The day started and ended without much fanfare. I headed off to watch ASU commit Taylor Rhode and Colin Borchert play at a YMCA on the northwest side of the city. Unfortunately, Rhode and Borchert were not on the team we thought they were (they aren't playing for Southwest Elite, but instead Southwest Top Prospects). And at the end of the night, I tried to watch Jordan Hamilton play for the Lamar Odom I-Can All Stars. And like how the day started, it turns out that Hamilton wasn't on that team. So, I wasn't able to see those three recruits on my trip, and I apologize that I can't provide any information for you.
I also wasn't able to see 2008 prospect Paul George or 2009 prospects Jared Cunningham (who I heard was impressive) or Elijah Johnson. Their games were opposite others I wanted to see and, at times, were clear across the city so it made it difficult to get to them.
However, I was able to take in a few games. Here are some of my thoughts:
Matt Carlino – This kid is impressive and is playing on (former ASU assistant coach) Russ Pennell's Arizona Premier team. Nobody would believe he is going to be a freshman in high school when watching him. His stroke (left-handed) is pure and he has range out past the arc. He is a good athlete and he sees the floor extremely well. He also understands the game very well and is going to be sensational by the time he is a senior. His body needs a little time to mature, but whoever lands him is going to have a very good PG. He's the real deal.
Olek Czyz – After watching him get into foul trouble yesterday, I was hoping to be "wowed" by Czyz today. It didn't happen, but I definitely saw more of the skills that have college coaches loving him. His Las Vegas Prospects team played ASU commit Johnny Coy's team so it was fun watching those two match up (they guarded each other occasionally) and imagining what it would be like with both of them in the maroon and gold. Czyz didn't dominate the game, but he had a couple very strong drives to the basket and showcased his athleticism on a nice follow up tip dunk. Overall, I can't say I was blown away by him during my time here, but I definitely saw glimpses of the skills he brings to the table. I'm guessing he will really excel in a more structured game than what is generally played here at these tournaments.
Anthony Marshall – Much like yesterday, Marshall struck me as a strong, tough combo guard. His shot is okay but he plays bigger than he is. He is often asked to play a forward position for his team, even though I doubt he's over 6'2". However, he rebounds pretty well and is willing to mix it up defensively and on the boards with bigger players.
Johnny Coy – I saw Coy play twice today. First, his Kansas City Pump-N-Run team beat Olek Czyz's team, with Coy playing fairly well and once again impacting the game in quiet and subtle ways. He definitely has a consistent shot from almost anywhere on the floor, but his best talents are knowing where to position himself for passes/rebounds and his passing – especially outlet passes when he gets the rebound. In the afternoon game, Coy's team beat team EBO, which included ASU prospects Oscar Bellfield and Brendan Lane. Coy and Lane guarded each other fairly often with neither getting too much of an advantage (although Coy hit two important 3s down the stretch to help his team pull away). The one thing I got to see in this game from Coy that I hadn't in other games was his athleticism. He went up for a nice dunk and was quicker off the floor than I expected. Everything about his game is a little better than you'd think.
Oscar Bellfield – He must have hurt his leg because he was dragging it the entire game against Coy's team. He hit a nice three pointer but I can't say he made much of an impression beyond that. He's hearing from ASU so the coaches must like him some, but I can't say I saw anything from him. He was just another guy in a uniform.
Brendan Lane – This is my "sleeper" pick for my time up here. I really like his game and think he would fit in well with what ASU is doing. As I stated in my last update, he is pretty athletic for a kid his size and has good hops. He moves well laterally, too, and his team uses him as the point player on the 1-3-1 zone that like to employ. He also has a nice stroke out beyond the arc. He could use a little extra size to be able to clean up the glass a little more, but overall I think he will develop and become a very good player for whoever lands him. We'll have to wait to see if that is ASU.
Steve Tchiengang – Just like yesterday, Tchiengang showed good athleticism and not much of a grasp of the principles and fundamentals of the game. He doesn't really understand spacing and his shot is very inconsistent. However, he is an athletic big guy and that can't be taught. He looks good running up and down and moving around the court and then he gets the ball. After that, it's a crap shoot (sorry for the Vegas reference).
Joey Brooks – I didn't really see much from Brooks yesterday but he impressed me today. He has a fairly big frame and is a good athlete. Today, I got to see him take a couple of jumpers and his shot is solid. He hit a three and his midrange shot looked fine. The main thing he needs to work on, as mentioned yesterday, is improving his left hand on the dribble. Teams can take him out of his comfort zone by forcing him left. If he can improve on this, I think he could be a nice addition at PG or as a combo guard.
Those are all of the ASU recruits I got to see today. Here are some thoughts about other players or just random thoughts from my couple of days here:
- Russ Pennell's Arizona Premier team was probably the best coached team I got to see. They actually looked like they had a system on both ends of the floor and played as a cohesive unit. I'm not sure they are the best team, but they'll beat some more talented teams because they play well together.
- Coaches/players spotted: Roy Williams, Coach K, Miles Simon, Bob Huggins (I said hi for you, DenverDevil), Bo Ryan, Ben Howland, Lorenzo Romar, Rick Pitino, Billy Donovan, Tim Hardaway, and too many others to list!
- Brandon Jennings, the UofA commit, is a complete stud. He can get his shot off at any time and can also create for others whenever he wants. He takes some ill advised shots at times and dominates the ball, but overall he is a stud that will probably only torment us for one year, maybe two.
- I got to chat with Herb Sendek for a minute or two. As you would expect, he's a personable guy and very willing to take a minute to talk with Sun Devil fans. He was also a busy guy. I saw him at multiple venues watching various recruits and his phone is never too far away – usually being used to text message while watching prospects.
- Ohio State commit BJ Mullens is impressive when he's aggressive. He is a legit 7' tall and is a very good athlete. He has a nice shot and good hops. He is a little too willing to shoot outside when he has a height advantage, but when he's focused he is very tough to handle. I'm glad he's not coming out to the Pac-10.
- If you are a hoops fanatic and are bored in the summer, this is a good trip. I've enjoyed being up here for the two days I'm able to spare and will probably come back sometime in the future. I hope some of you will go represent ASU at these tournaments, too. Wear your gold and go watch some fun hoops!
That's it. I'm on my way back to PHX in the morning.
Monday's Hoops Recruiting Update
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