Here's a look at some more seniors who caught our eye during the July evaluation period.
Marcus Dove, 6-7 SF Long Beach (Calif.) Millikan. Dove was one of the more intriguing players of the summer and we had a number of coaches, at various levels, asking us about him. In terms of his body, athleticism, size and ball-handling skills, Dove is a high major player. But his outside shot is shaky and he has a tendency to lose focus and play at less than maximum intensity. Those two factors are a concern to coaches at the high major level. It's our impression that most of the mid majors looking at him are willing to overlook those negatives because of his upside. And it's certainly possible that some of the high majors will be willing as well, since Dove's upside is considerable. It will be interesting to see where his recruitment goes in the next month or so.
Sean Phaler, 6-9 PF Villa Park (Calif.) High. Phaler's stock dropped with some of the coaches we spoke with, but he does have the one thing to hang his hat on -- his outside shot -- and there are still some high majors considering him. Defensively, it's still a question of who he'll guard at the next level. His height likely dictates that he defends a four (he probably lacks the quickness to stay with a three on the perimeter). He did show a little hook shot in a couple games that we saw. It's not a go-to move yet by any means, but any semblance of a low-post offensive game would make him a more appealing prospect at the high major level.
Marcus Williams, 6-2 PG Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. Williams will enroll at Oak Hill in the fall, but until that actually happens, we'll consider him a West Coast player. Williams' stock seemed to hold pretty steady throughout the month. Those who were convinced that he can play the one remain so, while there are others who aren't sure that he has a point guard mentality. He's got a pretty good handle, but doesn't really have the explosiveness necessary to go by people at a high level. His outside shot is solid, but he does need some time and space to get it off. In the right system, where he gets frequent open looks, Williams could be effective as a lead guard. He's never going to be a quick, break-you-down kind of guy who creates for his teammates. But his size and outside shot will likely land him at a high major.
Nick Stiggers, 6-7 PF Van Nuys (Calif.) Montclair Prep. Stiggers put on weight this summer -- people close to him say it's due to shin splints -- and that had a major impact on his performance level. He wasn't the most explosive guy off the floor when he was in good shape and the added weight made him even less so. He is very skilled on the perimeter with the ball, with three-point range, so we wouldn't be surprised if some high majors are willing to overlook a somewhat poor summer. When he's in shape, and playing hard, Stiggers is a very impressive prospect. The question will be whether any high majors are willing to roll the dice prior to his senior season.
Omar Wilkes, 6-4 SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Wilkes had a very strong summer, showing off an ever improving jump shot (he doesn't miss many open looks these days), as well some nice playmaking ability. We don't see him ever playing fulltime at PG, but his feel for the game will likely allow him to play some back-up minutes there down the road. He's added some muscle in the last six months and his body should continue to mature and fill out. In our opinion, a no-brainer at the high major level -- especially when you consider the whole package.
Kyle Jeffers, 6-8 PF Santa Rosa (Calif.) Montgomery. Jeffers struggled early in the summer after suffering two sprained ankles in late June (along with a hip problem). As the month went on, he became more active and effective. He's got a baby-face and a body that is nowhere close to mature. As he gains experience, and confidence, we expect to see considerable improvement. Jeffers isn't used to playing against a high level of talent and it showed at times in July. But we still love his upside and believe he'll ultimately end up one of the top power forwards in the class.
D.J. Strawberry, 6-4 SG Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Strawberry showed the skills and upside to be ranked among the top players at his position in the west. Long and athletic, Strawberry has a good, not great, outside shot. He can put it on the floor fairly well and, at times, shows the potential to be a very good defensive player. A definite high major, in our opinion.
Justin Hawkins, 6-5 SF Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. Hawkins didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter in July, and that was somewhat of a surprise, as he shot it extremely well in the spring. He makes good decisions and has an excellent feel for the game. Just an ok athlete, but his size and shot (trust us, it's there) should get him to a high major.
Brian McFadden, 6-0 PG Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. McFadden had coaches raving about him all summer. A very tough, heady point guard who is quicker than you think. Can knock down the open jumper and has no problem getting into people defensively. Drawing lots of looks from academic mid majors.
Larry Cunningham, 6-3 PG Downey (Calif.) High. Cunningham was on very few program's radar screens heading into the summer, with the exception of Pacific and Colorado St. (good job, guys). He plays like a two right now, but we think he's very intriguing if you convert him to point guard down the road. Outside shot is suspect, but he handles and passes well. One of the more explosive first steps in the west, with the ability to finish strong at the rim. Also shows signs that he could be a great defensive player. Focus isn't always there, but this kid has a high ceiling.