David Padgett, 6-10 C Reno (Nev.) High. This tournament was Padgett's first time out since being injured four months ago and it was an impressive showing. His timing is obviously still off a bit, but he moved extremely well and he was very active at both ends, blocking numerous shots and gobbling up rebounds. Padgett continues to become more aggressive as he matures and we like the way he looks to punish opponents. He doesn't back away from contact -- he sometimes goes looking for it -- and with the muscle he's added in the last year, he's able to finish strong inside. His outside shot was a little rusty (shot it very flat). He also needs to develop a go-to move inside (did show one nice running hook in the lane). Overall, though, it was an encouraging weekend for Padgett as he looks to get his game back in shape before the summer evaluation period.
Kyle Jeffers, 6-8 PF Santa Rosa (Calif.) Montgomery. We'd heard about Jeffers for the last couple months, but this was our first opportunity to see him play. We weren't disappointed. While he isn't yet polished offensively, the raw materials are there for an elite high major player. Good frame, moves extremely well (very good feet), good instincts and competes real well. And he looks like he isn't done growing yet. Not especially explosive off the floor, but he's still growing into his body and it's possible that will improve as he matures. He's very active and has pretty good fundamentals -- looks like he's had some coaching. More than anything, we liked his approach to the game. Very active -- an aggressive rebounder and defender. With continued development, Jeffers has a chance to be as good as any power forward in the west.
Tron Smith, 6-2 PG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. Smith continues to make a case for being ranked among the elite guards in the west. He's not a pure PG or SG -- just a guard with a very good overall game. Smith is strong and tough, able to finish inside at the rim and he has a sweet stroke with great range. He plays unsefishly and we expect as his handle continues to improve, and he plays more at the position, that he'll end up at PG. He's got the quickness and size to defend either guard spot. Very good competitor. Along with Dominic McGuire and Lorenzo Wade, Smith gets our vote as the West Coast player most likely to blow up nationally this summer.
Trevor Ariza, 6-7 CF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Ariza, overall, had a very good tournament. He showed an even more developed passing ability, especially off of penetration, which will continue to give his game more dimension. We watched a few Pump N Run games, and he didn't take many jumpers. He made one along the baseline that was pretty, but his offensive game right now is to drive through an open lane and score or dish, combined with some athletic moves around the basket, and putbacks he gets as a result of some great springs. And, of course, he gets out on a break really well, where he can really showcase his athleticism. He also played hard on defense, showing some nice hustle. You have to like what Ariza showed this weekend, but because of his unusual talents, we still don't know if he's a power forward or a small forward. He has the body, really, of a small forward, and more of the game of a power forward, while showing some hints of developing into a small forward.
John Winston, 6-2 PG Richmond (Calif.) Salesian. Winston really opened our eyes with his performance in this tournament. Big and strong, he abused smaller point guards on drives to the hoop. Showed a very good handle and made some outstanding passes off penetration and in transition. He doesn't look anything like your prototypical point guard, but he's got an excellent feel and the skills to play the position. The question will be how he matches up defensively against smaller, quicker, top-quality point guards. We didn't get a chance to see him guard anyone of note in this tournament. Outside shot is just ok, but better than it was a year ago. He also gets up better than he did last year -- he threw down one very nice dunk on a baseline drive. We would expect Winston to get serious attention at the low end of the high majors.
Dorrell Wright, 6-6 SF Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger. A player who is not yet on the radar screens of many college programs, Wright just oozes potential. Long and lean, Wright is a very good athlete who gets by on natural ability. He's your classic gifted playground player who really doesn't know what he's doing yet, but can dominate on talent and athleticism alone. He'll be out of his stance on defense, turn his head and lose sight of his man on the perimeter, but then recover with ridiculous quickness, close out, block the shot and get a dunk at the other end. He's got a serviceable outside shot and good ball skills. Needs to learn how to play the game, and play with consistent focus and energy, but there's a big upside here.
Todd Martin, 6-7 PF Upland (Calif.) High. Our first look at Martin and he made a good impression. Good size and pretty quick laterally. Fairly good stroke out to three-point range. Decent athlete, but not a big leaper. Moderately successful when he went inside.
Anthony Brown, 6-6 PF Sacramento (Calif.) Kennedy. Great body (also plays football) and moves very well. Not real explosive off the floor, but ok. Not real skilled with the ball, but showed a decent shot out to fifteen feet or so. Low-post game needs work. Possible low to mid major player.
Avi Fogel, 6-0 PG Torrey Pines (Calif.) High. A good-sized PG with skills and smarts. Average athleticism, but shoots it well and knows how to play the game. Took two of the five charges we saw taken all weekend. A player to watch at the low major level.
Tyler Tiedeman, 6-6 SF Santa Rosa (Calif.) Montgomery. Tiedeman is a player who grows on you the more you watch him. Knows how to play, almost always make the correct decision and doesn't force things. He's got a pretty good build and nice outside shot. Ok athlete, but a good feel for the game and makes his teammates better.
Scott Cutley, 6-5 PF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Again, Cutley, is a guy you just can't deny. He's just plainly not tall enough to be a really big-time power forward, but he's so effective you just can't discount him. He continues to show that he has probably the best post moves of any low-post player in the west in his class. And they're so instinctual, not mechanical. His game continues to take on more dimension, showing a great passing ability from the post, and even some pretty good ball-handling, to the point he's impacting a game every trip down the floor. When you look at him, you wouldn't think he could play power forward at the mid-major level, but if you keep watching him, you start to believe.