but he did a good job of making plays to help his team on both ends of the floor. Weston showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He would often run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he was able to score on a high-flying, two-handed jam once.  He also would score on backdoor cuts, and he was able to throw down a thunderous dunk off of a cut once.  He also managed to draw free throws on a put back in traffic after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.

He also showed an adequate ability to score both off the dribble and in the post.  He showed a knack for drawing fouls when driving to the hoop or posting up, but sometimes he would miss on tough, off-balanced shots other times.  He didn’t take many jumpers from outside of the paint area, though.  He used a pump fake to dribble left, but he ended up missing on a long two.  He also did not seem to take a three-point shot in this game.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Weston is an unselfish player that can throw long interior passes to set up scores for his teammates in transition.  On the downside, he lost the ball once when trying to score on a high post drive that led him to commit a turnover. Plus, Weston was able to get boards on both ends of the floor, as he was able to get his fair share of rebounds in this game. He also played solid defense in this game.  He would get his hands on passes and poke balls away to get steals and deflections.  He also managed to contest a shot in the post to force a miss.  Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive when guarding his opponents, which can lead him to commit hand-checking fouls as a result.

Overall, Brandon Weston is an athletic, energetic swingman that plays bigger than his listed size, and he can make some solid hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He will need to improve his outside shot, but his ability to consistently make plays could enable him to make an immediate impact for Seton Hall right away in college basketball next year.  Over time, if he can continue to hone his game, he could end up moving up draft boards, as he could project to be a solid role player in the NBA one day.

Eduprize’s 6-3 high school junior guard, Trey Pettigrew really excelled at making three-pointers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He has a lot of range on his shot, and he can make open spot-up threes, and he can pull up to make threes from way out. Though he looked to score quite often, he was able to throw a crisp, accurate lob pass to notch an assist.  On the downside, he also appeared to drop a low pass into the backcourt that led to a team turnover early on. He also managed to chase down a ball to get a defensive board, as he was able to quickly push the ball up the court afterwards.  He also played adequate defense.  Pettigrew was able to deflect a loopy pass to nearly get a steal.  On the other hand, he also got beat off the dribble another time to allow a score.

Overall, Trey Pettigrew is a skilled combo guard that shoots the ball well, especially from behind the three-point line.  He will need to improve in the other facets of the game, but he could be a prospect to watch, especially because shooting is at a premium.  He will need to improve his playmaking and defensive skills in the future, but his strong ability to knock down jump shots could enable him to be a prospect to keep tabs on, as he could compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime down the road.

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