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April 30, 2012

Player Evaluation: Pookie Powell

RaShawn Powell could always play. Last summer he played up with the 17U Florida Assault outfit. Though he worked mostly off the ball, "Pookie" Powell collected some ganders for his shooting touch. Now the guard is completely responsible for running the offense as well as scoring the basketball.

Observers will get the full experience each AAU game they take in.

Shooting: 9
HS Perfection: Eric Gordon

The 6'0" Powell has a little Cashmere Wright in him. Initially he doesn't appear fast, but Powell creeps up on you with his speed. A bit of the casual, southern tempo resides in him. When you think he might be checked out or dragging he stabs your team with a heavily-guarded three point basket. And then once the defense realizes Powell is a gamer it is too late.

Bucket, bucket, bucket. When Powell is hitting no peer compares. A disgustingly dragging first half unexpectedly preceded Powell's second half explosion against the Lakers. Midway through the second half Powell woke up from his stupor to rattle off four straight points. The run closed FL Assault to within seven points after a woeful first half.

When he flipped the switch the whole room lit up. Like an effervescent friend entering the fray Powell changed the dynamic of the gym completely. Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack, Illinois Head Coach John Groce, and others perked up when Powell started hitting challenged jumpers.

The statistics accurately convey his disparate halves. Six points on limited attempts began the game and Pookie followed that up with 24 second stanza points.

Recent bombastic games of 35 and 40 points demonstrate how easily scoring comes to this quick guard. He scores easiest from behind the arc or at the free throw line. Most guards can't corral his first step.

Powell is a rhythm shooter that strings together a series of improbable shot after improbable shot. After witnessing a few the blanketed three-point attempts become wholly plausible.

In the lane

If you are looking for a point of comparison Pookie Powell has combo guard skills just like Jeremiah Davis. The one area of skill Powell destroys Davis at is finishing in traffic. Despite his 6'0" height Powell has tremendous touch in the lane and he can finish easily with either hand.

Floaters and runners look effortless for Pookie. Considering how soft and high he lofts the floaters it seems Powell regularly battles much taller opponents.

Powell ineffectively collected two charges in the opening half versus the Cincinnati Lakers.

Passing: 6
HS Pefection: Yogi Ferell, Sherron Collins

It is clear that Powell prefers to run the floor. His best passes come in the open floor. To fully appreciate the expanses of his offensive mind one must watch Powell turn a steal into a fastbreak assist. Few flip their mind from defense to offense faster.

On his AAU team Powell is by far the best player. In tense moments he must shoot, must dominate the ball, and bypass his teammates. Still Powell can rattle off the relevant pass when the game opens up a bit.

A few times Powell injected a backdoor pass to slashing teammate. His AAU squad features two legitimate bigs who tend to eat up the lane so these passes are rare. Powell and his teammates rarely fed the post despite their accomplished teammates residing down low. This doesn't really do anything to suggest he can't capably feed the post. Maybe he can, maybe he can't.

One passing weakness of Powell's is his careless left-handed entreaties. Pookie can meekly dish out a pass from his weak hand from time to time. Passing with one hand is acceptable as long as it has some zip on it. His don't. They look like fresh meat for future defenders to pick off.

Like most high school athletes Powell thrives in the open floor and says he wants to play for a team that runs. Don't they all?

Jumping: 8
HS Perfection: Bill Walker

A good leaper, though not freakish Powell leaps above most peers. In college his lift will be considered just above average in a world of the "hoppiest" humans. A single play in Akron epitomizes the extent of Powell's leaping ability.

Battling Virginia Elite for a spot in the Silver Bracket Finals, Powell deftly spotted an outlet pass coming across the middle. Near midcourt Powell quickly leaped skyward, caught the pass with both hands, and spurted down court.

Unimpeded Powell soared for an easy two-hand jam. Leaping will not be a worry for any suitor. At the same time it will not be the reason he accumulates offers. Shooting makes him special.

Rebounding: 4
HS Perfection: Greg Oden

Powell rarely devotes himself to the glass. The first time he touches the ball is the outlet pass. After every opponent missed shot Powell astutely seeks out the rebounder.

Defense: 3
HS Perfection: D.J. Richardson

Powell looks lazy on defense. Even settled into a 2-3 zone Powell lazily allowed a tepid dribbler to split the top two.

When the ball isn't directly in front of him Powell snoozes, standing upright while appearing completely disinvested. Frankly Powell generally plays defense like he just woke up from a nap. Lethargic, bored.

Powell fouled out in overtime against the Cincinnati Lakers.

His AAU Coach Diana Neal concurs. Her goal is to help him continue to improve at this lagging portion. Defensive inconsistency is the only significant limitation embedded in Powell's game.

There are a lot of problems with his defense and it all starts with his attitude. Surely this can be fixed. Appearing next is the upright defensive posture. It gets deeper but these are easily curable detriments.

Developing a more well-rounded game will get him the highest offers he covets.

NBA Comparison: Mo Williams

Most comparisons give hints at a few shared attributes. This one is dead on. Both Powell and Williams are streaky yet productive. If forced to select one Powell is the more reliable shooter while Williams tends to draw from the well too much.

Both guards are good on the ball and great off. Neither cares about defense. Spot on comparison.

Final word: 30 of 50

Past guard scores
Tommie McCune (WV freshman) - 39
Jeremiah Davis (UC freshman) - 37
D.J. Wingfield (Undecided) - 36
Jermaine Sanders (UC freshman) - 30

Powells' rating took a beating for his vanishing defense and lackluster rebounding. This shortcoming starts and ends with low effort. Once Powell becomes an all-around player he will enter Rivals100.

Powell veers toward the apathetic on occasion. Talents like him need to take over when the situation requires. Previous reports conveyed streaky yet remarkable shooting from Powell. It took about twenty game minutes for Powell to find his rhythm in Akron, but find it he did.

It's the quick first step that vaulted Powell into several top 100 lists. The exceptional shooting touch drives his recruitment.


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