Matt Bouldin, 6-4 JR SG Highlands Ranch (Col.) Thunderridge. Bouldin plays point guard for Colorado Select Blue, but we see him at the two in college. While he's a good ball-handler, and an exceptional passer, he lacks the quickness to defend high major point guards. However, he's got a solid frame – already pretty strong – and an outstanding feel for the game. He's one the best shooters we've seen so far in the class and, when defenders close out too quickly, he can go by them and find teammates (great vision). There's not a lot of wasted motion in Bouldin's game – he's very economical and efficient – and he makes good decisions. He's our early leader for the #1 shooting guard in the west.
Phil Nelson, 6-7 JR SF Keizer (Ore.) McNary. The first time we saw Nelson last spring, we felt he had a chance to be the best small forward in the west. Then he had a very mediocre summer and never showed as well as he had in the spring. Well, it's spring again and Nelson once again looks like he could end up the top small forward in the class out west. He's got a basketball body – long and fluid – and a pure stroke with deep range. A good athlete, Nelson can do everything you'd look for in a small forward. He's very good with the ball, sees the court well, he can defend and rebound, and has the size to finish inside. We don't get a chance to see him often, but his biggest issue would appear to be staying focused and playing hard consistently. He might not realize how good he can become. If he puts the work in, and continues to develop, Nelson has a chance to play at the elite, high major level.
Blake Wallace, 6-7 JR SF Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. If Nelson isn't the top small forward in the west, then Wallace might claim that spot. Wallace is another very fluid athlete who can score inside and on the perimeter. He moves very well laterally and has the potential to become an excellent defender. Wallace's versatility is one of his biggest strengths. On his high school team, he basically did everything – handling the ball, rebounding, guarding the best player, scoring in every way possible, etc. Wallace has a high basketball IQ and sometimes the game comes a little too easy to him. He needs to work on not taking plays off and getting the maximum out of his ability. He has a chance to be recruited by elite, high majors this summer.
Taylor Harrison, 6-9 JR C San Clemente (Calif.) High. One of the most physical and active post players in the class, Harrison continues to show progress as a prospect. He's a little bigger than he was a few months ago and his skills are better as well. He's got a nice little jump hook now and he can knock down open shots out to about fifteen feet pretty consistently. Overall, he's much more comfortable now with the ball in his hands. He's also a much better athlete now than he was two years ago. He's more fluid, jumps better and his coordination is much improved. Two things, though, make Harrison a unique prospect – he loves contact and he plays with maximum effort on every play. Harrison routinely beats other bigs down the court because he runs on every change of possession – to both ends of the court. Some players will run when they can get the ball, but Harrison runs back on defense as well as offense. Over the last two years, Harrison has looked a little better every time we've seen him. He obviously has a burning desire to be a player and he's turned himself into one of the top post prospects in the west.
Craig Brackins, 6-8 JR PF Lancaster (Calif.) High. Brackins was academically ineligible this past season at Lancaster, so it's possible he'll end up at a junior college after next year. Wherever he ends up, he has a chance to be an exceptional player. A long and bouncy post, Brackins is a great shot-blocker. He has outstanding timing and he's very quick off his feet. With great feet, and good hands, Brackins has the potential to be an offensive force down low when he polishes up his inside game. He's still a bit raw, but there's a ton of potential here. One of the best post prospects in the west for 2006.
Seth Tarver, 6-5 JR SF Portland (Ore.) Jesuit. Tarver isn't a shooter, but he has a lot of other attributes going for him. He's got great size for a wing, he's strong, moves very well and he's a terrific defender. He'll probably be able to defend the two or three in college and may end playing the role of locking up the other team's best wing. He's fairly good with the ball, but doesn't really create his own shot well. His range is pretty much limited to about fifteen feet right now, but the stroke isn't pretty and he's probably never going to be a big scorer at the next level. But he plays very hard and understands the game. He'll likely get high major looks this summer.
Decensae White, 6-5 JR SG San Mateo (Calif.) Serra. White was playing the one for the Bay Area Hoosiers, but we see him as a wing in college. He's got good size and length, with a solid handle. We were very impressed with his intensity level in the one game we saw – he played his ass off. Outside shot is ugly, but he made several shots from 15-20 feet. We haven't seen him enough to have a real good feel him as a prospect. For now, we'll say potentially a mid to high major prospect.
Andreas Schreiber, 6-8 JR PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Brentwood. Schreiber has all the tools to be a high major player. He's got a great frame, good length, excellent feet and hands, and a fairly high skill level. The questions on him have had to do with his toughness, assertiveness and his ability to adapt to the American game after growing up in Sweden. Schreiber was just fair this year in the games we saw at Brentwood, but he looked like a different player in Vegas this weekend. He rebounded well in traffic and was very active defensively. Like many Europeans, Schreiber sometimes struggles with the free-flowing, improvisational, "get your own" style of play in American youth basketball. He's still not quite comfortable in that style, but he's showing improvement. Schreiber isn't there yet, but he's a potential high major prospect.
We'll have more from Las Vegas in Part Two of our story.