Las Vegas Day Three: West Coast Prospects

The Pacific Northwest had a few players show well in the third day of action in Las Vegas. In particular, we highlight a sophomore big man from Kentwood and a talented junior shooting guard from Tacoma...

The third day of action in Las Vegas was the start of bracket play in two of the tournaments, with losers going home. So there was a bit more at stake in a few of the games (to the extent that anything is at stake in what is mostly horrible basketball). Here are my thoughts on some of the players I saw on Tuesday.

Josh Smith, 6-8 SO C Kent (Wash.) Kenwood. I only saw a portion of Smith's game, so I didn't get much of a look at him. However, I've seen him before and he appears to be progressing nicely. He's a big-bodied kid and he's still carrying some considerable baby fat. However, he moves well in spite of that extra weight. He's also got great hands. He catches anything that comes near him. His feel around the basket is advanced and he's got a nice touch in the 10-12 foot range. He gets up a little better than you might expect and that only figures to improve as he tones up and his body matures. With continued development, he's a potential elite prospect.

Peyton Siva, 5-11 JR PG Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Siva looks small on the court with other players. His frame isn't real big and he's somewhat slight. He has good, not great, quickness and a solid handle. His shot is pretty good to the 19-20 foot range, but he doesn't always take good shots. Overall, his game feels a bit erratic. He's capable of making exciting plays, but there doesn't seem to be any consistency to his game. The decisions can become shaky and he doesn't always seem to be in control. He's got a number of positive attributes as a player, but his approach and focus need to improve is he's going to play at a high level.

Avery Bradley, 6-2 JR SG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. One day after a very mediocre game, Bradley came back with a terrific game. In a tough win over the L.A. Dream Team, Bradley was terrific for the Northwest Panthers. He hit several clutch jumpers down the stretch. His shot selection was better and he took care of the ball. As I wrote yesterday, he's got a chance to be an exceptional defender. He's very quick laterally, he's got some toughness and he's capable of locking up opposing players. With the right approach, and an understanding of his role on the team, he's got a chance to be a high major player.

Renardo Sidney, 6-9 JR C/PF Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. I've got a disagreement with Dave Telep regarding Sidney. Dave feels Sidney should be the #1 ranked player in the class because he's the most talented, while I feel he's not the best prospect in the country (for a number of reasons). I think even Dave would agree, though, that Sidney didn't show well in this tournament. He forgot his shoes to the afternoon game and he missed a good chunk of the first half while waiting for them to arrive. When he did get in the game, he didn't play with any intensity and he spent most of the game floating to the perimeter. Like a lot of young big kids, Sidney seems to fancy himself a perimeter player (or "wing"). Unfortunately, that's simply not the case. Sidney will play the four (or five) at any level he plays beyond high school. Whichever position he plays, he's going to need to play with much more focus, intensity and competitiveness if he wants to have any success. His body is not in good shape and his game has regressed from where it was earlier this year. He's got the size, athleticism and skills to be a very good player – even if he's not working hard at his game. But if he wants to be a great player, and fulfill all the lofty expectations that come with a #1 player in the country ranking, then he's going to have to change his approach. Because his approach right now isn't working. He's not playing well or growing as a player. And that's a real shame, because he does have a considerable upside.

Ramon Eaton, 6-7 FR SF Vallejo (Calif.) Sheldon. Eaton is a very talented young prospect with a ton of potential. He's long and slender, with a considerable amount of athleticism. He's advanced in terms of his ball skills for a young kid, with a decent-looking stroke out to the stripe. I was impressed with the poise he showed in a game on Tuesday. He didn't look overwhelmed at all, even though his team was getting blown out by a much more talented squad. He obviously still has a long way to go, but Eaton looks like a potential high major prospect.

Oliver McNally, 6-3 SR SG/PG Ross (Calif.) Branson. He's not the most athletic player on the court, and he's usually not the most skilled, but McNally is often the most competitive (and toughest) player in the game. That was the case again Tuesday as he led the Bay Area Hoosiers to a hard-fought win. McNally is simply a winner (Branson has won two state championships with him). He's a great competitor, he makes big shots and he's a leader. He's very vocal on the court and he's constantly helping his teammates get in the right position. He's only an average athlete, but McNally could certainly help a lot of mid major teams.

Ryan Sypkens, 6-3 JR SG/PG Sacramento (Calif.) Franklin. I only got a brief look at Sypkens, but he confirmed my impression from the West Coast All-Star Camp earlier this month. He's going to be a D1 player – it's just a question of level for him. He's got a nice frame, with some length, and a good stroke. His shot selection can be a bit dicey at times, but it wasn't too bad. He's got a chance to play at the mid major level.


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