Scout on the Road: SoCal Tourneys

Senior Norman Powell, who is committed to UCLA, junior guard Tyrone Wallace and sophomore wing Isaac Hamilton were among the players we saw in the first couple high school tourneys in Southern California...

Los Angeles, Calif. The high school tournament season is underway in Southern California and we had a chance in the past two weeks to get a look at some players that we hadn't seen in awhile…

Norman Powell, 6-2 SG San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln. The best athlete in the west for 2011, Powell showed off his explosive leaping ability Wednesday night with a couple of monster dunks. He started off the game a bit slowly in the first half, but took over and dominated in the second half. At three-point range, his shot is adequate (good enough to keep defenders honest), but he figures to improve in that area once he gets to college. Powell plays unselfishly and he made several nice passes in a game where he got 27 without forcing the action at all. He's got the physical tools to be a big-time defender but, as is the case with most high school kids, defense is not yet a big focus for him. Once he gets taught defensive fundamentals, Powell has a chance to defend one through three at the next level. He's a superior open court player, with the ability to create for a teammate, and he's a terrific finisher. The UCLA signee will be the best athlete in Westwood since Russell Westbrook.

Darius Nelson, 6-5 PF Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. The UTEP signee had a solid summer, but he's gained significant weight and struggled in the game we saw. He's always had the ability to score, but shot selection has been an issue and there's also the question of who he defends at the next level. Right now, it's hard to project him defending anyone as he's carrying a lot of weight and has difficulty moving. He will need to improve his body significantly in order to play at the next level.

Tyrone Wallace, 6-3 PG/SG Bakersfield (Calif.) High. A lefty with an outstanding feel for the game, Wallace is very versatile and he might play a couple positions in college. He's got a point guard's vision and passing ability, with the size to defend the two or possibly even the three. He's a good on the ball defender and an excellent help defender (he had eight blocks in one of the games we saw). His outside shot has been just fair to date, but he knocked down four threes and he appears to be making progress in that area. He's got a terrific off-hand and actually prefers to finish with his right when he gets in the lane. He's the rare player that can grab a defensive rebound in traffic, take the ball himself in transition and then make a good decision to find a teammate or get to the rim himself. Wallace's biggest strengths are his feel for the game and his versatility. He's got the size/athleticism to defend multiple spots. Unlike some players where they truly are "no position" guys, Wallace is a prospect that could legitimately play a couple spots well at the next level.

Zena Edosomwah, 6-7 C/PF North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. Edosomwah is one of the more improved players in Southern California over the past couple years. His athleticism has gotten better with maturity and he's active around the basket. His shot is just fair to 10-12 feet, but he's a good rebounder and defender. He figures to get looks at the high major level.

Josh Hearlihy, 6-6 SF/PF North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. A very active lefty, Hearlihy has a good frame and he plays hard. He's got a fairly good stroke out to 15-17 feet. He can be a little wild at times, but he moves well and is constantly involved in the action. Definitely a mid major prospect and possibly higher.

Anthony January, 6-6 SF/PF Compton (Calif.) High. January is a terrific athlete, with a very good basketball body and a fairly good shot to 17-19 feet. He has the physical attributes to be a very nice player down the road. Where he needs work, though, is in his approach and feel for the game. He has no concept of good shot selection and his defensive effort is very inconsistent. He should be a dominating player at the defensive end of the court, but instead he's a liability. He also needs to work on his ball-handling – shaky handle and not a good passer. January has a big upside if he can figure it out, but he still has a long way to go as a prospect.

Isaac Hamilton, 6-4 SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. The younger brother of Texas' Jordan Hamilton (and former Miami player Gary Hamilton), Isaac is a very good prospect in his own right. He's long and slender right now but, looking at his older brothers, he figures to fill out quite a bit in the coming years. At the same stage, he has a superior feel to Jordan and the same ability to get points in bunches. He's got a solid stroke to the stripe, with a fairly quick release, and he generally has good shot selection. He didn't have a particularly good game on Wednesday as Crenshaw lost to Windward, but he's a very talented player with a bright future. He's shown good passing ability in the past and he's more than just a catch and shoot guy – he can create his own shot pretty well. With almost three full years to go, he obviously has a lot to work on before he heads to college. But with continued development, he has a chance to be one of the top wings in the west for his class.

Estevan Johnson, 5-10 PG Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Johnson was very impressive in one viewing last week. He's got good quickness, elevates well on his shot and he's got a quick release. He's a young-looking kid and may still be growing. In any event, he's one to watch in the future.

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