Top 2006 forward listing the Cats

The class of 2006 looks to be a banner one for big men from the state of California. Alex Stephenson and Matt Shaw are among those turning heads, but the best of these could very well be Santa Margarita's James Keefe.

James Keefe was one of the best players, regardless of class, at the Las Vegas Spring Showcase two weekends ago and has established himself as one of the top West Coast players in the class of 2006.

Keefe is a very athletic, rangy big man who shows a lot of hustle. With his shaggy hair one might mistake him for a surfer type, but there is no doubt that he is one heck of a basketball players.

Most project Keefe as a four in college, but he has the game to play either forward spot. He's better suited to the inside at this time, but with his stroke and quickness he could be a threat outside. A good comparison might be a much more athletic and mobile Ricky Anderson. He has a similar build and look to the former Wildcat, although Keefe as a high school sophomore has a more advanced body than Anderson had at the same point in his development.

Keefe wants to keep working on his perimeter game.

"During the off season I want to work on my three skills," Keefe admitted. "This past season I played all four, so I'd really like to work on being out on the wing."

Receiving this much attention at an early age would affect a lot of players, but Keefe has taken it in stride. He is in no rush to decide and is still soaking up all the intricacies of recruiting. It does not look like schools can expect an early pledge from the talented forward.

"It's a great feeling, but I have to keep on working," Keefe said. "I still have two years."

Right now he is listing four Pac-10 schools, Arizona, Cal, Stanford and UCLA, but has been getting mail from Kentucky and grew up rooting for Duke and North Carolina.

He has no leader at this point.

"Right now it is too early to decide," Keefe explained. "I really haven't been to any of them. I went to UCLA, that's the only college I've been to. I still have to look around."

Academics are important to Keefe, as is winning. He wants to go to a winning program, one with the potential for great things. He plans on studying business since his father is an entrepreneur.

With his long, floppy hair and laid back demeanor, many are surprised to see just how much he hustles. He is an aggressive player who goes hard the whole game. He takes great pride in his "hustle stats" (rebounds, blocks and steals) and thinks that is the strength of his game.

Most schools talk to him about playing the four, but he has made it clear that he wants to play both small and power forward in college. It shouldn't be hard for a team to go along with that reasonable demand, especially not with a player as talented as Keefe.

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: Keefe is a major target for the Wildcats in 2006. He's going to be a top-25 player and looks like he can be a standout at either forward sport. He really does remind me of a more athletic Ricky Anderson. He has a very similar look and style of play. Anderson was the better shooter, but Keefe is stronger and quicker.

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