UCLA Advanced Skills Camp, Part One

The UCLA Advanced Skills Camp was held this week in Westwood and some of the elite players in the west attended the camp. Here are the latest evaluations on some of the elite players from the West Coast classes of 2007, 2008 and 2009...

The UCLA Advanced Skills Camp was loaded with talent this year, particularly in the 2008 and 2009 classes. We spent three days at the camp and came away with the following evaluations on some of the top players.

Jrue Holiday, 6-2 JR SG/PG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Holiday only participated on Thursday, but that was enough to clearly demonstrate that he was the top prospect in the camp. We haven't seen the entire country, but we'll shocked if he's not among the top five players in the country for his class. He's by far the best prospect in the west for 2008. He's got two more years of high school to go, but he could play in the Pac-10 right now. Holiday is a special athlete, with eye-popping explosiveness, quickness and, most notably, body control. He's got some elements of Dwyane Wade in his game. He loves to attack the basket and draw contact. He is outstanding at finishing with his left hand. His outside shot is very good to 20-21 feet, and he's equally good off the bounce or the catch. But what makes Holiday special is that he has the whole package. It's not just that he's extremely skilled and a amazing athlete. It's those things combined with his approach. He plays with outstanding energy, at both ends, and he's extremely competitive. Holiday held his own – and then some – with current and future Bruins Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Mike Roll, James Keefe and Russell Westbrook. Barring injury, Holiday will be a pro.

Travis and David Wear, 6-8 SO PFs Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. David is slightly taller than Travis, but their games are very similar and comparable. Both are highly skilled, on the perimeter and inside. Both have excellent fundamentals, with very high bball IQs. It's amazing when you watch them to realize they have three more years of high school left. They both have a great approach, with no nonsense or sense of entitlement on the court. They're willing to be physical, despite being somewhat slender. They play unselfishly and consistently make good passes. They're still growing into their bodies, so their athleticism may improve considerably in the future. But they're remarkably coordinated for young, big kids. They went up against kids who were significantly older in this camp and they were still among the best players in the camp. With their approach, work ethic, size and talent level, it would be a huge upset if they don't end up in the top 25 of their class nationally. Two elite, big-time talents.

Reeves Nelson, 6-6 SO SF Modesto (Calif. Modesto Christian. Nelson is similar to the Wear twins in that he's a very young prospect with the talent and size to compete against much older players. Nelson's got an outstanding feel for the game and the poise of a much older player. He's a good shooter to 22-23 feet and he has a very well-rounded game. In particular, he did a great job of rebounding in traffic. He's got nice hops and, overall, he's a good athlete. He's a very good scorer but he doesn't feel the need to jack up shots at the first opening. Sometimes young kids with his kind of scoring ability will fall in love with shooting. But Nelson seems to enjoy passing just as much as scoring. He's got excellent vision and he's a good passer. We were also impressed with Nelson's ability to take in a lot of information from the coaches. This was a pretty intensive environment and the coaches were throwing a lot at the kids. Nelson seemed to grasp everything pretty quickly and put it into practice on the court. He's very young – still only 14 – but Nelson has a chance to be one of the elite players in the country for his class.

Chace Stanback, 6-7 SR SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback only played on Thursday and he had a nice outing. Stanback has an understated game and that doesn't always translate to much attention from "analysts" who have no clue as to what makes a prospect. Stanback is very good at just about every aspect of the game. He shoots it to 22-23 feet, but he can also put it on the floor and make mid-range shots. He's an excellent ball-handler for his size – his cross-over is becoming deadly – and he's also a very good passer. We were particularly impressed at this camp with his play inside. Stanback is still very slender, but he rebounded well in traffic. He's a solid individual and team defender. Like most of the players Ben Howland is recruiting these days, Stanback has a terrific feel for the game. He's a deceptive athlete, with good lateral quickness and very good bounce off the floor. In our opinion, he's a top 40 in the country level talent.

Jerime Anderson, 6-1 JR PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon. Anderson is one of UCLA's top targets in the class of 2008 and it was obvious why that's the case at this camp. Anderson is an old-school point guard with a truly special feel for the position. He consistently makes great decisions and he has the ability to hurt you in many ways. He can get to the basket, knock down jumpers, find teammates for good looks, get deflections on defense or grab a rebound. He's a good, not exceptional, athlete. He can sometimes struggle with super quick guards getting into him defensively, but that will be less of a problem as he matures and learns how to deal with pressure. He's got a nice little tear-drop type shot when he penetrates and he has a great feel for when to use it. He's one of the elite point guards in the west for 2008.

Larry Drew, Jr., 6-0 JR PG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Drew is another great young point guard prospect in the west for 2008. He had an excellent showing at this camp, as he was very effective off the bounce creating shots for himself or teammates. The son of a pro, it's no surprise that Drew also has an exceptional understanding for the position of point guard. Drew is getting better at applying pressure on the ball and he's a solid defender. His body still looks slightly disproportional and we keep expecting him to possibly grow a little more. With a little more size, he'd become even more dangerous as a threat to penetrate and finish inside. He shot the ball well this week, but that's still an area where he could be better. Overall, though, it was a very impressive performance for Drew and he remains one of the elite players in the West Coast class.

Justin Holiday, 6-5 SR SF North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Like his brother Jrue, Justin only participated in the camp on Thursday. But Holiday made the most of his opportunity – he was very good in the one day of work. Holiday's shot from the perimeter continues to improve and he knocked down jumper after jumper. What we were really impressed with, though, was how he attacked the basket. Holiday is still very slender and it takes some guts to go to the rim the way he did. He's an outstanding athlete, with great quickness and explosiveness. He works very hard at the defensive end and he typically gets at least a couple steals and blocks a game. Overall, his ball skills are good, but not great. If he can improve in that area, we believe he has a chance to be one of the big-time sleepers in the class of 2007. He's a top 100 level talent, in our opinion, and he'll play at the high major level without question.

Clint Chapman, 6-10 SR C Canby (Ore.) High. We've had our eye on Chapman for over a year now and we're extremely impressed with is progress. He's got a solid body, with long arms and some bounce to him. He's around 230 now and, with his frame, he should easily get to 250 by college. Chapman likes to face-up from the perimeter – out to about 17-18 feet – but he also has the beginnings of a low-post game. His jump hook has a chance to be a weapon the future and he gets good extension on his shot from the low-block. He's a good, not exceptional, rebounder and a pretty good defender. It's also nice to see soft hands and good feet with a young big man and Chapman possesses both those attributes. He's a high major prospect and he'll likely end up in the Pac-10.

Robert Smith, 5-10 SO PG Perris (Calif.) High. A strong and very quick young point, Smith was one of the surprises of the camp. He's got good shoulders and long arms. Smith is very good with the ball in his hands and he makes nice decisions for a young point. His shot looked pretty good to about 18-19 feet and he showed nice shot selection. He's still got some things to learn at the defensive end of the court, but he's got the physical tools to someday be very good in that area. Smith has a chance to be exceptional and he is definitely one to watch in 2009.

Jared Cunningham, 6-0 SO PG San Leandro (Calif.). Another young point with a bright future, Cunningham was burying jump shots all three days. He's got a baby face and good length – it wouldn't be surprising at all if he gets a little bigger. Cunningham has excellent poise for a young player and he was impressive going up against much older players most of the time. Cunningham has a chance to be one of the elite point guards in his class.

We'll have more evalutions in part two of our report from the camp.

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