The Lab Experience

April 2, 2016

Written By Darnell ‘Tate’ Johnson

This was a first time event for Coach John Lucas and for me it was a great success. The Lab is his baby and it's legendary for not just young kids better, but also bona-fide stars like the Clipper DeAndre Jordan better.

So with that being said my evaluation will definitely be a little harsher because the 'Lab' quote, un-quote isn’t nothing nice.

Below is a few of my standout and high potential players that stood out to me.

2017 DJ Harvey 6'6 SG/WG (DeMatha) Washington D.C.

I been watching DJ play for years now and there’s not a skill set he doesn't possess for you prototypical SG. He can knock down the three, he can take you off the dribble and will drop dimes if your open. He can guard the two and the three and some fours. He athletic with bounce. Now what disappoints me at times he just won't be there. It's like he knows how good he is and feels he can turn it off and on when he wants. That's a no no when a player that skilled has the ultimate goal to play at the top level. Now this weekend, kind of to his defense he was putting in mad work all week in the lab. It's just I seen it before and it gets me kind of nervous.

2017 Jared Vanderbilt 6'8 WF (Victory Prep) Houston, TX

Now anyone that knows me knows that Jared is one of my favorite players in the class. You can argue with me all you want, but like I told Coach Lucas last year he reminds me so much of a young Lamar Odom. With that being said that's with the whole game and attitude. Just like Lamar, Jared also understands 90% of the time his the most talented and skilled player on the court and that's not always good. I like to see Jared get more physical and show more emotion. He has special written all over him.

2017 Royce Ham 6'8 F (Aldine Davis High) Houston, TX

Royce impresses me more and more every time I watch him play. This time he showed more range on his jump shot. He always was skilled in the post and sees the whole court even when there's a lot of traffic around. He had decent ball handling skills. I'm just nervous that he's falling in love with this idea that he only wants to be a WF. He has the physical tools to be a heck of 4 man that can pop out and knock down deep range shot. I tell these young kids don't let a position define you, let it be your game.

2017 Jaedon LeDee 6'8 F (Kinkaid High)

Jaedon is definitely one of the most impressive kids in his class. He already very polished and has every skill you want in you power forward. He can step out and hit the three, he can take most power forwards off the dribble and he has a body that with more strength can bang with the best of them. The thing that scares me the most is this talk of strictly playing the three. Well I evaluated the young man for three games and his foot speed had me nervous about guarding good college wing players and definitely if he has the privilege or playing at the ultimate level (NBA), his foot speed could be a major problem. He's another young man that shouldn't let being called a certain position define him.

2017 Jase Febres 6’5’ SG

One thing I give Jase; he hasn't seen a shot he doesn't like. He's not afraid to put it up from anywhere on the court. When I watch him play, even the shots that didn't go in looked good. Now with that being said he didn't make many people around him better. If he's not hitting shots, he's not helping you much. He has the ability to evolve his game to be more complete. He needs to understand the more you can do the more you become valuable to a team.

2017 Yeskin Williams 6'5 F (Manvel High)

Yeskin is a grown man period. He was a punisher on both ends of the court. It seemed like every move to the basket he attempted ferocious dunks and on the defensive end he tried to throw everything out the gym. He really impressed me showing good touch from deep. He had decent handles, but that didn't stop him from getting to where he wanted too. His height could be his only limitation.

2017 Jarius Roberson 6'2 SG (Desoto High) Desoto, TX

Jarius might not be the high major prospect as some of the kids in camp, but with his shooting touch, he has a chance to be and impact at some college when he gets there. He had in the gym range and every shot he took, looked like it was going in. He also had no problem getting to the rack and scoring. I loved his polished offensive game. I would love to see him play with the same aggressiveness on the defensive end.

2017 Doc Nelson 6'1 PG (Houston Episcopal High) Houston, TX

It seems I’ve been watching Doc play for 10 years and yes I'm exaggerating. On the real I been watching this young man play for years and he's always one of the hardest working and most aggressive guards on the floor. He has tremendous handles and his bounce seems to be getting better. He loves attacking the rim and has a decent jumper. Now with this all being said this was the most I ever saw him not keep his teammates involved and he looked way too much to score. He's always been an unselfish player. I know Doc will readjust his game.

2017 John Walker 6'8 F (Fort Bend Marshall High) Houston, TX

I like John's wing span and is very skilled. He showed a great skill set for his size. He can handle the rock, he knocked down the three and when not trying to make the tremendous pass, looked good distributing the rock. His I.Q. had me nervous. It seemed like over and over, he makes the same mistake. With all the talent he has, that has to stop. He was good at playing the lane on defense because he wanted to get down and make the spectacular play on offense, but he seemed to be less enthusiastic when guarding his man straight up.

