Fall 2020 Scouting Report
Scottie Barnes is one of the most versatile players in the 2020 high school class. He can play multiple positions on both ends of the floor. Length, playmaking and competitive intensity are his major strengths as a prospect while his shooting touch and shot mechanics are two of the areas where he is most in need of improvement.
In a class with several great passers, Barnes stands out as arguably the best. He can make a variety of deliveries to teammates from all over the floor and has an impressive instinctual understanding of reads for any given situation. His floor vision, the ability to recognize defensive positioning, and anticipate the movement of his teammates is elite for a high school player of any position. Some of the passes he makes are so advanced to even surprise his teammates because the angles he sees are angles that most other players are unable to quickly recognize. Barnes understands where double teams are coming from and can throw skip passes or quick shuffle passes to cutters directly off the dribble.
This ability to see multiple plays ahead and put others in a position to score allows Barnes to bring enormous positive value to his team’s offensive efficiency. He can set up players for easy opportunities in situations that few others are capable of executing. He is capable of making long distance outlet passes as well as finding shooters and cutters out of short roll situations and around the elbows. He finds open teammates from the post and is capable of running the offense after bringing the ball up from the point guard position.
There are so few players with Barnes’ size and age that can find open teammates while simultaneously attacking. Barnes does not display tunnel vision on his drives to the rim and adjusts on the fly as a playmaker when he sees defenders rotate over. He is capable of quickly moving the ball around and often knows the pass he wants to make before he even catches the ball allowing him to execute quick touch passes to cutters from the middle of a zone.
He helped Montverde’s ball movement tremendously. Despite having a team full of star individual players, they played extremely unselfishly, kept the ball moving and did not allow it to stick in any one player’s hands too long. Barnes’ passing had significant importance to their success last season.
With a standing reach of over nine feet and one of the top arm length to height ratios in his class, Barnes utilizes his length in a variety of ways. He is an effective post player who can go over the top of smaller defenders. He works hard on the glass and gets many extra opportunities and putback attempts for his team. He is also a capable finisher, especially in transition and can quickly get the ball to the rim when he is in the paint with his excellent reach. His long legs allow him to eat up space in transition as he quickly covers long distances and beats opponents down the floor.
Barnes has solid quickness and leaping ability. He gets low to the ground when attacking on drives and is a relatively skilled ball handler with an effective spin move and counter half spin that allows him to create scoring opportunities from the middle of the court. His feel for the game allows him to discern when defenders are overplaying him to one side and spin away to open space to create separation and finish.
When he is not able to get to the basket, he will go to a one handed runner or a fading jumper – both are shots that allow him to display his shooting touch and to utilize his length to get attempts up over the defense. At Montverde, he played a fair amount of center which many NBA scouts found appealing for the modern NBA. He was aggressive and physical in the post and as a senior he faded away less than he did in the past, instead going over the top of defenders and seeking out contact.
Barnes has an excellent frame and should have no problem adding muscle and weight as he gets older without sacrificing his mobility and quickness. He can be a mismatch for smaller defenders inside and for slower defenders on the perimeter. At his size, he is arguably the best passing prospect since fellow Montverde alumnus Ben Simmons.
With his excellent length, Barnes can defend all around the floor. He played the center position for Montverde when Day’ron Sharpe was not on the floor and did a good job acting as the rim protector and interior anchor of their defense. He is an active, energetic and highly competitive player who uses his length to get to 50-50 balls and control the glass.
Barnes also shows the agility and quickness to stick with smaller guards and wings. He always took on the most challenging individual defensive matchups throughout his high school career and did an excellent job defending many of the top scorers and shot creators in his age group. Barnes uses his length to quickly close space and take away any separation that an opponent can create. He is quick shooting into gaps to shrink the floor on the defensive end. His motor and physicality allow him to stay on top of opponents and force them into difficult, contested shots. He also uses his reach to get on-ball blocks, strips and deflections.
While in AAU his off-ball play was more reserved, Barnes at Montverde was constantly in opposing passing lanes forcing turnovers and creating easy transition opportunities for his team. Florida State is a great on-court fit for Barnes’ defensive development with their ultra-aggressive defense scheme. Their approach should allow Barnes to maximize his activity and motor while at the same time allowing him to make quick, heady decisions. This will help develop his defensive instincts and recognition. Many young players struggle with the speed of the professional game mentally. However, Florida State players seem to adjust better than most on the defensive end.
Areas of improvement
While Barnes’ versatility allows him to be a valuable player in a variety of on-court situations, he still has lots of areas in his game that can use more development as is typical for a player so early in his career. Barnes’ excellent length and mobility allows him to play above his height but he is not an elite vertical athlete. With more NBA teams going small, playing as a small ball center can be an option for Barnes in the future but he is not yet a consistent above the rim presence at either end of the floor by NBA big man standards. Barnes tends to play a bit flat footed and requires load time or momentum to get his feet off the floor.
Not only does this apply to his leaping, but it also applies to his horizontal movements such as drives and defensive slides. After a quick change of direction, crossover or behind the back dribble, it takes Barnes a moment to realign his body and begin the lunge forward. In the meantime, as a player who plays the point guard position, his ball handling is also inconsistent and at times he lacks control of the ball. His left hand dribbling in particular, needs to be tightened up.
Finally, the biggest piece to Barnes’ future success will be his ability to hit jump shots. He does not need to be an elite shot maker to become a valuable player but the more effective he gets as a shooter, the higher his upside as a player becomes. He has improved on his mechanics throughout his high school career but he still needs to work out his rhythm and touch. Barnes’ lower, mid and upper body need to better work together to create one fluid motion on his shot.
On many of his attempts it seems as if the jump in the air, his elbow and his wrist are all acting in conflict with one another. At the end of the release, it looks as if it is only his wrist doing the majority of the work to get the ball into the hoop. Working out the timing of the shot is important to utilize the pre-shot footwork, knee bend and elbow into the shot for further control, accuracy and power. Some scouts compliment his ability to get low and use long strides to mirror opponents defensively and eat space in the open floor with just a few large steps. However, on jump shot attempts he often shows a degree of awkwardness and rigidity. Several players worked through this complication in the past using basketball based yoga training and other methods to attain better flexibility.
Barnes’ feel for the game, competitive nature and instincts make him one of the more versatile and unique prospects over the past several years. However, his ability to shoot the ball is a major question mark that hurts his upside in the eyes of scouts due to today’s league being so defined by perimeter scoring. His ability to overcome this setback, whether through development as a shooter or otherwise, will determine his eventual draft stock and success as a professional. With the proper hard work and guidance, Barnes has the potential to hear his name called early on draft-night and be a do-it-all star in the NBA for many years to come.