The California Connections

If the number of players from any given state is a measure of the quality of basketball played in that state, Arizona is in big trouble. The number of players from the Grand Canyon State at the Nike Camp? Zippo!!!<BR>California comes out on top. A dozen players from our Western neighbor are competing here. Some interesting side notes on the Cal players....

The cream of the crop from the California Class of 2004 is Jordan Farmar, a 6-2 point from Los Angeles Taft. Farmer was given a lot of attention by Arizona before committing to the Bruins. He could be the floor general that gives UCLA a chance to compete for a national championship in the near future.

Farmar sees the court exceptionally well and his teammates love playing with him. He's unselfish and always seems to find the open man. When left alone, he can also stroke the three.

Robert Rothbart, a 7-foot center from Cupertino Monta Vista, is getting a hard look from Lute Olson, and sources close to the program tell me the head man likes him a lot.

At this time, Rothbart is much more comfortable facing the basket. He has some nice post moves and good footwork, but he needs to put on weight to be more effective as a back-to-the-basket player. He can hit the midrange jumper with consistency, but he shies away from physical contact. He has all the tools to be a very good player, but only time and a little more bulk on his skinny frame will tell whether he can be an impact player or simply another body at the highest level.

Todd Follmer, a 6-11 center from Coto De Caza (Santa Margarita), Calif., is headed to Washington to play for Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar. Follmer has some skills, but like a lot of the Huskies' big guys of the past he's not real athletic and he's still a little mechanical. If he learns to play with more passion, he could make a mark.

Rico Tucker, a 5-11 point guard from La Mesa (University of San Diego), Calif. , still has many of the majors intrigued with his athleticism. The kid has some serious hops, but he needs to prove that he can run the show and shoot it a little better. He's a good enough athlete to hook on with a major program, but might have a better basketball career with a mid-major.

Josh Shipp, a 6-5 wing from Los Angeles Fairfax, has a nice midrange jumper and can hit the three well enough to keep the defense honest. However, when his defender stays home Shipp is not quick enough to create a shot and needs to work on his handle. If he can learn to create a little better, Shipp will improve his stock. You might think Shipp would be headed to Cal. Brother Joe had a great career with the Bears, but Josh wants to play for rival Stanford. Only time will tell if the Cardinal offers.

Antonio Kellogg, a 6-1 combo-guard from Oakland McClymonds, is a great athlete and he can run the offense. When Kellogg gets into the lane he's effective, but he needs to work on his outside shot to give him more opportunities to use his quickness. Arizona is giving Kellogg a look, but the verdict is still out.

Los Angeles Westchester senior guard Gabriel Pruitt didn't show for this event, but the California Class of 2005 seems to be a much stronger group.

Marcus Johnson, a 6-5 slasher and Pruitt's teammate at Westchester, could be the best young wing player in the state. He's a great athlete and has a good handle on the ball that gets him past defenders into the paint. He's not a great shooter, but he has a nice stroke and hits enough shots to keep the defense honest.

Amir Johnson, a 6-9 power forward from Verbum in LA, is positioning himself as one of the top big men in the Class of '05. Johnson is quick, athletic and runs the floor like a gazelle. He catches everything thrown his way and his quickness allows him to snatch rebounds away from others with his great hands.

Jamal Boykin, a 6-8 combo-forward from Los Angeles Fairfax, has a chance to play at a D1 major. He's probably more suited to be a four man at the next level, but he can stroke the three when left open. Boykin is a warrior and always plays hard, but he's somewhat of a plodder. He lacks the footwork to be a big-time post player and might not be quick enough to play on the wing.

Chris Henry, a 6-8 forward from Santa Ana Mater Dei, has been well coached and is fundamentally solid. He's not the greatest athlete, but he sees the court and is a very good passer. He needs to work on his offensive skills to play a at a major university.

Mike Garrity, a 6-foot point guard from Mater Dei, is another fundamentally sound player from Coach Gary McKnight's program. Garrity gets it done because he's aware of his teammates and knows how to find the open man. He's not the most athletic player and needs to work on his offensive game, but Garrity will find a scholarship at the next level.

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