From a scout's point of view, one of the great parts about July is the opportunity to watch the development of known talented young prospects, while also searching for new ones.
Over the month, Scout.com attended events such as the Pangos All-American Camp, NBPA Top 100 Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy, and between all three events we saw a good amount of the nation's top 2014 prospects over and over again.
We'll see most of those same kids again in July, no doubt, but for the most part they're no longer priorities.
Having just seen them multiple times in the last five weeks, while college coaches are off reevaluating and following around those 2014 prospects, we can afford to take the time to gain more familiarity with the 2015 and 2016 classes.
That means spending a lot of time watching 16U and 15U games, an important advantage because in the next couple of years, we'll be able to point back to this month as the first time we saw a kid to see how far he's developed - or hasn't - since then.
For example, here's a random evaluation of a then completely unknown freshman that I watched on July 29, 2011 at the Best of Summer tournament in Anaheim:
Josh Perkins, PG, Colorado Miners: Perkins had a very impressive performance on Thursday night. He can handle the ball but it was his excellent vision that stood out, as he made a handful of terrific passes throughout the game. Perkins wasn't really concentrating on scoring so it was tough to get a feel for that aspect of his game, but the young point guard can no doubt pass.
At the time, Perkins was a 6-foot point guard with an average body. I saw that he had great vision, but with just one plus trait, there was no knowing what he would become.
Because Perkins was so intriguing, I made the trip to Denver to check him out the next February during his high school season, resulting in the following evaluation:
Perkins’ frame has improved, he showed a nice stroke and knocked down multiple jumpers from both midrange and three-point range, using his handles and shiftiness to create his own shot. The most impressive part of Perkins’ game may be his vision, as he’s a very talented passer and does a good job of constantly setting up his teammates for baskets.
Perkins had grown, his body had improved, he showed a better handle and scoring/shooting ability and confirmed my initial opinion on his vision.
There's no need to go through every step of the evaluation period with Perkins, but over a two-year period Perkins went from unknown to intriguing to Top 75 to Top 50 to Top 25. Knowing where he came from and seeing that consistent growth has given us every reason to feel good about his inclusion in our most recent Top 25.
July gives us a very important opportunity to see kids like Perkins, giving us a feel for young prospects' starting points.
The day before I saw Perkins in July 2011, another young prospect caught my eye:
Marcus Lee, PF, Bay Area Hoosiers: Lee has a good frame, is an impressive athlete, did a nice job on the glass and went after shots defensively. It was tough to get a feel for his skill level but he was finishing well. Lee's athletic build and long arms garner attention right away, and while he'll have to keep developing his skill over the next year, he's definitely intriguing.
A year later, Lee grew from a prospect that was intriguing to one that was a McDonald's All-American. It can happen that quickly.
When you see kids made serious strides in their games like the ones of Perkins and Lee, it's always a great sign for their future, and a big reason why both guys are Top 25 prospects.
So this year while college coaches are following around their top 2014 prospects, the Scout.com team will do plenty of that too, but also a good mixture of checking out young prospects, because you never know when you could be watching the next Josh Perkins or Marcus Lee.