Sunday's Recruiting Update From Las Vegas

All three major shoe companies – Reebok, Nike, and Adidas – are sponsoring AAU hoops tournaments and many of the Sun Devils' recruiting targets for 2008 and 2009 are participating. I was able to view multiple games today in the Reebok and Adidas tournaments and get my first glimpse of quite a few players the ASU is recruiting.

Before I move onto my thoughts on the individual players, I'd like to give you some of my overall perceptions. First, if you are a high school and/or college basketball fan, being in Las Vegas for these tournaments is pure heaven. The games start as early as 8am and will continue throughout the day, ending sometime around 10pm. The games are held at gyms throughout the city and the quality of players is very high.

Unfortunately, while there is a lot of basketball being played, it is sometimes difficult to evaluate players because the style of play is usually something similar to pick up basketball. Some teams seemingly don't even have an offensive system installed. This means that the play is generally guard dominated and players can not get a touch for long stretches. Still, some evaluation can be done and I will share my impressions with you:

Renaldo Woolridge – I started the day watching Woolridge and his Belmont Shore teammates. Unfortunately, his team is one that doesn't seem to have an offensive system and the game was very disjointed and sloppy. Furthermore, Woolridge's teammate, Brandon Jennings (UofA commit that is very impressive and will be a pain in Sun Devil fans' sides for one or two years) dominated the ball in the game, which meant that Woolridge didn't have many touches on the offensive end. However, just by watching him move in the game it is obvious that Woolridge is athletically gifted. He has a prototypical small forward's body and is very fluid on the court. Many people have commented negatively on Woolridge's shot in the past, but this is an area of his game he has really improved on. He showed a nice stroke in the few opportunities he had, drained a couple of three pointers, and hit two free throws to ice the victory. He also showed his athleticism when he went after rebounds, pulling down some difficult boards in traffic. As far as negatives, Woolridge seemed content to hover around the top of the key at times and wasn't always assertive on the court. He is more athletic than many of his opponents, but can disappear because he's not aggressive at all times.

Darius Morris – As a teammate of Woolridge, Morris was even more impacted by Jennings dominating the ball. Morris, who is listed as a PG, showed good "handles" when he was able to have the ball in his hands. However, his shot is more of a push shot and is something he will need to improve in order to keep defenses honest at the next level. Other than that, it is hard to say much more about Morris because I just didn't get a good feel for his overall talents from the game I was able to watch. Hopefully I'll be able to see him again before I head back to AZ.

Quincy Acy – This Texas Blue Chip forward is a quick leaper but his skills are best suited (right now) to be an undersized post player. His shot is decent, but inconsistent. At one point, he shot an air ball on a free throw but his shot mechanics are okay so some practice should help him to be more consistent out to 15 feet or so. One of the most attractive things about Acy is that he plays within himself and is very willing to just bang down in the post at both ends. He is quick off the floor, which helps him defend bigger players and also to fight for rebounds. Overall, Acy has some nice skills but needs to continue to work on his post game offensively and hopefully he keeps growing so he isn't considered "undersized" anymore.

Olek Czyz – With Rick Pitino and Herb Sendek sitting in the front row at center court, Czyz and his Las Vegas Prospects team took the court at Cox Pavilion on UNLV's campus this afternoon. Czyz's stock has been skyrocketing lately and he has been raking in the high major offers, so I had very high expectations. Unfortunately, today's game wasn't one of Czyz's strongest efforts. He got into early foul trouble and had to ride the pine for much of the first half. He also missed a breakaway dunk and generally looked lethargic and out of control at times. Still, his raw athleticism is obvious. He has great spring off the floor and his shot looks very good. I'm going to watch him again tomorrow (when his team plays ASU commit Johnny Coy's team) and hopefully I'll get to see some of the skills that has coaches fawning over him.

Anthony Marshall – Marshall is a combo guard that reminds me of Tron Smith, although I'm not sure he's as explosive athletically as Smith was. He has a very strong upper body and he's left handed. He does well taking his man off the dribble and shows good handle with the ball in his hands. He didn't take many outside shots, but his stroke looks smooth and doesn't have any major kinks that need to be ironed out. The main issue with Marshall is that he's a "tweener." I'm not sure he has true PG skills but he might be pushed around by some of the bigger shooting guards in the Pac 10 because he doesn't have ideal height as an off guard. Still, he is an intriguing prospect that works hard on the defensive end and was willing to play within his team's system.

Oscar Bellfield – He is an athletic SG/SF player that moves well and was willing to make his teammates better. He had a couple of nice assists around the basket while also showing a nice stroke out beyond the three point stripe. However, I can't say that he really had a strong impact on the game as those are the only notes I took. I plan to watch him again tomorrow and hope to be able to focus on him more. His team, EBO, was playing the team with Czyz and Marshall so it was difficult to focus on just one or two ASU recruits.

Brendan Lane – When I saw Lane warming up, I had yet to figure out who he was and that he is receiving interest from ASU (players don't have their names on the backs of their jerseys and it is sometimes hard to know who is who). However, his sweet stroke from outside and his surprising athleticism made me think that he is a frontcourt player that Sendek would like. Unfortunately, Lane rolled his ankle early in the game so I didn't get to see him at 100% for very long. Hopefully the ankle isn't hurt badly and he'll be full strength when I see him again tomorrow.

Steve Tchiengang – This is a player with the ever popular "upside potential." He is an athletic and strong big man that runs well, has a decent stroke from beyond the arc, and is very fluid when he doesn't have the ball in his hands. However, with the ball in his possession his movements become awkward and disjointed because his dribbling skills are lacking and his body is often going one direction while the ball is going the other. He will work hard on defense, though, and collected some nice offensive and defensive rebounds. The best word to summarize Tchiengang is "raw." He is a good athlete that needs more experience in order to hone his skills and learn the game. Right now, he's just playing on his athleticism alone and doesn't really understand the game well. That should come with more experience.

Joey Brooks – Tchiengang's teammate on the T-Mac All Stars that is a good athlete with nice size and good athleticism. He needs to work on his handle going left, as the defense was able to overplay his right (dominant) hand and take away some of his effectiveness. I didn't see him shoot an outside shot, although his form was okay at the free throw line.

Johnny Coy – This ASU verbal commit is very impressive. There were conflicting reports about how many points he scored, but it was somewhere between 20 and 27 and those points came easy and within his team's offense. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and shows an elevated understanding of the game. He's a fluid athlete and an above average shooter and passer. Basically, he has a well rounded game and is one of those players that will put up great numbers and have a strong impact on the game without having to dominate the ball. On the next level, he will have to get stronger. But his advanced skills should allow him to contribute as soon as he steps on campus.

That was it for today. Tomorrow I hope to see ASU commit Taylor Rhode and I also plan to watch many of these players again while also viewing a few additional recruits for the first time.

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