Tag Archives: MTSU
Bradley Beal: C
I suppose Bradley Beal eventually had to have a relatively poor game during this Summer League. After shooting 41% over his first three games as a Washington Wizard, Beal came back to earth Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies with a relatively poor 14 point performance on 5-of-15 shooting (33%). Beal didn’t look for his shot early on, and the result was that he appeared to be going through the motions. I was particularly disappointed with his drifting around the perimeter on offense, where he didn’t seem very engaged in the offense. Beal didn’t really get to the line in the same manner as the last three games, where he shot 28 total free throws (tonight he had 4 but missed two). What made him so impressive the last few games was his ability to draw contact, because believe it or not his shooting, while it looks pretty, wasn’t lights out. If he isn’t doing that, he’s got to figure out other ways to impact the game, or at the very least draw contact.
On a brighter note, Beal continued to impress with his rebound ability that he showed off in college. He grabbed six rebounds on Tuesday, which brings his total in the last three games to 16 (not a shabby number for a guard). If Beal’s shot is not going down, he either has to demand it more and shoot out of the temporary slump, or get to the line. If not, then get others even more involved by creating open shots. But by and large, tonight was not one Beal’s best, hence the low grade.
Shelvin Mack: D
A good barometer in deciding how effective a point guard is playing during any game is whether or not they have more assists than turnovers. It’s not an exact science, but it’s an indicator of how well a point guard is creating plays and protecting the ball. If we hold Shelvin Mack to this standard, he has been absolutely horrible during this Summer League; Tuesday was no different. Mack coughed the ball up 5 times yesterday, bringing his four game total up to a disastrous 16. He also had 4 assists, but that wasn’t enough to offset his poor play with the ball. When the competition is not as good, players should thrive; instead, Mack has played worse. And his shot isn’t going in either, as his 3-of-9 shooting performance brought his summer league average to 38% from the field.
Perhaps the worst part about Mack’s game is the fact that he got flayed by Josh Selby all night long. He looked like a traffic cone the majority of the night, and Selby (not the greatest player ever) blew by him like an Enzo Ferrari. Mack was just too slow to guard anyone, and while we had our suspicions during previous games, tonight made his weaknesses glaringly apparent. It’s been a tough summer for Mack, and he has really put his future with the Wizards into question.
Chris Singleton: B-
Singleton has been a very confident player throughout this Summer League, taking a lot of shots and affecting the game in a lot of facts with his aggressiveness. Against Memphis, Singleton’s shot just wasn’t going in, as he was held to a 3-of-12 performance from the field. He was kind of overextending himself out there, and forced up a lot of unnecessary, low percentage jumpers all over the court. Those skills just aren’t in his repertoire yet, and he would be better suited playing a more conservative style. Singleton may just be feeling out what he can and cannot do with this newly found confidence, and the Summer League is the perfect place to do such a thing.
What helped Singleton offset his poor shooting performance is his tenacity. He got to the line 7 times and made 6 of his attempts; he grabbed double-digit rebounds for the first time this summer with 10 boards; he had three steals. Singleton is just so good at being a glue guy that even when his shot is not going in, he has a Shane Battier type effect on the game because of his need to go 100% all the time. As ugly as his game looks sometimes, he is always going to give you a consistent effort. Sometimes it just doesn’t show in the box score.
Jan Vesely: C+
Jan is a young project with tons of potential, but because of that fact most of the games he plays are going to be all over the place. When he is blocking shots, he isn’t passing. When he’s grabbing steals, he’s turning the ball over. When he’s shooting well, he’s missing dunks. It goes on and on because Jan can’t put an entire, complete, game together just yet. Tonight was no different, as Jan had one of his best rebounding performances as a Wizard on Tuesday with 12 rebounds, including 5 of those on the offensive glass. He was active on the boards down low, and it was clear that something clicked for him, making him realize that with his length it should be hard for anyone to outrebound him. While his jumper wasn’t going down today, he still looked to take it and that alone is a progression from last year. That’s the good part.
The bad part is that Jan failed to hold onto the ball, turning it over an alarmingly high 5 times. For a big man playing against a Memphis team bereft of quality big men, that number is simply unacceptable. Again, this goes back to Jan not being able to play a complete game just yet, but it still isn’t good. If Jan wants to play any minutes at small forward, his ball protection has to continue to develop. Oh, and he still had 6 fouls. #makingthemostofit
Steven Gray: B+
Gray finally showed off his shooting ability that made him so effective during college at Gonzaga. Gray scored 8 points in 18 minutes of play, bolstered by his 2-of-4 shooting from long range. He moved well without the ball and spaced the floor, getting wide open looks around the perimeter. If he keeps this sharp shooting up in his final game, he could very well get an invite from the Wizards in his final game. I still have questions about his athleticism and whether or not he can fight through picks or defend anything, but for now we’ll focus on the positives.
LaRon Dendy: B+
#UnleashTheDendy finally happened Tuesday, as LaRon got the most minutes he has all Summer League long. It wasn’t much, but in the 9 minutes that Dendy played, you could clearly see why I was harping about this kid so much. He extended possession after possession on the offensive glass with his knack for being in the right place down low. He never leaves that spot, and his 3 offensive rebounds are only a fraction of the plays he actually affected. That’s what I like the most about him; he is very tough down low and longer than his 6’9 measurement suggests.
Dendy also showed off his scoring ability and soft touch, connecting on 4-of-6 shots of 8 total points. All of them came from down low, but that’s what he is built to do. I fully expect him to get more minutes next game given his impressive “debut” with the Wizards. Defensively, he looked a tad slow on his help defense and I think it’s an area that Dendy really needs to work on. It looked like he was not fully prepared for the speed of the NBA game, but that is likely to change.
