SoCal Tournaments Recap

High school basketball season kicked off last week with tournaments at Torrance, Pasadena, Redondo Union and Corona Centennial. was in attendance for all four events and there were plenty of notable performances.

Jahmel Taylor, CG, Pacific Hills: Give Taylor credit, as he's clearly making an effort to be more of a point. He's always going to be score-first, but he did make some pretty nice drives and dishes for assists against Loyola. What Taylor does best is put the ball in the basket, and he has NBA range on his shot. Taylor has added a floater to his arsenal and was comfortable using it on Wednesday. His scoring was a big reason Pacific Hills almost upset Loyola.

Jelani Mitchell, CG, Muir: One of the top unsigned players on the West Coast, Mitchell had his ups and downs against Renaissance Academy on Tuesday. He only took a few threes and they weren't falling, so he concentrated on getting to the basket, which he did with a lot of success. Mitchell tends to struggle when he isn't the primary ball handler but when he's running the show, good things are usually happening for his team. In this game Mitchell did a terrific job on the glass, pulling down about 15 rebounds total. On defense his length and lateral quickness aid him. He's not a finished product yet, but there are a lot of tools to work with.

Michael Thomas, PF, El Camino Real: In a blowout victory on Tuesday night, Thomas wasn't needed for very long, but he was a burst of energy in the minutes he played. Thomas was relentless attacking the basket and finished above the rim once he got there. A forward with a terrific frame and good athleticism, Thomas can take his defender off the dribble and get to the line. He's a flat out steal for Hawaii.

Tanner Lancona, PF, Tesoro: In a Friday game against Compton Dominguez, Lancona played well. He played hard, made some very nice passes from the perimeter, knocked down a three, finished a dunk off a lob, was able to score with both hands in the paint, rebounded very well on the defensive glass and took a charge. Lancona tends to drift to the perimeter and considering he has a bit of a unique skill set it will be interesting to see how Washington State uses him.

Jordan Mathews, SG, Santa Monica: It's always fun to watch Mathews on his high school team as he's the main weapon for Santa Monica and has some dominant moments. On Monday he was pretty much scoring at will, either nailing the open three or taking his opponent off the dribble to get to the basket, where he'll finish above the rim. Mathews is a competitive defender and should be able to guard both the one and two at the next level.

Roschon Prince, SF, Long Beach Poly: Against Redondo Union, Prince's physical style of play was just too much for the opponent. Prince would get the ball in the high or low post, aggressively go towards the basket and the defense just didn't have the strength to do anything about it. He had several finishes above the rim in a pretty easy win.

Jordan Bell, PF, Long Beach Poly: As usual, Bell used his athleticism and timing on defense to block several shots against an overmatched Redondo Union team. He had two offensive rebounds and putbacks, hit a jumper from about 7-feet out, and nailed a pull-up jump shot from around 16-feet.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright, PG, Loyola: It's very difficult to criticize Jackson-Cartwright outside of his size. The kid is just a wizard on the court and his basketball IQ is almost the prototype for a high school point guard. On Monday he made one perfect pass after the other, doing everything he could to make his teammates better. On Wednesday against Pacific Hills, Jackson-Cartwright was needed to be more of a scorer and he came through, effortlessly driving by the defense to get to the basket whenever he wanted. He mixed in a floater, a pull-up 3 and a runner off the glass. The kid is a competitor and a coach's dream at point guard.

Thomas Welsh, C, Loyola: Last year at this time, Welsh was simply a 7-footer with great hands. He was a player that big schools were watching, but no one was very serious about. One year later and this kid's game and recruitment have changed drastically. Welsh has made significant improvement, starting with his mobility, which is much better than it was a year ago. His feel for the game for a center is very good and he made some terrific passes to slashing teammates out of the low post. He's regularly hitting his right-handed hook shot and displaying much better footwork in general than he did a year ago. On defense he's attempting to block everything and rebounding in traffic. Pac-12 schools are quickly offering as Welsh escalates up the depth chart of 2014 West Coast centers.

Namon Wright, SG, Pacific Hills: Every time you see Wright, he gets a little better. On Wednesday against Loyola, he continued that trend, almost leading Pacific Hills to a huge upset win in the process. The relentless competitor slashed to the basket at will and was completely undeterred by the 7-foot Thomas Welsh in the paint, going around him for two reverse lay-ups and drilling a floater over his head. His floater is a new weapon for him and he looked very comfortable, nailing both of them that he took in the game. Wright's stroke has steadily improved over the past couple years and on Wednesday he hit a three off the catch and pulled up to hit a long two. You don't always find the kind of toughness Wright brings to the court on the West Coast and that makes him a very tough player to score against. Wright strongly holds the crown for the top two-guard prospect out west in 2014.

