Darnell Gant has come a long way in a short time.

Darnell Gant has come a long way in a short time. Just a few months ago he was a JV player, now he is an intriguing recruit in the 2007 class with a chance to be elite.

Gant is a 6-8 forward who looks like he may be able to play both the three and the four, but his real future is at power forward. He very long and quick and has decent hops. He's not bulky but has some muscle and strength.

Gant was an unknown until a few weeks ago when he made a name for himself at the Rumble by the Bay and enhanced that reputation with some stellar play at the Pangos All-American Camp. At Pangos he was active on both sides of the court and showed that he is a diverse player who can do a several things well.

After the Rumble West Coast recruiting analyst Greg Hicks had this to say about Gant:

"He's exceptionally quick for his size and very explosive off the floor," Hicks noted. "He showed a nice jump hook and the ability to face-up out to about 15-17 feet. He's still a bit raw in his offensive game, but he has a very big upside. He competes very well. With more polishing, he's one of the top four men in the West Coast class of 2007." His opinion did not change after Pangos.

"We think Gant is the best power forward prospect in the West Coast class of 2007," Hicks added. "He has a terrific basketball body – great length, good frame – with excellent leaping ability and quickness. He looks like he may be able to defend a three or a four down the road."

With all of the hype, you'd expect Gant to be getting a lot of attention. He is, even if he did not want to get into specifics.

"I wouldn't say it is a lot," Gant said of the schools contacting him. "I don't like talking about myself that much, but I have a couple of good teams looking at me like Arizona, Washington, places like that."

Right now Gant is saying he wants to get away from Los Angeles, the further the better. He's intrigued with the style of play in the Big East, which is ironic because he's more of a finesse big man than a banger.

If he does stay closer to home, he feels the Cats would fit a lot of his criteria.

"Arizona would be a good choice for me," Gant said. "I'd like to go out of state."

He has not studied Arizona, but is familiar with their tradition.

"I know that they are a good team. They have a good team every year. I watch them play and they are real good, fun to watch."

Don't expect an early decision. Gant does not know how good he is as he really hasn't been coached and still seems to be figuring out how the whole recruiting game works.

"I have to stay focused, Gant stated. "I don't want to worry about things like that until the day comes where I have to decide."

Several AAU coaches in attendance at Pangos were drooling at the prospect of refining his game.

"He may be the best player here," said one coach who didn't want to be named. "He doesn't even know how good he is."

Gant knows he is a better inside player, but would like to play both forward spots. He can shoot from the outside, but thinks he is a better post presence at this point. He is a solid rebounder and a very good shot blocker. Despite being blessed with a number of skills, Gant wants to work on a number of aspects of his game.

"I need to get better at everything," he said. "There is always something you can improve. You can never learn enough."

Though he is still learning the game, he does have an idea of what kind of player he can be. He looks to a pair of NBA players for inspiration. Although he is not as tall as the two, he does do some similar things.

"I model myself after two good players," Gant said. "The main two are Lamar Odom and Kevin Garnett. Those are two I really model myself after, two big mobile guys."

For now Gant is still learning the game. He is learning the actual game of basketball and the recruiting game. He may not have a real list of schools yet or any kind of timetable, but he does have the skill to be special.

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: I like this kid a lot. He looks like he will be a special recruit when it is all said and done. He is raw but so very athletic. He wants to get away from L.A. but is looking at the East Coast. His family would love for him to get out of Southern California, but not too far. A school like Arizona appeals to them. Expect the Cats to keep an eye on Gant.

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com

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