Las Vegas Day Two: West Coast Prospects

The second day of action in Las Vegas revealed a couple of new prospects. A promising freshman from Las Vegas looked good and an elite junior point guard prospect from the Pacific Norhwest looks like he could be one of the best in his class...

The three Las Vegas tournaments have gyms all over the city and it's tough to consecutive games of interest in one gym. As a result, I'm not seeing as many kids as I'd like to see. With that in mind, here are my latest thoughts on some of the players I saw in the second day of action.

Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 JR PG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. I had heard a lot of talk about Gaddy, but had never seen him prior to this tournament. Therefore, I was extremely pleased to see that all the talk was justified. The vast majority of the time, the hype I hear on young kids is way out of proportion to their actual talent. But that wasn't the case with Gaddy – he's legit. He's got a great frame, with a young face and the kind of basketball actions that identify him as a player within about two minutes of action. He's a good athlete and very smooth. He takes a couple strides and you're shocked at how much ground he covers. His handle is solid, although it's a bit on the high side. His vision and feel are terrific and he plays unselfishly. He's a true point, but he has the size to possibly defend either spot. His shot looked solid, but he didn't take many jumpers. Off of one viewing, he looks like a contender for the top point guard spot in the west for 2009.

Drew Gordon, 6-9 SR C San Jose (Calif.) Mitty. Gordon is just now coming back from an injured hand and he's obviously not 100% yet. He's in surprisingly good shape, though, for a kid who hasn't been able to play at all for a few weeks. He must've been doing some cardio work, because he didn't seem to get winded at all in the game I saw. Gordon's role in college figures to be one of an energetic and physical post presence. Defense and rebounding are probably the main two areas that he'll initially be focusing on in the early stages of his college career. He's always been willing to be physical and he's certainly got the body to do it. His offense is still coming, but you can see signs of progress. He's had a tendency to play too fast in the past and also to try and dunk everything. So it was encouraging when he caught a pass in semi-transition, about five feet from the basket, pump faked, got his man in the air and then scored on a little bank shot. In the past, Gordon would just try to attack the rim and dunk the ball. His overall feel for the game is not great and that's something which will hopefully improve as he gets coached at a high level and gains experience. He misses a lot of plays at both ends because his feel is that of a much younger player. And Gordon is young for his class, so that's not surprising. He's got all the physical tools to be a very nice player down the road. If he's patient, and doesn't get caught up in other people's expectations, he should have a very productive college career.

Jeremy Tyler, 6-9 SO C/PF San Diego (Calif.) High. Tyler was content to float to the perimeter in the game I saw. He's obviously very gifted and he has all the potential in the world. But his approach to the game needs to become more consistent if he is to fulfill that promise. At his size, he needs to be in the post and dominating. Once he can do that, then expanding his game to the perimeter might be a good idea. But you have to play the game inside out. As a post player, you master the inside part first – then you gradually expand your game to the perimeter. But Tyler has not mastered the low-post game yet. His footwork still needs a lot of work, along with all the other nuances of playing inside. Like a lot of young bigs with his talent, Tyler wants to play outside first. He also was jawing with the ref over a couple calls and that's another thing that will hopefully change as he matures. He allowed himself to become distracted and taken out of the game because he was upset with the refs. Tyler has the size, athleticism and skills to one day be a terrific college player. But the road to that day is not an easy one and it's not a foregone conclusion that he'll reach the lofty heights that many imagine for him. He still has to approach the game the right way, he has to learn to play hard all the time and he has to work on his weaknesses. If he does those things, he's got a chance to be an outstanding player.

Avery Bradley, 6-2 JR SG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. Bradley is a terrific athlete and he plays with excellent energy. He's effective when slashing to the basket, but he's not a shooter. His outside shot is just fair. Which is why it's all the more frustrating when he forces jumpshots. His shot selection needs a lot of work. I was impressed with his defensive effort, however, and he could be a great defender if he puts his mind to it. His decisions overall need work, but there's no question he has high major upside if he can improve those decisions.

DeAngelo Casto, 6-7 SR C Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Casto is a bit deceiving when you look at look at him. His frame and long arms give you the impression that he's taller than he actually is. He's pretty raw offensively, and he doesn't have good hands, but he will compete and bang inside. His feel for the game isn't great, though, and that limits his upside as a prospect. He probably would be best at the mid major level, but he may end up going higher in a class that has few post players.

Michael Thompson, 6-2 FR SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Canyon Springs. Thompson was playing in one of the younger divisions, so I didn't get to see him go against any real talent. However, he shows all the signs of being a very good prospect someday. He has a very good basketball body and he's an above-average athlete. He showed a good feel for the game and played unselfishly. He got to the rim pretty much at will, so I didn't get to see him shoot much from the perimeter. But he certainly looks like a player to watch in the future.

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