Though Ryan's Emerald City Pioneers squad was dumped unceremoniously out of the Pump tournament with a 1-2 record, Ryan showed some serious flashes with an unremarkable supporting cast. The second game of the tournament they played, which was also their lone win, was about a 20-point win with Ryan looking all-world. He looked like he had a lot of Luke Ridnour in his game, minus the shooting range. For a junior in high school, that's high praise and cast him in my eyes as the best point guard I saw in either tournament in his class. He had complete command of the game at the point, and had more assists by himself than you see from both teams combined in most AAU games. Appleby has great court vision and instincts, including his ability to see angles and anticipate cutting teammates with his passes. Had some flash as well, with some no-look passes right on the money. Ryan also has a high energy that is clearly visible in his game - literally bouncing up and down while he dribbles the ball, especially while he moves laterally. It almost looks like nervous energy though - not entirely positive. As he matures, hopefully he'll learn to best use that energy, though. No question he gets up and down the floor quickly and easily, and is very comfortable when the pace of the game picks up. Ryan does slash and score, as well as distributing the ball. When he did take his jump shots, he elevated quickly with a fast release. He just needs to work on his form, and it should come along.
On the down side, I saw Ryan and his team get their butts handed to them in their third and final game. The talent mismatch was too great for them to have any chance, and the opponents put a man on Ryan like a glove to help deny him the ball. That forced much of the offense to run through other guys on the team, which helped snowball their demise. The concern with Appleby that game was that his frustration bubbled out into a continuing display of forced passes and shots that weren't there. He clearly made a lot of bad decisions out of pure frustration in the losing effort.
That all being said, I have no question that Ryan Appleby is the best point guard I saw within Stanford's academic reach, and would name him right now the best option in the 2003 class for point guard... at least, of the kids available on the West Coast. I know that Stanford is looking nationally. Furthermore, Tracy Pierson and Greg Hicks of PrepWestHoops have told me they rate Appleby easily in their top 3 of 2003 West Coast point guards - if not top 2. Mikel Watson would be another top 3 point, but I saw both play and would fit Ryan with Stanford in a heartbeat.
This 6'2" point guard from Stanwood, Washington is receiving plenty of West Coast and national interest. He had a good group of coaches watching him, with Scott Duncan of Oregon the most visible. He made sure to stand against the wall along the baseline behind the basket for maximum exposure every time Ryan came down the court - each game. Indeed, expect Oregon, Washington and Gonzaga to make hard pushes for this star guard in the Northwest.
Here is what Ryan told me when I talked with him after Emerald City's win...
The Bootleg: You guys looked good out
there today, Ryan. What worked for you better today than against EBO
Ryan Appleby: I think rebounding definitely. Even though they were a smaller team, we had to box out and keep them out of the key. And we shot the ball better.
The Bootleg: How would you rate your own
play thus far?
Ryan Appleby: I think I'm playing alright. I haven't shot the ball as well as I'd like to. But I've run the team and passed the ball around, so I'm happy.
The Bootleg: You look like you enjoy
feeding the big men - getting the ball to them high deep inside.
Ryan Appleby: Yeah, you know, I just try to hit the open guy. Whoever is open, I get on the fast break and get the open guy for the easy shot.
The Bootleg: Can you tell me which
coaches you've seen watching you? Who is giving you the attention right
Ryan Appleby: I saw Roy Williams yesterday. Stanford was there yesterday for a half today - I know that. Otherwise, I haven't looked in the stands that much, but those are the guys I've seen thus far.
The Bootleg: What schools have been
consistently on you thus far, and who are some of your favorites at this time?
Ryan Appleby: I really don't have any favorites right now. Stanford and most of the Pac-10 schools have been showing a lot of interest. Kansas, Gonzaga and the Washingtons - schools like that.
The Bootleg: Speaking of Washington, they
just had a coaching change. What are your thoughts on that?
Ryan Appleby: You know, Coach Bender was a good guy. I thought he was a good coach. But they've got another good coach in there, and I think they'll be just fine.
The Bootleg: Can you talk a little about
your academics - classes, GPA, test scores?
Ryan Appleby: I have a 3.3 with my GPA, and I haven't taken the SAT yet. I'll be taking that in the next couple months here - two months, I think.
The Bootleg: Do you have a timeframe for
when you want to try and narrow your list down, and maybe make a decision?
Ryan Appleby: Yeah, I think right after the end of the summer, after all this summer stuff is over, I'll probably narrow it down to about five schools.
The Bootleg: Will you be playing with
Emerald City throughout the summer, and do you know what events you'll be
Ryan Appleby: Yeah. We're going to Bloomington in July, and we're going to the Big Time at the end. And we're going to Austria next month for a tournament over there. So we're doing Vegas, LA and the Indiana thing. I think that's it.
The Bootleg: If you wanted to sell
yourself to coaches, what would you say are the strongest parts of your game?
Ryan Appleby: Probably my leadership and passing ability. That and my ability to create off the dribble.
The Bootleg: Is there a player in college
basketball who you compare yourself to, or someone you'd hope to play like?
Ryan Appleby: Probably Brett Nelson from Florida. He's my favorite player in college.
The Bootleg: What are you looking for in a s