ASU Prospects Hit AAU Tournament Circuit

Recruiting efforts of college basketball programs hit their peak during the July evaluation period. Coaches travel cross-country assessing talent for current and future recruiting classes, and making their presence known in the gyms where the blue chip prospects are both playing and observing suitors. Here's a rundown (in no particular order) of the players that the ASU coaches will be looking at.

2008 Prospects

Olek Czyz (AAU Club - Las Vegas Prospects) – The Poland native is probably the highest rated 2008 recruit that the Sun Devils have the best chance of landing, and ASU surely won't be settling for less if he signed with the maroon and gold. We had a chance to see Czyz, the 19th ranked power forward in the nation by, at ASU's skills camp this past weekend and came away very impressed. Czyz is extremely aggressive driving to the basket, and his dunks are the material highlight reels are made of. Even though his perimeter shot is listed as a weakness, he was more than adequate when we saw him. At 6-7 235 he definitely has the frame to fill out and be a more physical power forward at the next level.

With schools such as Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA, to name a few, it goes without saying that ASU will have a major battle on his hands landing this heralded prospect. Nonetheless, the Sun Devils made inroads early with him that will hopefully pay off.

Demar DeRozan – (AAU Club – SoCal All-Stars) - The biggest question concerning the five-star wing player is whether his commitment to USC is solid or soft. We're hearing that ASU is still in the recruiting picture so we'll list his as Sun Devil prospect, and North Carolina is also still in the mix. The 6-6 180 Derozan is an athletic freak that will wow spectators time after time with his ability to drive into the lane and finish. He's also an unselfish player, and word is that his perimeter shot has improved the last few months. Ranked as the second best small forward in the country, landing DeRozan in Tempe could generate even more buzz than the signing of James Harden did.

Renaldo Woolridge (AAU Club – Belmont Shore) – The son of former NBA player Orlando Woolridge is certainly showing that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Surprisingly enough, this four-star prospect has only received offers from ASU, Pepperdine, Oregon State and Colorado. Schools such as Texas and Maryland have been following him closely and will probably soon join the aforementioned schools and tender an offer. Woolridge has stated many times that he's wide open in regards to his recruitment, which hopefully doesn't mean that he will dismiss the fact that the Sun Devils were of the first to extend him a scholarship offer. The forward displays good shooting skills, but his aggressiveness is an aspect that he needs to develop in anticipation for the next level. Overall, if one would speculate on ASU's chances with the 6-8 205 forward, it would probably rank as less of an uphill battle compared to DeRozan.

Rotnei Clarke (AAU Club – Team Texas) – In recent interviews the four-star prospect is not mentioning ASU, but just like DeRozan we're hearing that he shouldn't be written off as an ASU recruit. Marquette and Oklahoma are his only other offers aside from ASU, but heavyweights such as Kentucky and Kansas have been intensifying their recruiting efforts and a good showing in July will only add more teams to this prolific sharp shooter's list of offers. If he's a package deal with five-star recruit Willie Warren could eliminate schools such as ASU who currently have just one scholarship to offer in the 2008 class.

Steve Tchiengang (AAU Club – T-Mac All-Stars) - ASU is just one of many offers the Cameroon native has to show for. Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Louisville, and Texas A&M are some of the other schools who have tendered, and this list will probably just grow from here. "I visited Arizona State a few weeks ago," Tchiengang told Devils Digest. "I really like the coaches there and it's a nice family atmosphere. They play in a very good conference with a lot of big schools. It's a very nice campus." Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, and Kansas State are the schools that the four-star forward listed to us as separating from the others.

"I'm probably gonna take official visits to all those schools," he said, "and make my decision after those visits and see how comfortable I feel with each school." The 6-9 215 power forward, who's listed 16th in the nation in his position by, is considered a good rebounder and a very athletic player who plays well facing the basket. His measurements naturally indicate that he will have to add quite a bit of weight for the physical rigors that await him as a college power forward. All in all, the Sun Devils are still strong in the picture for this talented prospect.

