Kevin Love, 6-9 JR C Lake Oswego (Calif.) High. Love has been the best prospect in the west since he was in the 9th grade. Now he's in better shape, quicker, stronger and more explosive. In other words, he dominates at the high school level, as he is truly a man among boys. What we found particularly impressive about Love in our latest viewing is how he plays under control. Most big men are anxious to get the ball up quickly when they're in the post. But Love will wait to see how the defense plays him and then make a quick, explosive move to the basket with committing an offensive foul or losing his balance. He does a great job of staying on balance. He's got exceptional hands and catches everything that comes near him. Love has great rebounding range and other players just bounce off of him when he's in pursuit of a rebound. On defensive rebounds, he gets an outlet pass out faster than any high school player we've ever seen. But what makes Love a special prospect is not just his skill level and physical attributes. He's also got every intangible you look for in a player. He's tough, competitive, team-oriented and he plays with a bit of a mean streak. He won't be in college for long, but he'll have a huge impact at whatever school he ends up at two years from now.
Kyle Singler, 6-8 JR SF Medford (Ore.) South Medford. Singler has lengthened out a bit since we last saw him in July. He looks longer and leaner, so he might still be growing. What hasn't changed, though, is the high basketball IQ and skill level that Singler possesses. He's very good with the ball, whether he's on the perimeter or inside. He can shoot it well to the stripe, but he's also got a great touch around the basket. He moves very well for someone his size and he can handle the ball like a guard. He played point guard in the first half of one game when the starting point guard was benched for a half. Like Love, Singler has a great feel for the game. It's not surprising that the two players enjoy playing with one another. Singler moves very well without the ball and understands things like setting up his man for a pick or how to hold position when posting up inside. When you combine that feel for the game, with an extremely high skill level and very good athleticism, you have one of the elite prospects in the country.
Seth Tarver, 6-5 SR SF Portland (Ore.) Jesuit. While we liked Tarver after viewing him in the summer, we had some questions about just how effective he might be in the Pac-10. We don't have those questions anymore after watching him for two games this week. He's not a great shooter – still has a funky looking shot – but it goes in often enough that you have to honor it. But he's outstanding in a number of other areas. He's a very good athlete. He's an exceptional passer, with terrific vision. He handles the ball well for a wing. He's a very good rebounder and an excellent defender. But the one thing we just kept coming back to when watching Tarver is this – he's a winner. He's just one of those kids that will end up on the winning team more often than not. Watch for Tarver to be a huge part of the Oregon State program over the next four years.
DeJon Jackson, 6-1 SR PG/SG Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West. Jackson chose to wait until spring to pick a school and we think he should have plenty of options in April. He's got a very good body – good shoulders and long arms – and some bounce. His handle needs to improve, but he's an excellent passer with good vision. More of a lead guard than a true point, Jackson has an adequate stroke and generally makes good decisions. We think he has a chance to be a good defender in college, capable of guarding the one or the two. He's definitely worth a look for mid majors in the market for a combo guard.
Tim Shelton, 6-6 JR PF Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West. Shelton has a very good body – strong and moves very well for his size. He's deceptively skilled with the ball and manages to create his own shot off the dribble better than you'd expect. He's got a quick first step for a big guy. He also plays with very good energy. A likely mid major prospect with a chance to go higher.
Clinton Chapman, 6-9 JR C Canby (Ore.) High. Chapman has good size, a young face and some upside. He showed a nice little jump hook and a willingness to compete. He hasn't had a lot of experience yet, though, and he still has a ways to go before he's an effective player. His reactions are a bit slow at times and he hasn't fully grown into his body yet. But he moves pretty well and he should be pretty strong by the time he gets to college. It's too early to really project a level for him, but he's got a chance.