The Fall Desert Showcase was held this past weekend at Cheyenne High in Las Vegas, NV. While there wasn't a lot of elite talent on hand, there were a number of intriguing young prospects.
As is typical in these kinds of events, there were way too many players taking terrible shots, making bad decisions, turning the ball over, playing no defense and generally not showing themselves in the best possible light. To all those parents and players who want to know the best way to get "exposure," here's my response: don't play like an idiot.
I made this point to the players at the event and I'll repeat it here. College head coaches at the D1 level are making anywhere from $100,000 to $3,000,000 a year. They want to keep those jobs. But they realize they won't be employed for long if they don't win. And they also know they won't win if they recruit kids who don't know how to play the game. They want kids who will play unselfishly, work hard on defense, make smart decisions and, most importantly, play to win. And the kids with those qualities are the ones that I'm going to recommend to coaches when they ask for my opinion.
Unfortunately, I saw way too many kids at this event (just like I do at every event) that weren't playing to win. They were playing selfishly, jacking it up at every opportunity and, for the most part, demonstrating very little understanding of how to play the game. So if you want to play like an idiot, be my guest. But don't be surprised when you're not getting any "exposure" and no college coaches are offering scholarships.
Now that I've got that rant out of the way, here are the players who caught my attention at this event.
Olek Czyz, 6-7 SR PF Reno (Calif.) High. Czyz had no competition at this event, as there was no quality size in attendance. I personally think he's a bit of a reach at Duke's level, but there is no questioning his heart, energy level or competitiveness. This kid plays hard all the time, even after he's got a scholarship to Duke and he's going against far inferior players. He gets a lot of points off of hustle type plays and he finishes well around the basket. His outside shot is a work in progress, but it's not terrible. I don't see him as an impact guy at Duke's level, but it's possible he'll be able to contribute as a role player, energy guy off the bench.
Anthony Marshall, 6-2 JR SG/PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Mojave. Marshall played about as poorly at this event as I've seen him play. His shot wasn't falling and he had way too many turnovers. However, I haven't changed my opinion on him as a prospect – I still think he's among the best 2009 guards in the west -- and that's something for young players to keep in mind. You're going to have plenty of time to get exposure and earn a scholarship. It's your body of work, over the course of four years in high school, that will matter. So don't worry about impressing scouts, coaches, etc. when you step on the court. Your play over the course of time will speak for itself. And Marshall, over the last two years that I've been watching him play, has impressed me a great deal. He plays hard all the time, he's a very good defender, an above average athlete and he plays to win. He's a high major prospect, despite the fact that he had a poor showing on one Saturday in September.
Moses Morgan, 6-5 SO SG/SF Las Vegas (Nev.) Palo Verde. Morgan had a very impressive showing at this event. He's got a terrific wing body – long arms, great frame – and he moves easy. He's got a very solid stroke for a young kid and good range on his shot. His shot selection was a bit spotty at times and his focus was in and out over the course of the day. But there's no question that he's got some serious tools and a significant upside. If he's got the commitment to the game, as well as the desire and work ethic to reach his potential, then he'll have a very good chance of being an elite prospect in the West Coast class of 2010.
Michael Thompson, 6-2 FR SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Canyon Springs. Great-looking young prospect who can score in a variety of ways. Thompson looks like a baby, but he's got advanced skills for a freshman. He can create his shot off the bounce and he's got the beginnings of a nice mid-range game. He's got the athleticism and body that you're looking for in a young wing. He's also a very good student. He's still got a long way to go, but Thompson shows all the signs of being an elite prospect.
Trent Lockett, 6-5 JR SF Minnetonka (Minn.) Hopkins. I don't typically write about kids outside of the west, but Lockett was easily one of the best players at this event. He's got a very good body, with a solid frame, and he should be pretty strong in a few years. His shot was inconsistent at this event, but I liked the fact that he didn't just settle for jumpers. He posted up several times and looked like he had a clue when he was in the paint with his back to the basket. Overall, he had a good approach to the game. He played hard and competed well. Off this one viewing, he looks to be a high major prospect.
Rayes Gallegos, 6-2 JR SG West Jordan (Utah) High. Gallegos was a revelation for me at this event. I'd never seen him before, but he's a very nice prospect. He's wiry strong, with excellent quickness and a very live body. His overall skill level is above average. Nice shot to the stripe and he can create his own offense. He played with great energy at this event and showed the potential to be an excellent defender. I want to watch him some more, but he looks to be a potential high major prospect.
Justin Hawkins, 6-2 JR SG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Hawkins came out from Southern California for this event and he had a good showing. He's just an average athlete, but he's got a good frame and should end up pretty strong down the road. Hawkins doesn't excel at any one aspect of the game, but he's solid in a lot of areas. He'll make enough outside shots to keep you honest and he's an adequate ball-handler. He's not a point guard, but he might develop to the point where he can eventually play some backup minutes at the one. He committed to UNLV after the event.
Chris McCall, 6-2 SO SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. McCall was just fair at this event – he's got decent skills and he's a pretty good athlete – but I wanted to single him out because he was one of the few players that played unselfishly. He consistently made the extra pass and generally looked like he had a clue about how to play the game. We'll see if he develops into a prospect over the next couple years, but he caught my attention simply by playing the game the right way.
Other players that showed flashes of ability at one point or another included:
Donald Anderson, 5-9 FR PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Canyon Springs
Pierre Jackson, 5-7 JR PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Pines
Jordan Hill, 6-4 SR SF Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Demetric Williams, 6-0 JR PG/SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne
Ricky Henry, 6-4 JR SF Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne
Reggie Shaw, 6-2 JR SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Pines
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