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April 6, 2011

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.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:13 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Comments

Nice post Matt.

This is pretty much what most people expected. Faust is the real deal while Bruenig remains an intriguing prospect. I bet most scouts were saying the same thing about Hawk before he arrived in CP. I don't expect Breunig to start or be as ready as Hawk was -- but I do think he could be a very valuable player his last 2 years. It actually helps us that he may not be ready right away. We have too many players who are starter caliber who are returning and coming in. Heck, with Gibbs, we might have 3 legitimate PG's and with Faust we might have 2 legitimate wings in Parker and Faust.

And while the article did touch on the subject, everyone should be reminded that these All-Star games are basically 1 x 1 games with no gameplan. I can show you a lot of 6'9 players that can't create on their own -- but are very good players. I might be comparing apples to oranges but Jordan Williams anyone? He's not a 1x1 player, and I think he's doing just fine.

I'm glad to see this inside scoop from a presumably unbiased source, since the game wasn't televised. Thanks for posting.

@ Phil, I generally agree with you but I would argue that Palsson was even less impressive than Breunig in the all-star game context last year (against slightly lesser competition too). The vast majority of European players simply are not going to shine in this setting. I still believe that Breunig will contribute at least as much right away as Palsson did this season -- and probably more given the uncertainty of our frontcourt situation. He probably won't come in and be an impact guy but will contribute across the board. I think the biggest question with him will be how well he adjusts to defending and rebounding against bigger, more physical players in the ACC. Offensively, I'm pretty sure he'll be fine.

Either way, this will have been a good experience for him. And it's hard not to be excited about Faust, if he can perform comparably to Jeremy Lamb as a freshman (I like that comparison more and more).

missed the game.
is it on in-demand? was really looking forward to breunig and faust. the unbiased commentary is pretty cool. the terps probably now have the deepest backcourt in their history: stoglin, howard, gibbs, parker, faust... and oh yeah mosely. too much talent there.
is faust really a full 6' 6"? i'm surprised the nba isn't sniffing for him already.

Space: The game wasn't televised as originally planned. I haven't seen any highlights of the game yet. -- Matt

Hey Matt,

Do you think Gary might have an interest in Jordan Latham considering we are thin on true low poet players and he was a HS teammate of Nick Faust's?

Jon: Hard to say. GW didn't recruit him too much coming out of high school, but Bino was the point guy in his recruitment at Xavier. I'd guess it's unlikely, but you never know. -- Matt

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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