A couple weeks back, I went to the Under Armour Association Championships in Atlanta to watch some of the nation's top high school talent square off against each other, and mostly to evaluate USF 2016 commit Troy Baxter in person.
Baxter's a tall, lanky wing and a remarkable athlete, with fantastic speed for his size and an ability to play above the rim. He's got adequate ball handling and shooting skills, which allow him to play outside, but he excels in the paint. He finishes well, and really excels on defense, where his 6'8"+ frame allows him to be a dominant rim protector at the high school level. It's still a little unclear how he's going to translate to the college game-- he's got the skill set for a stretch four, but he needs to bulk up (he's under 200 pounds right now) to hold his ground in the paint against bigger forwards. I imagine that Orlando Antigua envisions Baxter playing the four alongside a big like Ruben Guerrero or Chris Perry, with the ability to pop out and attack from beyond the perimeter. If Baxter puts on some weight-- very doable-- and improves his already-pretty-decent outside shot-- he's getting there-- the Bulls could have a defensive stalwart and a regular double-double candidate. At the very least, he projects as a solid glue guy.
To his credit, he was the best player on the floor for his UAA team (Team Breakdown, which featured a handful of other D-I recruits), and really impressed the coaches and media there. Baxter's listed as a Top-150 recruit in the Class of 2016, and his stock is rising.
One of the big surprises in Atlanta the past two days? USF commit Troy Baxter. 6-8 PF is long, active, and can finish around rim. #UAAFinals— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) July 16, 2015
Troy Baxter, instant glue, utility forward for Usf. Great get for Coach O. Major athlete with developing faceup jumper. Giant ceiling— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) July 23, 2015
Troy Baxter Jr is a Very Athletic Big Man,6ft-10in,who has committed to USF.He can really run & he loves to shoot 3s.He has great potential.— Pete Gillen (@Gillenhoops) July 12, 2015
Baxter played three games in Atlanta and put up great numbers, averaging 15 points per game while shooting 57% from the field (including 36% from behind the arc) and adding 5.7 rebounds per contest. I spoke with Troy after the game, asking him about his performance and the strength of his commitment. Here's a clip:
V5: First off, you got a couple of good wins today. How do you think you and your team played?
Baxter: I think we did really good. You know, all it came to was defense at the end of the day.
V5: I know you're a recent USF commit, so congratulations there. You 100% on that?
Baxter: Yeah, 100%.
V5: What about that program drew you in? What was it?
Baxter: The experience of the coaching staff. I just have a really good relationship with Coach Orlando, and that's what happened.
It's far too early to consider any commit a lock, but this is good news for the Bulls. Antigua was on hand as well, and came away impressed by Troy's performance,
Here's a brief clip of Baxter from the weekend, to judge for yourself. The threes didn't fall for Troy in this half, but you can see he's got a good stroke and an ability to take guys one-on-one off the dribble, both of which are atypical for a guy his height. He's most electrifying, though, when he's playing near the rim-- that dunk at the beginning was one of many he threw down throughout the day.