After watching for just one day, here are the west coast standouts:
Andre McGee, 5-10 JR PG, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. He's putting on a show here, actually leading the camp in scoring. That's right, a 5-10 point guard from Moreno Valley, California, is leading the ABCD camp in scoring. How does that happen? First, McGee's style of play suits the camp environment perfectly. He's very difficult to guard, and at a camp like ABCD, no one plays defense anyway, so that's a lethal combination. Secondly, McGee can really shoot his outside set shot, which is also perfect at this camp since everyone jacks up shots almost as soon as they pass the halfcourt line. He's shooting an astounding 73% from the three point line. So, really, if the playground, camp-style of game was how basketball was really played in college, Andre McGee would be the #1 prospect in the country. However, it isn't, and he isn't. But while McGee's performance here might get overblown by many national scouts that only judge on performance rather than as a college prospect, you still can't deny what McGee has accomplished. Even though it's an artificial environment, one that's the perfect habitat for him, and he won't ever find it in college, McGee has to be given credit for how well he's flourished in it. Quite simply, he is unguardable, as we wrote about him earlier this spring. He's just so incredibly quick, has great one-on-one moves and handles the ball so well. He also can simply really score, even at his size, among players much bigger than he is, when driving the lane. Now, once he gets to college and is guarded by real, high-major level players who know how to play defense, it could be another matter, since he is only 5-10. But McGee has dominated here to such a degree you have to start to believe that he's so good at doing what he's does, which is 1) shooting from deep 2) breaking someone down and then scoring or 3) breaking someone down and then dishing, that he'll be able to carry some of this over to the high major college level. He's very talented, and if he ever played more like a point guard (and to be fair, how would anyone know what a point guard really looks like at a freestyle camp like this?), he actually could have a chance to be among the best players in the country. He'll undoubtedly now get ranked among them by many national scouts. And heck, again, he's dominated so much here at Adidas that you have to consider it.
Robert Swift, 6-11 SR C, Bakersfield (Calif.) Highland. Swift is truly the real elite high major prospect from the west coast here. We wrote a story two years ago when he was going into the summer before his sophomore year, that he was the best prospect on the west coast regardless of class, and he very well could be proving us prophetic (or lucky). He went up against Dwight Howard Wednesday night, who many consider the best post player in the country, Thursday night and at least held his own. Possibly if you threw in a little west coast bias, you might say he edged Howard in their one-on-one matchup. And all week, from what I've been told by reliable sources, he's been doing it. He's definitely taken his game to the next level, being able to physically dominate the competition here. Around the basket, he's a bear, and if he continues to get bigger and stronger, like he has done in the last year, his potential is limitless. To think that he has a full year of high school left would lead you to believe that he very well could continue to improve enough that he could put his name into the NBA draft with no worries. Given the level of talent that has done it in recent years and been drafted high, he's almost certainly good enough now. The biggest news about Swift that many on the west coast have known about but haven't reported for some time is that he's possibly going to transfer to Los Angeles Westchester. It's by no means a done deal, but it's a distinct possibility.
DeMarcus Nelson, 6-3 SG, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. Nelson is so good at what he does that he's able to dominate here. You could almost say that Nelson is a bigger, stronger version of Andre McGee, which is a very potent possibility. He's so good at shooting, breaking down defenders (but with his strength rather than quickness like McGee), or breaking down defenders and dishing, that there aren't many here that can stay with him. What makes Nelson really so potent is his continually improving outside shot, which is so good now that defenders have to come out and defend him. Well, not here at this camp, but in college they will. Nelson simply is proving that he's so good at his style of play, in much the same way as McGee, that he deserves to be ranked among the best shooting guards in the country.
Arron Afflalo, 6-5 SR SG, Compton (Calif.) Centennial. While some have said that Afflalo has had mixed results here in the first few days, on Thursday he was one of the best all-around players at the camp. He not only shot the ball well, but handled it very well, hit teammates with great passes, and drove the lane with success. He's not explosive off the floor, which is evident here among the athletes, but he's light years ahead of so many other players here in knowing how to play and how the game works. While you can argue forever about who's the better prospect between him and DeMarcus Nelson, it really doesn't matter; suffice it to say that the two west coast shooting guards are among the best in the nation.
Gabriel Pruitt, 6-3 CG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. The scary thing is, Pruitt could have more upside than any guard in the west. That includes Nelson and Afflalo – and even Jordan Farmar. Pruitt has continued to get bigger, being maybe 6-1ish a year and a half ago, and fill out. If he continues down this path he could end up a 6-3 to 6-4, 190-lb. NBA-level point guard. The way his athleticism has grown has been one of the most enjoyable things to watch in the last couple of years in high school basketball on the west coast. He threw down an alley oop dunk Thursday that was one of the best dunks of the day, which is saying something considerable since ABCD is such a dunk fest. He's also putting on display his great feel and passing ability. Yes, Pruitt is actually passing the ball here, which comes as a surprise for many of his teammates. He's playing on the same team as McGee and Swift (all future Trojans?), so he might be getting overshadowed. But if you understand basketball, it's easy to see how good Pruitt is, and to recognize his limitless potential. Pruitt is one of the elite players in the west, even though many national scouts might not be able to see it.
Lorenzo Mata, 6-8 SR PF, South Gate (Calif.) High. Swift ate up Mata Thursday, but there is still no denying that Mata is an elite power forward on the national level. He is so physical, plays so hard and gets off the floor so quickly that many elite high-majors are starting to get involved. And he's just at the beginning of his learning curve. His offense is still in the very initial stages, with flurries of nice scoring moves here and there. Combine that with his athleticism and aggressiveness and you have a potential beast. And he doesn't seem to understand how not to play hard. Thursday an opponent had a breakaway dunk, but Mata ran back on defense, went up and swatted the dunk and practically took his opponents head off. His academics will be the only limitations of his recruiting, precluding many schools from recruiting him.
Marcus Everett, 6-1 SR SG, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade. The usually steady Everett has stepped up his scoring ability here, hitting his outside jumper and finding room for his mid-range effectively. With his already known ability to run the point and be a good defender, showcasing some scoring talent adds another dimension to his game. Some high major school are spending some serious time scouting him, which includes Stanford, since Everett has good academics.
Taylor King, 6-6 FR PF/SF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. He's the rave among the younger players in the camp, putting on a show with his ability to shoot and then score around the basket with his crafty moves. What's so impressive is that, as such a youngster, he's come here to compete with literally no fear. Maybe he's too young to be nervous. But King seems pretty clued in, so it's probably more a case that he's just one of those unusual kids that is fearless – and talented.
Marvin Williams, 6-8 SR PF, Bremerton (Wash.) High, and C.J. Giles, 6-10 SR C, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach, two of the elite west coast prospects here, sat out because of injury.
We'll do an evaluation of each west coaster by the end of the camp…