There were some very good-looking athletes at Pangos, but they were almost without fail from Georgia, Texas or some other state outside of the west. This was a very difficult environment to do any true evaluations, as most of the players were basically just running up and down, jacking bad shots and playing no defense. With that in mind, here are some thoughts on the West Coast players we did see.
Hollis Thompson, 6-5 SO SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. As we wrote after the first day, Thompson has a chance to be special. He was the best West Coast prospect in attendance at this event. For a kid still growing into a long and gangly body, he moves remarkably well. Thompson seems to glide effortlessly around the court, but he will surprise you with a quick move. He can shoot it to the stripe and he has good ball skills. He also knows how to play the game. While most of the kids were just jacking shots, Thompson actually tried to play the game the right way. He threw the ball into the post, moved without the ball, went backdoor against an overplay, etc. With continued development, he projects to being one of the elite players in the national class of 2009.
Jeff Withey, 6-11 JR C San Diego (Calif.) Horizon. Withey has made noticeable and dramatic improvement from where he was a year ago as a prospect. He still has a tendency to play "small" at times (brings the ball down too often), but he's much better at finishing around the basket. While he's added strength since last summer, he still needs to get bigger and stronger to succeed in the Big East. But given the development he's shown to date, we expect him to ultimately be a very good player for Louisville.
Demar DeRozan, 6-5 JR SF Compton (Calif.) High. DeRozan has made very good progress as a prospect in the last year, but this kind of event doesn't bring out the best in him. DeRozan's problem in the past has been a tendency to look for the highlight play, at the expense of playing to win. In this event, where very few kids were playing to win (little defense, tons of selfish shots), DeRozan was content to cast up a few jumpers and look for some dunks in transition. However, we've seen enough of DeRozan is competitive situations over the last couple months to know that he's a lot better than he showed at this camp. His shot is now a legitimate weapon, with range to 20-21 feet. For DeRozan to reach his potential (which is as high as any wing's in the class), he'll need to focus more on his defense and rebounding. With his body, and exceptional athleticism, there's not reason he can't be a great defender and above average rebounder.
D.J. Seeley, 6-3 JR SG Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian. We didn't see a lot of Seeley, but he was impressive in the limited viewing we had. He's one of the best pure scorers in the West Coast class of 2008. He can create his shot seemingly at will and he's effective from multiple spots on the floor. In a camp setting, which is all about creating your own shot, it's not surprising that Seeley showed well. Like a lot of players with his scoring ability, Seeley is primarily concerned with the offensive part of the game. He has the potential to be an impact player at the Pac-10 level if he can diversify his game. He's got good ball skills and he should get better at creating for his teammates. Defense is not a real priority for him at this time, but he's got the quickness and overall athleticism to ultimately be a good defender. Seeley has a high upside and it will be interesting to see just how good he gets when he arrives at Cal in another fifteen months or so.
Anthony Marshall, 6-1 JR SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Mojave. Marshall doesn't have the kind of game that will necessarily shine in camp ball. He's not selfish and he's not going to create his own offense every time he touches the ball. Marshall's strength is in doing all the things to help his team win. He's a very good defender and an excellent competitor. In this camp, he spent some time at point guard and he looked to set up his teammates. His ball skills are not yet at the level where he could play point in college, but he's got two more years of high school to go. He's certainly unselfish enough to play the position and there's a possibility he could get to the point where he could play some back-up minutes at the one. With his quickness, strength and toughness, Marshall will likely be able to defend two spots at the next level. He's been a bit under the radar in terms of national exposure, but Marshall is one of the elite guard prospects in the west for 2009.
Olek Czyz, 6-7 JR PF Reno (Nev.) High. Czyz excelled at this camp, as he played with great energy and he constantly attacked the basket. With his leaping ability, that meant a ton of dunks, as defenders made little effort to stop him and there was no help defense at all. Czyz has excellent ball skills for a kid his size. He handles and passes very well. While he was impressive in this environment, we don't want to make too much of it. As we said, there was no defense and there was little, if any, resemblance to real basketball. In April, Czyz was impressive with the Las Vegas Prospects, but not to this degree. So we'll be anxious to see him again in July when he plays in games that are a little closer to real basketball.
Devonte Elliott, 6-6 SO PF Paramount (Calif.) High. Elliott is very much a kid that you have to project on at this time. He's very raw, but his frame and length hold a lot of upside. He's very slender at the moment and you don't immediately think power forward when you see him. But as he matures and fills out, that's probably ultimately going to be his position. He didn't get many touches in this event, but he looks to have decent hands. His shot isn't great, but it isn't broken and he should get better with repetition. There's no way to predict a level for Elliott yet, but he's definitely one to watch for the future.
Xavier Thames, 6-2 SO SG Sacramento (Calif.) Pleasant Grove. We've always been intrigued by Thames's body and athleticism, and he showed signs at this event of development. He made several nice plays off the dribble for teammates and his shot wasn't bad. His decisions are still somewhat shaky, but that wasn't exactly unusual at the Galen Center this weekend. He remains an intriguing guy for 2009 and we'll want to watch him some more this summer.
Tyler Lamb, 6-4 FR SG Ontario (Calif.) Colony. Lamb has an advanced skill set for a young guard. He's got a very good stroke and he's accurate from 20-21 feet. He's just a fair athlete, though, and it will be interesting to see how he develops in the next couple years. There doesn't seem to be a lot of upside with Lamb, but his skills and feel for the game are above average. He's still a young kid, so his body may certainly change as well. He's going to be one of the more interesting 2010 kids to monitor in the coming years.