Cactus Classic: West Coast Wrap-Up

The third annual Cactus Classic was a terrific opportunity to see some of the top talent in the west, including such standouts as Avery Bradley, Abdul Gaddy, Terrence Ross and Josh Smith, among others...

Tucson, Ariz. The Cactus Classic held this past weekend on the campus of the University of Arizona was easily the best event we've attended all year. Event organizer Jim Storey put together a quality field of teams and the tournament itself was extremely well organized. Here's a final look at some of the players who caught our attention at the event…

Jamal Crook, 6-1 SR PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Durango. Crook has some work to do in terms of achieving a qualifying test score but, if he qualifies, he's a very intriguing prospect. Long and lean, with excellent quickness, Crook was very good all weekend. He can get to the basket at will and he has the tools to be a very good defender someday.

Avery Bradley, 6-2 JR SG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. Bradley was one of the top couple prospects in attendance. He plays with consistently great energy and he's all over the court. He'll rebound in traffic, guard anyone, score in transition and knock down open shots. He's better right now in the 15-18 foot range, but he should eventually be a solid three-point shooter. Great court demeanor and great approach to the game. He's got a real shot at being the top-rated two guard in the west for 2009.

Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 JR PG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmin Prep. Talk to just about any knowledgeable basketball observers and they can't stop raving about Gaddy. A true point guard in every sense, Gaddy has great size and he doesn't even look physically mature. He's going to get stronger in the next couple years and then it'll be over. Great feel for the game and outstanding vision. He doesn't look real quick, but he plays at different speeds and has the ability to lull defenders to sleep. Like his teammate Bradley, Gaddy has a terrific approach to the game and great court demeanor. He's easily the top point guard in the west for 2009.

Michael Snaer, 6-4 JR SG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer has looked better every time out this spring. His shot has really improved in the last six months. His stroke is much smoother and quicker, with deeper range on his shot. He's got idea size for a wing and he's an above-average athlete. One area he needs to work on, though, is controlling his emotions on the court. He sometimes allows himself to get taken out of the game when he gets angry or frustrated. He's an elite, high major prospect.

Mike Moser, 6-7 JR SF/PF Portland (Ore.) Grant. Moser is a terrific athlete, with a very good body and huge feet. He might not be done growing, if he grows into those feet. He's surprisingly quick for his size and he just makes plays all over the court. Very active, good defender, good rebounder, surprisingly good passer and a terrific competitor. His outside shot is a work in progress, but he's so good in other areas, and has so much upside, that it's not a real concern. It's possible he grows into a power forward, but he'll just be a very athletic and skilled four man if that happen. He's one of the best forward prospects in the west for 2009.

Tyler Honeycutt, 6-7 JR SF Sylmar (Calif.) High. Honeycutt is just a baby and you can tell he's nowhere close to done physically. He's very slender and it will be awhile before he fills out. However, he's extremely skilled and he possesses a very good feel for the game. He shot the ball extremely well in Tucson and he shoots it as well as any forward in the west. While he's slender, Honeycutt isn't soft. He was mixing it up inside for a Pump N Run team that was missing its usual post presence in Reeves Nelson. Honeycutt also has a chance to be a very good defender. He's already got great timing as a shot-blocker. Yes, he's skinny, but so were Tayshaun Prince and Reggie Miller. Honeycutt has a chance to be among the elite players in the west for 2009.

Elijah Johnson, 6-1 JR PG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. Johnson's weekend in Tucson was pretty much the same as it was in Denver and Las Vegas. Every game out, he shows you a few things that have you thinking "potential pro." Great body, outstanding athleticism and a high skill level. He's as explosive athletically as any guard in the west. However, Johnson still has a ways to go in terms of his approach and feel for the game. He's not consistent in his effort, doesn't always defend like he should and his decision-making can be questionable at times. However, if he gets some coaching, and buys in, the sky is the limit for Johnson. He's just oozing upside and he's easily an elite, high major prospect.

Joe Burton, 6-7 JR C Hemet (Calif.) West Valley. Burton has is a wide-bodied post with an above-average skill level. He's a terrific passer and a very productive scorer in the paint. There is some question about how much upside he has, though, as I'm not sure his body is going to get a lot better. He'll definitely get high major looks, but might be best at the WCC or Mountain West level.

Steven Bjornstad, 6-10 JR C Vancouver (Wash.) Columbia River. One of the pleasant surprises of the tournament for me, Bjornstad has legit height, a solid frame and very good feet. He's still growing into his body, and strength is still an issue, but this kid has potential. Look for him to get recruited at the high major level.

Chris Cunningham, 6-8 JR C Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch. Cunningham had a very solid showing in Tucson. He's got the most athletic of posts, but he really knows how to play in the paint and has a great feel around the basket. He's got footwork that most young posts don't possess and he can score in a variety of ways. I previously thought he'd end up at the WCC level, but the more I watch him, the more I'm thinking high major.

Derrick Williams, 6-7 JR PF La Mirada (Calif.) High. Williams is a very interesting prospect. He's got a solid body, moves well and is a better shooter than you'd expect. He needs to play with a bit more intensity/focus, but there are some tools to work with here. A very good prospect at the mid major level and possibly higher.

Niyi Harrsion, 6-7 JR C San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine. Good-looking young post with a solid body and willingness to be physical. Runs the court well and plays with good energy. Not going to be a scorer for a while, but defense and rebounding will get him time at Santa Clara, where he's already committed.

Josh Smith, 6-9 SO C Kent (Wash.) Kentwood. A very big boy with a very bright future. Smith is naturally big, but when he gets in a real weight-training program, and tightens everything up, look out. Good hands, good feel in the post for a young kid, and he's light on his feet. He's a good, not great, rebounder and he should become a shot-blocker when he drops the excess baby fat. Right now, he's the clear-cut choice for best post prospect in the west for 2010.

Terrence Ross, 6-5 SO SG/SF Portland (Ore.) Jefferson. Ross has a classic wing body with a jump shot to three and the ability to dunk on your head. Everything in-between still needs work, but there's a huge upside here. Once he improves his ability to create off the dribble, and learns that he can use that length/athleticism to be a great defender, he figures to be one of the best wings in the country. With continued development, an elite, high major prospect.

Nick Johnson, 6-2 FR SG Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland. Johnson didn't get much run with the California Supreme and that's a shame, because he's the best guard prospect on the team. Great-looking stroke and really elevates on his shot. He's got a chance to be an exceptional shooter. Combine that with a very advanced feel for the game, and a solid frame, and you have one of the elite guard prospects in the west for 2011.

Tony Wroten, Jr. 6-5 FR SG/SF Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt. Wroten looks a bit older – very mature body and face – but he does have a considerable amount of talent. Jump shot is a bit flat, and stroke needs to get a little smoother, but he can get to the basket and score. He's got a chance to be one of the top wings in the west for 2011.

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