Here are our impressions on some of the top sophomores at the Fullcourt Press Spring Showcase.
David Burgess, 6-9 C Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge. Burgess is quickly becoming one of our favorite players in this class. He's going to kick the crap out of people in the next couple years. A big space-eater, with soft hands, very good fundamentals and terrific footwork in the low-post. Competes well every time we see him and plays a no-nonsense game. Never going to be a high-flying, highlight show kind of guy, but he knows how to use his body and it's tough to get around him. An elite, high-major prospect.
Jamie Diefenbach, 6-8 C Newport Beach (Calif.) Newport Harbor. Big, strong body, moves pretty well and shows some aggressiveness. Not as skilled as Burgess, but a good upside and we like the way he gets after it.
Gabriel Pruitt, 6-2 PG Compton (Calif.) Centennial. It seems like we've been watching Gabe forever and he'll only be a junior next year. He's added a little weight and gotten more explosive in the last couple months. Attacked the basket a couple times trying to dunk on people, which is good to see -- he has a tendency to play with a bit too much finesse. Very good stroke with great range. He's played off the ball a lot at Centennial. As a result, both his handle and PG skills need sharpening.
Aaron Afflalo, 6-3 SG Compton (Calif.) Centennial. Pruitt's running-mate at Centennial, Afflalo has actually played more as a PG in high school, but we see him at SG in college. Outstanding shooter who has taken his game to a new level in the last four months. Doesn't have great quicks, but a solid body and he should be a big, strong two-guard who can score inside and outside when he gets to college.
Marcel Jones, 6-5 SF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Gifted, versatile wing who can shoot, handle and pass. Extremely good instincts and feel for the game. Also prone to a bit too much finesse and tends to fall back on his talent. With a little more toughness and aggressiveness, though, he has a chance to be a national-level recruit.
Josh Shipp, 6-4 SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Big-time scorer who can stroke the three or get it done with a solid mid-range game. Good, not great, athlete. Probably has a better upside than his brother Joe at this point, due mainly to a better bball body. Like Pruitt and Jones, Shipp is another talented player who has a tendency to rely too much on his scoring skills. A little less finesse, and more grit/toughness, will be required at the next level.
Thomas Woods, 6-2 SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Athletic and active, Woods makes plays all over the court. Pretty good shot from 15-18 feet, decent handle. A high energy guy, though, and an excellent defender. Reminds some of Jeff Trepagnier. Not at the same freakish-level athletically, but his offensive skills are farther along at the same point.
Joseph Martinez, 6-6 PF, Placentia (Calif.) El Dorado. Rangy and aggressive, with good intensity and a nose for rebounds. Didn't get a chance to show much with the ball, but did make one very good pass and we were impressed with his approach to the game.