You know the best way to wake up on a Friday morning? To the sounds of your phone alerting you to a text message containing the information that a top ten player in the 2012 recruiting class had committed to Texas basketball. Sick.
Ridley has been skyrocketing up the recruiting charts over the past year to the point that he's now a consensus top 10 player as a pure center. Potential is seemingly unlimited as he only started playing basketball three years ago.
Let's also give credit to Rick Barnes for the roll he's been on in recruiting since the Hamilton/Bradley class.
Player evaluation after the jump.
Cameron Ridley: C, 6'10" 240, Fort Bend Bush
Strengths: His biggest strengths right now are his size and touch around the basket. Ridley is a legit 6'10" and the first big time center commit Texas has had since Chris Mihm. He possesses a gigantic frame which Todd Wright should be able to nicely chisel into a bonafide weapon down low and a huge backside that will be useful for both clearing out space in the lane for rebounds and backing down defenders in the post. Somewhat surprising for such an unrefined player, Ridley displays a solid and soft touch around the basket that Texas big men of recent history have failed to achieve throughout their tenure.
Ridley also has a very good 10-foot, face-up jumper for a guy his size, as well as a strong and surprisingly quick turnaround jumper from in the post. He's developed a little hook shot over his left shoulder that can be his bread and butter move when he gets the ball in position deep in the paint. Above all, he understands he's a big man and has no visions of jacking up threes on the perimeter like fellow 2012 5* center Isaiah Austin.
Weaknesses: The big man has all the potential in the world and it will be up to Barnes, who has shown great improvement himself in getting his big men the ball in favorable position this year, to teach Ridley the nuances of the game since he's only been playing for a few seasons and is woefully inexperienced at this juncture in his career. It's up to Rick to teach him intricacies like hedging high ball screens (something Texas loves to do under Barnes), setting good picks for his teammates to facilitate the motion offense and other sets, and when to go for a block on defense versus when to merely alter a shot with his presence. He'll also need to instill in Ridley the virtue of playing hard and aggressively all the time, whether it be offensively, defensively, or rebounding.
Todd Wright will have to work relentlessly with him to improve his conditioning, ability to run the court, upper body strength, and overall agility on the basketball court. To put it bluntly, Ridley is just not fully comfortable with his body at this point and needs to learn to move in a far more assertive and confident manner when he steps on the hardwood. Wright will also have to improve his vertical athleticism like he did with Gary Johnson, J'Covan Brown, and Jordan Hamilton over the past couple seasons.
Finally, Ridley really needs to simplify his shot. He has an awkward and wasted motion in which he brings the ball over and even behind his head, making his shots easily blockable by shorter defenders from behind. It's better when he doesn't think about it and just shoots the ball, culminating in a much more natural and confident stroke. A hitch in his free throw mechanics will have to be erased or he will never be a solid free throw shooter, so prepare yourselves for more of the same on that front.
Where He Fits in 2012: Ridley has an excellent chance to slide in as the starting center in 2012 because Tristan Thompson will almost surely be gone by then and Jonathan Holmes is the only other big man currently committed to Texas that would be eligible that season. Don't expect a TT like freshman season though, as Ridley is much further behind in his development as a dominant and aggressive player and athlete than Tristan is. I think Texas has a supremely good shot at getting at least a second year out of Ridley right now unless we see substantial improvement from his junior to senior high school seasons.
Player Comparison: Fab Melo