LAS VEGAS — The respective tournament fields winnowed to a group of select contenders on Saturday,…
B.J. Stith: Evaluation
Introduction Sometimes, any possibility for recruiting drama simply doesn't exist. That was the case for B.J. Stith, son of former Virginia great Bryant Stith and one of the best prospects to emerge from the state in the Class of 2014. Stith's rise began back in 2011, when he impressed colleague Evan Daniels as a rising sophomore for the Team Loaded 15-under squad. He committed to UVa that fall, not wasting any time announcing that he wanted to travel in his father's footsteps. For that reason, in part, he received less attention during his sophomore season. He was a young guy playing a young game, and he needed time to develop. At the same, coaches obviously didn't want to waste their time evaluating an already-committed prospect. I watched Stith last season when he had begun to blossom as a junior at Lawrenceville (Va.) Brunswick, where he played for his father. By that time the younger Stith had begun to fill out and developed a more polished offensive identity. He performed solidly but not great on his future home court at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this past June, showcasing a buttery jump shot but not asserting himself consistently. He performed more effectively at the Adidas Super 64 in late July, however, cementing a spot for himself in the national top 75. He transferred to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season and will learn under famed coach Steve Smith along with participating in marquee games and intense practices. Assets Stith can build a career around his jump shot. He wields a high-arching, beautiful, backspin jumper that strips the cords. He's at his very best shooting from the middle ranges, knocking in shots from distances — typically 16-19 feet — that have become functionally irrelevant for most players. Those medium-range jumpers don't lend themselves to catch and shoot, and thus he has become effective at slicing between defenders with one or two dribbles to step into his preferred spaces. He also has improved his three-point marksmanship. Stith no longer relies exclusively on his mid-range game, as he has expanded his range to 21 feet and should become a weapon from the bonusphere. He's also well-equipped mentally for the college game. Stith obviously has a great resource very close to home, and he always has been more impressive in team-oriented, structured environments as opposed to camps. His familiarity with the university also should accelerate his acclimation process to campus life, never a sure thing for a freshman. Deficits Stith possesses above-average quickness but isn't a truly explosive athlete. For that reason he can be hamstrung by top defenders and himself does not project as a lockdown guy at the other end of the court. His solution to the slashing issue is to become a master at moving without the ball, an area he needs to improve. He also can improve as a ballhandler versus pressure. He does own dribble moves that can shake defenders, but his control dribbling needs improvement. For that reason we categorize him as a wing forward rather than a shooting guard, though conceivably down the road he could make the switch. Outlook Freshmen frequently suffer from a shooting standpoint when they encounter college-level defenses. But that's not true for everyone, and if Stith can knock down jump shots he'll find his way onto the court early for Tony Bennett. Regardless of what happens in 2014-15, he should emerge as a key offensive contributor no later than his sophomore season. He has proved to be a quick study and, along with his jump shot, should become a fine steward of the Stith legacy in Charlottesville.
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