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T.J.’s TAKES: Scouting Tyrese Maxey, Cole Anthony, Jaden McDaniels and Keion Brooks


If the Tyrese Maxey vs. Cole Anthony game on Wednesday night wasn’t the best AAU basketball game I’ve ever seen, it was a close second. Maxey’s Houston Hoops team was down most of the game before tying it late in the second half. A surge from Anthony pushed his PSA Cardinals back up 10-12 points (no box score or play-by-play is currently available) and Maxey was taken out of the game with just over three minutes to play.

Moments later Maxey was back in the game and that’s when things started getting weird. A few missed free throws from PSA Cardinals and clutch buckets from Houston Hoops and Maxey’s squad was right back into the game.

Down four with 50 seconds left Houston Hoops scored and applied pressure to Anthony. Anthony was able to get out of a double team and near halfcourt before Maxey stripped the ball from him and finished an uncontested layup to tie the game. Maxey nearly stole the ball from Anthony again, but Anthony called a timeout to give PSA Cardinals the ball at halfcourt with under 10 seconds to play.

Anthony attacked the basket and lost the ball, but lucky for PSA Cardinals the ball went in the air and directly to a teammate on the block. He finished the layup with just one second to play. Initially the clock read .4 seconds, but more time was added.

Maxey’s team called timeout and advanced the ball to halfcourt. The play was to get Maxey the ball but he couldn’t shake a double-team, but Houston Hoops drew a foul. Maxey’s team tied the game and with still one second on the clock PSA Cardinals attempted to inbound the ball.

Then this happened.

Madness. Madness ensued on the court and the entire gym was in a frenzy. It was a rare March Madness feel in July.

Oh, and remember when Maxey was taken out and instantly went back in the game? In an exclusive interview with KSR after the game, Maxey said his ankle was bothering him and with the game looking in doubt his coach took him out. When Maxey realized he was being taken out because the coach was waving the white flag, Maxey wouldn’t accept defeated and put himself back into the game.

Listen to the full interview HERE.

The crazy finish aside, here’s my takeaways from watching Anthony and Maxey square off:

Cole Anthony: The UK point guard target showcased why he’s the best guard in the class and arguably the best player. Although physically Anthony doesn’t appear to have an advantage over his peers, mentally he seems to already be on an NBA level. He is one of the smartest high school basketball players I’ve ever seen and seems to be able to read the game similar to a Tyler Ulis.

There were times during the game where Houston Hoops defended Anthony perfectly. They trapped when he was running off a pick, or when he would get to the elbow or in the paint, but Anthony would make a smart head fake, get a defender in the air and then just sink the hopes of the defense. He’s a selfless and smart passer, but he also has a smooth tough around the rim and a solid outside shot.

He was successful passing in those situations and had some jaw-dropping made shots, too. He did it all.

I wish we were able to see more of Anthony in man-to-man defense, but PSA Cardinals played a lot of zone for the majority of the game. I really wanted to see Anthony guard Maxey and that maybe only happened a time or two. Anthony had quick hands in the zone and seemingly had a few steals/deflections.

I was also impressed with Anthony’s endurance. He seemed to play almost the entire game. Maybe Houston Hoops were being more conscious  about playing at least five games in three days, or maybe fatigue isn’t a concern for Anthony, but he rarely went to the bench. He will definitely have some 38-40 minute games in college.

Speaking of fatigue, Anthony wasn’t great at the end of the game. He turned the ball over a few times and it would have been one more on the go-ahead bucket but his fumbled ball went straight to his teammate. For such a smart player he was sped up a bit, although his coach should have called more timeouts. You can always prepare for those late game situations, but it’s crazy how quickly all that practice can go out the window. The PSA Cardinals weren’t ready for the tight moments tonight.

Tyrese Maxey: For the first 20 minutes it wasn’t Maxey’s best stuff. It wasn’t bad, but he just couldn’t get his outside shots to drop. Almost all were close, and Maxey’s release and shot looks great, but they just weren’t dropping.

PSA Cardinal’s zone kept Maxey out of the paint and the UK commit didn’t look overly eager to press the issue. Maybe his ankle is actually in rough shape, but he didn’t attack the rim in the halfcourt hardly at all. I’m all for being efficient, but I did want to see a little bit more aggressive play from Maxey early in the game.

But then Houston Hoops fell behind. It started to look like they were possibly going to be blown out and Maxey turned it up a notch. Houston Hoops played man almost the entire game (if not the entire game) and for a good chunk of the game Maxey didn’t guard Anthony. Once Maxey turned it on he told his teammate to switch players and he guarded Anthony. Life became tougher for Anthony and it’s probably no coincidence he started to make more mistakes after the switch.

Maxey had the steal on Anthony that briefly tied the game. Early in the game Anthony looked far better than Maxey, but Maxey even the scaled later. Maxey’s heart and determination, while cliche, will be something special for Kentucky. He truly had a refuse to lose attitude and the fact he put himself back into a game that looked over should tell us all we need to know about the effort and energy we’ll see in Lexington.

Maxey hit a few threes tonight but he needs to be more consistent from outside.

Someone on Twitter asked me if Maxey and Anthony can play together and the answer is yes. The two shined playing together for the USA U18 team in Canada. Anthony would be the primary ball-handler with Maxey being a versatile and interchangeable two. It would be in the conversation for Calipari’s most talented backcourt if it happens and I continue to hear positive things about UK’s chances for Anthony.

Jaden McDaniels & Keion Brooks: I split time watching McDaniels and Brooks, who played at the same time but on different courts.

McDaniels: During a 32 minute game I wasn’t overly impressed until the final three. Again, I didn’t watch McDaniels the entire game, so I could have missed some nice plays, but when I watched it wasn’t an eye-popping performance.

McDaniels’ frame is the first thing you notice. He makes Marcus Lee look like a stronger, bruising forward. But that didn’t come as a major surprise. I’ve seen plenty of highlights and tape on McDaniels, I wasn’t expecting a big forward. However, I was slightly disappointed with his energy and effort tonight. He didn’t look overly engaged and far from assertive. He will be playing at least five games in three days, so maybe he was conserving energy, but it was pretty forgettable.

However, all the tools are there once he puts it together. He’s versatile and has a nice skill set. He was probably the most athletic and bounciest player on the floor, too. He layup above clinched the game and it was a clutch play. UK had Joel Justus and Kenny Payne watch, and I’m sure the Cats will continue to follow him this week.

Brooks: I watched more of McDaniels than I did Brooks, but Brooks was also somewhat disappointing. It’s not fair to say that about two players that didn’t receive my undivided attention and I will watch more of both tomorrow, but Brooks’ game didn’t scream “all-star”.

It wasn’t an energy or effort thing for Brooks. I was actually impressed with how aggressive he was and it seemed like he crashed the paint on every rebound. He just didn’t seem to be a focal point offensively and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. His team needed points and Brooks wasn’t the center of attention for his offense.

Defensively Brooks did fine. His length will be a major problem at the next level and his footwork was solid.

Stay tuned to KSR for more Peach Jam coverage!

 

Article written by TJ Walker