Las Vegas: West Coast Evaluations

Aaron Gordon, Jabari Bird, Marcus Allen and Jordan McLaughlin were among the top West Coast prospects in Las Vegas this past week...

Aaron Gordon, 6-7 PF San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty. I only saw Gordon play one game in Las Vegas before his oblique injury sidelined him, but it was extremely impressive. His explosive athleticism, superior offensive skills and great motor make him the top prospect in the west regardless of position for 2013. He's the rare power forward that can make both finesse and power plays. He's got a solid stroke out to the stripe, and he can use his ball skills to maneuver around defenders, but he also has the power and strength to just go right through them. He won't be in college for long.

Jabari Bird, 6-5 SF Richmond (Calif.) Salesian. Bird missed some time prior to July with an injury, but he was outstanding in Las Vegas. He's the prototype wing, with a great basketball body, and explosive athleticism. He can score in bunches and he made several shots in Vegas that had scouts saying "that's a pro move." He's got a really good stroke with deep range and he's added a mid-range post up game that's hard to stop at this level. He's not yet a good defender, but he's got all the tools to be really good in that department once he gets some college coaching. He's another guy that doesn't figure to be playing in college for very long.

Marcus Allen, 6-2 PG/SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. The top point guard prospect in the west for 2013, Allen is not a classic true point. He plays off the ball a lot with his brother Malcolm playing the one for their club and high school teams. However, Allen has played some point guard in the past and he has enough point guard attributes that it's easy to see him transitioning to the one full time in the future. He's a willing passer, with good vision and instincts. He's an explosive athlete, with good quickness, and a strong body. He has the ability to create his own shot and he can score from multiple spots on the floor. He's a good, not great, three-point shooter and he's got a solid mid-range game. In Vegas, he had the best half I saw from any player when he took over a game and nearly led his undermanned team back from a 17 point deficit against Grassroots Canada.

Dakarai Allen, 6-4 SF Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. The best defender in the West Coast class of 2013, regardless of position (and it's not close), Allen is also a great passer. He has a point guard's feel, and vision, with the size and athleticism to defend one through three. Some observers have mistakenly labeled him a non-shooter, but that's not the case at all. He had several games in Vegas when he made multiple jump shots. His stroke needs to get quicker, but he should be fine once he gets some college coaching and repetitions. He also showed an ability to get to the rim at will in a couple games. An outstanding competitor, Allen's game has subtleties that are often overlooked. With his long arms, and really quick hands, he gets a ton of deflections. He's excellent in defensive transition, routinely stopping two on ones, or even three on ones, by himself. He's very unselfish and advances the ball quickly after getting a defensive rebound. He's got a great frame that should fill out nicely with a college weight program. He does lack strength at this time and his game figures to go to a whole different level once he adds some muscle. The only reason to take him is if you want to win.

Tre'Shaun Lexing, 6-6 SF/PF Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln. A smooth lefty with a very versatile game, Lexing is one of the more underrated prospects out west in 2013. He was terrific in one viewing, showing off a very accurate jump shot, above average ball skills and an excellent feel for the game. He makes the game look easy, rarely forcing the action and consistently making good decisions. He's got a three man's game offensively, but it's possible he fills out some more and ends up at the four someday. But he's one of the those rare players where you don't worry too much about him becoming a four, as his overall game will play well at either spot. He plays the game unselfishly, which is something you don't always see out of players with his offensive skills. He's one of the elite prospects in the west for 2013.

Christian Wood, 6-9 PF Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. A slender four man with a sweet stroke and deep range, Wood can sometimes float to the perimeter a bit too much. He needs to get stronger, particularly in his lower body, in order to take advantage of his size inside. He gets pushed around too much right now and ends up settling for too many jump shots. However, he's got excellent ball skills for a kid his size, very good length and a good frame. Once he gets into a college weight training program at UNLV, his game figures to go to a different level.

Torren Jones, 6-8 C Chandler (Ariz.) Basha. Jones played as well as we've seen him in a win over the Oakland Soldiers, as he did a great job of hitting the boards and getting points off loose balls and put backs. He doesn't have much of a low-post game at this time, but he plays hard and is willing to bang and defend. He's a straight line athlete, and somewhat stiff, but he runs the court and competes well. He's continued to improve in the last year and figures to get plenty of looks in a 2013 class that's short on post prospects.

