Part two of our report on the recent FullCourtPress Summer Spectacular focuses on the underclassmen.
Omar Wilkes, 6-2 SG Los Angeles Loyola. We've been saying for awhile now that Omar would be a high major player if he grows a little more. Well, you can remove the "if he grows" part. Omar is the real deal. He put on the most impressive performance in the tournament when he led Loyola to an upset win over Long Beach Poly in the quarterfinals. If there was a way to measure basketball IQ, Omar would be hanging out at the bball Mensa meetings. He understands the game better than most college sophomores do. Physically, he's gotten more athletic and his hops have improved. He's got good range on his shot and he's extremely effective when he gets in the key for a mid-range shot. He also has terrific control of his body when he's in the air. And there's still a possibility that he could grow some more -- he's got a brother entering the ninth grade who is 6-6.
Eric Lane, 5-11 PG Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Eric is a very impressive young PG prospect. He scored in a variety of ways, hitting consistently from three-point range, and also showed a nice ability to penetrate and hit the mid-range shot. He's got good quickness and ball skills. He needs to get stronger (looks like he might weigh 140 pounds), but he has a chance to be among the better PGs in his class on the west coast.
Sean Phaler, 6-9 PF Villa Park (Calif.) High. Phaler is still painfully thin, and he doesn't look like he's going to add a lot of weight, but he's got some skills. He'll probably never be your prototypical low-post four man, but he's got a sweet shot with deep range. We're calling him a PF because he probably has to guard power forwards, as he doesn't have the quickness to stay with high major threes. But offensively, he'll probably function as a big wing. We were impressed with his willingness to go inside and scrap, despite his lack of muscle.
Marcus Williams, 6-2 PG Los Angeles Crenshaw. After a great freshman year, Marcus was somewhat disappointing when we saw him this past season in high school. He grew a couple inches and appeared to lose some of the quickness he had as a ninth grader. However, he was very impressive this past week, shooting a ridiculously high percentage on long range bombs that were well beyond the three-point line. He also showed an improved ability to finish inside, attacking the basket with swooping finger rolls that we hadn't seen from him before. He needs to work on distributing the ball a little better (then again, if we shot like him, we might not pass either), but he's got a shot at being a high major player.
Brian McFadden, 5-11 PG Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. A tough, smart (3.8 GPA) player who has gotten better since we last saw him. His stroke is improved and he had twelve points against Westchester in the opening minutes before they figured out he can shoot it. Good feel for the game and knows how to run a team. A lack of athleticism probably keeps him around the low major level, but expect the Ivy League teams to be all over him. Yale, which somehow stole Eddie Draughan this year, could be back looking for another Monsoon.
Marcus Dove, 6-6 SF Long Beach (Calif.) Millikan. Good-looking, long-armed athlete who can handle and pass the ball. Sort of a point forward, with a terrific feel and court awareness. His shot needs a lot of work, but he's got a big-time upside. Needs to learn to play hard consistently.
Trevor Ariza, 6-7 SF Los Angeles Westchester. Long, agile and still just learning what he can do on the court, Trevor has a chance to be as good (or better) as any of the Westchester players. He's grown since the end of the season and showed a little more explosiveness this past week (including a very nice tip dunk off his own missed shot). Not great in any one area yet, but a versatile player who can do a little of everything. Focus and intensity are two areas he needs to work on, but he's a high major prospect.
Devon Thomas, 6-1 SG Pasadena (Calif.) Muir. Studly body, good athlete, decent handle and a fair stroke. Plays hard. Someone to keep an eye on for the mid major level.
Gabriel Pruitt, 6-0 PG Compton (Calif.) Centennial. Gabe's grown 2-3 inches since we first saw him last summer and he looks like he might grow a couple more before he's done. One of the top PGs in his class on the west coast, Pruitt is a baby-faced assassin who can drop twenty five on you and make it look effortless. Whether it's with feathery three-point shots, little runners in the lane or pull-up jumpers off the dribble, he's got a lot of tricks in his bag already. He's still very slender (could definitely use some more muscle) and, while he's a good athlete, he's not super explosive (which may or may not change as he matures). But those are minor quibbles -- Gabe will be a high major player.
Aaron Affalo, 6-2 PG Compton (Calif.) Centennial. Another talented young guard on Centennial who may end up at the two. Nice stroke with excellent range and a good feel for the game. Fairly quick, but it might be an issue as he gets older -- he looks like a guy who will rely more on his size and strength. Likely high major prospect.
Vincent Oliver, 5-11 PG Los Angeles Loyola. Yet another impressive sophomore point guard. Good handle, adequate quickness, very nice stroke (catching it or off the dribble) and a surprisingly good defender for a young kid. A smart player, Oliver anticipates well, has good vision and makes solid decisions. Possible high major.