Las Vegas Day 3

<B>LAS VEGAS, Nev. - </B>Our final day in Las Vegas proved to be another busy one. There were good players all over town and too many miles between schools. We tried to cut the driving to a minimum so we could catch up with as many players as possible.

The a.m. started off with our second look at Lance Thomas. We weren't the only ones checking him out again. Lute Olson and Rodney Tention were front and center, along with about three dozen other college coaches that crammed the Chaparral Auxiliary Gym.

Thomas played hurt, but played hard. He scored 20 in his team's win, but had to be helped off the floor by two players. The injury did not seem that bad a little while later, but both of his ankles were heavily taped.

The biggest question about Thomas is just what position does he play. He's in the neighborhood of 6-8 and has the perfect build for a wing, but has the length and height to play inside. Thomas spent most of the game posting up and playing down low, but a large part of that comes from his New Heights team's lack of big men.

The Arizona coaches had to be impressed with his skills and great upside. A lot of teams will make a run, but the UA is in pretty good.

We moved over to the main gym to take another look at the Arizona Magic White squad. Both Wildcat coaches seemed to have the same idea. It is obvious that they want to make Jerryd Bayless a priority.

Bayless was off his game early, but rebounded and finished strong. He missed his first five shots, but found his rhythm and led the Magic to an easy win.

While Bayless was cold to open the contest, junior guard Christian Polk was red hot. Polk was scoring from all over the court and has a knack for putting points on the board. Last year Polk was over hyped after a strong Pangas camp and then came back down to earth in the later part of the summer. A lot of teams backed off, but if he keeps this up he should have plenty of suitors.

Last week Polk confessed to me that Arizona had backed off, but after a stellar performance in front of Lute Olson, I would not be shocked to see the Cats make a greater effort.

It was off to another gym and two more prospects. Portland Panthers were in a dogfight with Wisconsin's Fox Valley. In the end the Panthers had a little too much for the team from the Dairy State.

After watching him play a few times I am completely enamored with Josh Tarver. The kid is just put together. He's only 15, but already he is ideally built to play the wing. He's got the height, the length and a good deal of muscle. He can also stroke the ball. Tention was on hand for this one and has been to both of the Panther games we went to.

His teammate Phil Nelson is very talented, but not yet at Tarter's level. He has a nice stroke, but isn't as quick of athletic as he needs to be. He does have great height and could be an effective wing with some work.

The Panthers also have a pair of talented seniors. Big man Artum Wallace is already committed to Washington, while Seth Tarter is believed to be favoring Oregon State.

The Panthers wrapped up and we moved to the main gym at Basic High School. We got there for the end of the Arizona Magic Blue and Stamford Express. Stamford used a tenacious press to cut into a14-point second half lead. They trailed by four with just under a minute to play. Stamford put up a three and the shooter was fouled by an over zealous Kale Kina. He missed the free throw, but a loose ball went off the Magic and the Express retained possession.

They took the lead, but it was short lived as Joey Shaw raced down the court and hit a leaner to put the Magic up with just 19 seconds left. The Express quickly countered with an inside bucket to regain the lead.

Magic PG Darren Jordan got a decent look in traffic. There was a lot contact that could have gone either way, but in the end the Magic were awarded possession with 3.1 seconds left. Arizona had trouble in bounding the ball, but eventually a Magic player got it on the right wing. He mishandled the dribble and threw up an off balanced one-handed three at the buzzer that somehow went in giving the Magic a two-point win.

Earlier in the day the Magic's Harvey Perry Jr.'s father spoke with us about his son's commitment to Washington. He said the family appreciated the fact that Lorenzo Romar personally recruited the talented combo guard. He said the commitment was solid, but rumors had surfaced that maybe it wasn't as strong as they were claiming. Olson may have heard the same rumor because he spent a half watching Perry and the Magic Blue. At this time the Blue have no other Wildcat recruits.

The next game also came down to the final seconds as PHPS of Northern California held off the Houston Lynx. PHPS's Robert Sollie had a good game in front of Lorenzo Romar. We stayed around to watch Davon Jefferson again. To be frank, it was the worst we have seen the athletic forward play. He shot horribly and looked uninspired. To make matters worse he did this in front of Olson and Romar, the head coaches of his two favorite teams.

There were plenty of rumors about Jefferson and the NBA draft. Apparently he may have some grade issues and has not posted test scores that would allow him to make official visits. As much as I like Jefferson's game, I just can't see him being good enough to go right to the NBA. Grades could be an issue and he told me that he has not taken any tests yet.

Jefferson's H Squad teammate Diamon Simpson had a great day. Several head coaches could be seen speaking amongst themselves after he made plays. He's an athletic 6-8 forward who works hard every play. Right now USC, Pepperdine and San Diego State lead, but don't be shocked of some bigger programs make a run.

We closed out the weekend where it all began, Foothills High School, the Reebok Camp headquarters.

First up was Speice Indy Heat, arguably the best team in America. Center Greg Oden is a man-child. Can you say, "And the first pick of the 2006 NBA Draft is..." Oden is big, mobile and dominant. Power forward Josh McRoberts, a Duke commit, is impressive. I loved him last summer and he's added to his stock with a little more size and explosiveness.

Daquan Cook is as explosive a leaper as we saw all weekend. A 6-5 wing, he isn't well rounded offensively yet, but man can he get up. Arizona is in the mix, but trails a host of Midwest schools.

James Keefe played with his high school team instead of an All-Star travel team. It won't hurt his recruitment any, he already boasts offers from most of the Pac-10, including Arizona. Keefe is a pure inside-outside player. He can play on the wing, draining jumpshots and slashing to the hoop. He's also a back-to-the basket big man with pure post moves, a rarity in these events.

On a tragic note, a player on the opposing team came down hard and broke his ankle. It was as gruesome an injury as I have seen in summer ball.

We took a quick look at Taj Gibson before leaving town. The 6-9 post player is another intriguing young player. Not lacking confidence, he compares himself to Lamar Odom, although I think he's more of a true inside player than a tall wing.

A strange occurrence happened at the end of his game when a parent in the stands started yelling at the head coach of Gibson's team. Apparently his son had seen little or no action in the game. After a few moments of yelling he walked down the sideline and told him to pack up his stuff and to leave. The confused looking young man did as he was told and soon he and 10 family members were leaving the gym.

Two former Wildcats made an appearance. AJ Brammlett dropped by Durango HS on Friday night and Sean Rooks was at Foothills on Saturday.


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