Rashad Muhammad, 6-4 SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. Muhammad doesn't have the body or athleticism of his older brother Shabazz, but he does have a really accurate jump shot. That stroke was on display in the one game I saw him play in Vegas and he was lighting it up from multiple spots on the floor. He needs to work on putting the ball on the floor, and hopefully he will fill out at some point (still very slender), but he's improved quite a bit in the last year.

Mario Dunn, 5-11 PG Richmond (Calif.) Salesian. A strong, stocky point guard, Dunn has good quickness and good ball skills overall. He generally makes solid decisions and competes very well. He's got an adequate shot at this time and should be fine from three-point range at the next level.

Malcolm Allen, 6-1 PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. A terrific athlete, Allen has decent ball skills overall with an inconsistent jump shot. He's got a chance to be a really good defender, with excellent lateral quickness. However, his decision-making does need to get better at the next level.

Jordan McLaughlin, 5-11 PG Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Etiwanda. The top point guard in the west for 2014, McLaughlin has terrific ball skills, with above average athleticism and great body control/balance. He's constantly getting into the lane and finding ways to score around, and sometimes over, bigger players. He's got a good stroke with three-point range and his step back jumper makes him very hard to defend. But he's not just as a scorer, as he has very good vision and passing ability. He's one of the elite prospects in the country for 2014.

Kyron Cartwright, 5-10 PG Compton (Calif.) High. A true point, Cartwright has a very nice lefty stroke with above average quickness. While he's not real big, Cartwright generally makes very good decisions, with the ability to create for himself or teammates. He's got range to the stripe and a nice little floater in the lane that he shoots on the way up. In a loaded 2014 West Coast class of point guards, Cartwright is right near the top of the list.

Isaiah Bailey, 6-5 SG Compton (Calif.) High. One of the elite athletes in the class, Bailey has the ability to knock down jump shots as well as finish inside against size. He's got a prototype wing body, with explosive athleticism and a very high upside. He needs to improve his handle, and tighten up his decision-making, but he's got a chance to be a really good player someday once he gets some coaching.

Shaqquan Aaron, 6-6 SF Apple Valley (Calif.) School TBD. One of the top prospects in the west for 2014, Aaron's development has been hindered by missing an entire high school season after transferring and subsequently bouncing around from a few club teams. He's obviously still rusty after not playing in any organized games for a while, but he's still a terrific prospect due to his body, athleticism and skill set. He's got a nice stroke, he can handle and pass very well for his size and there's a ton of upside to his body still. He needs to get stronger, stay in one place and get some coaching, but he's still got a chance to be a really good player someday.

Payton Dastrup, 6-9 C Mesa (Ariz.) Mesa Mountain. Dastrup has a strong body, with very good shoulders, and he's a fair athlete. He's not a high flyer, but he's got pretty good feet and a high skill level for a young post. He's got a really nice stroke out to 17-19 feet and a pretty decent jump hook. He's got a nice feel around the basket and figures to be a good scorer at the next level. It will be interesting to see how his body goes as he matures and adds weight, but he's the top post prospect in the west for 2014.

Stanley Johnson, 6-5 PF/SF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Johnson is a physically mature prospect with a strong body and solid stroke to the stripe. He's always been a guy that has teetered between the three and four spot, but he's starting to fill out more now and there's a good chance he ends up defending power forwards down the road. He's a solid athlete, although something of a straight-line guy, and he may end up having difficulty defending high level athletes on the perimeter at the next level. But with his ability to knock down jump shots, he's still a nice prospect even if he ends up a power forward in college.

Robert Cartwright, 6-0 PG La Canada (Calif.) Flintridge Prep. A young-looking junior, Cartwright doesn't look like a top prospect as he's not real big and has just an average body. But he's much quicker than he looks and he's got an outstanding feel for the game. A true point, his play in Vegas caused one scout to say "kind of like Bobby Hurley." That's obviously high praise, and we're certainly not saying he will ever reach that level, but Cartwright does have a chance to be a very good player. He's a very good shooter and his decision-making was near flawless in the games I saw. Despite being probably about 150 pounds, he's fearless and plays with toughness. He's really quick laterally and was the probably the best on-the-ball defender I saw among 2014 point guards. A coach on the floor, Cartwright plays the game the right way and he will no doubt have plenty of high major offers this time next year.

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