Two big names emerged from The Big Time for a position of big need for Stanford: big men. One was in attendance, while the other was in another country.
It has now been well-documented by Tracy Pierson and Greg Hicks over on PrepWestHoops how Matt Haryasz has suddenly emerged as a prime center target on the West Coast with his performances in Vegas. This Page, AZ rising senior blew up and drew far more attention than his previous West Coast exposure. Stanford was there watching him several times, and is interested. He has a reported 3.6 GPA and 1060 SAT, which is not at all a slam dunk, though.
The other big man of great interest in this 2002 class is 6'9" Bernard Cote from Montreal, Quebec (my apologies to Bernard for not being sure which accents go where on his surname). Bernard is arguably the top player in Canada, and is getting increasing interest from major U.S. programs. The likes of Kansas, Notre Dame, Kentucky and Louisville are very interested, along with Stanford. The mutual interest between Bernard and Stanford is such that he invited the Cardinal to a individual work-out in Montreal, and Eric Reveno took off to spend his time there rather than at the last couple of days in Vegas. Unlike the bevy of other nationally elite big men Stanford has looked at this year, Bernard should actually make it through Old Union. A 3.6 GPA and 1260 SAT sound promising.
Between Cote and Haryasz, Stanford should find their beloved big man in this class. Admissions, dynamics yet-to-play-out, and time will tell.
Gathering of information from The Big Time also helped to better understand the rest of that big man landscape. It's not pretty. Shelden Williams, Torin Francis, Shavlik Randolph, Curtis Withers and Kevin Bookout all look challenging to get through Old Union. None should be completely taken off the board, and at least one of these young men is working hard to get scores in better order. But barring improvement, this group looks grim.
Some other prospects I got to see in Vegas (who aren't being separately profiled by me in the coming days)...
- SF/SG Kelenna Azubuike - This kid is the real deal. He's quick, can score from all over the court, and has a seriously advanced body. Even more incredible, he's got potential to really add to and sculpt his build. The general opinion is that Kelenna is someone who could solve "a lot of problems," given his versatility and upside. I only talked to Azubuike briefly, but Stanford is still squarely on his radar, and he's taking his time in the recruiting process. He is the one nationally recognized "elite" player I still hold out real hope for.
- SG Brandon Rohe - a shooter, pure and simple. Didn't see anything exciting from him off the dribble or with a hand in his face, but he has streaks of deadly shooting when open from long range. Doesn't look like the complete package Stanford wants or needs at this day and age - a mid-major recruit.
- C Kevin Steenberge - one of the few true centers out there, who admirable hustles his butt off. A play in particular that stood out had him laid out diving over the baseline to slap a ball back into play. Overall struggles with quickness and mobility, though, which likely is keeping Stanford from warming up to him.
- PG Brandon Lincoln - not a true floor leader, with streaky play to boot. Just doesn't jump out as a Stanford point guard.
- SG John Winchester - aggressive and talented player, who will bomb from deep and take it to the hoop. He was part of a Tim Thomas Playaz squad that made it to the Big Time finals, and played a big role in that success. When I asked about Stanford's interest shown toward him, he said that his number had changed this summer, and they probably just didn't get the new one. Sure. The subject moved to his grades and scores, and he still had not advanced his 910 PSAT into any improvement in a SAT. I suggested to him that the SAT is important for some schools like Stanford to take a serious look at him, and his reaction was telling. He put his arm around me and said, "But you see, with my abilities on the court, I don't have to get a SAT score as high as the other students. I bring something in basketball none of them can bring." There's some truth to that John, but a lassez-faire attitude with a 910 PSAT is not going to make it.
- SF Bobby Jones - I watched him along with the Double Pump All Stars. Didn't think he was of material Stanford interest other than a HoopsBoard poster who claimed Bobby had an incredulous 1300 SAT. The score Bobby gave me after one of his games was south of 900. The Internet can be a double-edged sword.
A few underclass notes:
- Junior SG Richard Cobbs was on the bench for all of Inland's games, but never got in the action. He told me that he has tendonitis in his knee, which kept him out for the entire Big Time. I asked about how much of the summer it affected him, and he said it hurt him all summer long. Some evaluations of him dropped after a disappointing ABCD camp, but the wise will wait for a healthy Richard Cobbs this fall. I'll have more on Cobbs and his recruiting outlook...
- An underclass team that really caught my attention was the Gateway 16's. Comprised of rising juniors and sophomores, this green group shocked the much-ballyhooed Raleigh Heat (Shav, Thompson, Walsh, Robinson) by taking a lead mid-way through the second half. The Gateways ran out of steam and got blown away in the final ten minutes, but showed a collective and individual maturity and talent. A couple of the better kids even have promising grades... (e.g. a 4.2 GPA)
- The rising sophomore who drew my undivided attention was 6'10" C Robert Swift with the L.A. Rockfish. If you told me he was a rising senior, I would have said he was one of the top centers in the entire tournament. To see him play with and ahead of so many players two years his senior was striking. Very advanced post moves for his age, strong defense and great mobility. Runs the floor and hustles, too. I see huge, huge upside. Phenomenal upside. Being a rising sophomore, it's near impossible to get a bead on his academics. Though if a gun were put to my head, I'd be unsure if he'll achieve in the classroom at a level to get through Old Union. The ball's in his court, there. He told me his early favorites were UCLA and Duke.
A few nationally recognized talents of note I saw, who weren't what I expected:
- Impressed by Michael Thompson, Paul Davis, Brad Buckman, CJ Watson, Nik Caner-Medley
- Unimpressed by Matt Walsh, Lee Melchionni, Sani Ibrahim, Mario Boggan, Taquan Dean, Todd Galloway