LAHAINA, Hawaii--Several NBA teams sent their scouts to watch the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, and I sat right next to them through the tournament.
They all knew and joked around with each other because as one scout mentioned, they’re not trying to recruit the same guys like college recruits. Who they get depends on a number. So they’re all friendly.
In a way, they’re just like fans. They got excited and turned to each other with big smiles when Chase Fischer was hot from behind the arc versus Chaminade.
"Just give '1' the ball!" one scout laughed to another, referring to Fischer’s number.
Every time there was a questionable call (and there were plenty), one scout kept yelling to the others, "These have got to be WCC refs!" and something along the lines of, "WCC refs are awful!"
But they obviously knew the game. One scout, after a Winder baseline drive to the basket, turned to the other saying about a Purdue player, "You’re the first line of defense. Why would you do that?" discussing the defensive breakdown.
When scouts come to tournaments like the Maui Invitational, they watch all the players, but certain ones quickly stand out. A few scouts were definitely watching Kyle Collinsworth, furtively typing or scribbling in their notebooks whenever he did something, such as hitting a big three pointer or missing a free throw.
One scout explained to me how quickness is extremely important in the NBA. During one loose ball where Purdue came away with it, he turned to me and smiled, "See how they came up with it? That’s quickness."
I pointed out that Collinsworth had the most rebounds. Did that show quickness?
"He’d be a point guard. You don’t want your point guard going after rebounds."
We chatted quickness, body types, and a few other topics.
On a Tyler Haws jumper I turned and said, "He’s got a great jumper."
"Yeah, his step back jumper and his fadeaway," the scout replied. He paused. "He wouldn’t make that shot in the NBA."
"He’d be playing against bigger guys who could guard his shot. And they’d be quicker too."
One scout said if Haws had Collinsworth’s body type, and Collinsworth had Haws’ shooting ability, they’d both be able to make it to the next level. Or, alternatively, if Haws played point guard, he’d have a better chance.
"But he’s not quick enough." The scout did compliment Haws, saying he's "a great college basketball player."
Naturally, I asked one scout what he thought about Jimmer Fredette.
He was stunned when I reminded him that Fredette was drafted in the first round. He didn’t believe me. When I told him he was drafted 10th overall, he said, "A waste of a pick."
Of all the players on the floor during the BYU-Purdue matchup, a scout said Purdue’s Isaac Haas, the 7’2" freshman, had the best shot at the NBA.
One scout was flying red eye to catch another tournament, and suspected the other scouts would do the same. Such is the life of a scout.