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X's and O's: St. John's Prep's Steve Haladyna

Steve Haladyna is a likely ESPN Boston All-State selection for two reasons: he is tough and he is smart. He scores nearly all of his points off of hustle plays and sheer toughness. And that is not a knock on Haladyna. He’s still a talented player. Shoot, he even dropped 25 points last year on Anthony Davis, who is now projected to be a top-5 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Here is a breakdown of how Haladyna gives opposing coaches fits:

Smarts

There was one play last week against Bishop Guertin that Haladyna showed his smarts off. On one possession, Prep coach Sean Connolly called for a Haladyna isolation. On this play, he took his defender off of the dribble and scored.

As you can see, Haladyna holds the ball at half court waiting for the defender to come to him. While at half court, Haladyna draws the defender so close that he sees an opportunity to spin off of him and take the ball to the hoop. En route to the hoop, Haladyna sees his first defender and pulls off a cross over. This draws the third and fourth defenders. Once he gets to the top of the paint, Haladyna chooses to pull up for a runner that goes in and he gets fouled while in the process. If you pause the video when Haladyna reaches the free throw line, you can see that he had many options too. He could have kept going in and drawn a foul or he could have kicked out to numerous open shooters. Undoubtedly, he chose the best option.

Haladyna is not often used in isolation situations, but this just shows how smart of a player he is. He does not have particularly great ball handling skills or speed, but he uses wits to get the job done.

Versatility

At the high school level, Haladyna can play all five positions. This is an asset that all high school coaches would kill for. On some plays, he can be a spot-up shooter. On others, he can drive to the basket like a small forward. Sometimes, he even makes plays for teammates by running the break.

In the first two clips, Haladyna shows off his great touch in the low post. He has a nice right-hand hook shot that is accurate and tough to block. In the third and fouth clips, Haladyna shows his ability to drive to run the floor and finish at the rim. This is arguably his biggest strength. In the fifth and sixth clips, Haladyna shows his ability to be a catch-and-shoot threat. As you can see from the video, Haladyna has excellent shot preparation, which increases his shooting percentage. In the last two clips, Haladyna leads the fast break and gets an open three-pointer for Mike Carbone both times. Few teams have a player who can rebound like Haladyna but also push the ball up the floor and get open looks. He can truly do it all.

Hustle

There is one thing for sure about Haladyna as well. He will almost always out-hustle his opponent. He has a nose for the ball and manages to get his hands on it. Here are a few clips showing Haladyna’s toughness and hustle.

As you can see from the clips, Haladyna has a knack for making unlikely plays through sheer toughness.

Conclusion

Stephen Haladyna does not do one thing particularly well on the basketball court. Yet, he manages to get the job done night in and night out. He is a gamer and a leader. He always gives everything he has. St. John’s Prep has a player that many teams would love to have on their team.

Once he sharpens up his ball-handling skills, the Tufts basketball program will be very happy with the player they landed.