HAX Memorial Day Blast: Prospects, Part One

Xavier Johnson, Bryce Jones, Robert Upshaw and Eric Cooper, Jr. were among the top prospects at the HAX Memorial Day Blast this past weekend...

Hawthorne, Calif. The HAX Memorial Day Blast had a number of top players from the Southern California area on hand this past weekend. We break down some of them in part one of our report on the event…

Bryce Jones, 6-5 SF Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Jones is a terrific athlete with an excellent frame and length. He's strictly a three man at the next level, as he lacks the ball skills and body type to play at the two. But he's got a chance to be a very good small forward. He's at his best when he's playing inside or slashing to the rim. His shot is just fair at this time and his decision-making can be a bit erratic. He does have a considerable upside, though, and will likely end up at the high major level.

John Ryan, 6-8 C El Segundo (Calif.) High. A deceptive athlete, Ryan is much more agile and nimble than he appears. He's got good size and he'll eventually be pretty strong when he gets in a college weight room. He's got very good hands and good feet. His feel for the game is very good and he's able to play inside and on the perimeter. He's a tough kid who competes very well. He's a no-brainer at the mid major level, but with the lack of bigs in the 2010 class he'll no doubt get attention from high majors as well.

Yannick Atanga, 6-6 PF Ojai (Calif.) Besant Hill. Atanga is originally from Cameroon and he shares some similarities with former UCLA players Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya. Like those two, he plays with great energy. Physically, he's more like Mbah a Moute, with a great body and very good athleticism. Also like Luc, he's probably going to be able to defend multiple spots at the next level. His offensive game is still a bit raw and he's got some work to do with is skill development. But the physical tools are there for him to be a good player down the road. He's another guy that is an easy call for the mid majors and he'll likely get high major looks as well.

Allen Crabbe, 6-6 SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Price. Crabbe has already committed to Cal and he should be a solid player for Mike Montgomery. He's not a great athlete, but he's got good size and he's a good, not great, shooter. Defending high level athletes on the wing may be a question mark with his body type, but he's got a solid feel for the game and he has improved his overall ball skills. He's still more of a spot-up shooter than a guy that will create his own offense, but he is making more of an effort to diversify his offensive game.

Alex Tiffin, 6-7 PF Thousand Oaks (Calif.) High. Tiffin is a versatile forward who does a lot of things well. He's just an average athlete, but he's got a very good feel, above average passing ability and he can play both inside and on the perimeter. He's especially effective in the low-post with advanced footwork and post skills. He should hear from plenty of schools at the mid major level.

Richard Solomon, 6-8 PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Price. A long, lean and athletic four man, Solomon has a ways to go in terms of his skill development. He's still very raw in terms of his ball skills, both on the perimeter and in the paint. He has a tendency to play small – needs to learn to use his size to better effect. However, he does have some physical tools to work with and it'll be interesting to see how he develops as he gains strength and experience.

Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-2 PG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. A long, slender and baby-faced young point, Dinwiddie just oozes upside. He's nowhere close to being mature yet physically and he's just starting to come into his own. He's a true point with an excellent feel for the game. He rarely leaves his feet and makes solid decisions. He's a good, not great, athlete. Outside shot is good enough at this point in time and will no doubt improve as he gains more strength. He's still got a ways to go in terms of maturing physically, but he's one of the top point guard prospects in the west for 2011.

Kevin Bailey, 6-5 SF Clovis (Calif.) Clovis East. One of the elite athletes at the event, Bailey has a considerable upside. Great wing body and an explosive leaper. Decision-making needs to get better – loves to just attack the rim – but he has some serious tools to work with in the next couple years. Shot is a bit funky, but it goes in enough at this point in time. With some coaching and development, Bailey has a chance to be one of the top wings in the west for 2011.

Xavier Johnson, 6-6 SF Temecula Valley (Calif.) Chaparral. The top prospect at the event regardless of class, Johnson also had the play of the weekend when he blocked a shot and then raced to the sideline to save the ball before it went out of bounds. For a kid that is as talented as he is at a young age, Johnson plays with unusual energy and unselfishness. He's a monster rebounder and also a terrific passer. You don't find that combination in many 9th graders. Add in the fact that he can knock down three-pointers, as well as the ability to finish above the rim, and you have one of the elite prospects in the country for 2012.

Robert Upshaw, 6-10 C Fresno (Calif.) Edison. Upshaw has a very good frame, with very long arms and huge feet. I don't like to project height, but it wouldn't be surprising if Upshaw grows a little more. He's got very good skills for a young post, as he showed with consecutive left hand shots in the paint in one game. Like most young bigs, he's still growing into his body, but Upshaw shows all the signs of being an elite prospect. With continued development, he figures to be one of the top centers in the country for 2012.

I don't like to look too far ahead when it comes to young kids, but there were two very good 2013 prospects at this event. Chance Murray, 6-0 PG Los Angeles (Calif.) Price, has very good ball skills, an advanced feel for the game, a body that projects well and an exceptional stroke. And Eric Cooper, Jr., 6-2 PG La Verne (Calif.) Lutheran, is one of the best incoming 9th graders I've seen in a long time. Great frame and length, baby face, exceptional skill level and a huge upside. Look for both of these kids to be among the elite prospects in the class of 2013.

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