Saturday at the Kingwood Classic in Houston, TX is easily one of the most grueling days on the entire grassroots basketball circuit. Several of the nation’s finest prospects took the court at 8 AM in front of the watchful eyes of coaches from all across the country and the action ran until nearly one in the morning on Sunday.
With a plethora of the nation’s top targets on hand Kansas assistant Joe Dooley and Head Coach Bill Self -- until he left for evening action in Dallas -- were scrambling from gym to gym to see as many prospects as possible. Among Saturday’s many shining stars were several Kansas targets past, present and future and Phog.net was on hand to watch them all.
KANSAS TARGETS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Daniel Deane - According to Deane, he was a little surprised earlier this week when he found out that Bill Self had inquired about him. Saturday morning Self dropped by to watch the skilled 6-8 BF and apparently liked him enough to send back Dooley later on in the afternoon. Already drawing heavy attention from the likes of Utah, UCLA, Stanford, Gonzaga and others, Deane is a very good student and a fine basketball player. He’s strong enough to bang in the post, is a skilled passer facing the hoop and can step out and shoot the three. He generated a lot of positive buzz with coaches from all across the country and his star is on the rise.
Bryce Webster - The AAU setting probably isn’t the best setting for Webster. The 6-10 BF/C struggled for stretches and looked lethargic at times. He’s got soft touch around the basket and is starting to tone up his body but coaches were expecting a bit more than he showed on Saturday. He’s still adjusting to the pressure that comes along with being a big time recruit and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bounce back in a big way next weekend in a more low key and local environment when he plays in the Howard Pulley Invitational in Minneapolis.
Chase Budinger - After lighting up Sin City last weekend and leading his So-Cal All-Stars to the championship game of the Las Vegas Spring Showcase, the explosive 6-7 WF was up to the same old tricks on Saturday. Other than those who had seen him before, nobody in a packed Westfield High gym expected to see him go to work the way he did. He hit deep threes, attacked off the dribble and Dooley dogged him every step of the way. An assistant for Wisconsin Fox Valley Skillz put it best when he declared that nobody in the gym was expecting Carrot Top to drive baseline and dunk on the entire New Heights team. Kansas coaches watched him pretty much every step he took.
Spencer Hawes - There probably isn’t much more Hawes could have done on Saturday. His feel for establishing position in the post and scoring with skill is almost unsurpassed. The average fan won’t notice him setting up his man and sealing him off while the pass to the man who will ultimately dump it into him is in the air, but you had better believe it makes coaches drool. Of course his ability to run the court, rebound, block shots, spin to either shoulder and drain jumpers from as deep as 21 feet doesn’t hurt. He denied having sliced his list to three but did acknowledge that he’s set up a visit with UCLA for early June and that he’ll visit Stanford sometime in May. His recruitment should extend into the Fall.
Brian Carlwell - It is a little early to tell just how big a blip Carlwell is on the Kansas radar, but he’s certainly on there. The 6-9 (maybe even 6-10) center from Chicago didn’t get a lot of touches down low but went to work on the boards and blocking shots. Unless you have seen him, it is hard to comprehend just how much he’s improved in the last year. A work in progress who could end up a top 50 kid before it is all said and done.
Lance Thomas - More than likely Kansas has dropped out of the Thomas sweepstakes but it is important to point out how much Thomas has improved. He’s grown to a legit 6-8, has seriously improved his ball handling and passing and still gets after it as hard as anybody in the country. In fact he creates and handles well enough from the perimeter that it is safe to consider him a pure WF (rather than a combo) at this point. However, his jumper still needs a lot of help and we’re talking a complete overhaul.
Derrick Rose - Based on a fairly limited viewing late Saturday evening, the 6-3 PG from Chicago is a potentially special player. Since December he’s significantly improved his ball handling, decision making and most importantly his shooting. He was cashing home threes from all angles and loves to shoot pull up floaters from the wing and isn’t afraid to kiss them off the glass. Super prospect from the class of 2007.
Cole Aldrich - Save for a few parents, some tired scorekeepers and a sleepy eyed Joe Dooley, not many folks got to see the 6-10 BF go to work late Saturday/earl Sunday. He’s a physical force underneath the basket, rebounds, scores and does all of the little things. Like Spencer Hawes he scores a pass or two before he receives the ball. Bill Walton would love watching this guy play because he throws beautiful, crisp outlet passes. The class of 2007 standout won’t lack for attention from the Kansas staff over the next few years.
SOME MORE KU NOTES AND AN ODE TO THE JUICE
Other guys who have popped up on the KU radar from time to time putting in work on Saturday included 6-7 BF Demetrius Jemison, 6-6 WF Xavier Keeling, 6-4 WG Alex Legion (2007), Andre Stephens, Tory Jackson, George Goode (2007), Trevor Mbakwe (2007) and Jerryd Bayless (2007) and others. Look for more on them in a recap of some of the weekend’s action….
Sometimes you just have to step back, take a deep breath and enjoy watching a special prospect. Amare Stoudemire was that way, LeBron James was that way and O.J. Mayo has officially worked his way into that category. The 6-5 PG captivates with his unique blend of athleticism, skill and presence. The bar has already been set ridiculously high for him and he continues to clear it with ease. He’s a great shooter from deep, runs his team, has personality, plays exceptional defense and does it all with a great personality. The most telling sign is that his peers knock each other out in order to watch him play and the next one of them to claim he’s overrated will be the first. The best comparison so far is a high school version of Oscar Robertson….Continuing with Mayo, he has a running mate by the name of Billy Walker who is pretty special himself. The 6-6 WF is known for his ridiculously explosive leaping ability but has added a solid jumper and a nasty crossover. Playing with O.J. certainly hasn’t hurt his development….Thanks to Walker and Mayo and Atlanta Celtics Javaris Crittendon and Senario Hillman (2007) a capacity crowd was treated to one of the most entertaining games on the circuit in the last few years. It was a like a skills competition, dunk contest and three point contest all rolled up into one and it was seasoned with a dash of overtime before Walker and Mayo’s D1 Greyhounds prevailed….Oh yeah, Mayo later hit a buzzer beating three to advance his team deeper into the playoffs….