The high school season is underway and we've spent the last three days checking out tournaments in Southern California. Here are some early impressions on the players we've seen this week.
Deon Thompson, 6-8 SR C Torrance (Calif.) High. Thompson suffered a foot injury late in the game Tuesday, but he played well prior to getting hurt. Thompson wasn't required to do too much in an easy blowout win, but he showed off his scoring ability around the basket with a couple nice low-post moves. Physically, Thompson looks about the same as he did in the summer. It will be interesting to see how his game progresses when he gets involved in a serious weight-training program.
Darnell Gant, 6-9 JR PF/SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. We had Gant as the top-rated power forward in 2007 going into the season and his performance yesterday only solidified that ranking. Gant finished the game with 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks as Crenshaw blew out Hamilton in their first game of the season. Gant appears to have grown an inch since the summer and his upside is scary. A good shooter out to the stripe, Gant also has the ability to play inside. He's very long and gets up quickly. He's still relatively inexperienced, but you don't see many kids with his combination of physical attributes and skill level. An elite, high major prospect.
Chace Stanback, 6-6 JR SF/SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback has filled out a bit since we last saw him and he showed a terrific all-around game in two viewings this week. A good shooter with three-point range, Stanback handles the ball well for his size and makes good decisions. He rarely forces anything and lets the game come to him. He rebounds well for a wing and plays solid defense on and off the ball. Stanback is a fluid and smooth athlete, which can sometimes make it appear that he's not playing with great effort. But that's not the case – he's just one of those players that makes the game look easy. An elite, high major prospect.
Taylor King, 6-6 JR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The best shooter in the West Coast class of 2007, King showed off his deep range in a blowout win Monday night. The issue for King at the next level will be quickness and his ability to defend. We don't see him guarding high major players on the perimeter, which is why we have him as a power forward. He's got plenty of toughness and strength to play inside against bigger opponents – he's got pretty long arms – and we think he'd fare better inside on defense than he would away from the basket. He's got a knack for scoring, though, and he'll have plenty of high major programs recruiting him.
Travis and David Wear, 6-8 FR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The Wear twins are lanky and skilled young forwards who have a chance to be among the best players in the 2009 class. Both can shoot it well and have very advanced games for their age. They both move well for their size and have very good ball skills. With continued development, they're potentially elite prospects.
Andy Brown, 6-7 FR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Brown doesn't have the shooting stroke of the Wear twins, but he's another outstanding young prospect. Good feet and hands; moves very well for a young forward.
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