2017 Gregory Bowie 6'2 CG (Athlos Leadership Academy)

You can tell Gregory puts in work, because each year I see him, he seems to get better and better and you can tell he’s putting in work on his body. His still attacking the rim and now he’s taking contact and finishing. His handles and his shot are both looking better. He’s a big time competitor and always seems to rise to the challenge. I fear since he’s been on the map for years and he’s the most dominant guard in his area that he can become complacent. Now do I see that happening no, but it’s still out there.

2017 JJ Jones 6'11 C (Athlos Leadership Academy)

JJ is very intriguing player, if you caught him at the wrong time you definitely wouldn't have been impressed. The young fella played very lazy at times. Now the other time I caught him, he ran the floor, finished above the rim and was contesting shots on the defensive end. It's really up to the young fella how good he wants to be. He has to get in the real Lab and work.

2017 Jacob Wiley 6'7 WF (SATCH) Houston, TX

Jacob's another one of those intriguing players. If you catch him at the right time you may think he's KY good and other times a low major player. It's like the young fella just isn’t there. As a wing player he has it all. He can shoot from deep, knock you from mid-range and then get to the basket and bang on you. Now other times instead of banging he may do a lazy finger roll. He has special ability and if he ever gets consistent watch out.

2018 Greg Williams 6'4 SG (Lafayette Christian Academy) Baton Rouge, LA

Now for me Greg was the most impressive kid in the camp. Now I didn't say the best, before yall get in an uproar. I didn't see this kid take one play off. He was physical and aggressive on both ends. He attacked the rim with reckless abandon and was in your chest on the defensive end. Only thing that had me nervous was the young man's conditioning. He stayed getting tight. Now alot of kid were doing that also all weekend, but none have a body built like Greg's that can easily put on weight and that could be a major problem

2018 Jacobi Jordan 6'7 WF (Fallbrook Prep)

Jacobi very skilled. He can handle the ball on the perimeter and had no problem posting up. He was great at filling the lane and attacking the rim. He made difficult shots look easy at times. He played with a lot of confidence and looked like he was having fun at all times. Now having seen him before, I look forward to him to continue this growth. He has been known to go through the motions before.

2018 Trajan Wesley 5'8 G (Cy Fall High) Houston, TX

I know everybody wants to call Trajan a PG, but he reminds me a lot of 2016 and Atascocita star guard Carsen Edwards. He guarding 94 feet and he's steadily attacking the rim. He doesn't back down to any player on the court regardless of size. You may want to knock him because his size and he's not your prototypical type guard at his size, but the young man's a baller and will help you win games period. Now can he get out of control at times, of course, but you'll live with that by the way he plays defense

2018 Ousmane Ndim C 7' (St. Louis) St. Louis, MO

Ndim definitely impressed me with his aggressive play and motor, but this thought he needs to be a forward and anywhere on the perimeter is crazy. First the man needs to learn how to play in the post. His skill set left less to be desired. With his body and his aggressiveness, he could wind up being a force as a back to the basket offensive player.

2018 Bryson Etienne 6'2 G (Fort Bend Bush) Houston, TX

I been watching Bryson for 3 years now and he's always been an attack guard. His aggressiveness at his position and the position he’s trying to learn how to play is a strength and a weakness. When playing the SG position, it's all good but when he moves over to the PG it can be all bad. He has yet to learn to play with pace and at times his decision making leaves less to be desired. To play at the level he wants to and reach his true potential he must study that PG position more and add it to his game. Now when he's playing off the ball he can be electrifying. He's a terrific athlete and it shows when he's attacking you above the rim.

2018 Casey Brooks 5'9 PG (Atascocita) Houston, TX

I been watching Casey play since he picked up a basketball. The youngins is like family and if you know me I'm extra hard on people close to me. I always wondered if Casey would have the love for the game like his father and older brother. Well this weekend he answered that question. He was very attentive in station work and took the whole weekend serious. He's compact, strong and has very good handles. He's an in your chest defender. I think he's finally just tapping his potential. I still think he's to unselfish and should be more aggressive on the offensive end and look more for his shot. Well now the lights come on I really look for his development to take off.

2019 Kameron Ng 5’9 PG (Saint Francis) Honolulu, HI

First and foremost, I commend the young man for flying all the way from Hawaii knowing he was going to face upperclassmen that were taller and much stronger then him. That let me know from the door the young man was a competitor. With that being said, the young man more then held his own. You can’t teach his I.Q. He just knows how to play. He knows how to play with pace, which is very unique with kids his age, most young guards want to play at one pace fast. He has the knock most youngsters his age has, he’s light in the seat and they don’t like no one getting up into them and evading their space and getting physical.

