Las Vegas Easter Classic First Day

Some of the early standouts from the first day of the Las Vegas Easter Classic, including Brayden Bell, Tyler Newbold and Marcus Lawrence...

The Las Vegas Easter Classic isn't loaded with talent, but there were a few guys who stood out in the first day of action yesterday. Here are some early impressions.

Brayden Bell, 6-9 JR C Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton. Bell had the most impressive day of any prospect we saw, putting together two very solid games. We've had Bell ranked as the #2 center in the west since last summer. Easily the most skilled big man in the west, Bell can drain threes consistently. But he's now added a very nice jump hook to his repertoire. He handles and passes extremely well for a big man. With a little more focus in the areas of defense and rebounding, Bell has a chance to become the top ranked center in the west.

Chase Budinger, 6-6 SO SF La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High. Budinger showed why we consider him among the top wings in the 2006 class. A very solid, all-around player, Budinger does a lot of things well. He's got a very good stroke, but also has the ability to draw contact and finish inside. His feel for the game is advanced for a sophomore. Very good vision, solid handle and passing ability. Budinger has added a little weight/strength in the last year and his rebounding has improved as a result. The one question may be if his body thickens up in the next couple years. He's fine now – moves well on the perimeter – but how his body will look two years from now is unknown.

Tyler Newbold, 6-4 JR SG Payson (Utah) High. Newbold played point guard for Salt Lake Metro last night, but he's a two-guard in college. However, the time at the point allowed him to show a pretty fair handle and good instincts. A good athlete, Newbold jumps very well and is active around the basket. He can shoot it to the stripe, but also showed a nice mid-range game. Somewhat of a sleeper nationally, we think he's among the top shooting guards in the west.

Coby Leavitt, 6-9 JR C Washington (Utah) Snow Canyon. Leavitt looks like he's grown a couple inches since we last saw him. Very long, with a good frame and nice feet, Leavitt looks like he's still growing into his body. He played with excellent energy yesterday, blocking shots and rebounding very well. He's got a decent touch to about fifteen feet and developing low post moves. A big man to watch in the spring and summer.

Marcus Lawrence, 5-10 SO PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. We liked Lawrence when we saw him a few weeks ago in San Diego and he impressed us again yesterday. Very solid, low-key game. Can knock down the open jumper, but understands that a point guard's role is to get others involved. While he isn't real tall, he's got a little length to him and it wouldn't be shocking to see him get a little bigger. He's got good quickness – solid defender. If he gets any bigger he has a chance to be among the elite point guards for 2006.

Anthony Goods 6-3 JR CG, Corona (Calif.) Centennial, has one problem he's always trying to deal with -- playing on AAU teams that use him off the ball rather than as the point guard. In the first half of Thursday's night's game here in Las Vegas at the Easter Classic Tournament, he played off the ball and his AAU team, Spirit of the North, fell behind by double digits. In the second half, the AAU coach clued in and had Goods run the show, and Spirit came back for the win, and it wasn't coincidence. Goods took over the game with his play-making ability, passing and penetrating through the press, finding shooters in transition, and, most noteably, employing some of the best on-the-ball defense of any guard we've seen in recent memory. For being big at 6-3, Goods is exceptionally quick, with great feet.

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: Josh Pastner will be in Las Vegas on Saturday, the first day coaches can evaluate talent, and you can bet he'll drop in to see Bell. The Cats want a center in the '05 class to replace Channing Frye and they'll give Bell a long, hard look.

Goods is a guy the Cats have evaluated in the past and I'd expect they give him a further look to see if he is good enough to pursue.

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