My first thought behind this article was similar to that of the Brandon Randolph feature. Something to the effect of; “Under the radar West Coast basketball recruit primed to blow up for ’12-’13”. Thanks to Zach LaVine’s Pangos All-American camp showing, that approach went out the door. Zach clearly blew up over the Weekend and may be on the verge of a significant increase in recruitment and attention. Coming out of Bothel High (Bothel, WA) LaVine was not “one to watch” prior to Pangos. A well-respected baller and consistently rated in the 3 to 4-star range, there just was not a lot of kick to the name. His play at the 10th annual Pangos Camp, however, should turn up the heat surrounding the outstanding performance of the ’13 Point Guard.
Ronnie Flores, as submitted to ESPNHS, summed LaVine’s weekend with the following:
The play of guard Zach LaVine of Bothell (Bothell, Wash.) immediately stood out. His controlled athleticism and ball skills made him a difficult defensive assignment. The confidence level of LaVine, ranked No. 97 in the ESPN 100, is through the roof and it helped him gain an edge on other backcourt players in attendance.
“I came here to get my name out (on a national level),” said LaVine, who is uncommitted and has offers from the likes of Washington, Louisville and UCLA. “Coming all the way down from Washington, unless you’re a Tony Wroten, you won’t get that publicity and have a big reputation until people see what you can do. I have the mindset coming in that I think I’m better than everyone else. I feel like I know what I can do.”
Entering Pangos LaVine was a 4-Star by ESPNU and the #97 High school basketball recruit for the ’13 class. Holding offers from Gonzaga, Louisville, UCLA, Washington, and Washington State; it is clear although the word on LaVine had not hit the casual fan, D1 power programs were up to speed. LaVine made his mark as a score-first Point Guard capable of creating his own shot and playing above the rim. As Lavine addressed, there’s room to “get my teammates more involved” and to establish himself as an effective facilitator. At 6’3 and possessing an above average wingspan, LaVine generally is and plays much bigger than, his defender. He is extremely quick off the dribble and consistently appears to find his defender flat-footed. A strong finisher and dangerous in transition LaVine is a creative scorer and makes deft use of a runner/floater in the lane and appears comfortable shooting while in motion. His quick and explosive bounce give LaVine the opportunity to beat opponents to rebounds and finish effectively above the rim.
As mentioned, LaVine is a score-first Point Guard and this mindset is a significant area of opportunity in refining his game. He tends to look for his own shot early in the sot-clock and can go through stretches of forcing difficult/off-balance attempts. As with most young PG’s there a tendency to fall in love with the dribble and this leads to some sloppy Turnover’s. LaVine is working to develop more as a “facilitator”. I prefer to see LaVine matched with a “pass first” PG and freed to grow as a scorer. LaVine certainly carries the ability to a play a true 1. My take is that hampers his natural ability to light up the scoreboard. In style, and slightly in appearance, LaVine reminds me of Arizona-bound Gabe York. York can dish when needed and run an effective Point, but in doing so limits what separates his game from all but the most elite recruits. York, and now LaVine, can score from deep, beat a defender off the dribble, finish through traffic and above the rim, and make frequent trips to the Free Throw line. My preference is to place a player in his most effective position and situation as opposed to forcing any limits on his game.
No doubt LaVine is a next level talent and projects as an impact player regardless to Conference. If he is going to play anything besides the 1, he will need to build his slight frame from the current 165lbs to the 185-190 range. If he remains at the Point, he can most likely land in the 175-180 range. His long arms, quick bounce, and court vision should provide the opportunity to grow into a shutdown defender. He achieves that, and he is a Top 20 type prospect and writes his ticket to any program in the country. Shot-selection can improve, and there’s room to tighten up the dribble, but it should not take long into a LaVine highlight mix to recognize the outstanding talent he brings to the court. Grossly underrated by Rivals as a 3-Star (#140 overall) LaVine appears poised to cement his status as an elite prospect come the ’12-’13 season. I consider LaVine among the top scorers for the class of ’13 and expect more of the same as he and continues on into the college ranks. 3 or 4-Star rating, 5-Star future.