Las Vegas Day 1

LAS VEGAS – The Vegas Tournaments are now in action. On Friday night we got a teaser at the Pangos Midnight Madness but the action intensified on Saturday. We got out to see a few committed players and a host of Wildcat prospects.

EBO may be the team to beat at the adidas Super 64 and they are also stocked with a host of Wildcat recruits. Led by Jamelle Horne, even when the team played poorly they won by double figures.

First off, Horne wanted to dispel any rumors that he was backing off Arizona. Horne's father confirmed that the commitment was firm. Not only was Jamelle planning on committing to Arizona, but that he was actively trying to recruit players to come with him.

One of those players was Jerryd Bayless. Bayless had played his entire AAU career with the Arizona Magic but decided to make a run at the Super 64 Championship with the team from Northern California.

Bayless and Horne struggle early on in EBO's first game against the Compton Magic. The game was close and Horne was saddled with foul trouble. When he finally got back onto the floor he made an instant impact. Horne slammed home a missed free throw that brought the crowd to their feet. On the next possession Bayless slammed home a nasty one-hander and the Compton Magic were demoralized.

Bayless struggled early that first game, but rallied in the second half and carried EBO while Horne was on the bench.

Word around the event is that Bayless is still seriously considering the Cats. Other programs are still involved but it is clear that Arizona is still a player.

Bayless and Horne may be the biggest stars on the team but they are hardly alone. Center Jeff Withey is vastly improved from a year ago. Although he was mostly facing smaller players, Withey was a beast on the defensive end. He blocked nine shots in the first game and followed that up with seven blocks in the night cap. Withey was also very aggressive on the offensive end, showcasing a nice jump hook and slamming home numerous dunks.

Fellow front line player Matt Simpkins also showed flashes. The 6-8 forward from Sacramento has great athleticism and showed off a better than expected jumpshot. He still has a lot to learn, but he has an extra year to learn it. Simpkins claims that everything is in place to reclassify to the 2008 class.

Although he is just a role player on EBO, I am still very high on wing Jerry Brown. He does not get the chance to strut his stuff but the 2009 prospect has a lot of tools to work with.

EBO won both of their games by double figures but neither were a cakewalk. The first saw them pull away late, while Texas Select made a late charge thanks to 2009 wing prospect Shawn Williams. Williams scored 36, including nine threes. Keep an eye out for this kid.

Wildcat coaches were out to see Larry Drew Jr. and the 2008 PG did not disappoint. He's a great floor general and a heck of a passer. Expect the Cats to go hard after both Drew and Brandon Jennings.

James Hardin is the real deal. The shooting guard is all but committed to ASU and Herb Sendek is getting a player that reminds me a lot of Gilbert Arenas.

Clint Amberry favors the Wildcats, but right now he does not have an offer. He attended the Wildcat elite camp but probably has to do a lot more to garner a serious look.

Save for some foul trouble, Laval Lucas-Perry had a very nice outing. The newest Wildcat is a steady, solid player who makes plays and does not make mistakes. Although he is a totally different player, he reminds me a bit of Marcus Williams at this stage. Both players were terrific athletes, but they always seem to make the right choice and limit their mistakes. He may not be flashy, but the kid is a player.

Haven't heard of Emmanuel Negedu? Don't worry, many haven't. The 6-8 forward is playing on a 16 & Under team but already has offers from Oklahoma, Indiana, Iowa and apparently the Wildcats. He's a well built, athletic power forward who is still learning the game but is by no means a project. He's a 2008 player and should move up the charts.

The Wildcats were without Lute Olson on the first day. Olson was finishing up his vacation so Jim Rosborough was on hand. He spent the day at the Big Time Tournament. Among the players he checked out were Brandon Jennings, Zane Johnson and Alex Jacobson. Johnson had 18 in the Arizona Magic's opener, making 3-of-5 threes and 7-12 overall.

Brandon Jennings scored just four points in his opening game but dished out six assists and led the SoCal All-Stars to a 84-73 win over Derrick Rose and Meanstreets. Rose pumped in 22.

Andy Poling had two strong games, although he started slow in the game that we saw him play. He needs to add a lot of bulk but he has some skills to work. Poling scored 18 in both of his games and had 22 rebounds for the day.

His Portland Panther teammate Clinton Chapman averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds over two games. He is getting a lot of Pac-10 love in the past few months. Another late bloomer in the 2007 class.

We'll be seeing the likes of Luke Babbitt, Alex Jacobson, Jrue Holiday and others on Sunday. Also expect more detailed analysis of all the players we've seen.


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