Las Vegas Day Two: Budinger, Love & Hoops

LAS VEGAS – It was a long day of basketball. The day started at 9:00 in the morning and we didn't get done watching basketball until almost midnight. By the time the smoke cleared we had seen dozens of prospects and have found a ton of our favorites.

With our fullest apologizes, it is late and we won't have a full breakdown until Sunday night. We were in the gyms for 14 hours after getting less four hours sleep. We will give you some of the highlights of the day.

BEST PLAYER: Kevin Love. The 2007 center scored 25 points, pulled down 23 rebounds and blocked five shots. Oh yeah, he dished out seven assists, nailed a three and executed a killer crossover. Even more impressive is that he is pushing seven feet. If the NBA bans players under 20 from entering the draft this summer then the Cats have a good chance. He lists the Cats and has spent some time recently with Salim Stoudamire and Lute Olson.

OUR FAVORITE PLAYER: Chase Budinger. The small forward was as good as advertised. He's looks a tiny bit like Napoleon Dynamite, but is as smooth and athletic as anyone we saw all day. He has a soft shot and is a freak on the break. His defense is a little shaky and he needs to focus more, but we'd LOVE to see him in an Arizona uniform.

PLAYER OF THE DAY:Rolando Nunez may never play D-I hoops, but he had a great game. With his team down three, he side stepped a defender and buried a three to send the game into overtime. At the end of double overtime his team was down two. He got the ball back on the wing and sidestepped two defenders before burying the game winner at the buzzer.

MOST IMPROVED PT. 1 We liked Jerryd Bayless last year and we love him this year. The 2007 point guard was awesome in the day's first game. Although the Arizona Magic lost by over 20, he was more than anyone on the SoCal All-Stars could handle. He scored 23 in the loss and had a number of highlight reel dunks. He was a bit off in the day's second game, missing six of his first eight shots, but showed enough to warrant the hype he has received.

MOST IMPROVED PT. 2 Taj Gibson has always had skills, but is really putting it together. He alters a ton of shots and is way athletic for a 6-9 post player. He is not a polished offensive player, but can really finish around the hoop. He likes Arizona but may be heading back to the East Coast, where he is originally from.

BIGGEST SURPRISE We didn't know much about Robert Sacre, but after just a few moments we were sold. Another 2007 stud, Sacre is 6-11, reasonably thick and athletic as all get out. He can really finish and gets good position on every possession. The Cats are heavily involved, as are UCLA, UW and LSU.

YOUNGEST STUD: Andy Poling is a center in the 2008 class. He's way too thin and needs to work on his offense, but he has a lot of skills. The Cats were one of the first ones on this kid and he could be a heck of a prospect in years to come.

BEST TEAM: The Houston Hoops were good, but the SoCal All-Stars have at least nine top prospects. They go five deep in the post and have an amazing backcourt. When Matt Shaw is your fifth post player, you know you are deep. They seemed destined to at least play in the championship game of the Spring Showcase.

BEST SHOOTER Malik Story was on fire in his first game. He scored 15 and can hit inside and out. He didn't shoot nearly as much in the day's second game, but was 3-4 during the contest.

BACK ON THE MARKET UCLA commit Taylor King has indicated that he will de-commit from the Bruins. UCLA still has a chance, but he is looking at the ACC and Big East due to the good television contracts. He will consider some West Coast schools, including the Wildcats.

BEST PLAYERS BY POSITION

POST:
1. Kevin Love, 6-9, Lake Oswego (OR) HS (2007)
2. Robert Sacre, 6-11, Western Mennonite (OR) HS (2007)
3. Daniel Deane, 6-8, Judge Memorial, Salt Lake City, UT (2006)
4. James Keefe, 6-8, Santa Margarita (CA) HS (2006)
5. Isaiah Rusher, 6-9, Bellaire HS (2007)

WINGS:
1. Chase Budinger, 6-7, La Costa Canyon (CA) HS (2006)
2. Damion James, 6-8, Nacadoches (TX) HS (2006)
3. Taylor King, 6-7, Mater Dei, Santa Ana, CA (2007)
4. Kyle Singler, 6-8, S. Medford (OR) HS (2007)
5. Malik Story, 6-5, Artesia (CA) HS (2008)
POINT GUARDS
1. Jerryd Bayless, 6-3, St. Mary's HS, Phoenix, AZ (2007)
2. Nic Wise, 5-11, Kingwood (TX) HS (2006)
3. Brandon Jennings, 6-0, Dominguez HS, Compton, CA (2007)
4. Jai Lucas, 5-10, Bellaire (TX) HS (2007)
5. Les Brown, 6-5, Judge Memorial HS, Salt Lake City, UT (2006)

We'll have a lot more analysis, updates and scouting in the next few days. Look for scouting reports, recruiting updates and interviews from all of the players in this story and more in the coming week.


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