2019 Sahvir Wheeler 5'6 PG (Houston Christian High) Houston, TX

As most people know Sahvir a favorite of mine. Forget the kids 5'6, he just knows how to ball. He handles the ball on the string and has great court vision. He's getting better and better on the defensive end. Now he still needs work on that jumper and with his work ethic that will come. The one issue I had this weekend, with all the fanfare he's getting and it's well deserved, is his complaining and looking for calls, just play young fella. He always been one of the toughest competitors on the court don't let that change.

2019 Charles Bassey 6'10 PF/C (St. Anthony) San Antonio, TX

Bassey by far is one of the best skilled big man in his class. He handles the ball very well for his size. He can score with both hands around the basket. He sees the court well and passes quick out the double team. With that all being said, at times he acts like he wants to be a jump shooter. He seems to get bored more often when he feels it's lesser talent he playing against. If he keeps the motor, I saw when I first seen him play the skies the limit for the young fella.

2019 Matthew Brown 6'2 PG (St. Joseph) Kenosha, WI

Matthew plays way beyond his age (15). He plays with a good pace and really understands the game. He showed he could score at all three levels and had no problem finishing with contact at the rim. He's a very physical defender and will fight you to keep you from getting to your spot. My question is with him being so unselfish at times will he be willing to take over and score in bunches if needed. Today's PG must be able to take over at times and carry a team.

2019 Charles Smith 6'5 SG/WF (Westbury Christian) Houston, TX

Charles shows he has the ability to not just be a heck of a young talent, but turn it into a heck of a ball player. He has all the tools you want in a young wing. He has length, decent ball skills and can score from mid-range and get to the cup. I saw he still needs work on his long range jumper. Now just like most young folks he played aggressive one minute and then disappeared the next. Being more consistent should become better with age.

2019 Ahmad Deckard 5'8 PG (Palestine High) Palestine, TX

I know other scouts may have been enamored by some of the other young PG and rightfully so, but I really like this young fella. He guarded 94 feet, he made big and tough shots and he held his older teammates accountable. He was jet quick and stayed finishing at the rim. I watched him drop dime after dime. Now the young man's on someone's radar I like to see his growth continue.

We had three youngins (8th grade) in the camp who all are highly ranked in the 2020 class. Now all three showed flashes why they are thought highly of, but they also showed at times why some kids need to stay close to their age. We had some kids in this camp that were built like grown men and played like it. Now 6'6 Gregory Brown III, 6'2 Isaiah LeBlanc and 6'3 Tramon Mark all have special written all over them.

2020 Gregory Brown III 6'6 WF (Brentwood Christian) Austin, TX

Now there’s not questioning this young man's skill set and work ethic. He's a wing forward, but you can also run the offense through him, because he has excellent ball handling skills and court vision. What separates him from a lot of young players that know their good is his unselfishness. Now with that all being said the young man still has a frail body and physicality is not in his game. Now he's definitely not soft but finesse at the minute is his game. So when you decide to throw him against much older players, he had a lot harder problems getting to the spots he likes. Now once again the young man's a heck of a talent with a tremendous upside.

2020 Isaiah LeBlanc 6'2 SG (First Colony Middle) Houston, TX

Now with LeBlanc his games the total opposite of Gregory. He's a volume scorer that loves to get buckets and his game is built on physicality. He can rattle off 10 straight points like it isn’t nothing. We all know when your young you must evolve your game. He had spots in camp were you can tell that physicality will always be the main party of his game but against grown boys that were good he just wasn't moving them. This camp may have been good for him because now he realizes I may have to do other things to get to the spots I want. Even though he's a scorer LeBlanc has a very high I.Q.and understands his strength and weaknesses.

2020 6'3 Tramon Mark 6'3 G (Dickinson Middle) Houston, TX

I haven't seen a lot of Tramon, but wow you can see flashes in this kid that says very good things are in front of him. The young man has the total package length, athleticism and a very good I.Q. He can handle the rock and will not hesitate to drop a dime on you. Now with that being said out of all three youngsters, he seemed the most frustrated at times of the big three. You can tell he's use to dominating and these older fellas weren't going to let that happen. I watch them get physical with him and he definitely didn't want none of that. This camp was probably the best for him because this is what he'll face in high school and elite level AAU. I know it was rough for the young fella but he has nothing to be ashamed of because when I watched him, he still was competing and that's what counts.

Now I know this write up may offend some people, but if you ever been in the John Lucas Lab this is what it’s all about. Being real and getting to the nitty gritty of your game. If Deandre Jordan, Mike James, Tristan Thompson, Patrick Beverly, TJ Ford and John Lucas III to name just a few pros, that’s been in the Lab and been ripped and gotten better and handled it, your kid and you should have no problem with this...