It's been only one day, so it's premature to draw any conclusions, and we certainly haven't had a chance to see enough of many of the west coast players participating in the tournament.
But first impressions are very important in the evaluations business. Many college coaches form opinions quickly – perhaps too quickly – and many times based on the first day of viewing in July.
So, the first day of July is, like it or not, important. Among some of the west coast 2012 headliners, here's how the first day went.
Shabazz Muhammad, 6-5 SF, Dream Vision – He scored 39 points in his first game of the day and, most miraculously, in the flow of play. There isn't much more to say about the #1-ranked player in the nation at this point, but he continues to improve – getting better physically, athletically and skills-wise. He looked a bit tired in Dream Vision's second outing, an 88-83 loss to the Atlanta Celtics in one of the Super Pools, probably because he plays every minute of every game for Dream Vision and he put them n on his back to finish the come-from-behind win in the first game. His 39-point game had to be the performance of the day.
Tyrone Wallace, 6-4 SG/PG, Double Pump – The 6-4 guard has the vision and feel of a point guard and the size and length of a shooting guard. Many times a "tweener" type doesn't really have a position, but Wallace continues to improve, to the point we think he is a legit combo guard that can play both the point and the shooting guard spot and, most importantly, guard both spots. Wallace's athleticism has improved, not only in his hops but his lateral quickness, staying with much smaller and seemingly quicker opposing point guards Wednesday. And his offensive skills continue to improve, showing confidence in a better outside jumper and being more aggressive taking the ball to the basket. Wallace has improved from his high school season, and even from earlier in spring, and physically has so much potential as he continues to grow and fill out. if we could buy stock in Wallace we would.
Robert Upshaw, 6-11 C, Dream Vision -- The post had a very unfortunate day, getting into foul trouble in both games and playing very limited minutes. Some of it wasn't his fault, just being unlucky. Some of it, though, was; After he had collected a couple of fouls he continued to play irresponsibly, like jumping in the air to defend in the post rather than staying on the ground, and trying to wildly swipe at shots from drivers. He showed flashes of what we've seen since the spring, but never really got in any rhythm.
Zena Edosomwan, 6-7 PF, Double Pump – The post who had put together such a good spring didn't have an equivalent first day. It wasn't a bad day, but just not an exceptional one. He got into a bit of foul trouble, which limited his minutes, but also appeared tentative and unaggressive around the basket, which is unusual for him. He has quite eyes of college coaches on him so perhaps he was a bit nervous in his first day.
Xavier Johnson, SF, Dream Vision. Johnson has played with Dream Vision in the past, even though he's spent most of his time on the Pumps. Today he looked out-of-sync with Dream Vision, seemingly not really knowing his role offensively. He took some quick outside shots, which he has been prone to do since spring, and missed most of them. Even though Johnson doesn't want to be, he's most effective offensively in the paint, but he likes to float outside and shoot. With Dream Vision, he floated outside more, but the few times he did post up an opponent or get in the paint looking for an offensive rebound were his best moments.
Winston Shepard, 6-6 SF, Dream Vision – Winston is a good, long athlete with some developing skills. At times today he was sloppy, and then a couple of times he knocked down a midrange jumper. He plays hard all the time and his motor is one of his best assets. At this point he's a combo forward, and is so effective when he plays more as a four and matches up against opposing, slower fours.
Demetrius Morant, 6-8 PF/C, Dream Vision – His style of play is pure center, but his body looks like a small forward, probably not more than 195 pounds. He's athletic and is a solid rebounder, getting off the floor quickly. He has very little offensive skills, but has learned, at least, to be in the right place at the right time for dump-offs and putbacks. In a year in the west that lacks posts, he's getting recruited at a high level, being the type of athlete you might take and gamble that he'll continue to develop as he gets bigger physically.
Landen Lucas, 6-8 C, Northwest Panthers – In a year short on posts, Lucas is clearly getting looks from many programs, with just about every west coast coaching staff having someone in attendance at his games today. He's a big boy, probably 240 pounds, and his body looks like it's improved some, perhaps a bit slimmer, making him a bit more agile. He disappeared at times today, but then would show up with a big time rebound above the rim, or a nice seal-off on the block.
The usual suspects recruiting #1-ranked Shabazz Muhammad were at both of the Dream Vision games –one against the host team, Indiana Elite, and then at night against perennial superpower Atlanta Celtics. The head coaches of Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, and Memphis made themselves readily seen on the sidelines. For the second game, against the Celtics, just about every high-major program from coast to coast had a coach in the gym.