We spent most of last week at the FullcourtPress Summer Spectacular, which was held at Millikan and Mayfair high schools. Here are our latest impressions on some of the top seniors who participated, along with some new names. We'll have another report with the underclassmen.
Brandon Heath, 6-2 SG Los Angeles Westchester. He's always been talented -- the question has been consistency and decision-making. Heath put it all together last week, showing great range on his shot, some very impressive athletic moves to the hole, solid ball-handling and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to play under control. He also defends his ass off. Put this guy in the right system (think UNLV in Tark's heyday) and he has a chance to be a star at the high major level.
Brandon Bowman, 6-6 SF Los Angeles Westchester. Didn't have quite the week that Heath had, but he shows you flashes, and those flashes can be pretty damn impressive. Great basketball body, good athleticism and skills. He can get real hot from the three-point line, but has a habit of hesitating and that, combined with a somewhat slow release, means he doesn't always get the shots he should. He needs to work on maintaining his focus and intensity, but the tools are all there for Brandon to be a very good player down the road.
Ashanti Cook, 6-1 PG Los Angeles Westchester. Yes, Westchester's gonna have a decent team next year. Ashanti had a very good week, as he knocked down the open jumper, ran his team without any superfluous nonsense and showed terrific athleticism. With his quickness and long arms, he has the potential to be a big-time defender. He only played adequate, not great, defense this week, but I'll chalk that up to his looking over at the sideline and seeing only me and a couple other guys who didn't look anything like Ernie Kent, Don Monson or Steve Lavin.
Ryan Meilleur, 6-7 PF Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. Ryan played for both Artesia and H-Squad (an AAU team filling in) and he had some impressive moments. With a big body and soft hands, he's still just learning what he can do inside. A lack of explosiveness keeps him from the high major level, but he could end up a solid banger for a mid major.
Reggie Butler, 6-6 SF Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Butler had an up and down week, showing off his dunking and shooting ability at times, but also losing his focus on defense at other times. He has a bad habit of reaching on the perimeter and picking up a lot of silly fouls. He did show an improved ability to put the ball on the floor a few times. If he can become a legitimate threat to go by people with the dribble, his game will go to another level. He's easily one of the top 2-3 athletes in the west this year and his upside is considerable.
Ryan Hollins, 6-10 C Pasadena (Calif.) Muir. Very thin and raw big man, but he had some moments and showed upside. Fairly athletic, but needs to add strength. Came off the weakside for a couple nice blocks, displayed pretty good hands and converted on a number of opportunities inside. He's still learning the game, and his reactions aren't always great, but he's getting better. Probable mid major prospect who needs a redshirt year, but has a chance to develop into a player.
Lance Soderberg, 6-7 PF Corona (Calif.) Centennial. There have been rumors about Soderberg transferring back to Mater Dei, but he played with Centennial this week, so that's how we'll list him for now. Lance struggled a bit in the games we saw, as he looks to be something of a tweener at this point. He doesn't really post up effectively inside and his perimeter skills and quickness aren't there to play the three. He does have ability -- passes it pretty well, will rebound and occasionally hit the outside shot -- but he looks like he's still trying to become comfortable with his body and find a position on the floor.
Keion Kindred, 6-3 PG Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Keion played with Crenshaw this week and told me there's a good chance he'll end up at Lynwood or Crenshaw next year. Keion is a very well put together, strong lead guard with a surprisingly good handle and ability to penetrate. He's unselfish, with a good feel for the game, and he competes. He's got a decent outside shot, but he'll need to show it a little more this month if he's to get high major offers.
Shaddean Aaron, 6-5 SF Claremont (Calif.) High. Shaddean had a very solid week, draining threes consistently and showing good athleticism. He plays hard at both ends. His handle could use a little work, and his shot isn't always on, but he's a good low to mid major prospect.
Brice Prather, 6-8 PF Villa Park (Calif.) High. Brice has shown considerable improvement in the last year. Nice frame, long arms and a developing low post game. Not very athletic, and needs to get stronger, but he's got a good feel for what he's capable of doing on the court. Posts up well and he's learning how to use his size.
Giovanni St. Amant, 6-2 SG Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. A very good athlete, Giovanni is most effective when he's attacking the basket. His outside shot is very spotty, though, and he needs to work harder at the defensive end.
Jamal Hall, 6-3 SG Pasadena (Calif.) Muir. Jamal is a strong, explosive athlete who competes at both ends. More effective driving than shooting the jumper, but his stroke isn't bad. Fairly good handle and passing ability. If he gets his shot down, his recruitment will pick up considerably.