With both the Pump ‘N Run Spring Tournament and the Vision Sports Spring Showcase taking place in Las Vegas this weekend there was no shortage of players to watch. Even though two guys who have been discussed as Kansas targets, Spencer Hawes and Alex Stepheson, were not in attendance as expected, there were still several players that Kansas fans may be interested in getting after it.
KANSAS TARGETS IN VEGAS
Chase Budinger - If he wasn’t the star of the afternoon, Budinger was certainly one of the premier performers on Saturday as he dazzled for the Southern Cal All-Stars against a physical Georgia Elite program. He’s an athletic wing who has grown to 6-7 and has added some muscle since last summer. On Saturday Budinger had his jumper working from deep and scored on several soaring drives to the cup as Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend looked on. People looking to catch a glimpse of the much improved – and he was already pretty good – wing had better get out and watch him now because he’ll miss much of the summer to compete for USA Volleyball in the Junior Olympics. Monday afternoon Townsend will swing by to visit with and watch Budinger at his high school.
Gary Johnson - Although he wasn’t quite as impressive as he was last weekend at Boo Williams, the 6-7 combo forward had his moments on Saturday. As usual he used his athleticism and length around the basket to score on an array of slams and short jumpers while causing havoc on the offensive glass. The long and angular sophomore has a body type similar to that of Shawn Marion and it isn’t a stretch to imagine him developing into a similar type player down the road. However, Johnson also took his lumps at times including a 15 second sequence against the South Florida Heat that saw him get two dunk attempts on the break blocked from behind.
Isaiah Rusher - Another talented sophomore from Houston, the 6-9 Rusher is taking baby steps towards becoming a monster prospect. He’s got a muscular and long frame, runs the court well, rebounds and plays above average defense for a player his age. On the offensive end he is a bit too timid at times. After taking a pretty flagrant elbow to the kisser, Rusher unleashed his inner beast and attacked the glass aggressively and looked to score. He’s got soft hands and just needs to improve his footwork a little more. Regardless, he’s a fine looking prospect who people are going to hear and read a lot about over the next few years.
Marcus Lawrence - Friday afternoon, Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend stopped by the 5-11 PG’s high school (Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman) to pay him a visit and watch him workout. Saturday, Lawrence put in some more work as he led his Las Vegas Prospects to a tough victory over Davon Jefferson’s H-Squad. He isn’t a huge scorer -- although he has a very nice mid-range game and a nice floater that he uses to score in the lane -- but he is a bonafide leader and a high major prospect. Even when the ball isn’t in his hands Lawrence is directing traffic and making sure his teammates know what to be doing. Defensively he moves his feet very well and uses his quick hands to cause a lot of problems for opposing point guards.
Matt Bouldin - After creating a buzz with his play on Friday night, the 6-4 WG was only so-so during a loss to Emerald City Pump ‘N Run. He spent a lot of time playing the point for Colorado Select and is a fine ball handler and an exceptional passer. However, he doesn’t have the quickness to defend or consistently beat smaller and quicker PG’s off of the bounce. Bouldin has added about 15 pounds of muscle since last summer and has a nice looking stroke from mid-range. Kansas is still involved to some extent but doesn’t look to be making him the priority that some other schools have.
Jerryd Bayless - A truly gifted athlete, the 6-2 WG from Arizona knows how to put the ball in the hole. The 2007 prospect elevates well off the floor for quick jumpers -- although he needs to get more square towards the basket -- can get into the lane and finish over big men and is an extremely creative ball handler. All of those are plusses, however Bayless doesn’t look to have made noticeable improvement in any one department of his game and he really likes to look for his own offense. He’s still young and obviously very talented, but he’s going to have to learn to get others involved a bit more than he currently does.