Pump 'N Run Easter Tournament

Some of the top players at the Pump Easter Tournament included Cornell Littlejohn, Hector Hernandez, Martell Webster and Mario Chalmers, among others...

The Pump ‘N Run Easter Tournament was held this past weekend in Las Vegas and featured some of the top AAU programs in the West. Here's a look at some of notable players in attendance.

Cornell Littlejohn, 6-0 JR PG Fairfield (Calif.) Vanden. We've liked Littlejohn since we first saw him last spring, but we weren't sure if he'd be able to play the point. Those concerns were put to rest in this tournament, as Littlejohn demonstrated that he's among the top point guards in the west. Along with Jordan Farmar and Quentin Thomas, Littlejohn is an elite prospect among West Coast PGs. Long and lean, terrific athlete, with very good quickness. Quick is the operative word – quick hands and feet, quick release on his shot. Very good shooter. Penetrates well and finds people when he gets in the lane. He is not a finished product – can get careless with the ball, focus wavers at times and defensive fundamentals need work. But all the tools are there for a big-time point guard. Academics are a concern and will need to improve in order to qualify.

Mario Chalmers, 6-0 SO PG Anchorage (Alaska) Bartlett. The early leader for the top PG spot in the West Coast class of 2005. Great bball body – long and explosive – with quickness and hops. Very good shooter. Stroke can be a little long at times, but showed a quicker release on two different occasions when he knocked down threes off the catch. Plays unselfishly and finds people in transition. Very active defensively, but has a tendency to roam around the court and gamble too often. A potential lockdown defender down the road. An elite, high major prospect.

Martell Webster, 6-6 SO SF Seattle (Wash.) Seattle Prep. One of the top five players in the West Coast class of 2005, Webster showed a terrific all-around game. Very good bball body – long – and good, not great, athleticism. Excellent outside shooter off the catch or dribble. Very effective at creating space with jab step, then knocking down jumper. Excellent rebounder and handles like a guard. Effective in transition – can finish himself or find a teammate with good vision. Competes very well. Needs to work on mid-range game, as good defenders will take away the outside shot and make him put it on the floor for more than one bounce. An elite, high major prospect.

Hector Hernandez, 6-8 JR PF/SF Denver (Col.) Lincoln. Hernandez has improved considerably since last summer. Good frame, but not yet physically mature – could get much stronger. Not an explosive athlete, but moves very well. Very skilled with the ball. Shoots it very well out to the stripe and can really handle. Doesn't have a true position. He definitely has the ball skills to play small forward – and is more comfortable playing a finesse game – but the question will be who he defends. Might not have the quickness to defend high major threes. Not real physical, and has a tendency to float a bit, but skill level gets your attention. A high major prospect.

Andre McGee, 5-9 SO PG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. McGee figures to be the subject of considerable debate in the coming years. There's no denying that he has considerable talent. Very good scorer, with the ability to break down defenses or knock down the open three. Explosive quickness and stronger than he looks. Can defend when he puts his mind to it. But, to borrow a phrase from our friend Dave Benezra, McGee is the ultimate "points guard." Scoring is his first priority and he really dominates the ball. He doesn't have a feel for the position of point guard and it's questionable whether you'll be able to coach him out of bad habits by the time he reaches college. And as he faces bigger players, who are also very quick, there's a question as to whether he'll get his shot off the way he can now (very low release). He has high major talent, but he has a lot to learn about the game before he plays in a high major program.

Ceylon Taylor, 6-1 JR PG San Jose (Calif.) Pioneer. This was our first look at Taylor and we were impressed. Very quick and explosive with a fairly good frame. Shoots the three, but more scorer than pure shooter. Elusive and hard to guard, with a very good first step. Not a pure PG – tendency to dominate the ball -- but has the requisite ball skills and did make several nice passes in the game we saw. Very good defender with excellent lateral quickness. Definitely a good mid major prospect and could go higher.

Robert Rothbart, 7-0 JR PF Cupertino (Calif.) Monta Vista. Rothbart has long been a player with considerable potential, but he struggled in this tournament. He hasn't changed much from where he was a year ago. He hasn't developed a low-post game and prefers to play on the perimeter. He can knock down an open shot if given time, but smaller players can guard him on the perimeter and he doesn't have the ability to create a shot for himself. We list him as a power forward because that's the position he probably defends, but he plays a very finesse-oriented game. He needs to get stronger, play a more physical game and improve as a rebounder/shot blocker. He'll continue to get high major looks due to his size and potential, but he's a long way from playing at that level.

Rico Tucker, 5-11 JR PG/SG San Diego (Calif.) University. Tucker played football until recently and he has a sort of bull in the china shop approach to basketball. Strong body, explosive hops, but lacks the finesse and feel to play point guard. Outside stroke has improved in the last year. Looks to dunk whenever possible, but dunking is not a skill that college coaches are looking for from their point guard. Handle and decisions need work. Will play hard and has the athleticism to be a good defender with coaching. Low to possibly mid major prospect.


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