While most of the attention is focused on the big national camps back east, there are still a number of talented players participating in the various regional camps. One such camp is the West Coast All Star Camp. We spent the last four days at the first session of this camp. Here are our impressions on some of the seniors who caught our attention.
Kenton Paulino, 6-2 PG Maine Central Institute. Paulino is actually part of this year's graduating class, but he will be attending prep school next year. And after he spends that year terrorizing the east coast guards, you can expect a number of high major schools to be all over him.Coaches like to use the phrase "hard to guard," but with Kenton it's more like impossible to guard. Too quick, too skilled, too athletic...too much of everything. He was playing at half speed this week and it was still a mismatch with most of the guys he went up against. He's best as a scorer right now, but he has the ball skills and feel to develop into an outstanding point guard.
Matt McKinney, 6-8 PF Santa Ynez (Calif.) High. Matt is the top rated volleyball player in the country, but he might be playing himself right out of that sport and into a high major basketball program (if he chooses to do so). He literally gets better every time we see him. He has a great combination of size, athleticism and skill level, and he's still nowhere close to reaching his ceiling. He has a nice touch from 15-18 feet or so, he's improved his ability to put it on the floor and he can finish strong at the rim. We spoke with Matt and we'll have a story on his recruitment in the next couple days.
JoVance Coleman, 6-1 PG Fresno (Calif.) Hoover. More of a shooting guard at this time, but we think JoVance will ultimately play the point in college. He's certainly got the handle and passing skills to play the position and, while he does like to look for his shot, he's not averse to giving it up at times as well. He's deadly catching and shooting, or off the dribble, out to well past the stripe. Physically, he's got a great blend of strength and quickness. He's well put together and he can finish after drawing contact inside. He could work harder on defense, and he has a tendency to drift in and out of games (which may be partially due to the competition this week), but he's a high major talent.
Chris Ayers, 6-10 C Tucson (Ariz.) Flowing Wells. He doesn't wow you with his athleticism or skill level, but Chris is a solid post prospect. He's got good hands, a big body that's only going to get stronger, a nice touch, and he's tough and competitive. He needs time to develop, but he's a high major prospect.
Travis Niesen, 6-7 PF Mission Viejo (Calif.) High. A tough combo forward who functions best on the perimeter, Niesen had a good camp. He's a fun kid to watch, as he always plays hard and he knows how to play the game. Nice shot out to three point range, with good ball skills. A very solid player at the mid major level, who might get some high major looks.
Franklin Robinson, 6-3 SG Chatsworth (Calif.) High. Very strong and athletic slasher who can finish with authority. Plays hard and doesn't mind mixing it up inside. Needs work on his ball handling skills, decisions and outside shot. But the shot isn't a long ways away -- if he cleans up his stroke a little bit, he'll draw a lot of interest at the mid major level.
Martel Johnson, 6-3 PF Las Vegas (Nev.) Durango. Strong man-child who has developed his skills in the past year. Any basketball coach that gets him, though, will want to get a restraining order to keep the football coach away. Martel's just a stud of an athlete. He played more on the perimeter here than we've seen in the past and his ball skills have improved. Outside shot is shaky, but he's a warrior and could be a contributor at the low major level.
Carlos Rivers, 5-11 PG Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Carlos has good quickness, with fairly good skills and a serviceable shot. He does need to work on his decision-making, as he throws a lot of careless passes. His size and the lack of any one outstanding aspect to his game probably keeps him around the low major level, but he has the potential to go higher.
Jamaal Lee, 6-3 SF Los Angeles Washington. We'd never seen Jamaal before, but he's got a big body with agility, quick feet and a very surprising handle. They list him at 233, but he may be 250. Nevertheless, he was taking people off the dribble with crossovers and between the legs moves that were very impressive for a guy his size. And he stepped out to knock down a few jumpers. Interesting prospect for the low majors, perhaps slightly higher.
Louis Darby, 6-3 SF Sylmar (Calif.) High. Darby has a good body with exceptional hops. This was our first look at him, but we liked his instincts and unselfishness. He's very good around the basket, elevating and finishing strong. Outside shot needs work, but a good looking prospect.