Sun Devils Eye Small Forwards

With five scholarships to give in the 2003 class and only one verbal commitment, the Arizona State coaching staff has a lot of work to do in the July evaluation period at events such as the Adidas Bigtime tournament in Las Vegas. With the ensuing graduation of Donnell Knight and Shawn Redhage, the staff is looking to add a small forward to team. Here is a breakdown of the six top candidates currently generating the most interest, their list of schools, and how they performed at the Bigtime.

Marcus Dove 6'8 SF, Long Beach Milikan, (CA)

Tall and slender, Dove reminds of a young Donnell Knight both physically and with his on-court demeanor. He's a very good ball handler, playing point-forward at times for both his AAU squad and his Long Beach Milikan High School where he earned all CIF honors at the highest division as a junior. Dove recently attended the Adidas ABCD camp in Teaneck, New Jersey where he averaged an impressive 10 points and 7 rebounds over the course of the event, and faired well against stiff competition such as top 25 national recruit Travis Outlaw. The opportunity was not lost on Dove who commented, "That was a real good experience, it gave me a chance to see what aspects of my game I needed to work on."

Playing in front of college coaches such as Roy Williams, Lute Olson and Rob Evans can be very daunting to young players. Dove takes an "out of sight-out of mind" approach to this, saying, "I try to zone them out because I feel that if I look at the coaches I might get nervous and start thinking about things. So I just try to go out there and play my game." And quite a player he is. Not only can he break down his defender off the dribble, but also sees the floor well and has the ability to distribute in traffic after collapsing the defense. He's very athletic, can finish on the break, get on the glass at both ends, and take his man out of the game defensively. His shot is still not where it needs to be, but he's working hard on it, in addition to improving his consistent level of intensity. If Dove can match his work ethic with his talent level, he has a chance to be a star at the high major level. He's much further along that Donnell Knight at the same stage, and is also taller and longer.

While confirming that his dream school is Kansas, ("It is, really," he says) Dove suggests that he's also very interested in USC, ASU, Oregon, Washington, Marquette, and Boston College. He plans on taking official visits to several of these schools, including ASU in the fall and making a decision soon thereafter. With a 2.5 GPA and an SAT score in the 900's Dove looks to be in relatively good standing academically. Head Coach Rob Evans was present for at least 3 of Dove's games and it appears that he is a prime candidate to replace the outgoing senior small forwards at ASU.

Brett Collins 6'5 SF, Mountain Pointe, Phoenix (AZ)

Very few west coast players improved their stock at the Adidas Bigtime as much as this local product. Collins showed an array of moves to the hoop, an excellent left-handed jumpshot with good elevation and improved athleticism. A vigorous conditioning program got him back into strong playing shape after an injury-plagued junior season. "They were right in saying that I was out of shape, but I got back in shape with the help of a guy named Mike McKinney from Fischer Sports and I just started practicing pretty hard." Collins, now in top shape, has a great body at 6'5, and doubts about his ability to defend the wing at the college level were put to rest in a head to head match up with the heralded Stewart twins of the Gary Payton Nike Select team. He has a relentless game, fearlessly taking the ball to the rack off the dribble and exhibiting a soft touch around the rim.

Collins is wide open recruiting-wise and it's a good thing because there is sure to be a bevy of new schools calling in August after seeing him lead his team to 5 wins in a tough Bigtime tournament. "I'm going to wait until August to start narrowing down." He lists Utah and Loyola Marymount as his current co-favorites and plans on tripping to both schools and probably a couple others that make their way up the list in the fall. Expect ASU to be jockeying for position on that list, as the staff was very impressed with Collins' performance. Rob Evans turned up for the Arizona Stars final game and it's a good thing because our sources indicate that ASU has a long way to go in catching up with Utah, and Rick Majerus, who has been resolute in the recruitment of Collins even during the small forwards' difficult period that's now a distant memory. Collins will have no trouble qualifying, with a 3.2 GPA and an SAT score of 1090.

Devon Evertsen 6'6 SF, Moon Valley HS, Phoenix (AZ)

Eversten's Arizona Heat AAU team struggled in the Adidas Bigtime, stumbling to a losing record in the tournament. The team held a player's only meeting on Monday after losing the first two games, which resulted in very little improvement on the floor. To make matters worse, the team's situation deteriorated to a point where Evertsen and teammate Maurice Shaw decided to leave the team and play for a different squad this weekend at the Double Pump Best of Summer tournament in Los Angeles. Eversten's ejection in one of the games was very questionable call after getting tangled up with an opposing player, and was not allowed to play in the following game in which the Heat were eliminated.

