5-Star Corner: Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Photo Credit: 247sports
2021 5-star Patrick Baldwin Jr. is not just an elite prospect, he is a unicorn type talent at the young age of 15. Baldwin is the #1 ranked prospect in Wisconsin, #1 ranked small forward and #2 ranked prospect in the 2021 class by 247 sports. He is rated a 5-star by Rivals and ESPN who both have him as the #1 ranked prospect in the 2021 class. He plays for Hamilton high school in Sussex, Wisconsin and is 6-8 200.

Baldwin can score in many ways and is very creative with the ball in his hands. He has point guard skills with elite ball handling at 6-8 and has a deadly long range shot. He can post you up and dominate you inside and is fun to watch in the open court and as a play-maker, with one of the best basketball IQ’s in the country. Baldwin could be the number one pick in the 2022 NBA draft. I talked with him about the early attention he is getting in his recruitment plus what makes him stand out among the best prospects in the nation for 5-star corner.

LJ: What were your averages last season and in AAU?
Patrick: I think in high school I averaged 17 points, 6 boards and in AAU I averaged somewhere around 15 or 16.

LJ: In high school and AAU what were the stats of your best games?
Patrick: High school playing the number one team in the state at the time I had 37 points and 8 boards. Against NY Renaissance and I had 30 points and I made 8 3 pointers.

LJ: Do you have a dream offer?
Patrick: I used to but not really any more. Every school is an amazing opportunity in its own way.

LJ: Can you talk about your interest in Duke?
Patrick: Yeah, obviously you have a well-established power house in college basketball. There really isn’t anything you don’t like. Great coaches, great fans, good facilities, and great location on the east coast. It’s definitely an honor to be recruited by a school that offers so much as an athlete and a student not to mention the prestigious list of alumni.

LJ: Your hometown school Wisconsin. How did it feel to get that offer? What do you like about the Badgers program?
Patrick: Definitely a huge honor as well, like so many other schools they offer so many things that can benefit me on and off the court. It would be nice to play for the state that I would graduate school from.

LJ: UCLA has been a team that has really recruited well the last couple of classes. What do you think of the Bruins?
Patrick: UCLA is a great school really good guards have come out of that school and it definitely is a school that I will take a closer look at moving forward.

LJ: You are one of the top 10 prospects in high school regardless of class. You have the skills to be drafted number one overall When it’s your time. Have you thought about being a one and done?
Patrick: When the time comes when I have to make the decision I will assess all my strengths and weaknesses and whether or not I will be able to make the jump from college or if it’s beneficial to wait one more year.

LJ: What about your skill set makes you stand out. What would you offer to an NBA team as a ball player and a teammate?
Patrick: Right now my biggest asset might just be my versatility. Smaller guards or undersized forwards will really have a hard time as a mid-high post game is something I really work on. I believe I shoot the ball really well at this stage and I’ve been around basketball for so long with my dad being a D1 head coach that moment never gets too big and I will always try to make the best play possible.

LJ: You worked hard to get to this level and got a lot of room to grow, which is scary. What do you feel you need to work on the most to get to the level you want to be?
Patrick: Really right now my base is very strong so now I’m not pushed off balance like I was in the 8th grade and early freshman year. Improving my mobility, improving first step, and consistently working and perfecting basics like shooting and ball handling.

LJ: Who is your favorite Player in the NBA? Who resembles your game the most in the NBA?
Patrick: I believe that I am a product of many players. My two favorite players to watch right now and that I share some similarities with are Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum. Both of those guys are effective off the dribble, can play off the ball and on the ball sometimes. Overall they are just fun to watch.

LJ: You’re intelligent and understand the game at such a young age. Who gets the most credit for your knowledge of the game?
Patrick: Definitely my father. Just growing up and going to work every day with him when he was an assistant coach has really helped me a lot to grow mentally. Just being around high levels of basketball just provides me with a great understanding for basketball.

LJ: Do you have any upcoming visits?
Patrick: None yet

LJ: What’s the strength of your skill set that helps you make the most impact?
Patrick: Really my shooting and ability to create the best shot for my self is really what makes me most impactful. Whether that’s a quick lay up at the beginning to get going or great movement that allows me to drive a close-out or shoot over the top is really important. It’s really difficult to take a man 1 on 5 and score; I always try to find the best shot.

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5-Star Corner: DJ Carton

DJ Carton is a warrior on the court. He has a complete offensive game that has a combination of strong, physical and smooth play. He is a 5-star point guard who committed to Ohio State in July. He's got the personality and confidence to be a potential face of the Buckeye program.

Carton is 6-1, 190 with a 6-6 wingspan and plays for Bettendorf high school in Bettendorf, Iowa. Carton is ranked a 5-star player by Rivals, ESPN and 247 sports and they all are correct; this dude is the real deal. He is ranked the #1 prospect in Iowa, #2 point guard in the nation, and #24 ranked prospect in the 2019 class by 247 sports. Carton was also ranked #27 by rivals and #24 by ESPN; I had a talk with him about his commitment for 5-star Corner.

LJ: What made you commit to Ohio State?
DJ: The coaching staff and how comfortable I am with this group of guys. They are all my brothers already and I haven’t even played with them yet it just goes deeper than basketball and that’s special to me.

LJ: What makes you a 5-star player?
DJ: What makes me a 5-star player is my feel for the game. I think I have a great IQ for the game and I make others around me better with that on top of my athleticism and now that I have a consistent jumper to fall back on I feel that’s what makes me 5-star caliber player.

