The 50th Annual Pacific Shores Basketball Tournament was held last week at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Calif. As usual, the folks at Redondo Union put on a great tournament and we want to thank them for their hospitality.
The championship game Saturday night came down to Fairfax and Redondo Union, with Fairfax winning a surprisingly close game. Based on the games earlier in the week, we felt Fairfax would win handily, but Redondo Union, led by junior shooting guard Wendell White, managed to stay close up until the last couple minutes. Junior point guard B.J. Bell, and senior shooting guard Jahsha Bluntt, hit the big shots for Fairfax down the stretch to ice the game.
We'll be writing a series of reports on the players who participated in the tournament and we'll start with the seniors.
Evan Burns, 6-7 SF Los Angeles Fairfax. In his first three games, Burns dominated play and literally looked like a man among boys. Whether he was soaring to the hoop for spectacular dunks, stepping out to drain threes or showing off surprisingly good passing ability, Burns was very impressive. In the championship game, however, Redondo Union deployed a zone defense and Burns became frustratingly passive. Part of the blame has to go to his coaches and teammates, but part of it falls on Burns. A player with his ability should not go large chunks of the game without touching the ball or getting a shot. Burns wasn't much of a factor at either end of the court and this has happened too often in big games to be considered a fluke. There's no questioning Burns' talent level. In terms of skills, size and athletic ability, he might be a better prospect than DeShawn Stevenson was out of high school. But his propensity for playing passively at times is disturbing, especially since he's a senior and the undisputed star of his team. Hopefully, as the season progresses, Burns will become more assertive.
Adam Zahn, 6-7 PF Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union. Zahn had a solid tournament, but fared better when he focused on his duties as a power forward. With his size, strength and leaping ability, Zahn can do serious damage inside. However, he's trying to turn himself into a small forward for the next level and that may not be a good idea. While he's developed a better jump shot, we don't believe he'll ever be effective defensively on the perimeter when matched up with mid to high major small forwards. He doesn't have the lateral quickness to play that position. On the other hand, when he's working hard and staying active inside, he can be very effective. If he focuses on playing hard, and being active inside at both ends of the court, we think high major schools might like him in the spring as an undersized, but mobile and skilled, four man.
Nate Carter, 6-6 SF San Diego (Calif.) Horizon. Carter showed a more diversified game than we'd seen in the past, spending a lot of time inside. He rebounded well and provided a badly needed inside presence for Horizon. We're not sure where Carter fits in at the next level though, as a lack of quickness makes it tough for him to play on the perimeter. He'll stroke the open three if given the opportunity (he needs space) and he has improved his ability to put the ball on the floor. In the right fit and system, he probably plays at the mid major level.
Paul Meynen, 6-10 C Redondo Union (Calif.) Redondo Beach. Meynen struggles with the pace of the game at times, often reacting a half second too late to make a play. He has difficulty establishing, and maintaining, post position at the offensive end. He will play hard, though, and has shown a willingness to work on his game. With added strength and development, he will get low to mid major looks in the spring.
Jahsha Bluntt, 6-4 SG Los Angeles Fairfax. Bluntt is a strong wing, with good hops, and a nice short, sweet stroke. His decision making is probably the biggest weakness in his game -- he has a tendency to force the action and take ill-advised shots. Needs to work on his ability to put the ball on the floor, as smart defenders will play him for the three and ignore the dribble threat. Still, he's got good size and a reliable three-point shot. Academics permitting, we'd assume he ends up at a low major in the spring.
Ryan Zike, 6-4 SG Valencia (Calif.) High. The surprise of the tournament, Zike put on a show against Fairfax, burying a number of threes from way downtown. A decent athlete, Zike has a good feel for the game and is very effective when he can catch and shoot. Low majors should take a look.
Joseph Abrahams, 6-3 SG Santa Monica (Calif.) Crossroads. Another pleasant surprise, Abrahams impressed us with his shooting ability. He can handle the ball fairly well, but is most effective spotting up from the outside. Needs to work on his intensity at the defensive end, but another player for low majors to watch.
Jordan Rush, 6-6 SF Santa Monica (Calif.) Crossroads. Rush has to play for center for Crossroads, but projects to small forward in college. Very bouncy and long, Rush is most effective right now slashing and using his quickness to score around the basket. Decent stroke, but shooting is not his strength. Interesting because of his size, length and run/jump ability, but has a ways to go in terms of focus and intensity. Will make spectacular play or two, then take a quarter off. Someone to keep an eye on, though, due to upside.
Keith Ellison, 6-2 PG Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union. Ellison's not great at any one thing, but he's tough (plays football) and plays very hard. Probably best as a defensive role player, as his offensive skills are just ok. Decent shooter if given time, ok ballhandler. But he will work and compete.