2012 West Coast Sleepers

Ben Carter, Richard Longrus and Grant Verhoeven are among the talented players in the west that didn't make the top 100...

While fans often obsess over Top 100 lists, and how many players on the list are being recruited by their alma mater, there are a lot of very good players that don't necessarily make that list. Sometimes they're late bloomers. Other times they may play for a low profile AAU team and recruiting analysts haven't seen them very much (or at all). Among recent West Coast players, Russell Westbrook, Adam Morrison, Landry Fields, Ryan Anderson, Derrick Williams, Paul George and Craig Brackins, to name just a few, weren't showing up on Top 100 lists at the end of their junior season.

With that in mind, I thought I'd offer my thoughts on five players that aren't currently on our Top 100 that I believe have a chance to be impact players at the next level.

Ben Carter, 6-8 PF Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. Frankly, I wasn't a big Carter fan two years ago. But a lot has changed since then. He's grown a bit, he's moving much better (not uncommon for a big kid growing into his body), he's a deceptive athlete and, most importantly, his skill level has improved dramatically. He handles the ball very well for a PF, he's a good passer and a very tough match-up with his ability to play both facing the basket and with his back to the basket. He also has a unique combination of finesse and toughness. He'll get a tough rebound in traffic, but he also has the feel and vision to make a great pass out of a double team. He plays for a low-profile AAU team out of Las Vegas, so it's possible he won't get seen a lot in July by recruiting analysts. But there's no question he's one of the top prospects in the west.

Calaen Robinson, 6-1 SG Tempe (Calif.) Corona Del Sol. A lefty with a quick release, deep range and ability to create his own shot, Robinson projects as a shooting guard at the next level. However, he has the quickness to defend the one and he's also a pretty good passer. But he's got a scorer's mentality, and the ability to score in a variety of ways, so he probably will be playing off the ball. He's not the ideal size for a two at the next level, but his shot and quickness make him a tough cover. He's a good defender, with quick hands and good anticipation in playing the passing lanes. He wasn't seen by many people last year, but I expect Robinson to have some breakout performances in July.

Grant Verhoeven, 6-7 PF Visalia (Calif.) Central Valley Christian. Verhoeven is a very deceptive athlete with a tough and bruising type of game. One scout recently compared him to Butler's Matt Howard and that might be a good comparison. Verhoeven has a very good feel for the game and a great motor. He makes plays all over the court and he's a great help defender. He's more of an interior scorer than perimeter guy at this stage in his career, but he can help his team win games even when he's not scoring. He's an excellent rebounder with great rebounding range. He's another guy that plays on a relatively low profile AAU team, but he will have plenty of high major offers by the end of July. This kid is a winner and he would make any team in the country better.

Richard Longrus, 6-6 PF/SF Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. Longrus is an above-average athlete, good rebounder and very good defender. He reminds me a bit of a smaller Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, although Luc was a very mature-looking freshman when he entered college. Longrus, while not a great scorer, has a better stroke at the same stage. Because he's not a guy that's going to get 20 in every game he plays on the club circuit, I think some people have a tendency to overlook him as a prospect. He probably ends up playing the four at the next level, but it's possible he'll be able to defend threes as well. He plays with terrific energy and he's an excellent competitor – two attributes that are often overlooked in summer basketball. Everyone gets enamored with the guys that can put the ball in the hoop, but there aren't a lot of players with Longrus's body, athleticism, defensive ability, makeup and competitiveness.

Zena Edosomwan, 6-7 C/PF North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. Edosomwan has made huge strides in the last two years, as he's grown a bit, become more athletic and improved his ball skills. He's one of the top couple rebounders in the west and he's an above-average defender as well. His offensive game is pretty much limited to stuff around the basket right now, but he's got good feet and hands with a solid feel for the game. He plays with great energy, even when he goes entire games without getting more than a touch or two in the post. A very bright kid, Edosomwan has an excellent feel for the game. Don't be surprised when 2-3 years from now he's out-playing guys that were ranked in front of him.

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