MLK Inland Invitational

The MLK High School Inland Invitational featured several top prospects from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes. Malcolm Lee, Michael Snaer, Tyrese Breshers and Robert Smith were among the top players at the event...

I spent the day yesterday at the Martin Luther King High School Inland Invitational and there were several intriguing prospects at the event. Here's my latest evaluation on some of the top players in attendance.

Malcolm Lee, 6-4 JR PG/SG Riverside (Calif.) North. Lee has grown a bit since the end of summer and he's now a solid 6-4, maybe close to 6-5. He's built more like a wing than a point guard, as he's long and lean. However, he's got the quickness to play the one, as well as the ball-handling ability and feel for the game. The first thing that struck me in this game was how often he had his head up after getting a rebound and then advanced the ball with a pass. Guards with Lee's level of ability often want to over-handle the ball and push it up themselves. They're reluctant to give it up too early and usually either want to shoot it themselves or keep it until they get to the frontcourt. But Lee made four or five plays early in the game where he advanced the ball to a teammate in the frontcourt.

Lee was a having a solid, but not especially noteworthy, game until the middle of the third quarter. Then he had a sequence where he hit three consecutive three-point shots in the span of about a minute. Each one was two or three feet beyond the stripe and his stroke was quick and effortless. It was a very impressive display of shooting by Lee. Not just because he made the shots, but because he showed no strain in shooting from that distance. One shot was off the dribble and the other two off the dribble. Each time he appeared to just flick his wrist and his release was very quick.

A college coach at the game remarked, "Lee's like a better version of Jamal Crawford." I don't usually like to make those kind of comparisons but, in this case, that's a pretty good comparison. Of course, he's referring to Crawford as a high school player. The body types are similar, as is the ability to score. Lee is a much better decision-maker than Crawford was at this stage. Crawford might have been a tad more explosive athlete, but they're similar in that respect as well.

Assuming Lee continues to grow (and he might – his grandfather was 6-9), there's a chance he might play anywhere from the one to the three. As a wing, he'll need to improve his rebounding. He's not a real aggressive rebounder at this time. Part of that may be due to a somewhat slight body – he doesn't appear real eager to get knocked around inside. But as he gains weight and strength, he'll need to get more boards. Also, like most high school players, Lee could improve as a defender. He's got very long arms and he needs to use them to better effect at the defensive end. With his lateral quickness, and length, Lee should be a able to guard multiple positions.

These are somewhat minor quibbles, though, when considering Lee's overall potential as a prospect. Lee is one of the elite prospects in the country for 2008. In terms of just West Coast prospects, I currently have Lee as the #2 prospect overall, trailing only Jrue Holiday.

Michael Snaer, 6-4 SO SG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer is a teammate of Malcolm Lee's on the Inland club team and he is a very talented prospect in his own right. Snaer has a terrific body for a sophomore wing. He's long and well-put-together, but not overly muscular or stiff. He has the ball skills to play the two, but if he gets any bigger he might end up at the three. Snaer has a nice touch to 19-20 feet, as well as the ability to get to the rim off the wing. He's a very good, but not great, athlete. Lateral quickness is good and he gets up pretty well.

Snaer's poise and decision-making is impressive for a young prospect. He doesn't force the action and his shot selection was very good yesterday. His ball-handling and passing ability are good enough that I initially thought he might play some point guard. His body type will probably put him at the wing, but he does have good ball skills. Snaer competes very well – doesn't take any plays off and works hard at the defensive end. He's still just a youngster, but Snaer has a chance to become an elite prospect down the road.

Tyrese Breshers, 6-6 JR PF/C Los Angeles (Calif.) Price. Breshers is a big-bodied post with great feet and hands. He's remarkably nimble for a big kid and he's very quick off his feet. With his quick jumping ability, and exceptionally long arms, Breshers is an excellent shot-blocker. He might be the best shot blocker in the West Coast class of 2008. He's got great timing and comes off the weakside very well.

His offensive game is still somewhat limited, but the tools are there for him to become a very good low-post scorer. He's got good, natural instincts in the paint and his quick feet are an asset down low. Breshers also has great hands. He made several exceptional catches in the game yesterday. If he were two inches taller, Breshers would be recruited by every school in the country. But even as a post who is a bit undersized, Breshers is quite a prospect. His wide body, combined with those very long arms, allows him to have more success in the paint than you'd expect from your typical 6-6 post player. Breshers is definitely one of the elite posts in the west for 2008 and a high major prospect.

Ryan Kelley, 6-3 JR SG/PG Chino Hills (Calif.) Ayala. I initially had Kelley listed as a point guard but, after watching him yesterday, I think he'll more likely end up at the two, with a chance to play some one. Kelley has a very good frame and the potential to fill out quite nicely. He's a decent athlete, with just fair quickness, but his size is an asset. He's got big feet, so he may grow a little bit more. Kelley has a nice feel for the game and generally makes solid decisions. He's not great at any one aspect of the game, but he's pretty good at several things. He's a good defender and rebounds well for a guard. His shot is not pretty – he slings it a bit – but he's fairly accurate. His handle will need to get stronger if he's to spend any time at the one (and he might not – he may just play the two). Overall, Kelley is a prospect with intriguing upside. He'll likely get looks at the mid to high major level.

Robert Smith, 5-10 SO PG Perris (Calif.) High. Smith is similar to Aaron Brooks at the same stage of his development. He's very quick and adept at breaking down defenses off the dribble. He's very good at changing gears. While he's not real big, he does have a strong and sturdy frame. He's got good shoulders and it's not easy to knock him off the ball. Smith's shot has improved since the summer and he's got range to 20-21 feet. He settled for a few too many jumpshots yesterday, but that may be partly due to not having a lot of help on his team. His decisions can be a bit shaky, but not too bad, and he's only in the 10th grade. He's pretty filled out, so it's very unlikely that he grows any taller. In any event, Smith has a very good chance of being a high major prospect.

Jordan Finn, 6-3 SO SG Etiwanda (Calif.) High. Finn is a rangy young guard with an advanced feel for the game. He's very poised and has an excellent presence on the court for such a young player. He's got a very nice shot out to 20-21 feet. He's not an explosive athlete, but he'll surprise you at times when he's able to go by someone. Because of his feel for the game, he appears to be someone who will be better in a system. He's not going to create his own offense very often – at least not at this time – but he moves well without the ball and understands the game. He's got a chance to be a high major player down the road.

Reggie Shaw, 6-2 SO SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Pines. Shaw is a talented scorer who has something of a playground game. His decision-making and focus were questionable at times yesterday, but he did show ability. He can create his own shot off the bounce and he's got a pretty good stroke to the stripe. Just based on yesterday's game, it appears that Shaw needs to work on playing in structure, but there is potential there.

Allen Crabbe, Jr., 6-2 FR SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Price. Crabbe is a long and slender young guard with a very nice stroke to the stripe. We haven't seen him do too much yet in terms of creating his own shot off the dribble, but he looks like a baby physically and would appear to have quite a bit of upside. He has the look of a player and is one to watch in the future.

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