2009 ASU Prospects Showcased in L.A.

LOS ANGELES – The AAU circuit is winding down these days, and one the last tournaments to be played this time of year is the "Best of Summer" which took place in various venues around the Los Angeles metropolitan. Devils Digest spent the last couple of days looking at various Sun Devil recruits and got to see some very promising prospects.

Joey Brooks (AAU Team TMac All Stars) – A Big 12 coach told me right before Brooks took the court, that the shooting guard is "solid at everything, but not great at one thing." I would have to agree with that statement, but nonetheless he is a good looking Arizona State recruit. Furthermore, out of the players we interviewed he was probably the most interested in the Sun Devils.

"They called me the first day we could get calls from colleges. Coach Sendek called me," said Brooks. "He told me that they're interested and that they will follow me in July. So I noticed that they called me so early and I saw that they were watching me in all the July tournaments. I really like that." Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Kansas Sate and New Mexico have all offered, and Brooks noted that he's anticipating an offer from the maroon and gold.

Assistant ASU coaches Mark Phelps and Dedrique Taylor were in attendance to watch Brooks score nine points on 4-10 shooting in a blowout win. TMac is a rarity among AAU teams, whereas their strength lies with their front court players. Ironically we got to see this with their best big man and prime ASU prospect Steve Tchiengang not in the lineup (didn't make the trip). Thus, it seemed that Brooks was less assertive.

On the other hand, the 6-5 200 guard is put together very nicely and practically has a college-ready body. He uses his physical tools on both ends of the floor. He has a nice form on his jumper, but doesn't seem extremely adept at creating his own shot. He does a nice job finishing around the basket, and when he played point guard he showed some formidable passing skills, yet his ball skills were just average.

"Our team has been playing very well this month and I'm very pleased about that," he said. "As far as my game I do a good job attacking the basket and finding my teammates once I get into the paint. I started knocking down the threes more which opened up my game a lot…I like to call myself a combo guard, because with TMac I bring up the ball a lot."

Ray Turner (TMac All Stars) – It may have been the aforementioned absence of Tchiengang that helped him shine, but Turner was explosive with his 17 points in the game we saw. At 6-8 210 he's naturally not a physical player, but his athleticism, soft shot, and incredible hops make him a very intriguing prospect. He's a very active player in the paint on both ends.

"I'm happy with the way I played in July," said Turner. "I've been improving my inside-outside game...I visited Arizona State (unofficially with Joey Brooks) and it's a very nice college. I plan to visit them again." New Mexico and Nebraska are his only offers to date. Two other players on TMac who are listed as ASU prospects are 6-6 185 forward Erik Williams (who was injured that day) and 5-10 point guard Jamal Fenton (scored seven points in that game). We plan on talking with them in the near future.

Jared Cunningham (Bay Area Hoosiers) – Undoubtedly the biggest disappointment we saw in Los Angeles and word is that his game before this one wasn't a stellar one by any means. At 6-3 150 suffice to say that he has a lot of growing to do, but he's isn't afraid to drive to the basket and utilizes his athleticism to do so. Scored two points on 1-8 shooting, but his jump shot technique was sound and he can crate his own shot. Due to the fact that he was struggling from the perimeter, he laid off the jumpers and did showcase nice passing abilities.

"I've been pretty good all month, but today was a slow day," said Cunningham. "I'm been doing a good job penetrating and passing the ball. I'm still getting used to the position because I was playing shooting guard last year. I need to improve on ball handling and free throws."

The guard was happy to hear from ASU earlier this month ("I like the coaches and we're starting to build a relationship," he said.), and listed Kansas State, Cal, Gonzaga, and UCLA as other suitors. His lone offer is from Santa Clara, but since most of his AAU games in July were superb we fully expect him to add others to his scholarship list in August.

Abdul Gaddy (Northwest Panthers, previously Portland Panthers) – hands down the best prospect we saw this weekend. ASU assistant coach Scott Pera joined Phelps and Taylor, along with coaches from UCLA, Arizona, Cal, Washington, and many others to watch the 6-3 170 point guard, who probably has increased his already rising stock tenfold in July. Plays effortless and nearly flawless in his position. Even though he's not the most physical player, he does a very nice job using his athleticism in driving the paint and finishing. Has superb ball skills and does a very good job dishing the rock. One thing that is missing from his game was an outside shot, but in light of his other eye-popping talents we would be nitpicking if we held that against him.

