Rumble In The Bay, Part One

The Rumble In The Bay was held this past weekend at Santa Clara and assorted sites in the San Jose area. Renardo Sidney, Drew Gordon, Elston Turner, Jared Cunningham and others were among the top players in attendance...

I spent the weekend at the Rumble In The Bay at Santa Clara University. While there wasn't a lot of elite talent on hand, there were a number of potential D-1 prospects. Here are my latest thoughts on some of the players I saw over the weekend.

Renardo Sidney, 6-9 SO PF Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. At times, Sidney looked like a man among boys at this event. His body, athleticism and skill level is on a whole different level than the kids at this event (and most of the kids in the country). He can play on the inside or the perimeter, although he had a tendency to float to the outside in this event. His jumper is very solid, with range to the three-point line. He handles the ball very well for a young big. In terms of all the physical stuff and skill level, Sidney is a no-brainer. He's got the tools to be a lottery pick someday. The big question with Sidney – at least, on the court – is his approach. He can be somewhat unfocused at times and he can get a little lackadaisical. He doesn't always play with consistent energy. He also has a tendency to get distracted – whether it's the refs or opposing players. But while these are all concerns with Sidney, there is no denying his talent and potential. If he can fulfill that promise, he'll be one of the top couple players in his class.

Drew Gordon, 6-8 JR C San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty. It will be interesting to see how Gordon develops once he gets to UCLA and he's working with Ben Howland every day. Gordon has the body and athleticism that you're looking for at the elite level, but there are a number of areas that he needs to improve upon. Most of those things have to do with his feel for the game. Gordon has the quickness, strength, leaping ability and size to make a lot more plays than he currently makes. He doesn't yet have the anticipation necessary to recognize things quickly enough. As a result, he's often out of position for rebounds or defensive help situations. His rebounding range is not good – rarely rebounds out of his area. And defensively he's way too upright in the low post. Gordon has improved quite a bit in terms of his ability to score around the basket. His touch is much better than it was a year ago and he's no longer trying to dunk everything. He's got the beginnings of a little jump hook and his footwork is coming along. However, Gordon will not be a big-time scorer early in his college career. So in order to get playing time, he's going to need to really focus on his rebounding and defense. He's certainly got all the physical tools – it's just a matter of focusing on those areas and making them a priority.

Jared Cunningham, 6-3 SO PG/SG San Leandro (Calif.) High. Cunningham had a very good showing at this event. He's grown and filled out some since we saw him at last year's Rumble and his athleticism has improved as well. Cunningham is a good example of why the concept of "upside" is so important in scouting. He might not have looked like much to some observers last year, but his body/length/young face were all indications that he had a real chance for improvement. And he's not done yet. I anticipate Cunningham will continue to improve physically, as well as in terms of his skill level. Cunningham is one of those rare players who truly might be able to play either guard spot well. Some guys can play a little at both spots, but they're either better at one or not really good at either. Cunningham has a chance to be very good at both positions. He's got the feel and ball-handling ability for the one, but the size and shooting ability for the two. With continued development, Cunningham has a chance to be one of the elite guards in the national class of 2009.

Mark McLaughlin, 6-5 JR SG Kenmore (Wash.) Inglemoor. There are other shooting guards in the West Coast class of 2008 that may have received more early attention, but McLaughlin is probably going to be my #2 rated SG (after Jrue Holiday) when I update my rankings in a few weeks. McLaughlin is not yet mature physically, but he's got a good frame, he's long and he moves very well. He has a very good feel for the game – good vision and a good passer. He's a good enough shooter at this time, with a nice stroke, and he should be even better as he adds more strength. He can be somewhat unassertive at times, but you could also say he's playing unselfishly. My impression is McLaughlin is not used to being "the man" and that will probably change as he gets used to being one of the primary options on his team. With continued development, he should be one of the elite wings in this class.

Elston Turner, 6-4 JR SG Roseville (Calif.) High. Turner had a somewhat disappointing April, but he bounced back a bit at this event. Turner has a good bball body, with long arms and good frame, but he's not exceptionally quick. His ball-handling is probably the one area that really needs to improve upon. With just average quickness, he needs to be really good with the ball in order to create plays for himself. Good defenders with quickness can get into Turner and take away any plays off the dribble. His shot is reasonably accurate to the stripe, but it's still somewhat of a set shot. He has a tendency to lean back on his shot and that can lead to inconsistency. With his size and frame, Turner should be able to overpower some guards. However, he's more comfortable at this point staying on the perimeter and shooting from the stripe. As he gets older and stronger, he should be able to get in the post against some opponents and become an interior threat. Turner plays with relatively good energy and he's a willing defender. Overall, his game has not progressed quite as much as a I would've expected from last summer. But different kids progress at different rates and it's quite possible Turner will still end up a very good player down the road.

Oliver McNally, 6-3 SG/PG Branson (Calif.) Ross. McNally is the kind of player that grows on you the more you see him play. He's an average athlete, but he'll surprise you at times when he goes by someone or gets up a little better than you thought he might. He's very solid in all areas of the game. Good spot up shooter and a capable ball-handler (may play some one). His feel for the game and competitiveness are among his best attributes. He just makes correct play after correct play. McNally is probably not going to be an impact guy at the next level, but he's the kind of kid that can help a lot of teams.

Wendell Wright, 6-4 JR SG Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. Wright has improved considerably in the last year. He's always had an intriguing body and athleticism, but his skills were somewhat slow to develop. However, in the last six months or so, his skills have come a long way. He's knocking down shots in the 16-18 foot range and he's improved his ball-handling. He's also filled out quite a bit. He's much stronger and better able to finish plays inside. He's a solid mid major prospect at this time.

I'll have more on the Rumble In The Bay tomorrow.

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