Desert Duel ASU Prospects Report

A good number of ASU's basketball prospects were on hand for the local Desert Duel tournament in Gilbert. Members of the Sun Devil coaching staff, as well as a plethora of other high major programs, were in attendance, and so was Devils Digest.

Here are our observations for this two-day event:

C.J. Leslie, the Sun Devils' highest rated 2010 prospect didn't make it to Gilbert's Mesquite High School and his Carolina Cobra squad played without him. So we had to ‘settle' for Trey Ziegler. The shooting guard's Team Detroit arrived to the valley just three hours before tip-off, after capturing the Reebok Summer Championship in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Thus, Ziegler and his teammates were tired to say the least at the Desert Duel.

In his team's first game, Ziegler didn't enter the contest until midway through the first half. His offense tapered off as the game went on, and he scored 11 points on 3-9 shooting from the field. Even during a sub-par performance, you can notice his good court awareness and nice form on his jump shot.

He kind of reminds you of James Harden as far as not being overly athletic, letting the game come to him and not forcing the issue, as well as having deceptive quickness as he blows by his defender to the basket. When he draws attention for defenders he makes good decisions with the ball.

Ziegler must have been very tired in his first game, as he gave up the ball to Dallas Heros' forward, and five star defensive end prospect, Jackson Jeffcoat. Jeffcoat actually showed impressive athleticism as he dove to the floor to swipe the ball.

There was much more pep in Ziegler's step in his second game, but didn't fair much better on offense scoring 9 points on 3-9 shooting, albeit against a loaded Seattle Select club. All in all, we know that this performance the last couple of days wasn't indicative of his true talents.

"I consider myself a very versatile player," said the 6-5 195 Ziegler of his skills. "I can bring the ball up the court and shoot it too. I do need to work on my strength."

The guard is scheduled to officially visit Arizona State the first weekend of September. "I like the coaches there and their style of play," he said of the Sun Devils. "It's a team on its way up."

Ziegler added that aside from ASU, he's being recruited hard by Arizona, UCLA, Michigan State, Miami and Kansas.

Out of all the ASU prospects we followed in Gilbert, none impressed us more than Trae Golden (pictured). This one time Ohio State commit is touted as a combo guard, but we feel that he could play the point if needed, which should make him attractive to the maroon and gold.

Golden plays at a very fast tempo and along with his strong build is hard to defend when he brings the ball up the court or drives the lane. He does an excellent job distributing the ball, delivering one beautiful assist after another. He stood out as a very unselfish player on an Atlanta Celtics team that wasn't all that team oriented.

He delivers a good looking jump shot whether he stops and squares away of pulls up off the dribble. He does a good job breaking the press and has a nasty streak to him. On one made lay-up he actually got away with slapping his defender in the face. Overall, he plays very hard on both ends of the floor, a rarity in these types of tournaments.

He was sensational in his first game we saw converting 8-11 from the field for 21 points and dishing out five assists. In his second time he struggled a bit scoring 13 points on 5-12 shooting. He also had four assists.

When you watched the Oakland Soldiers team you had better pay attention since they had three Sun Devil prospects. Ironically all of them were from the 2011 class. This squad was another one who didn't have that much down time between Las Vegas until their first game, and naturally it showed.

Nick Johnson (pictured) had a rough time in the two contests we saw, both losses, scoring two points in the first and seven in the other while shooting a very low percentage. He did however have three assists in each game, and played hard on offense and defense despite his offensive struggles.

The former Gilbert Highland star, who is now headed to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas for his final two years, displayed impressive point guard skills and is always aggressive in his play. He's a talented floor general who continues to justify the accolades that are bestowed on him by recruiting analysts.

Kyle Wiltjer (pictured) is a talented power forward who plays well facing the basket and displays some pretty good athleticism and open court moves. He's a good shooter and an above average passer. Time is still obviously on his side, but he will have to gain some weight so he can win more battles inside the paint and finish better around the basket as well as rebound better at both ends.

Wiltjer had eight points on 4-7 shooting and seven rebounds in the first game, and could have padded those numbers even more if he wasn't inexplicitly benched for long stretches by his coach. In the second game he had eight points on 4-9 shooting and three rebounds.

"I thought I had a really good summer," Wiltjer said, "and I'm just trying to get better each time I'm out there. We had a disappointing tournament here, but it will just motivate me to go the gym and get better."

The 2011 prospect believes that he displayed his versatility during the AAU tournament circuit. "I can shoot the ball and not just lay on the block waiting for the ball," he stated. "I do need to get quicker and stronger so I can play at the next level. I'm 6-9 215 and hopefully I get a couple more inches and gain weight so I can be at 230."

Wiltjer described the recruiting relationship with Arizona State as "very good" and hopes to visit Tempe sometime in August (NCAA rules prohibit recruits from visiting campuses this month). "Coach Sendek is a very well respected coach and they had a good year last season," Wiltjer commented.

Most of the Pac10, Kansas, Kentucky, Gonzaga and Wake Forest are recruiting the forward.

Compared to his two teammates, guard Jabari Brown (pictured) may have had a better showing in the Desert Duel. A classic shooting guard, the 6-4 200 Brown is more physical than he is athletic. He has a very nice looking jumper and he drives to the basket with authority. He's a solid rebounder but needs to improve his ball handling.

In the first game he scored 14 points on 6-12 shooting and in the second game had five three pointers and 21 points total on 8-19, a contest where he forced his jumper in hopes of a comeback win for his team.

"I like coach Sendek and coach Taylor," Brown said. "Arizona State is a good program and I see how they put players in the league like Jeff Pendergraph and James Harden."

Brown compared his game to the later and says that the way that ASU used Harden is compelling to him since he claims that he has the same style of play as the former All-American. "I'm a good scorer and I do a good job finding my teammates," Brown noted. "I need to play better on defense."

The guard expressed desire to visit Tempe in August and stated that most of the Pac-10 is recruiting him, as well as UNLV, Memphis and Notre Dame.

Brown will join Johnson at Findlay Prep and didn't deny that he would like to play on the same team as Johnson at the college level.


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