Pro - Am 7/1 #Oviehyping

By Steve DiMiceli

One team of Dukes (The Lair) was in action this evening at the Greentree Sport Complex. I got my first impression of LG Gill and Desmond Ridenour and my first look at the 2013-14 version of Jeremiah Jones and Ovie Soko.

To give you an idea of how I approach these player evaluations, here is what I look for when I'm watching the summer league. Defense and passing are sparse so you can't really get a true picture of a players game. That doesn't mean we can't learn anything.

The Dukes came out blazing this evening and dominated the first fifteen minutes of the eight o'clock game. They played a big team that included a pair of Pitt freshmen Josh Newkirk and Jamel Artis along with Robert Morris forwards Lucky Jones and Mike McFadden.  Jeremiah Jones took control early with a hoop and made foul shot followed by a pair of threes. He finished the first half with 14. As others have pointed out, he appears to have put on a good deal of muscle. He played a more mature game compared to what we saw from him last summer He was sharing the ball better and while he did force a few plays, I thought his shot selection, passing and overall decision making were improved. After cooling off in the second half, Jeremiah finished with 19, but added more rebounds and assists.

Surprisingly, I was most excited to see Desmond Ridenour of any of the Duquesne freshman. While he didn't come with the hype of Isaiah Watkins or Jordan Robinson, I wasn't able to see any of his high school game film so there was a certain level of mystery. Ridenour has point guard skills and seemed to see the floor well. He took his shots but I felt like he laid it off to a teammate as often. He looked extremely calm handling the ball considering how fast he was moving. From what I could see, he is an excellent all around athlete. The numbers won't suggest it, but I thought Ridenour created well for himself and others. In general his finishing tonight was poor, but he created some makeable shots. It's difficult to tell at summer league, but I suspect he will be a pretty strong defender.

After LG Gill made two first half threes, I made a note during the break saying he didn't challenge much inside the arc. Naturally, his only two baskets of the second half came in the post. He was very active at both ends and really kept after play. He did well fighting for loose balls finding one late for an easy inside stuff. In general, his hands were strong and I thought he did a nice job rebounding. He finished with a double - double. He didn't put the ball on the floor often, so I would imagine its a part of his game that needs work. He looked like a capable passer, but I wouldn't describe him as a play maker yet. If that part of his game develops, I can understand why Jim Ferry thinks his ceiling is high. He has good size and reports of him being taller than 6'6'' seem true.

Last but certainly not least, Ovie Soko. In the first half, the Pitt fans sitting near me were gushing about him. I moved for the second half and a new set heaped on the praise as well. I can't blame them for liking what they saw. He dropped 30 point, and grabbed 11 boards. Ovie took a lot of shots to get to 33. Some were more forced than others, but he rarely lacked for traffic around him. On a few occasions, he muscled the ball in through multiple sets of arms. He made a few jumpers with a nice looking shot and I don't think anyone ought to cringe when he decides to shoot a three. The most impressive part about Soko for me is his willingness to create for his teammates off the dribble and in transition. His vision and ability to move the ball up court quickly will be a huge boast to Ferry's system. All in all, I thought he was the best player in the game and save for Lamar Patterson in the first game, he was the best player I saw all night.

In the end, the Lair won 100-92 to get to 2-0.