We all believe that High School Freshmen are just wet behind the ears rookies when it comes to playing varsity basketball right?
Or, that if he/she is playing for the varsity team to begin with, they must be something special.
During my travels of checking out local holiday tournaments I had the pleasure of watching a 2017 graduate from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy by the name of De’Aundrae Ballard! Standing between 6’3 and 6’4 this young man proved to me that even the youngest player can have the skills of veteran.
For me as a player growing up, I was always stuck in the post battling the tallest of defenders. This kid however was able to not only bring the ball up the floor, but dribble flawlessly in traffic! Most of his game was played from the back court showing off his nice mid range game, which in addition showed that he’s wasn’t afraid of traffic. That attribute itself led him to the free throw line numerous times as he finished the game on 10-11 from the charity stripe!
Other attributes I saw was his ability to quickly look for passes out of traps and double teams. A big man with good passing skills down the stretch can prove to be a team strong suit for the team going forward.
Defensively I didn’t see a complete show considering the the Warriors [of Southwest Atlanta Christian] were getting beat from the inside. The focus being on Ballard, I noticed he used his length to challenge shooters across the floor. Downside to this is his current level of strength to defend taller players and hold his own from the inside.
I will say he’s currently well built for his age, but definitely has more room grow. He showed he was able to defend the perimeter to some degree but that with time could be dangerous especially with his size and having the chance to shut down multiple positions.
As I almost forgot to mention, he played the entire game I watched, and I do not recall a single second of him sitting on the bench!
Pros: -Good range, can definitely shoot the basketball.
-Willing to assist and sharp with quick passes.
-Plays on both ends of the floor, and great stamina.
-Can get to the rim, and finish with free throws.
Improvements: -Strength to defend the inside against bigger opponents.
-Find post up game and play with back to the basket.
-Take over mentality when team is down and in need of scoring.
De’Aundrae is a definite watch if your passing through the area of Southwest Atlanta Christian! Although he currently is in the hands of a smaller school, I would love to see him play in AAAAAA basketball which is considered the toughest in the state!
Matthew Buggs reporting on behalf of CBS Radio Atlanta and Sportsradio 92.9 The Game.