Zylan Cheatham, PF, Westwind Prep: The guards on Westwind Prep really struggled to get Cheatham the ball, which resulted in the athletic forward forcing the action on the limited occasions he did get a touch. It wasn't his best game, but many of the reasons that Cheatham is a very good prospect were still on display. He has a terrific frame and athleticism, you can see his stroke continuing to improve, he can rebound above the rim and should be able to defend both the three and four in college. He's made strides in his game and if he can develop at the same rate, his future is going to be bright.

Jordan McLaughlin, PG, Etiwanda: Against Compton, McLaughlin had a rare somewhat pedestrian performance, but he still showed plenty of what makes him an elite prospect. His handle is terrific – opponents have no chance against his crossover – his athleticism is high level and so is his vision, as he made some ridiculous passes. The jumper wasn't hitting the way it's capable of, but he did make some pull-up jumpers and can definitely rack up points by shooting it. McLaughlin has the lateral quickness necessary to be an elite defender. There's not too much missing from his game at this point; there's a reason he's a five-star prospect.

Isaiah Bailey, SF, Compton: Over the last year, Bailey has really improved his motor and does a good job consistently playing hard every time out. His size, frame and athleticism and scoring ability have always been impressive, and he's slowly improved as a shooter. He has the ability to get his shot off whenever he wants which sometimes works against him as he has the tendency to force difficult shots. As Bailey's motor has improved, so has his defense and a complete commitment to that end of the court could make him a high level defender due to his toughness, length and lateral quickness.

K.J. Smith, PG, Oaks Christian: The son of former NBA player and current broadcaster Kenny Smith, K.J. has grown in the past year and while he is still very slight, the kid is talented. Against Fairfax he hit threes off the catch and bounce, while also hitting a pull-up midrange jumper. Smith used his quickness to his advantage on defense and came away with some steals. He'll need to put on some weight but Smith's stock is going in a good direction.

Max Hazzard, CG, Loyola: Over the past year, Hazzard has gained strength and expanded his game. A very quick guard, Hazzard has attributes of both a one and a two right now, and at times plays both for Loyola. He's gaining confidence in his midrange jumper and against Palos Verdes he also smoothly knocked down a three off the catch. Hazzard has always been good in transition, as his speed gives him an advantage in the open court.

Sedrick Barefield, PG, Corona Centennial: A very productive sophomore, Barefield hit some big shots in his team's overtime victory over Inglewood, including a baseline runner and a three in the extra period to help seal the win. In the game, Barefield hit four three-pointers off the catch and nailed a floater. While he made some nice passes to teammates, in this game he definitely mostly played the role of scorer and success doing it.

Leland Green, SG, Redondo Union: At about 6-foot-2 with long arms and a terrific frame, Green has the size and athleticism to eventually be a really good player and showed flashes of moving in that direction on Friday. His length and quickness helped him end up with multiple steals and once he got the ball in the open court, the speedy guard raced to the basket, where his athleticism allowed to finish high above the rim.

* Harvard-Westlake's 2014 forward Derrick Newton was pretty productive against Frederick-Douglas, scoring on midrange jumpers and doing a nice job on the glass.

* Alex Copeland, a 2015 point guard on Harvard-Westlake, has a quick first step and had a lot of success getting by his defender and getting to the basket against Frederick-Douglas.

* The youngest brother of Larry Drew (UCLA) and Landon Drew (Cal State Northridge) is Lindsey Drew, a 2015 point guard on Fairfax. Drew has very long arms, a good frame and a nice looking stroke.

* Fairfax's 2014 small forward Sage Woodruff's biggest weapon is his three-point shot and with his size at 6-foot-5 and shooting, is a prospect to keep an eye on.

* Oaks Christian has a big 2014 center in Alek Abrams who has a wide frame, good size at 6-foot-8, plays hard, has soft hands and fights for boards. He used his body well boxing out and finished in the paint.

* Give credit to Loyola's 2013 shooting guard Trey Mason, who clearly works hard on his shooting, something he does as well as almost anyone in Southern California. When he puts up a shot from three, you expect that it's going to go in.

* You won't find too many 2014 wings in SoCal with a frame as good as El Camino Real's Evan Wardlow. The junior has terrific length and is improving as a shooter, knocking a corner three down off the catch on Tuesday night.

