Tark Classic: Day Two Notebook

LAS VEGAS - T.J. Leaf was one of several standouts on Thursday at the Tarkanian Classic, while 2016 post Yoeli Childs (pictured above) also stood out.

Leaf relieved to end recruitment

There may not be a more important season for evaluating than a prospect’s junior year. While you can learn a lot about a player as an underclassman, it’s typically the junior season when you can feel pretty secure about your evaluation.

So while there were a lot of reasons to be optimistic about T.J. Leaf, a 6-foot-10, 205-pound power forward from El Cajon (Calif.) Foothills Christian, seeing him this week at the Tarkanian Classic was important.

Scout’s 11th ranked 2016 prospect more than solidified his status as an elite prospect, making another jump forward as a player.

Leaf has improved as a shooter, while his passing, rebounding, footwork and motor have all progressed as well.

While the majority of college fours these days are strictly face up guys, Leaf can impact the game on the block or facing up, making him a valuable commodity at the next level.

“My game is getting there,” Leaf said. “I’ve been able to add a lot of components to it. I think in every area I’m getting a lot more consistent.

“I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I’ve been in the weight room a lot. I’ve been consistent; I come out and play hard every game.”

Leaf recently ended his recruitment, choosing Arizona, and he’s pleased with life since committing.

“It’s been a lot better,” he said. “It’s a lot more relaxing. I don’t come home from school and have 5 to 10 missed calls from coaches that I have to return. I think my life was affected a lot by it.”

For Leaf, once he knew where he wanted to go, there was no reason to drag anything out.

“I knew that was where I wanted to go,” he said. “It’s a great program and I have a great relationship with all four of their coaches. The playing style was perfect for me. I knew where I wanted to go so I just wanted to get it over with.”

Top Performers


Yoeli Childs, C/PF, Bingham – A strong, physical and undersized post player, Childs is an aggressive player that competes in the paint. He certainly doesn’t shy away from contact and is a very good area rebounder. Childs also possesses very good hands and has good scoring touch around the goal. Childs connected on four right jump hooks. He also scored off putbacks and by bullying his way to the rim and finishing with his right hand.

Tracey Burnett, SF, Lee – In a match up with Timpview, Burnett was the breakout player. A 6-foot-4 strongly built wing prospect, showed some impressive tools. Burnett played tough, defended, rebounded well from the perimeter and made plays going towards the rim. Burnett is a pretty good athlete that is aggressive with his drives to the rim. Burnett finished with 20 points in the win.

Stephen Zimmerman, C, Bishop Gorman – After recording a triple-double last night, Zimmerman picked up where he left off against Overland. Zimmerman started the game with a fury of points. He scored off a pair of dunks, a pair of threes and had a plus one finish just 8 minutes into the game. Zimmerman raced end-to-end and even showed he could take rebounds and start the break.

Josh Jackson, SF, Prolific Prep – Jackson had the back gym at Bishop Gorman buzzing Thursday evening, as he strung together arguably the best half of basketball we’ve seen during the high school season. Jackson, a 6-foot-6 wing, possesses world-class athleticism and he utilizes it on both ends of the floor. He had a pair of ridiculous dunks and a couple adjusting finishes on the offensive end. He also showed his impressive vision and passing, which is certainly one of his best attributes. On defense, he has the potential to be an elite perimeter defender. He’s quick off his feet, moves well laterally and has very good length. Jackson is currently ranked No. 3 in the 2016 class, but is certainly in the conversation for No. 1.


Jalen Hill, PF, Corona Centennial – Hill was mentioned in our day one report and on day two he continued to shine. Just a freshman, Hill stands 6-foot-8, has a lengthy set of arms and is quite mobile. Despite lacking in strength, Hill was active in the paint and pursued balls off the rim with two hands and contested shots. He didn’t many opportunities on offense, but when he did he scored. He had a nice right hand leaner by the rim and also had an impressive right jump hook and was fouled late in the game. There’s a lot of upside with Hill.

* Evan Daniels and Josh Gershon contributed to this report.

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