Las Vegas, West Coast: Day Four

We've had recent looks at some of the top West Coast prospects playing in the various Las Vegas tournaments, including Drew Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Brandon Jennings, Taylor King and others...

We've seen several of the top West Coast prospects in the last twenty four hours of action in Las Vegas. Here's our most up to the moment thoughts on some of the top players in the west.

Jrue Holiday, 6-3 JR SG/PG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, has clearly established himself as the top prospect in the west for 2008. There's no one else close at this point. Holiday has it all as a prospect -- great talent, off the charts athleticism, a great approach to the game and an unbelievable motor. He'll be able to play the two or one in college and it won't be long before he's playing in the NBA. We haven't seen a better junior guard prospect from the west in the time we've been doing this job.

We watched Brandon Jennings, the 6-1 junior point guard formerly of Dominguez High (and now apparently heading to Oak Hill) right after we watched Holiday. There's no comparison between the two as prospects. Jennings has good quickness and explosiveness off the floor, but he doesn't have the body, skill level or approach to the game that Holiday possesses. Jennings needs to work on his ball-handling -- he's turnover prone -- and his decision-making.

Taylor King, 6-6 SR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, shot the ball very well in the game we saw last night. King has excellent range on his shot and he's deadly if given time and space. Where King needs to improve is in the other areas of his game. His ball-handling is just fair at this point and he struggles when closely guarded. King clearly wants to be a perimeter player, but he'll be defending a four at the next level and he needs to work on his low-post game.

Jerime Anderson, 6-1 JR PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon, played a very solid game last night. Anderson makes excellent decisions and understands how to play the position of point guard. He's not going to wow you with one-on-one moves, but he's quicker than you think and he changes gears well. Anderson is vastly underrated by some national analysts who have never seen him in a real basketball game.

We've seen Drew Gordon, 6-8 JR C San Jose (Calif.) Mitty, play a couple games in Vegas this week. While Gordon is an excellent run/jump athlete, he needs to work on his skill set. He struggles to score and his handling and passing need to get better. Defensively, Gordon tends to play somewhat upright and he'll get beat off the dribble at times. He's very good at coming off the weakside to block shots. His rebounding has been up and down. He might be a little tired at this point, as he's not playing with the energy we've seen from him in the past. Gordon has the physical tools to become a very good player someday, but his overall skill set needs to get much better if he's going to play at a high level.

The best prospect on the Oakland Soldiers team is Reeves Nelson, 6-6 SO SF Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian. Nelson has an outstanding feel for a young player and he's extremely skilled. Nelson doesn't force the action and makes better decisions than anyone else on his team. What is particularly impressive about Nelson is his ability to rebound the ball. You don't see many kids his age, with that kind of skill level, who want to rebound. Nelson will likely be a top 25 in the country level prospect and he'll be recruited by all the heavy hitters across the country.

We've seen the Seattle Friends of Hoop team play a couple times in Las Vegas. Isaiah Thomas, the 5-7 senior guard from Tacoma (Wash.) Curtis, is best playing off the ball. He's not really a point guard -- he wants to shoot it every time he gets it -- and he's best when he can get free for a jumpshot. His decision-making is not where it needs to be in order to play the point in college. He has really struggled at the defensive end of the court in the two games we watched. He needs to put much more effort in that area of the game if he's going to play in the Pac-10.

Abe Lodwick, 6-6 SR SF Bend (Ore.) Mountain View, has been a very pleasant surprise for us this week. We only got a brief look at him today, but he got our attention in a hurry. He's got a very nice lefty stroke, with good range on his shot. He handles and passes well. Overall, he showed an excellent feel for the game. We want to watch him some more at the upcoming Best of Summer tournament, as he looks like he could be one of the better wings in the class.

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