Cypress Lakes point guard De'Aaron Fox is Houston's best high school basketball player. The moniker automatically comes with a path both promising and murky. The 6' 3" McDonald's All-American has already committed to the University of Kentucky putting him under the tutelage of coach John Calipari and on the front row of the NBA carousel.
Just two years ago Miami Heat SG/SF Justise Winslow stalked Houston high school games for St. John's, as the nation's 15th best recruit, on his way to a very promising NBA future. Winslow joins a Houston-area fraternity in the NBA which includes DeAndre Jordan, Jimmy Butler, Ben McLemore, Gerald Green, Kelly Oubre (a higher ranked 2014 recruit than Winslow) and even Kendrick Perkins.
But the future is never clear. Fox could suffer an injury or not give a damn about school and render himself ineligible. Nothing is set in stone for prospects of his caliber.
If you're Fox you should know the names Ndudi Ebi and Latavious Williams better than you know Rashard Lewis and DeAndre Jordan. Ebi was a Houston-area first round draft pick straight out of high school who currently plays in Italy during his ninth season of professional overseas ball. Latavious Williams went straight from Humble to the D-League. A second round draft pick he never played a second of NBA basketball and currently plays in Russia.
On Tuesday night Fox dropped 22 points at the Berry Center in Cypress pushing his high school squad to 14 - 6 on the year. The Cypress Lakes vs. Langham Creek match up didn't present much of a challenge for Fox, who was the tallest and fastest player on the court at most times.
Nevertheless, The Dream Shake was in the house. Is Fox the next Rashard Lewis or the next Latavious Williams? We got some video. And here's our take on Houston's best high school basketball player.
De'Aaron Fox, The Positive:
Fox is clearly the best player on the court, but he's not out to prove it. It was abundantly clear he could have scored 50 points, as he has in the past for Cypress Lakes. Or the 40 he scored at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. Instead, Fox was focused on letting scoring opportunities come to him, running his team's offense and finding easy and efficient baskets for himself or his teammates.
The McDonald's All-American scored 22 points on 9 - 14 shooting, only two of which were errant shot attempts. Fox laid the foundation for a triple double with 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals despite sitting with 5 minutes to go in a game divided into four eight minute quarters (h/t for rebound and steal stats).
There's a ton of raw athletic talent in Fox's slender frame. His speed is enough to traverse the court with a dribble in seconds and his dexterity allows him to move through defenders with relative ease:
The young guard has exceptional court vision. Either his passing or his teammates need to catch up with his ability to see and attempt to exploit openings. In the fourth quarter alone Fox hitting a streaking teammate in the lane, tossed a perfect full court outlet pass after a steal and tossed this alley-oop:
The compliment of players surrounding Fox are not on his level, but this meant nothing to the promising player who continued to pass to every open shooter and cutter. When he arrives at Kentucky he'll find a regiment of shooters and big mean ready to receive his passes.
On defense Fox showed quick hands which commonly disrupted passes and drives. His speed and length are his best defensive assets and created difficulty for all of his opponents. Most importantly Fox displayed great defensive leadership talking, pointing out proper positioning and moving over to provide help defense all game.
De'Aaron Fox, The Negative:
The biggest challenge for Fox will likely be adjusting to larger games. On Tuesday night he was the tallest player on the court which allowed him to secure rebounds and a few put backs he won't have access to in the college or pro game.
In college he won't be asked to go down low on another loaded Kentucky team, but his current size won't let him if that's requested. His extremely slender frame allowed him to twist and turn through the defense, but isn't prepared to tussle with much larger bodies. In the age of high school draft picks Fox would be a multi-year product requiring a stout gym regiment to match up with NBA point guards. By all means he'll get there if committed to it, but he's not there yet.
His court vision was impressive, but as mentioned previously either his passing or his teammates haven't caught up with his vision. This disparity led to a number of careless and sloppy turnovers, most of which were preventable. The positive is that his turnovers were predominately a product of his attempts to support his teammates and find easy baskets, not a product of isolation offense and an attempt to score 50 points.
Fox also bricked some free throws, which can't go without being mentioned.
De'Aaron Fox rises for a missed reverse dunk from an alley-oop pass.
De'Aaron Fox, Projections:
Obviously the only word that matters right now is coach John Calipari's and he's already signed Fox, who is projected to replace potential lottery pick Jamal Murray at Kentucky.
Fox is ranked seventh in ESPN's top 100 recruits and has been widely touted as the nation's top point guard prospect. Draft Express has Fox going at number 4 in the 2017 NBA draft and NBADraft.net projects Fox at 10th.
Only time will tell.
Shout out to Hung Nguyen, a lifelong friend, who accompanied me to the game and provided an independent "scouting report." After energy trading closed, of course.