Cactus Classic: West Coasters

The Cactus Classic, in just its second year, proved again that it's probably the best spring event in the west, with a great deal of talent, like Washington 2009 point guard Peyton Siva, and a great game Friday night, featuring a huge performance by junior wing Demar DeRozan...

The Cactus Classic kicked off Friday evening and there were several noteworthy performances in the first day of action.

Mark McLaughlin, 6-4 JR SG Kenmore (Wash.) Inglemoor, showed why he's one of the top shooting guards in the west. McLaughlin is very smooth and skilled. He's got a solid shot to the stripe and he's a very good passer. He's still very lean, but should fill out well in a few years. He's got above average ball skills and he's a good athlete. McLaughlin has a number of high majors already on him, but we expect his recruitment to go to an even higher level in July.

Peyton Siva, 5-11 SO PG Seattle (Wash.) Franklin, plays with McLaughlin on Seattle Rotary and he too had a solid first game. Siva is an explosive athlete, with the ability to blow by defenders and finish at the rim. Siva's jump shot has improved in the last year, as has his decision-making. With continued development, he's got a chance to be one of the top point guards in his class.

Malcolm Lee, 6-4 JR PG/SG Riverside (Calif.) North, had just an average game in the first night of action. His shot wasn't falling the way it usually does, although he did have a couple nice drives to the basket. Lee will need to get stronger at the next level, but he's got a very good frame and should fill out quite nicely. Lee has excellent quickness for his size and he's got a chance to be an outstanding defender.

The game of the night featured Pump N Run Elite against Belmont Shore. Pump N Run was missing Jerime Anderson, who didn't make the trip, while Belmont Shore picked up Brandon Jennings for the weekend. Pump N Run jumped out to an early lead, but Belmont Shore played an inspired second half and ended up winning by seven points. Demar DeRozan, 6-6 JR SF Compton (Calif.) High,was terrific in the victory. He knocked down jumpers, but also showed the ability to get his own shot off the dribble. DeRozan also demonstrated his considerable athleticism on a few plays, including one dunk that brought down the house. Roberto Nelson, 6-2 SO SG Santa Barbara (Calif.) High, also made several big plays for Belmont Shore in the win.

Jrue Holiday, 6-3 JR SG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, did his best to keep the Pump team in it, but he didn't have enough help. The Pumps were down to just two guards with the absence of Anderson, with Larry Drew joining Holiday in the backcourt. Drew has struggled most of the spring and this game was another tough outing for the Taft High point guard. Drew's shot looks off – he's not shooting with the same stroke he had last summer. His confidence is nowhere near what it was a year ago and it's definitely affected his overall game.

In addition to Holiday, the other bright spot for the Pump team was David Wear, 6-8 SO PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Wear shot the ball well and he had a couple nice plays inside. Both David and his brother Travis are still growing into their bodies, though, and it can make for difficult defensive assignments. They both play with good energy and effort, but they're not close to physical maturity yet. When they get stronger, and more mature, they're going to be much more effective players defensively.

Elijah Johnson, 6-2 SO PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne, showed off his considerable athleticism in the last game of the night. Johnson is an explosive athlete in the mold of a Baron Davis. He's got a great body, with a big-time burst, and the ability to finish strong at the rim. Johnson still needs to fine tune his decision-making, but he's got the tools to be an exceptional player.

Johnson went against another top sophomore guard in Jared Cunningham, 6-3 San Leandro (Calif.) High. Cunningham is a silky smooth prospect with an advanced feel for the game. He rarely makes a bad decision and doesn't force the action. Cunningham has grown in the last year and his athleticism has improved significantly. He's got a good, not great, shot and he could get his release up a bit higher. But if he keeps progressing, he's going to be one of the best guards in the class of 2009.

Scout Hoops Top Stories