The high school tournament season is underway in Southern California and I've seen several of the top local prospects in action over the last couple weeks. Here are my most recent thoughts on the prospects I've seen to date.
Jrue Holiday, 6-4 SR PG/SG/SF North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. You can put him at the one, two or three – it doesn't matter. Wherever you play him, this kid is the best prospect in the country for 2008. His outside shot was the one weakness in his game, but now that he's cleaned that up, it's over. Great athlete, incredible competitor, effortless scorer and a terrific defender. The other 2008 guards pale in comparison and that fact will be obvious to even the most oblivious recruiting analysts when Holiday is in the NBA in a few years. The UCLA commit is a better player than Baron Davis at the same age, Holiday is a rare and special talent.
Malcolm Lee, 6-4 SR SG/PG Riverside (Calif.) North. Lee struggled in the game I saw him play in the Tournament of Champions, but a lot of his struggles had to do with his team. The North team didn't run anything and Lee was reduced to often just attacking the basket. Even on an off-day, though, it's obvious that Lee has a huge upside. He's gotten bigger since the summer and he's started to fill out. But his outstanding quickness is still there and he's going to be able to finish inside against bigger players when he reaches the next level. He needs to improve his decisions, but Lee's upside is extremely high. And he's going to be a great defender once he gets some coaching, which might be in his future as a UCLA commit.
Michael Snaer, 6-5 JR SG/SF Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer went up against Jrue Holiday and competed very well. Snaer picked up a couple early fouls, but I liked the way he went right at Holiday. Snaer is a very versatile player and he does a lot of things well. His shot looks better than it did in the summer and he knocked down several deep shots. He's a very good defender and he plays with toughness. He's gotten good coaching at Rancho Verde and he understands how to play the game. Very good feel, excellent competitor and highly skilled. He's got a chance to be the best guard in the west for 2009.
Renardo Sidney, 6-9 JR C Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Sidney's body looked a bit doughy at the Pacific Shores tournament, but he was still the dominant player at the event. While Sidney can sometimes exhibit questionable intensity and focus, there is no doubting his skill level. He's a very talented prospect, with the size, athleticism and skills to dominate the high school level. Sidney posted up a bit more than I'd seen him in the past and he did a pretty good job in the paint. He's got a tendency to fade away from contact, though, and that's an area he can improve upon. He still settles a bit too often for the three-pointer but, overall, he was very good at this event.
Hollis Thompson, 6-6 JR SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. I only saw Thompson, who is verbally committed to Georgetown, play one game at the Pacific Shores tourney and it was an extremely frustrating experience. Thompson's teammates apparently don't realize they're playing with one of the best juniors in the country. Many of the Loyola players took terrible shots and missed opportunities to get Thompson the ball when he was open. It's a particularly egregious offense when you understand that Thompson is not a selfish player – he'll give the ball to an open teammate. So here's my not so subtle message to the rest of the Loyola players – get a fricking clue. Quit jacking up bad shots. Quit being selfish and understand that your only hope as a team is to get the ball to your best player.
Wendell Lee, 6-2 SR SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Washington. Lee is a sleeper in the 2008 class and well worth a look for any schools in need of a shooting guard. He's got a good, live body and he's a scorer. Shoots it to the stripe, but also excels taking people off the bounce. He played very hard in the game I saw and he definitely made me take notice of him. I was told he's got a 3.0 GPA and he'll qualify.
Solomon Hill, 6-5 JR SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Hill is a long and wiry wing with a live body. He's more of a slasher than shooter, but he has improved his shot in the last year. He's a surprisingly good passer and I really like his approach to the game. He plays hard with a great demeanor on the court. He's a good defender with a chance to be great. I've had him as a mid major guy, but he opened up my eyes at the Pacific Shores event. He's a high major prospect.
Alex Osborne, 6-6 JR PF West Hollywood (Calif.) Pacific Hills. This was my first look at Osborne and he was very impressive. Good body, moves very well, pretty bouncy and a great feel around the basket. He's got very big feet, with a youngish face, so he might not be done growing. In any event, he's very interesting at the mid major level and maybe higher if he continues growing.
Tyler Honeycutt, 6-6 JR SF Sylmar (Calif.) High. This kid looks like a cross between Landry Fields and Austin Daye. He's similar to those guys in that he is physically immature, but very long and looks like he could still grow some more. He's not the shooter those two players were at the same age, but he blocked everything in sight at the game I saw. And his shot isn't bad. A very intriguing prospect to watch, particularly as he fills out and gains strength.
Garrett Jefferson, 6-3 JR SF/SG Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. Good-looking wing with some length. Nice frame, good athlete. Skills still a bit rough, but he has the look of a potential player.
Anthony Brown, 6-5 SO SF/SG Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View. Brown looks like he's about twelve years old, but his length, body and big feet are indications that he's still got some growing to do. He's got excellent fundamentals – obviously had some coaching – and his skills are advanced for a kid his age. With continued development, he's got a chance to be an elite, high major prospect.
Derrick Kaster, 6-5 SO SF/PF Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. Kaster has a good frame, with big feet, and he's bouncy. He's a bit of a straight-line athlete, but his ball skills are good and he's got a nice stroke. He may grow into a four if he gets much bigger, but he's certainly a mid major guy and might develop into a high major prospect.
Kevin Johnson, 6-8 FR C Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Great-looking young post player with a solid frame and great hands. His hands were particularly impressive, as he caught everything that came near him. He's just a baby, with a long way to go, but this kid has a chance to be a big-time player someday.
Scout On The Road: West Coast Dec. 12th
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