Although Harden was not on hand, there was some news on his recruitment. A source very close to Harden said that Arizona State looked to be the leader for the talented wing. Scott Pera, his former coach at Artesia High School, is part of the Sun Devil staff. The source said it is not a done deal, and Harden is on record saying he likes Tucson a lot, but the Devils seem to hold the upper hand for the lefty.
On a better note, Matt Simpkins, a 6-9 forward from Capital Christian High School in Sacramento says that Arizona is his leader. The athletic Simpkins does have some grade issues and will reclassify for the 2008 class but loved his time in Tucson a few weeks ago for the Cactus Classic and has a good relationship with assistant coaches Josh Pastner and Miles Simon.
Simpkins is long and athletic. He had a very good day on Saturday. He's a tremendous dunker and can do some things in the paint.
Jamelle Horne missed the early portion of the camp because he was taking the SAT. Horne was on hand late in the afternoon but was not at his best. The biggest problem is that he was out of position playing in the post. Although he showed off some nice back to the basket moves, he is much more effective on the wing where he can slash, shoot the three and get others involved with his passing. He was matched up against bigger inside players but did a nice job defensively and on the glass. Expect him to be better on Sunday, especially in the All-Star games.
JJ Hickson lives up to the hype. The big man from Georgia has a nice mix of quickness and strength. He has some room to bulk up but was one of the stronger big men at the camp. He is wide open, but did confirm that he's interested in Arizona. We overheard him telling a spectator that there was a good chance that Arizona gets one of his five visits. He was also one of the nicest kids. He posed for a number of pictures with children and seemed quite pleased to do so.
Senario Hillman is having a great camp. The former Wildcat recruit, and current Alabama commit, is one of the best players in attendance. Arizona backed off of Hillman when Jerryd Bayless committed. Hillman is a true combo guard and seemed to get to the basket at will on Saturday.
Michigan State bound guard was also very impressive. The 6-4 Allen plays with a lot of confidence and was not above running a little good natured smack.
Las Vegas forward Billy White likes Arizona but is not hearing a whole lot from them at this point. Right now Memphis is his leader. He's currently Scout.com's No. 19 small forward but may be a bit of a tweener. Not sure if I see the Cats getting more involved.
Most of the other impressive players were younger guys. Rome Draper is a 2009 wing who showed some nice skills. Gary Franklin isn't even in high school yet, but is already an intriguing prospect. The Claremont, CA product is very thick for a player his age and could be a name to keep an eye on. He did not back down from the big boys all day.
Deandre Matlock may be skinny, but he has some skills. He's very long and looks like he could add a lot of good weight. He's rangy and plays pretty hard. He's on EBO with Jamelle Horne and would love to hear from the Wildcats down the line.
Another eight grader (I can't believe I am typing this) to file away for the future Tyler Lamb of Chino, CA. He already has nice size and decent length. He deferred to his older teammates but did not back down during the game.
Some other young players that were intriguing were Renaldo Blackman (2008 WF), Garrett Green (2008 C) and Dallas Rutherford (2008 SG). Ibrahima Thomas, a 2007 big man who I say a few months back in Vegas, is also very intriguing. I plan on giving all of these players another look on Sunday for further evaluation.