Note: Shavlik Randolph had himself an A game with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but I really, highly, doubt that he fits in with the future of the Wizards. Therefore, he gets two sentences.
Although the NBA Las Vegas Summer League has yet to announce the full rosters for each team, whispers have come out about a few of the players the Washington Wizards might be adding. The squads are chock full of NBA draftees, players who went just barely missed being drafted yet have plenty of potential, guys who bounced around Europe for awhile, and players being given their last shot at the glory of the NBA. One of the players likely to be on the Wizards roster, LaRon Dendy, happens to fall into that last category.
Dendy’s story is certainly not one of the most uncommon stories ever; in fact, his tale is extremely common amongst talented high school players with struggling academic grades. They all tend to get caught up in diploma mills: high schools who have dubious academic standing but bring in athletes anyway in order to bolster their programs standing. They also prey on talented-yet-academically unpolished athletes. Such is the case with Dendy. Dendy originally hails from Greenville, South Carolina, where he starred in basketball at Greer High School during his sophomore season, averaging 22.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 7.3 blocks. Those averages were good enough to lead his team to the state title, but not good enough to keep him grounded.
From there, Dendy transferred an inordinate amount of times. At some point he played for Prince Avenue Prep school (investigated for academic fraud and blacklisted by the NCAA in 2007) very periodically before transferring to IMG Academy his junior year. One can put two and two together and realize that one school was for academics, and the other (IMG) was for honing his basketball skills. He transferred back and forth, skirting rules in order to help with his academics. Eventually, once Prince Avenue Prep was investigated, Dendy finished up his senior year at Hope Christian Prep School, a less scandalous but not much better high school in North Carolina.
During his senior season there, he averaged 23.1 points and 12.2 rebounds, showing significant improvement against yet tougher competition. Things went as planned, too, as he grabbed looks from South Carolina, LSU, Kansas State, and Texas but eventually committing to the Clemson Tigers. Unfortunately, his academic record was awful, the rumors were that his SAT and GPA were too low to gain admittance to Clemson. This forced LaRon to go the junior college route for two years, going across the country to Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. Presumably, this undertaking would help him get into Iowa State, a well respected Division I college that lacks some of the highest academic standards in the world. But, as they say, the best laid plans often go awry.
Indian Hills Community College actually had tons of D-I talent on it, including (among others) Dwight Hardy of St. John’s, Dwight Buycks of Marquette, and Delvon Johnson of Arkansas. The collusion between troubled academic players to attend the same community college hundreds of miles away was actually a hindrance to Dendy, as he didn’t play many minutes, yet still managed to earn honorable mention All-Region XI honors after averaging 8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. His sophomore year, when he was set to blow up, was derailed when he suffered a stress fracture in his foot that held him to only 8.1 PPG.
That fact didn’t derail the hopes of the Iowa State Cyclones, who were looking for a competent replacement for the soon to be departing resident star in Craig Brackins. Dendy transferred to the Cyclones, finally earning a chance to perform at the highest level of college basketball. He spelled Brackins off the bench that year (who didn’t declare for the draft), and exceeded the expectations of his role by averaging 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 60%. That exceptional FG% mark gave him the honor of having the 6th highest percentage of any player in Iowa State basketball history. Highlights during that season included a 14 point, 6 rebound game against then-No. 1 ranked Texas where Dendy schooled Dexter Pittman, Damion James, and Jordan Hamilton. Overall, a successful season for Dendy who was set to become the resident starting forward after Brackins departure. But, much like his previous track record, Dendy couldn’t stay grounded yet again.
Apparently, Dendy decided to leap from the sinking ship of Iowa State early. A team that was set to get a new coach in ex-NBAer Fred Hoiberg yet bracing to lose Craig Brackins, Lucca Staiger, and Marquis Gilstrap was not enough to keep Dendy around for guaranteed minutes. He decided to sit out a season and transfer over to Middle Tennessee State University for his final season of college basketball. Last year, the forward was granted a starting spot right off the bat in the Sun Belt Conference, and without a doubt he was just as impressive as he was on the basketball court.
Dendy averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest in his first starting role in over 5 years because of his own desire to move. It’s there were this writer was finally able to see Dendy play a lot more and figure out what kind of player he really was/is. Dendy is a long 6’7 1/2, possessing a 6’11 wingspan which he uses to block lots of shots and very effectively grab rebounds. He plays very close to the basket, but can run the court well and often makes very solid passes out of double teams. Dendy can’t jump to the sky, but his hands are literally some of the softest you can find on a big(ish) player, and they’re NBA ready. Those hands are what could very well help him and his 53% shooting to the NBA.
In his third game of the season against UCLA (not the powerhouse it used to be, for sure, but still a good squad), Dendy dominated Travis and David Wear for 16 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. He also had fantastic games against tournament teams Belmont (20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists), Vanderbilt (22 points, 3 blocks) and Western Kentucky (26 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists). These performances, and the rest of his impressive lone season at MTSU, led Dendy to be named the Sun Belt Player of the Year.
Though his team didn’t make it to the NCAA Tournament, Dendy officially put himself on NBA radars. He may not have been drafted, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Dendy knows basketball. Dendy’s academic track record isn’t superb, but his athleticism and hyper efficient style of basketball means he’s going to get some looks. DraftExpress has him rated as the 73rd best senior, but he may have even slipped under their radar. His 25.1 PER is way above the average player in college basketball, and even though he didn’t play against the best competition, he rises to the occasion whenever he got the chance to.
The Wizards would be very wise to keep tabs on him during the Summer League, because I have a sneaky suspicion that Dendy is going to be a coveted piece for some basketball team in the near future.
LaRon Dendy Highlights
And here’s an interview of Dendy giving an interview to his YouTube audience explaining why he watches basketball…