Adrian Oliver, 6-2 JR PG/SG Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian. Oliver doesn't look like much when you first see him – decent body, average length – but he's a player. Very heady, he makes good decisions with the ball and sees the court very well. He's not outstanding at any one thing, but good in a lot of different areas. He can shoot it to the stripe, but also has a mid-range game. He stays in control and doesn't force the action. He may end up playing either guard spot in college. He's not a pure one, but his feel for the game may dictate that he ends up at point guard. There's a scarcity of point guards in high school these days and Oliver is probably a good enough ball-handler to play the position. A high major prospect.
Jerryd Bayless, 6-1 SO PG/SG, Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's. We've long considered Bayless one of the best guards in the west regardless of class, and he certainly showed how talented he is in Vegas this last weekend. There are very few 6-1 players in the country that have the springs he has, enabling him to throw down on much bigger and stronger players. We would have liked, though, to see him develop more of his point guard skills in the last year, but he's playing mostly off the ball, and looking to score first rather than pass. Last weekend, there was very little he did as a point guard, almost strictly a two-guard in his approach to the game. And that's okay. He's still an exceptional two guard, but with his talent and athleticism, the ceiling was limitless as a point guard. He'll have to continue to improve his outside scoring skills, with his jumper still a bit raw and inconsistent. But again, he is one of the best guards in the west.
Deon Thompson, 6-8 JR C Torrance (Calif.) High. Thompson has come a long way in the last year. He's lost maybe forty pounds since last summer and his game has benefited. He's a true, low-post, back-to-the-basket big man with good feet and great hands. His long arms and bulk make him a tough match up inside. His conditioning could still get better and his body has room for improvement. Naturally big, he doesn't look like he's had any serious weight-training yet. He's just starting to figure out how good he can be and we think he ends up one of the top centers in the west before he's done.
Daniel Deane, 6-8 JR PF Salt Lake City (Utah) Judge Memorial. Deane has grown maybe an inch since we last saw him. He's got great shoulders and he's not afraid to use them – he's very physical and seems to relish contact inside. His outside shot has improved to the point that he's now a threat beyond the three-point line. However, he takes awhile to get the shot off and needs to quicken up his stroke. Inside, he struggles to score against size as he doesn't jump well and has a tendency to show the ball and "play small." He'll need to learn to compensate for his lack of lift if he's going to play on the interior at a high level. While we don't see a lot of physical upside with Deane, he does play with great energy and we believe he'll end up at a high major program.
Chase Budinger, 6-7 JR SF Encinitas (Calif.) La Costa Canyon. Budinger has good size for a wing, he jumps extremely well and he's a streaky shooter. His mechanics are not great, which makes him an inconsistent shooter. He also takes awhile to get his shot off – he needs space to get it off from three-point range. He's not particularly quick laterally and an average handle makes it difficult for him to create his own shot against defensive pressure. He's an outstanding volleyball player and you can see some volleyball habits in his basketball game. He plays the game upright and he's somewhat stiff. He could end up moving to the four as he gets older. He'll likely end up at the high major level.
Kevin Love, 6-8 SO C Lake Oswego (Calif.) High. The best college prospect in the west regardless of class, Love is extremely skilled for a young big man. He has great hands, shoots it out to the stripe and very advanced low-post footwork. He's very thick and wide, which allows him to seal off defenders on the block. He has an amazing feel for the game and finds cutters with pinpoint passes. His outlet passes to start fast breaks are better than you see from most big men in college. The one question mark on Love in terms of his ability to play beyond college will be his athleticism. He's had knee surgery already and he doesn't have "young legs." While most players with his talent level would go pro out of high school, or one year of college, it's possible Love will end up being a great college player for several years.
Kyle Singler, 6-7 SO SF Medford (Ore.) South Medford. Love's teammate on the Portland Legends, Singler has a great frame, a terrific stroke and an outstanding feel for the game. A top prospect in football at tight end, Singler doesn't mind contact and it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up at the four in college. If he grows much more, college coaches might decide that's where he'd best help the team. But he's certainly got great three-man skills. He sees the court very well and doesn't mind spending time playing inside. A good athlete, Singler will be an elite, high major recruit.
Jamelle Horne, 6-6 SO SF San Diego (Calif.) Hoover. The best prospect on the Compton Magic, Horne has the prototypical small forward body. Long and explosive, Horne is most effective when slashing to the basket. His outside shot is just decent at this time. He has the potential to be a very good defender. With continued development, a likely high major prospect.
Alex Jacobson, 6-11 SO C Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Jacobson is still growing into his body and isn't a real offensive threat just yet. However, he can make shots out to about fifteen feet if given time. His best attribute as a player right now is his ability to block shots. He has very nice instincts and timing as a shot blocker. He's got a pretty good frame, but needs to get stronger in order to be a more effective rebounder. We've liked his feel for the game since we first saw him a few years ago. He'll look opposite out of the low post and find teammates for open looks. He looks like he's starting to get more comfortable on the court. If he continues to improve, he'll almost certainly end up at a high major program.
Harrison Gaines, 6-0 SO PG Phelan (Calif.) Serrano. A quick and explosive guard with a scoring mentality, Gaines is trying to make the transition to point guard. He needs to work on his handle and decision-making, but he's got the tools to be an outstanding point guard someday. He can certainly score, whether it's from the perimeter or beating people off the dribble. He's got a nice body and he's fairly long – it wouldn't be surprising if he gets a little bigger. He also has a chance to be a very good defender.
Martell Jackson, 6-9 SO C Brighton (Col.) High. We didn't much of a look at Jackson, but he's got a big body – needs to tone up – fairly good hands and decent skills. He didn't show much lift, but moved decently and had a couple nice passes. His size makes him interesting, though, and we'll be looking to get a better evaluation on him.
Venoy Overton, 5-10 SO PG Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Overton is an intriguing young point with long arms, decent quickness and a nice shot to the stripe. He's a little bouncier than we realized but, overall, probably just a little better than average athlete. There's some question about his ability to take people off the dribble. He does have a good shot with range beyond the stripe. One to watch from the class of 2007.
Larry Drew, Jr., 5-11 FR PG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Drew has such an advanced feel for the game that it's difficult to believe he's only a freshman in high school. He understands things that many college guards still don't get. Physically, he looks like a baby and he's got very long arms. He has the appearance of someone who is going to get bigger. He's very skilled with the ball, whether it's passing, handling or shooting. He has good quickness, but he's not lightning quick. However, he knows how to play at different speeds and he'll surprise defenders at times. One of the two best point guards in the West Coast class of 2008, Drew has a chance to be an elite, high major prospect.
Brandon Jennings, 6-0 FR PG Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Jennings is the other great, young point guard from the class of 2008. Like Drew, he has a very advanced understanding of the game. He advances the ball better than most high school point guards and he has exceptional vision. He's maybe a little quicker than Drew and a slightly more explosive athlete overall. He looks for his shot a bit more and with good reason – he's tough to stop when he gets in the lane. His shot is pretty good for a ninth-grader, but there is room for improvement. Like Drew, Jennings has a chance to be among the elite national prospects in the class of 2008.