James Rahon (AAU Club – Double Pump Elite) – Reported as the best pure shooter in the West Coast class of 2008. Right now his offers are limited mainly to WAC schools, but just like any other prospect – a strong AAU circuit performance could easily expand that list. Rahon has a quick release and very good range on his jump shot. Athleticism and defense are two virtues of his game that he will need to improve on in this upcoming evaluation period. ASU is one of many Pac-10 schools that is actively recruiting the 6-2 185 guard, and he would probably give stronger consideration to a school from such a conference than the teams who have currently tendered to him.

Garrett Sim (AAU Club - Team Jones) – a 6-0 160 point guard, who just like Rahon has only mid-major schools offering him, with high-major schools, such as the Sun Devils, following his game with the possibility of an offer coming in August. Sim is a good shooter, has court smarts and is a deceivingly good athlete. Other Pac-10 schools such as Stanford and both Oregon Schools have already made their presence known recruiting wise, and chances are that one of the schools from that conference will extend an offer.

As mentioned, it's not only the 2008 class prospects that will be getting long looks in the month of July. Future classes are hardly ignored during the evaluation period. Here's a look at some of the 2009 prospects that the Sun Devil staff will be tracking.

2009 Prospects

Anthony Marshall (AAU Club - Las Vegas Prospects) – Another player we enjoyed watching at ASU's skills camp this past weekend, and just like his AAU teammate Czyz he really stood out on the Wells Fargo Arena court. The 6-2 175 Marshall is a skilled shooting guard that has shown physical play and high energy on both ends of the court, along with a smooth outside stroke and good court awareness.

"ASU is recruiting me pretty hard since the beginning of June," he told Devils Digest. "I really enjoyed the camp because they were teaching a lot of technique and not just playing games. I learned a lot of different skills." Colorado State is his only offer, but he said that he expects to get offers from ASU, Washington State and hometown UNLV. Kansas, Kansas State and Stanford are other schools that have jumped into the recruiting fray. "I'm pretty much open right now," he said. "I don't have a favorite school."

Joey Brooks (AAU Club – T-Mac All-Stars) – A 6-4 165 small forward that has been recruited by ASU for two months now. "I was on campus and I really like the coaches," he told Devils Digest. "I like the area a lot. It's a nice area and a nice place to play basketball." Brooks is a versatile player who can attack the basket or pull out to drain a jump shot, and needs to work on his ball handling and defense. His frame suggests that he would need to bulk up quite a bit, but time is definitely on his side. The Houston product has offers from New Mexico and Kansas State. Aside from ASU, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Miami and USC will follow him closely on the AAU circuit trail. "The schools I like the most right now are Wake Forest, Arizona State, and Texas A&M," he stated.

Jordan Hamilton (AAU Club – Lamar Odom I-Can All-Stars) – One of the top prospects in his class. The four-star prospect, ranked as the nation's third best small forward, has offers from Arizona, Texas, USC, UCLA and North Carolina State. Since he's the cousin of ex-Arizona player Hasaan Adams, the Wildcats may have the inside track on this pure shooter.

Elijah Johnson (AAU Club – Houston Hoops) - The 6-2 183 point guard is a five-star recruit that is ranked tops in his position. All the heavy hitters in college basketball have been recruiting him, and the offers from those schools are bound to pour in this summer.

Roberto Nelson (AAU Club – California Hoops) - The 6-3 190 combo-guard is reported to be more of a scorer than a pure shooter, and needs to improve on his ball skills and shot selection. He already visited UCLA and Ohio State, and is getting recruiting attention from ASU, Arizona, Washington, Washington State, USC, LSU and Illinois.

Xavier Thames - A 6-1 170 point guard from Sacramento who's hearing from other Pac-10 schools aside from ASU, and could hear from many others later this summer.

The list of ASU prospects is certain to expand and include prospects not mentioned here. As we learn of those new names we will bring them to you and follow their recruitment with ASU.

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