WA Spring League

In its first weekend, the Premier Spring League showcases most of the usual suspects, with Aaron Brooks and Ryan Appleby again confirming why they're considered to be so good, while some younger big men continue to emerge...

The opening weekend of the Washington Premier Spring League gave a look at some of the best players in Western Washington. The biggest surprise, the Stewart twins, Lodrick and Rodrick, are not in it. Their Payton Nike Select team will be doing some traveling during the spring and they opted to take the show on the road vice staying home.

But the two top point guards, Aaron Brooks and Ryan Appleby, are both in it. Aaron's Rotary Select team went 2-0 Saturday as did Ryan's Emerald City Pioneer squad. Both teams were short-handed. Rotary was sans bigs Josh Heytvelt (6-8 soph from Clarkston) and Andrew Strait (6-8 soph from West Valley, Yakima) and played their first game without 6-9 Marvin Williams (Bremerton). It didn't matter as Rotary jumped out 12-0 on FOH Green and cruised. Aaron showed it all, dropping treys, taking it inside with the floater finish and took a steal in for an impressive left-handed jam.

6-5 junior shooting guard Brandon Burmeister (Mercer Island) hit a few really deep treys and soph Lyndale Burleson (O'Dea) was a terror on defense. 6- 7 junior forward Jacob Manning (Bellarmine Prep) and 6-4 senior forward Kellen Williams (Franklin) were both monsters on the boards. Kellen has "quick hops" and long arms that allow him to play "taller." Jacob just did some grunt work inside and muscled guys around.

Marvin showed up for game-2 and was a man. He blocked 9 shots and showed why he will be the top big in his class (2004). He has been listed at 6-10 but standing next to him I eyeballed 6-9. He said later he's a hair over 6-8 and a half. He's starting to fill out and looks stronger. And he has the nastiest dunk of the day, flashing down the lane and getting way up for a throw down that rocked the board.

Aaron was getting plenty of love from Pac-10 schools but after his weekend in Houston at the Adidas Houston Shootout he has been getting it from coast to coast. His high school coach was out of town for a week and returned to a large pile of messages and a tapped out answering machine.

Appleby's squad was also short a few bigs as 6-9 Hans Gasser (Issaquah) was out for the day and we were told 6-9 wide body Jason Mgebroff (Kentwood) would be out for a while with a broken bone in his foot. They still had 6-8 Rob Petersen (Seattle Christian) and 6-7 Matt Nelson (Skyline) to get busy inside. Joining Appleby in the backcourt were 6-2 soph Andrew Haskins and 6-2 soph Darius Joseph (Wilson). Both of those guys can score from just about anywhere.

Appleby did his normal thing, got the ball to the scorers in great scoring position, drove and finished and showed off his quick outside jumper. He's been busy with in-school visits with the usual suspects, Pac-10 schools and Gonzaga, making calls last week or scheduled for this week, as well as Florida coming in. Ryan's in no hurry to make a decision and wants to do his thing this summer, narrow his list and take his visits.

We got a good look at 6-6 soph David Pendergraft (Brewster). He's the kid who has already verballed to Gonzaga. David broke his ulna just before state but is 100% now and said it doesn't bother him at all. From the looks of his shot, he wasn't lying. David has a nice combination of inside and perimeter game and is coming over to Seattle each weekend to play against guys from large schools as his h/s is in Class 1A, the next to smallest classification in the state. He has a nasty streak on the court, don't let the nice kid look fool you. He introduced himself to Appleby before their game and was doing some selling on the Zags.

Some new names got it done too. Fife 6' junior guard Cavell Reed put up 30 with an array of long bombs and flashy drives and finishes. He hit a running one-hander from about 25 feet to end one half and opened the second half with a three from the corner, then snagged a steal and took it into traffic for two.

Another new face was 5-11 junior guard Jerry Thomas (White River). He's got a Nate Robinson build and showed good range, dropping in a handful of treys including one with just a kiss off the glass, and took it to the rack hard. He's strong and it showed on his forays inside. With more PT he could develop into a dynamite package.

They didn't have the programs printed yet and I didn't bother trying to run down coaches to get rosters, I'll get them next Saturday when they do it again. The league has 20 teams in two conferences with the major select teams all grouped together.

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