LJ: Have you gained a relationship with the recent 2018 Ohio state commits and 2019 commit Alonzo Gaffney?
DJ: Yeah all the 2018 commits I’ve been really close with and with Lonzo I’ve talked to him a lot as well, definitely going to be a brother of mine for a long time, he’s got the same mentality as me and we just click together. I also think we have a good chance of picking one more of my brothers up. I think it has to do a lot with coaches.

LJ: What do you like about Coach Holtman?
DJ: Coach Holtman is creating a great culture that people want to be a part of. He is a special coach who cares for his players.

LJ: What do Ohio State coaches like about you? What have they said about your future with the program?
DJ: They think that I am a national type prospect and that I have a chance to be a great college basketball player. They think I have a good future in store and that I can play the game of basketball for many years.

LJ: What will the country see from you this upcoming high school season?
DJ: They will see a much different player from this summer. I have gotten stronger and become a much better shooter I believe they will see a player who will put up good numbers all-around with a Russell Westbrook type play style.

LJ: What has improved about your game the most?
DJ Most definitely my shooting has improved the most. I have been working on it a lot and just doing different combo moves into a jumper have gained much progress.

5-Star Corner: Charles O'Bannon Jr

Charles O’Bannon Jr. is an elite shooting guard from the 2017 class. He is 6-6, 210 explosive scorer who is poised for a break out year with the USC Trojans. He is also the son of former NBA player Charles O’ Bannon and nephew of former NBA player and UCLA Bruin legend Ed O’Bannon. He was the 2nd ranked prospect out of Nevada, 10th ranked shooting guard, and 45th ranked prospect in the nation by 247 sports for the class of 2017. O’Bannon Jr. was also ranked 43rd in the nation by rivals and 30th in the nation by ESPN for the 2017 basketball class he received a high 4-star rating by 247 and rivals and a 5-star rating by ESPN.

LJ: What would you bring to an NBA team?
Charles: My style the way that I play. I feel I have like a more natural shooting touch than guys at my position.

LJ: How do you describe your playing style?
Charles: I rangy slasher, scorer, shooter

LJ: What are the coaches saying about your role for USC this year?
Charles: They want me to play my game. One thing I’m starting to take a lot more pride in is defense. I wasn’t really a big fan of it at first but I am starting to have fun now.

LJ: What has your father Charles O’Bannon and your Uncle Ed O’Bannon taught you about the game?
Charles: One thing my dad put me on is the bank shot I feel like that helped me out a lot because when shooting isn’t going right you can always rely on that backboard. He also taught me the jab step, I’m not really the fastest of the guys but I tend to find my way to get around.

LJ: Ed was one of the best players in college basketball when he played. What lessons has he taught you in preparing for the next level?
Charles: Me and Uncle Ed have never really been in the gym like that before. Every time I was in the gym with him were playing horse. It wasn’t never really like a learning thing it would be like right before practice or something like that.

LJ: You clearly have the talent but being prepared mentally means longevity in the NBA. What about your character will NBA teams like about you?
Charles: I’m energetic and always involved. I like to interact with people I am a real people person.

LJ: If you could pick an NBA team who would you play for?
Charles: Any team that would be right for my fit and playing style but if I had to make a pick the Clippers wouldn’t be a bad fit.

LJ: What player have you grown close with on USC?
Charles: All my teammates. We aren’t really a team that divides.

LJ: When did you start playing basketball? When did you know basketball is what you wanted to do?
Charles: When I started playing basketball I was about 5. I never really wanted to play basketball I wanted to play football because I used to watch my mom’s littler brother playing football growing up. I would play basketball just to play it because I was around it. In the 7th grade I started to notice that I could do this and my AAU coaches started telling me if I take this serious I could do something with basketball.

LJ: What made you commit to USC?
Charles: Most the schools were going to offer the same things when it came to basketball. So it was about what a school could offer my future after basketball.

LJ: What stands out about you as a basketball player?
Charles: My charisma and I feel I’m able to do multiple things on the court to impact my team.

LJ: What has improved the most about your game?
Charles: Ball handling, I’m starting to get extreme with this ball in my hands.

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5-Star Corner: Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero is one of the elite prospects in the 2021 class. He is a 6-8 220 5-star power forward who plays for O Dea high school in Seattle, Washington. He has an aggressive style of play and is almost unstoppable in transition. He is the top prospect in Washington, the 2nd ranked power forward, 5th ranked prospect in 2021 by 247 sports. I had a conversation with him for the 5-star corner on NBA Draft Room's Prospect Room.

LJ: How does it feel to be a 5-star?
Paolo: It’s a good feeling just because I remember looking at ESPN/247 rankings when I was younger and thinking how I wanted that to be me.

LJ: What do you feel you have to improve on to be the best?
Paolo: I’d say having a consistent 3pt shot.

LJ: What about your game has improved that will be seen this season?
Paolo: My ball handling definitely.

LJ: What were the stats of your best game during the AAU season?
Paolo: 29 points and 9 rebounds at session 3.

LJ: What teams have shown strong interest this early in your recruitment?
Paolo: Washington, Gonzaga, and Oklahoma I’d say have shown the strongest so far.

LJ: Which team is showing the strongest interest?
Paolo: I don’t think there’s been a school that has really separated themselves.

LJ: What visits are you taking soon?
Paolo: I’m just taking these next 11 weeks to get ready for the season.