One city, three tournaments

<B>LAS VEGAS, Nev. - </B> In the past covering the tournament in Las Vegas was tough. You had hundreds of teams at venues all over Sin City. This year it is even tougher. Instead of one big event, you now have three competing events. We took to the high ways and by ways of Las Vegas to see some of the best high school hoop talent in the nation

The morning started at the Reebok Big Time Tournament. Sonny Vaccaro's event is the granddaddy of Las Vegas tournaments. In the past it was an Addidas production, but when Vaccaro left for Reebok he brought the Big Time with him.

The opening game saw some top West Coast talent on display. Southern California All-Stars may have been without Chase Budinger, one of three 2006 players the Wildcats have offered, but they still have some talent on display.

Taylor King is starting to play well after a rough start to the summer. Some were starting to doubt the UCLA commit, but he's rounding back into form. His game reminds us a little of Jason Kapono, but he'll probably be taller.

Taj Gibson is a 2006 player to watch. The 6-9 forward has a lot of talent and we're hearing that he may be one of the big names to watch. A number of big time programs were in the house and Rodney Tention was watching for a little while.

The team the Tention was there to see was the Portland Panthers. Two good 2006 players are on the roster. Tention and Wildcat head coach Lute Olson were on hand to watch Seth Tarver and Phil Nelson.

Tarver, brother of former UCLA standout Shon Tarver, is a 6-5 wing from Jesuit High School. He looks like he could be a special one. He was very impressive. He can use either hand and attacks the hoop. He's better inside, but has a nice enough outside shot. Tarver scored 17 points in 64-58 loss to North Jersey Hoops.

He's a long guard with some bulk. He's strong enough to fight inside, and scored most of his points in the paint. He has a great handle, but was forced to play inside most of the second half when Washington-bound big man Artem Wallace was in foul trouble.

Tarver said he's wide open, but that Arizona, UCLA and Cal were his favorites growing up.

His brother Josh Tarver is a little shorter, a pure two-guard. The senior has some nice offers, but we've heard that Oregon State could be the place for him.

Playing alongside the Tarvers was 2006 forward Phil Nelson. Nelson is less athletics than Seth Tarver, but us bigger. Hovering around 6-8, Nelson plays the post in high school, but is a small forward on the Panthers and will likely play the position in college.

Nelson is rangy and long. He uses his height well to shoot over opponents. When his shot is falling he gets nice arc and elevation. Unfortunately he shot a few ugly line drives as well. Right now he is hearing from most of the Pac-10, but confessed that he was a North Carolina fan growing up.

"What kid wouldn't want to hear from North Carolina?" Nelson asked.

Next came a 45 minute drive to Shadow Ridge High School. We got there in time to see a little bit of Derrick Jasper. The 2006 standout apparently fancies himself as a point guard and his coach Lerohn Dodson thinks that with a little more seasoning he could be a very successful college point guard. At the very least he is an impressive combo-guard.

Ricky Sanchez is a name that is starting to get a lot of run. The 6-10 native of Puerto Rico is very intriguing. He has an amazing handle for a big man and can shoot the ball. His effort level is a concern, but there is no doubt that he is a big time prospect.

There were a lot of top programs in attendance and his list of schools reads like a who's who of college basketball programs. He disputed rumors of his interest in the NBA, saying that he needs to really improve before he looks at the league. He said Arizona is not really involved, but he would welcome their attention. Arizona assistants have seen him play quite a bit over the past two weeks, but they may prefer a more traditional, athletic wing.

The main reason we were at Shadow Ridge was to watch Marcus Williams. Apparently we were not alone as Lute Olson, Josh Pastner and Rodney Tention were all in attendance. Williams was undaunted by the attention. The 6-7 wing scored 13 first half points as his Rotary Select team rolled to an easy 79-49 win over Gateway Basketball Club.

Williams did most of his damage in the paint, scoring eight points down low. He finished with 15 points on 6-9 shooting. He also had four assists, four steals and a pair of blocks. He is listing the Wildcats among his favorites and seemed to be pleased that the entire UA staff was on hand (the Cats can only have three coaches out recruiting at any one time).

His teammate, Louisville commit Terrence Williams, was impressive despite shooting poorly. With Rick Pitino, his future coach, in attendance Williams was a passing machine. He repeatedly set up teammates and got them involved with spectacular passes. He also did a great job getting to the hoops, but just could not get his shot to fall.

Next was another long drive, this time to Durango High School and the Nike Main Event. Our stay started off with a Houston Hoops blowout win over the South Florida Chiefs.

Nic Wise showed off his newfound shooting confidence by launching six threes. He connected on a pair, but all were good looks. He finished with just eight points and two assists, but played just spot minutes in the second half of the blowout.

Fendi Onobun continued to impress. The Wildcat commit had 15 points and nine rebound and did not need to play much in the second half.

Two-sport star Jermichael Finley told us that he is making an unofficial visit to Tucson on Monday and that there is a "pretty good" chance that he could commit to the Wildcats. Finley would play wide receiver for the football team and when the season was over he'd go play small forward for Olson.

Team Texas won an easy one, but two more Wildcat recruits looked great with the full staff watching.

C.J. Miles started slow but heated up and dominated the Nor Cal Elite. Miles drained four three pointers and scored 19 points in an 86-68 win. Miles played the best that we have seen him this summer. He can clearly stroke it and can do many things.

Kevin Rogers did not do a whole lot, but he did not need to. The game was well in hand and the power forward did not try to force anything. He was an efficient 3-5, coring six points. Rogers continued to show his athleticism and strength.

Both players indicated that they are still very interested in being a package deal and will both visit Arizona.

Durell Arthur showed a lot of ability. The young big man had nine points and displayed his great athleticism. He said that Texas is coming after him the strongest, but that there is a lot of time and flexibility in his recruitment.

Next up was the game of the night with the player of the night. Friends of Hoop, the team with Jon Brockman and Martell Webster held off Jamal Boykin and the scrappy Belmont Shore team. The game was so good that it is getting a story of it's own that will be up shortly.

Before we left we caught a glimpse of 2007 super-stud Kevin Love. The big man is all that is advertised, but his shorthanded Portland Legends were no match for Sam Rines gold. Love showed off his athleticism on a pair of breakaways and later knocked down a three. He also has great post-up moves, playing great with his back to the basket.


*UA wing recruit D'Andre Bell is skipping the rest of the summer events with an injury. A doctor's orders will keep teams from evaluating the talented wing.

*Mike Bibby was in the house at the Nike Main Event. He is sponsoring a team and took half an hour to talk with the current UA staff as well as former UA assistants Jesse Evans and Jay John. Roy Williams also took him aside and spoke to him at length.

*2006 center Spencer Hawes has not been able to talk to the Arizona staff, but says that he has been told that he will receive an official offer.

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