Top Performers in Vegas

With three full days in Vegas and over forty games watched, I have a lot of observations to share about Stanford's rising senior hoops recruits. Unsurprisingly, I have as many opinions to offer up. First up, my list of the top five ballers who showed me their game and potential above all others.

1. C Brian Butch
I had seen everyone on this list before, but this week was my first time to see Butch in person. He lives up to every bit of the hype I've heard, and he absolutely deserves his meteoric rise up the rankings this spring and summer. The kid is just good at about everything you can want in a center. He shoots and hits the 3; he aggressively and effectively rebounds; he is active on both ends of the floor; he puts the ball on the floor; he is a shotblocker; and he runs the floor really well. Butch is a center, and I believe Padgett is more of a forward, but I have little doubt that Brian is a significantly more dominant player right now. And keep in mind I say this as a huge fan of David's. Brian Butch is just scary good.

2. SG Omar Wilkes
I have been an unabashed Omar fan for some time, and written openly as much. He has shown skills and flashes of ability, but it has been his character and infectious positive presence that has won me over. But this week, Omar showed that his game has reached a new plane. On top of his defensive activity and intensity, Omar has now raised every part of his offensive game - much more aggressive and more consistent. He is another level of play maker, and that is a real step up I'm talking about even in the past three months.

3. SF Evan Moore
No joke, this football-first recruit bested a lot of name hoops-only recruits in my evaluations this week. Because he plays with one of the Pump squads, I have seen him several times in the spring and summer. I thought him OK before, but he stepped up in a big way this week. Big enough that Monty went to watch him on the first day of elimination bracket play. Evan's money move right now is getting great position down low and converting with a Madsen-esque efficiency.

4. PF Sean Phaler
Phaler was tough to see this week, simply because his Villa Park team was out in the "lesser" gyms. I got to watch him a few times, though, and saw much of the same I have liked before. He is consistently hitting his outside jumpers at a percentage unbelievable for his size. He shows rare moves and play in the low post, but that's something he'll be taught at the next level. I don't believe it is a lack of ability. Also notable that he looks a little bigger.

5. C Will Bowers
Will actually got less done than the four guys above, but he showed the body and potential that caught my attention. He can't compare with Butch right now, but there may not be a senior center in the country who will be heading to college in 2003 who can - so that isn't a fair criterion. Will has a big frame and is already proving a defensive and rebounding impact. The offense is still coming to him, but I think this guy can be good.

almost there - PF Kyle Jeffers
I wish I could have seen more of Kyle, but for the second straight event, I saw him spend time on the bench a little banged up. What I did see confirmed my earlier observations that he has some real skills inside and good instincts. His long frame allows him to excel in spurts under the basket on both ends.

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