* In the first half against Loyola on Wednesday, 2013 Rice signee Marcus Jackson was terrific. The Pacific Hills shooting guard was knocking down one three-pointer after the other, but also got to the basket and finished with contact. Jackson is still pretty skinny and needs to get stronger, but Rice is getting a nice player.

* Westwind Prep's Connor MacDougall, a 2014 Arizona State commit, received very limited touches against Eisenhower. He scored a couple buckets early but the guards didn't get him many touches so he never got in a great flow of the game.

* 2014 Compton point guard Kyron Cartwright is small but extremely quick. He used his shiftiness to create space to attempt and knock down a 3 and also to get by a defender for a pull-up jumper. Cartwright has been better at playing under control and can really pass it.

* Sam Finley of Corona Centennial, a 2013 guard signed with U.C. Riverside, played a big role in his team's win over Inglewood. He was relentless attacking the basket, trying to dunk on anyone who stood in his way and often ending up at the free throw line. Also a shooter, Finley is definitely a steal for Riverside.

* Corona Centennial has a 2016 guard with a lot of athleticism in Jordan Griffin. He didn't play a ton but his size at about 6-foot-2 and speed makes him a player to watch.

* Tavrion Dawson, a 2014 forward on Gardena Serra, has good size at about 6-foot-7 and is a lefty that finished very well around the basket, also showing the ability to step out and hit the midrange jumper.

* Westchester's 2014 face-up four Josh Rideau does a nice job off the bench for the Comets. He hit a couple 12-footers and pulled in some timely rebounds against Serra.

* The best prospect on Westchester might be long and slender 2014 wing Elijah Stewart, who has a good looking stroke, a high basketball IQ, plays smart defense and finished at the rim. He has a long way to go physically but Stewart has upside.

* 2015 Mayfair forward C.J. Walker is a 6-foot-6 long athlete who plays hard. He doesn't have a lot of strength yet and didn't really see many touches on offense but is a good looking prospect that played smart defense.

* Jonah Mathews, a 2016 prospect and younger brother of Jordan Mathews, is about 6-foot-2 with ridiculous length and a smooth stroke. He should be a player sooner than later.

* You won't find too many unsigned players with the physical tools of 2013 Inglewood guard Randy Onwuasor. The senior has an ideal frame with terrific length and athleticism. He's best in the open court and easily finishes above the rim. His skill level has improved and while he is somewhat of a project guard, his physical attributes make him a player well worth taking a shot at.

* Inglewood has another talented unsigned senior in forward Nicholas Smiley, a versatile athlete at about 6-foot-7 that can rebound above the rim while also specializing in taking a dribble and two steps from the high post and finishing at the basket.

* Long Beach Poly senior guard Brandon Staton was bombing away from three against Redondo Union, while also hitting from midrange, getting to the basket and defending. He had a big effort on Friday night.

USC, California, San Diego State, Santa Clara, Rice, LMU and Drexel watched the aforementioned prospects from Loyola, Harvard-Westlake, Fairfax, Oaks Christian and Santa Monica.

LMU watched Loyola vs Pacific Hills game.

Santa Clara, TCU, Long Beach State and San Diego watched the aforementioned prospects on Muir and El Camino Real.

USC, Utah State and U.C. Irvine watched Etiwanda, Westwind Prep, Inglewood, Compton and Corona Centennial.

Portland State and Long Beach State watched Long Beach Poly, Redondo Union, Mayfair and Tesoro.

K.J. Smith grew up a North Carolina fan, where his father played.

Thomas Welsh holds offers from Santa Clara, Arizona State, USC, Portland and California.

Namon Wright listed Florida State, USC, Gonzaga, Oregon, Oregon State, Oklahoma and Utah. He added that UCLA, UNLV and Arizona haven't offered but are recruiting him hard.

Sedrick Barefield named offers from Memphis, Kansas State, Connecticut and Boston College with interest from Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Michigan, USC, UCLA, Arizona and Harvard.

Jordan McLaughlin said the schools recruiting him the hardest are USC, UCLA, Arizona, San Diego State, Indiana and Stanford.

Zylan Cheatham mentioned New Mexico, Colorado, Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Utah State and Southern Utah.

2014 Compton shooting guard Iziahiah Sweeney holds offers from Gonzaga, LMU, Utah State and Oregon State with interest from UCLA, Arizona State and Nevada. He's hoping to hear from Oregon, USC and San Diego State.

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