Four Best Sophs in SoCal

While the spring recruiting events begin this weekend and college coaches and recruiting fans will be clamoring about the best high school juniors, we thought that we'd look even further ahead. Here's a glimpse at the best sophomores in Southern California - four players that have a real chance to be considered elite nationally: <b>Andre McGee, Brett Horner, Brian Harvey</b> and <b>Amir Johnson</b>...

Andre McGee, 5-10 SO PG, Moreno Valley Canyon Springs. He's unguardable, as just a sophomore. He is so quick, handles the ball so well and has so many deceptive moves that he impacts a game more than any sophomore in the west. He actually has a good outside set shot, too, that keeps defenses honest. He can penetrate at just about will, using a different move going to the basket almost every time, and has a knack to finish or dish. Defensively, he puts fear into opposing guards like no other 5-10 player. By the second half of many games some of the best guards in the west are afraid to bring the ball up against him. At this point he has a little too much street in his game, but he has two more years to refine it. He has the talent to be among the very few best point guards in this class nationally - and perhaps the best -- and among the top 25 players in the 2005 class in the nation. It will be very interesting to see if he continues to develop and refine his game.

Brett Hoerner, 6-10 SO C, Fullerton (Calif.) High. If you could invest in high school players like stock, Hoerner would be a great long-term growth stock, much like Amir Johnson, featured below. And "growth" has a couple of meanings here with Hoerner. Hoerner has grown from 6-8ish to 6-10ish in the last year or so. And he has the biggest feet I think I've ever seen on a high school kid, and foot size is a common indication of how big a kid will be. He's also gotten skinnier since last summer as his body has grown and stretched out. Now, you hear it all the time -- that a kid could end up a couple of inches taller than he is now -- but with Hoerner, there's a very good chance he could end up taller than 6-10 by the time he graduates from high school. And Hoerner is not only tall, he's got some game. He has a good shooting touch around the basket, pretty developed footwork, and a very good shotblocking feel. He has played soft in the past but recently showed that he's toughening up some, which is really promising. Hoerner has a chance to be big-time, as in one of the best big men in the country by his senior year.

Amir Johnson, 6-9 SO PF/C, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei. A blossoming monster, Johnson right now is the best shot blocker in SoCal, and has the best potential of any SoCal big man in recent years. What's so unusual about him is not only how athletic he is, but his ability to move and run like a small forward. He also has a nice developing offensive game, with a good shooting touch and a good feel from the post. He is still growing and still has a long way to go to fill in his body, but he becomes a better basketball player every time you see him -- getting bigger, quicker, more comfortable and more skilled at an alarming rate. If he continues to get bigger and better at the rate he's shown since last summer - and you project two years down the line when he's a senior - Johnson might have quite a few options open for him. By the end of the summer, you can expect that just about every big national program will be all over him, if they're not already.

Brian Harvey, 6-5 SO SG/SF, Carson (Calif.) High. Harvey is among the best wings in the west regardless of class. With a great body already as a sophomore, he is light years ahead of the game in basketball I.Q. and skill level. He has one of the prettiest jumpers, and it's a thing of beauty to watch him find some space off the dribble, pull up and nail a pretty 15-footer, amazingly under control and poised for someone so young. He's also a very springy athlete who can really finish. Brian is the younger brother of Tony Harvey, the former Utah player. We hear what might keep back Harvey are his academics, but hopefully, with two full years of high school left, there is a chance.


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