The knock on Evertsen is that he tends to coast in games, relying on his superior athleticism to carry him through. He's bounced around in the AAU circuit from the Arizona Stars to the Heat and now it seems he'll play with Anthony Ray's Arizona Pump team in the Best of Summer classic at Loyola Marymount. There's no doubt that Evertsen is extremely talented, possibly the best natural athlete in the Arizona high school level. When he's shooting the ball well he's deadly from anywhere on the court, and also has the ability to create for himself and get to the rim almost effortlessly. He needs to add size and strength and play with a more consistent effort on both ends if he's to be successful at the elite college level.

Nevertheless, he's another player that had a good camp earlier in the summer evaluation period at the Nike event in Indianapolis. That experience was nothing new for Evertsen who has played in big national events several years in a row now. "My first year I was a little scared because I hadn't been exposed to that (environment) and I was playing in front of all these coaches that I'd thought about going to play for." But this time around, he was more comfortable in that setting and it showed in the end product. Many in attendance considered his performance to be among the best by a west coast wing at the high-profile event. There's been some speculation that Devon and Maurice Shaw would like to play college ball together and Evertsen confirmed that saying, "Yeah, we've been talking about it for quite a while now." The three schools that they have in common are Utah, Texas Tech and ASU and Evertsen also lists UNLV, Wake Forest, USC and UCLA. He boasts a 3.0 GPA and has been taking the Princeton Review in anticipation of the SAT test and has trips already planned to Utah and UNLV and would also like to visit Texas Tech, ASU and possibly another school as well.

Chris Devine 6'8 SF, Chugiak HS, Eagle River (AK)

Even though he's probably the second most known prospect from Alaska, this tall wing has gone largely under-recruited due to his location. The chance to play in front of hundreds of college coaches was not lost on Devine who had an outstanding game on Tuesday against arguably the team with the most frontcourt depth and talent in the tournament, the Atlanta Celtics. Devine went head to head with elite junior to be Joshua Smith and the two players were evenly matched, each scoring on the other time and again. Devine almost single-handedly kept his team in the game until the final eight minutes when the Celtics were finally able to pull away from the BWBA Alaska team playing without star 6'11 center Ray Schafer, who's still recovering from a knee injury. While playing in the relatively imposing shadow of Schafer, Devine has had a very impressive summer, one that will undoubtedly lead to increased attention from schools around the country. Devine's looking for the opportunity to go, "as high as you can possibly go, and still have the ability to play. I don't want to sit the pine for 3 years."

Somehow we don't think that will be an issue for Devine who showed the ability to knock down the open long range jumper, as well as put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop where he finished remarkably well amidst the 6 players listed at 6'9 or taller for the Celtics. Devine has a good body, long arms and a natural feel for the game. He moves quite well away from the ball and always has his head up, eyes always darting around the floor.

He has a 3.5 GPA and plans on taking several official visits after taking the SAT in September. Currently his list includes ASU, Cornell, San Diego State, and Cal Poly SLO, though it's a near-certainty that not unlike Collins, new schools will be in the mix in the near future.

Michael Milton 6'5 SG/SF, Plano HS, Plano (TX)

Playing on a deep Texas Blue Chips team Milton seemed to have a hard time finding his rhythm throughout the tournament. Flamboyant coach Mitch Malone likes to substitute at a frenetic pace and it did not fit in well with Milton's style of play. The left-handed player is a good ball handler with nice form on his shot but it just would not go down for him in Las Vegas. He also was a bit slow to react to the ball on defense and is not as physically gifted as some of the players on the court.

Milton would be best served to go to a program that features a half-court set offense with wings that catch and shoot off of screens. We know he's interested in Stanford and that brand of basketball might be a good fit. While he lives in Texas, he grew up on the West Coast and follows the Pac-10, specifically UCLA, pretty closely. Currently Milton has a 3.6 GPA and he scored a solid 1140 on his SAT. He lists Stanford, Rice, SMU, Princeton, Baylor, ASU and Illinois as his favorites.

Andrew Francis 6'7 SF, Alief Elsik HS, Houston (TX)

Playing on the same Texas Blue Chips team as Michael Milton, Francis is a very different type of player. He's a little raw, but athletically dynamic with good quickness and hops. Though he plays the wing, Francis seldom looks to shoot the ball, feeling more comfortable in trying to find the open man with interior passing or cleaning up on the glass. He also has the ability to fill the lane and finish on the break or in traffic. When he does shoot he displays average form. He has a nice build, but like most players at his level he will need to add some weight.

Francis has the makings of a good player, and though it will probably take him a little while longer than some of the other players on this list, he may have more potential than most of them. Like Milton, he may have been a guy who suffered from the substitution pattern of Malone, and no doubt many people have taken notice of his ability as Francis made all-region in Texas as a junior and was listed around #100 nationally by Clark Francis of Hoopscoop heading into the summer. He plays at the high school that Rashard Lewis played at before bypassing college and heading to the NBA. He likes Baylor, Texas, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and ASU among others, but is very wide open at this point.

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