Darnell Gant, 6-8 JR PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. Gant has filled out a bit through the chest and shoulders. He sometimes has a habit of floating to the perimeter, but he showed a couple strong post-up moves in the game yesterday. He's got the quickness to defend a three on the wing, but the size to guard a four in the paint. His shot is pretty accurate to 17-19 feet, but he needs to quicken up his release a bit. At the defensive end, he's got very good timing as a shot blocker. He's a four right now at the college level, but we see him eventually developing into a three. He's also an elite, high major prospect.
Travis Wear, 6-8 FR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. On a high school team loaded with players, Wear is the best prospect on Mater Dei. For a big, young kid, Wear shows great feet and plays with terrific energy. His ability to slide laterally against smaller players is extremely impressive. He's got a very good stroke to the stripe, but he doesn't just settle for jumpshots. He shot-faked a couple times yesterday and demonstrated a surprising ability to take defenders off the dribble. We also liked the way Wear competed. Sometimes young kids with his skill level only want to play with the ball in their hands. But Wear defended well and battled inside for rebounds. Wear has big feet and the look of someone who might still be growing. With continued development, a likely elite, high major prospect.
David Wear, 6-8 FR PF/C Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. David isn't quite as skilled, nor does he move as well as Travis, but he's got just about everything else that his brother does. He plays with the same great energy and competes very well. He too has no problem going in the paint with bigger players and he can step out to the stripe as well. David also has a chance to be a big-time player in a few years.
Colin Borchert, 6-6 FR PF Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge. Borchert is another very impressive freshman. He's got a solid body and he's willing to use it inside, banging all game against older players. What makes him somewhat unusual, though, is his ability to play both on the perimeter and inside with his back to the basket. On the wing, he's got excellent ball skills and a pretty stroke to the stripe. But in the paint, he'll post up strong and he has a nice feel with his back to the basket. He's also got very good feet. He's just a fair athlete at this time, but he's still young and he may improve in that area. If he grows a bit, or becomes just a little more explosive, Borchert has a chance to be a terrific player.
Kyle Singler, 6-8 JR PF Medford (Ore.) South Oregon. Singler put on a show yesterday and demonstrated very clearly why he's one of the top players in the country. He shot the ball deep, posted up strong inside, took people off the dribble and did it all without forcing the action. Singler has a very high basketball IQ and he rarely makes a bad decision. At times, he seemed to be toying with the opposition.
He seemingly gets bigger every time we see him and we're now convinced he'll play the four in college. He's got the skill set to play the three but could struggle defending quicker, smaller three men (although he's so smart he could probably figure out how to defend them). But it's quite possible Singler gets a little bigger before college and he's going to be a very difficult match-up for college post players. He can stretch a defense with his deep range, but if you put someone smaller on him, he'll kill you in the post Very skilled players with a truly great feel for the game are rare these days and that's why Singler is one of the very elite prospects in the country. He's a future pro.
Jerryd Bayless, 6-2 JR SG Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's. We felt pretty certain after last summer that Bayless wouldn't play the point in college and we're sure of it after watching him at this tournament. Quite simply, Bayless has a scorer's mentality. And that's a good thing – because he has a chance to be a big-time scorer at the next level. He's got the explosive hops and quickness to get his shot off against just about anyone. He's more a scorer than pure shooter, though, and he's developed a very nice mid-range game. Decision-making and shot selection are two areas where Bayless needs to improve. He has a tendency to force things at times and often gets caught jumping in the air and forcing a bad shot. He also needs to learn that this isn't a game where style trumps substance. He's sometimes more concerned with making a spectacular play than just making the right play. However, he's a gifted athlete and, with coaching, he could develop into an outstanding two guard at Arizona.
Zane Johnson, 6-6 JR SG/SF Phoenix (Ariz.) Thunderbird. Johnson has been one of our favorite players in this class for a couple years now. He's got a solid body, and he's a good athlete, but it's his feel for the game and his stroke that really stand out. He's improved his ability to put the ball on the floor in the last year and he made several nice plays off the dribble in a game yesterday morning. He'll be a high major prospect.
Clarence Trent, 6-7 SO PF/SF Gig Harbor (Wash.) High. In a state that has had some great talent come out in recent years, Trent may be the next big thing. He's got the body – strong and long – athleticism (big time hops), and high skill level that leads one to believe he could end up an elite prospect. He's got a solid stroke to the stripe and the ability to finish above the rim in traffic. He's very skilled for a four man and he might end up playing some three. He has the quickness to defend on the perimeter but also the strength to play in the paint. He's got a good frame and big feet (may get bigger). He gets up awfully easy and quickly too. He's got a couple more years to develop, but he has a chance to be an elite, high major prospect.
Ameer Shamsud-din, 6-1 SO PG/SG Portland (Ore.) Benson. Shamsud-din isn't a natural point guard and he's going to need to improve his handle if he's to play the position in college. Where Shamsud-din excels is as a scorer. He's got a knack for scoring from multiple spots on the floor. He made pretty good decisions yesterday and he's got a decent feel for the game. He's a good athlete and should be able to defend pretty well if he puts his mind to it. Like a lot of young players, Shamsud-din doesn't always apply himself at the defensive end and that's something he'll have to work on. With continued development, a potential high major prospect.
Dave Telep's notes from The Real Deal On The Hill:
.J. Hickson, PF, WW Renegades – There is little doubt that Hickson will have stronger outings than his 8-point, 9-rebound opening effort. Frankly, this was not his finest hour. Having said that, expect big things out of him when the coaches hit the streets in the morning. They'll be paying close attention to him and he'll be looking to see which head coaches are in the stands. This young man, because of his length, rebounding and natural gifts, has a chance to be a Top 10 player in this class. It's an exclusive group but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he join it.
Hickson said he might have a school list after Kingwood. While most of the ACC and SEC is chasing him hard, his AAU coach did say that Connecticut, North Carolina, Arizona, Illinois and Ohio State were hitting him up pretty good. Again, this weekend could be a separation weekend for schools as Hickson will be scanning the crowd for head coaches.
Anthony Randolph, PF, Dallas Mustangs – When an entire Elite 8 staff watches you chances are you're pretty talented. This guy has a pro style offensive game. He's a legit 6-foot-9 (maybe taller), can handle and has a big ceiling. He's quite a prospect and with a college-style weight program you'd have to think he's got a bright future.