Naheem McLeod 7’2” Plymouth-Whitemarsh HS (PYO) – The old adage of you can’t coach height I’ve found very amusing over the years as it’s clear that big guys need coaching much more in todays game than ever before. For McLeod he has some of that old school back to the basket Center game in him but he can also run the floor quite well and from time to time knock down a 3 ball to show you he’s in tune with the modern game. He has an engaging personality and is talkative on the court even getting in a little trash talk as he is starting to expand his game and trust me when I say this but people and opponents have definitely noticed. At the HS level of course big guys get beat on unmercifully and officials sometimes look the other way in a he’s 7 feet tall I’m gonna give the little guy a break kind of way. For McLeod on the plus side he’s starting to develop a bit of a mean streak and he’s letting opponents know that he’s not going to take this stuff anymore. He has huge hands and catches everything thrown to him in the post. His footwork is rapidly improving and he goes up strong and with authority to powerfully slam the ball home. His short bank shots and little pull ups have become a real weapon for him and of course there’s that occasional trey that he hits that drives opposing coaches crazy. His so called weak hand is also becoming a force to be reckoned with as he is attempting short layups going left and banging them in. he also possesses a very good basketball IQ knowing when to draw double teams then throwing the kick out pass to an open shooter or from the high post getting the dime with a sweet diagonal pass past a startled opponent. Being 7’2” also helps as a rebounder but Naheem has really good instincts for where a miss comes off the rim and he just goes up with those mitts and corrals everything in his area. Once he gets the errant shot he is an excellent outlet passer finding guys in stride in their transition game. Two years ago it was thought that McLeod would stuggle to be an offensive weapon as he had trouble finishing even the simplest of lay ups but defensively was where he would earn a scholarship which speaks volumes about his dedication and work ethic to raise the level of his offensive game to match what he does from a defensive standpoint. He’s no longer a straight up and down player but a kid who will use his body and stand his ground to get a stop. If his man drifts outside he can close out and defend him on the perimeter and while he may not be super quick laterally he can make up for it with those huge strides to get back into a position to make a play and yeah I almost forgot this young man can block shots with authority.
Of course he has some deficiencies such as dribbling the ball in the open floor which is quite an adventure if he has to put the ball on the deck for more than 3 dribbles. Shooting the ball from the perimeter is another area where he needs to improve and as I mentioned earlier he can knock down an occasional outside jumper but his form and rhythm from beyond 15 feet simply needs work. He also gets frustrated easily when things aren’t going well on the court for him or his teammates can’t or won’t get him the rock. I’ve noticed that frustration happens more in Grassroots ball as opposed to his HS team but that’s just an observation. His recruitment at the moment is mostly local as LaSalle, Temple and Villanova have all been in to evaluate him but word is starting to get out about him and recently UNLV got involved. For McLeod who doesn’t run with a shoe company team the key to increased exposure will be to stand out in his events this spring and summer and hope that word on him will spread since lets face it when do 7 foot kids go totally unnoticed when it comes to major college hoops.