Impressions of Faust, Breunig at all-star game
At the inaugural NeXt All-American Classic last weekend, one future Maryland basketball player excelled against some of the country's top players, while another received an eye-opening introduction to high-major-caliber competition.
Clay Dade, the executive director and founder of the Chicago-based all-star game, closely observed City shooting guard Nick Faust and St. John's Northwestern (Wis.) Military Academy forward Martin Breunig in the days leading up to Sunday’s main event. Dade, a Washington native and former Winthrop and Wake Forest point guard, really liked what he saw out of Faust. For Breunig, the game proved to be more of a learning experience.
Faust scored 19 points, living up to his reputation as a “really bouncy player who can score.” Dade said Faust was “extremely aggressive” offensively and showed an uncanny knack for finding the open man. While Faust had a somewhat up-and-down year with City this winter, he was supremely confident in this all-star setting.
“He’s respectful, coachable, and he’s the typical tough, Baltimore kid,” Dade said. “Kids from Baltimore have great toughness and competitiveness. He’s everything like that. But he’s a big-time shooter. He hit a dagger 3 when they really didn’t need it. He pulls up from about 24 feet out and decides he’s going to pull the 3 just across half court. Everyone was like, ‘What is he doing?’ But that just speaks to his confidence. He’s super confident.
"He’s long, he’s rangy [and] he’s fast. I was surprised by his speed. He’s faster than a lot of 6-6 guys you see. He can get up and down the floor. He was scoring in a variety of ways – run outs, dunks, shooting. He’s great off the bounce. He’s just got a really impressive skill set and talent. He really competes.”
Dade said Faust reminds him of UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb -- a 6-foot-5, 185-pound wing who averaged 11.1 points and 4.5 rebounds for the national-champion Huskies. Dade thinks Faust might have a little more range than Lamb, who shot 36.8 percent from beyond the arc this season. In Dade’s opinion, Faust -- a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection -- should be able to “play right away in the ACC.’
“With Gary Williams’ style and philosophy, he’ll respond well to that. He’s tough enough mentally to take Gary’s coaching,” Dade said. “Obviously, he’s not as strong in his upper body as he needs to be. But neither was Jeremy and he’s done pretty well. Nick’s actually got a stronger lower body than I thought. He has thick hips, legs and is really sturdy. He’s explosive, much more than I thought he was. He attacks the basket. He’s ready for the ACC. He should get major minutes. He should start. I don’t see why he shouldn’t start. He’s a top 35 kid in the country. He should contribute right away, just like Jeremy Lamb.”
Breunig, however, was a different story. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward scored six points, but appeared “a little shell-shocked” against top-level competition. Dade thought Breunig demonstrated why he was a highly sought recruit for Maryland, but conceded that the future Terp seemed overmatched on Sunday.
“You can tell he has talent,” Dade said. “He has a great skill set, can put it on the floor, is very fundamentally sound. I thought he was almost too fundamental. He had some nice moments in our scrimmage. He didn’t do a whole lot in the game. … He’s really strong. He’s got a good, sturdy frame. But he has to work harder at getting his shot. He couldn’t get his shot off. When he’s wide open, he wouldn’t take it directly to the basket. Against elite athletes, you’ve got to shoot it when you’re open.”
Dade wondered later if Breunig just wasn’t used to playing in an all-star setting. An unselfish big man known for his passing, athleticism and shooting, Breunig has been more comfortable playing in a clearly defined system. He’ll get that chance in College Park this fall. Dade thinks he’ll fare better in “a team situation like [he’s excelled at] in Europe.”
“I know he has a nice skill set that fits Maryland’s program,” Dade said. “He has the size and ability to score along the baseline, which Gary Williams likes. And he can face up and stretch the defense. His shot’s a little flat and he’s indecisive a lot when he’s on the perimeter. He needs to catch and shoot. He wants to catch and put the ball down and drive. So I see Faust contributing right away. I don’t know about Breunig.”