"I'm feeling really good right now," said Gaddy. "This game was a blow out, so I didn't play much. I'm doing a good job getting my teammates involved, but I need to get stronger, be more aggressive and play better defense." Gonzaga, Washington, Washington Sate, Oregon State, Oregon, Kansas, and Pepperdine all offered. "I'm probably gonna go to a Pac-10 school," he claimed.

Avery Bradley (Northwest Panthers, previously Portland Panthers) – trails ever so slightly his High School and AAU comrade in terms of being the best prospect we saw, but this four-star shooting guard can flat out play. It's quite atypical to see players in AAU events display superior defensive skills, but the 6-2 165 Bradley did exactly that. He was relentless in guarding his man, constantly hawking the ball or at least making a valiant attempt to do so. Additionally, his offensive skills are just as impressive. Just like Gaddy, he doesn't let his lack of physicality define him, and he was mixing it up in the paint on both ends of the floor. Has a very quick first step and a deadly crossover that allows him to create his own shot or lose his defender off the dribble.

"I think I'm performing well, I just have to get my teammates more involved," said Bradley. "My jump shooting has been well. It really helps playing with Abdul so much because we have good chemistry." Both Washington schools and Oregon schools have offered.

Corey Jefferson (Texas D1 Ambassadors) – Yes, we saw more than one big man in the tournament and the 6-9 180 center was a delight. He was 4-6 from the field and tallied ten points in the game we attended. While he didn't really muscle his way under the basket, his solid vertical jump allowed him to block some shots, and complimented a beautiful arching jump shot. In fact, his ‘sweet spot' on his jumper was right on the foul line, which can frustrate a team that would play zone against him. He certainly needs to fill up his fame, but time is on his side.

"Things are going good for us," said Jefferson. "I try to get my teammates involved before I take a shot. But I've been working a lot on my jump shot. I need to play better defense on the perimeter and off the dribble." North Carolina, Baylor, Kansas Sate, Oklahoma State. Marquette, and Texas A&M all offered.

John Henson (Texas D1 Ambassadors) – Along with Jefferson creates a formidable twin towers for his team. Has nearly an identical frame to Jefferson, but does look a bit awkward. Nonetheless, this four-star prospect showed us why he's so deserving of his accolades. With coaches from Texas A&M, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia Tech observing, Henson scored 21 points on 7-15 shooting. He is another player that took a lot of pride in his defense and blocked a handful of shots. He made excellent choices with the basketball, drew fouls, and displayed good spacing on the floor. He was much different than Jefferson in that he repeatedly took the ball inside.

"I'm doing a good job in my ball handling and finishing," said Henson. "I like talking to Coach Sendek and he's the type of coach I can see myself playing for." Arizona, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas, Notre Dame, USC, Kansas State have all tendered.

Roberto Nelson (CA Hoops) – the 6-3 180 shooting guard was actually part of the Full Court Press tournament in Long Beach and he was well worth fighting the L.A. traffic to see him. Truth be told, we went to Cabrillo High School to see another top ASU prospect, Renaldo Woolridge, who didn't play due to injury. So instead we got to see an excellent prospect in Nelson. At 6-3 180 Nelson is physical, but his athleticism is even more impressive. Four of his 12 points (in a blowout win where he didn't play much of the second half) were alley-hoops, and he used his great hops not only to drive the lane and finish well, but also block and alter shots on the other end of the court. His outside shot wasn't falling, but his form was solid. Nelson is a very active player, who's a vocal leader and has great court vision.

"A lot of schools from the Pac-10 have been showing interest," said Nelson, "also Ohio State and North Carolina. My list is wide open and I'm just seeing what school will fit me the best…I need to work on my shooting – it was real off today. My defense was good today but I could work on that more and also on my ball handling."

Look for additional Devils Digest updates on the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes in the next few weeks.

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