Brendan Lavender, 6-4 JR SG Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View. Lavender was very impressive at this event. He's got good size, he's an above average athlete and he has a high skill level. But the most impressive aspect of Lavender's game was his feel and approach. In an environment where a lot of players were jacking up bad shots, Lavender – who was easily one of the top three prospects overall at the event – didn't take any bad shots. In the game he played Friday night, Lavender took two jump shots (and made them both). And he was, without question, the best shooter on the court. I sat with another scout watching the game and we both marveled at Lavender's feel and unselfishness.
This is something I try to explain to young players all the time. You only hurt yourself by taking bad shots, playing selfishly and demonstrating that you don't know how to play the game. Lavender was going to stand out anyway due to his size, athleticism and talent. But by demonstrating that he understands how to play the game the right way – even in a rag-tag environment of organized pickup ball – he shows even better. If you really want to stand out and get "exposure," play the game the right way.
Lavender's a definite high major prospect and he's among the top handful of shooting guards in the west for 2008.
Marques Coleman, 6-3 JR PG Glendale (Ariz.) Cactus. A big point guard in the mold of a Deron Williams (although not the athlete or shooter that Williams was at this age), Coleman is another player with a great feel for the game. He's a pure point guard with excellent vision and passing ability. While he has just average quickness, and his shot needs to get a lot better, Coleman is nonetheless a very good prospect. He sees plays developing before anyone else on the court and his approach is very refreshing in an era of selfish, shoot-first point guards. He consistently advances the ball ahead in transition – always has his head up – and his post entry passes were exceptional. If his shot just gets a little better, he's a high major prospect.
Niko Sachs, 6-4 JR SG/SF Glendale (Ariz.) Cactus. Sachs has a very good bball body and he's an explosive athlete. Like his teammate Coleman, Sachs plays the game the right way. He plays with great energy and he's an excellent defender. He's also a very good passer. He's effective when slashing to the basket, but his shot needs a lot of work. On athleticism and defensive ability alone, he's very intriguing at the mid major level. If he can improve his shot, he'll be recruited at the high major level.
Shayar Lee, 6-4 JR SG/SF Glendale (Ariz.) Apollo. Lee has a great frame and he's a good athlete. He's also got a very nice stroke with three-point range. However, he's very raw still in terms of his handle and decision-making. If he can improve his ball skills and feel for the game, Lee will be a very interesting prospect in a couple years.
Jonathan Underwood, 6-8 JR C Avondale (Ariz.) LaJoya. A long and slender post, Underwood has a somewhat narrow frame and he's not real strong yet. He does, however, have excellent instincts as a shot-blocker. He's very raw at the offensive end – hands need to improve – but he does cause problems inside at the defensive end of the floor. He's a project, but he moves fairly well and he'll certainly get some looks in the next couple years.
Colin Borchert, 6-8 SO PF Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge. We only watched Borchert play one game, but it was enough to confirm our earlier impression that he's among the best young bigs in the 2009 West Coast class. Borchert has very good ball skills on the perimeter, but he also has a nice low-post game. We were particularly impressed with his activity level and rebounding in the game we saw. He's got a good frame that's filling out nicely and he moves very well. He's a high major prospect.
Stephon Lamar, 6-0 SO PG/SG San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine. Lamar was one of the top prospects in the event. He's a shoot-first point guard, but not to the point of being selfish. He's just a natural scorer. Excellent quickness, and a quick release on a very accurate shot to the stripe, make him hard to guard. He's got a pretty good frame and it's possible he gets a little bigger. In any event, he's one of the better sophomore guards we've seen so far in the 2009 class. Lamar is pretty talented already and there's some upside here. He could end up being very good down the road.
Louis Barraza, 6-4 SR SG Phoenix (Ariz.) Trevor Browne. Barraza was very impressive in the two games we saw him play. He's a fairly good athlete with very good ball skills. He showed a very nice feel and he shot the ball very well. He obviously had an advantage as a senior going against younger players, but we were intrigued by what we saw from him at this event. He's certainly worth a look at the low to mid major level.