Easter Classic: Day Two

The second day of the Las Vegas Easter Classic was much better than the first, as the better teams showed up yesterday. Some of the top prospects on hand included Elijah Johnson, Tyrese Breshers and Malcolm Lee, among others...

After a slow first day where there were only a handful of prospects on hand, the Las Vegas Easter Classic was much better on Friday. We saw several high major prospects in just about every class.

Malcolm Lee, 6-4 JR PG Riverside (Calif.) North, was the most impressive prospect we saw yesterday. Lee, who committed to UCLA last fall, has shown steady improvement over the last year. His handle is a little tighter, as is his jumpshot. Lee drilled several deep threes in the two games we saw him play yesterday. Lee's stroke is very compact and quick. He seems to just flick his wrist -- he's got great wrists -- and he's knocking down shots from the NBA three-point line.

Lee is very quick for his size and defenders have a tough task trying to guard him. If you try to take away the jumper, he's got the handle and quickness to get to the rim. He's become very adept at shooting off the dribble. He'll take one hard jab step, then step back for a three. And he gets it off so quick that defenders have a tough time contesting the shot. There's some question as to which position Lee will play in college, as he has the size and scoring ability to play the two. But he's also got all the skills to play the one as well. It'll be a nice problem for Ben Howland to have when Lee shows up on campus in another 18 months or so.

Tyrese Breshers, 6-6 JR PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Price, has been a player we've been touting for some time and he's really starting to blossom. While he would seem to be a bit undersized at 6-6, he actually plays a lot bigger than that. Different people have different comparisons for him -- a Deon Thompson or Craig Smith type -- but there's no question that he's going to be a very good player. He's got an unusual combination of size, long arms and explosive hops. He's got a big butt that he uses to good effect inside, as well as great feet and hands. He consistently surprises opponents with how quickly he gets up. He's got an excellent touch around the basket and he's just starting to show a little jumpshot out to 15 feet or so.

It's his shot-blocking, though, that really surprises you the first time you watch him. You just wouldn't think that a kid his size, with a big body, would get up so quick and so high. We'll have a story on Breshers later, but he told us that his top five schools right now are UCLA, Iowa St., Washington State, Miami and Washington.

Elijah Johnson, 6-2 JR PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne, made a switch this season to the Houston Hoops team. He was with the Las Vegas Prospects last year and, frankly, he showed better with the Prospects. Johnson is a point guard and the Hoops team has him playing off the ball. That's a big mistake, as Johnson is clearly better than any of the guards on the Hoops team. Johnson is a big-time athlete, very explosive and quick. He can get to the rim with ease, but also has the vision and passing ability to make teammates better. He didn't shoot it much yesterday from the perimeter, but we've seen him knock down multiple threes in the past. Johnson has all the tools to be an elite prospect, possibly one of the best guards in the class of 2009. However, he needs to make sure he's in a situation that will show his talents.

We wrote about Anthony Marshall, 6-2 SO SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Mojave, on the first day of the tournament, but he was even better yesterday. He's got an advanced feel for the game and makes surprisingly good decisions for a young player. We especially like how he gets after it on the defensive end. Marshall told us that he's hearing from UCLA, Kansas, UNLV, Iowa State, Washington, Notre Dame and Stanford.

Patrick McCollum, 6-1 JR PG/SG Tacoma (Wash.) Mt. Tahoma, didn't have one of his better days yesterday. We've been pretty high on McCollum as a prospect, but his shot selection was shaky yesterday. The question on McCollum has been whether or not he'll be able to play the one in college. He's got good ball skills and pretty good vision, but he's really more of a scoring lead guard than true one. In any event, we'll be watching McCollum this spring and summer to track his development.

Michael Snaer, 6-4 SO SG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, is one of the top shooting guards in the west for 2009. Snaer has a good frame and nice stroke to the stripe. His shot wasn't falling too often yesterday, but we've seen him shoot it very well in the past. Snaer is a very good student, with a reported 3.6 GPA, and we expect him to draw considerable attention at the high major level.


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