SoCal Hoop Review Evals

The SoCal Hoop Review had a number of top players in attendance, including Aaron Holiday, Trevor Stanback and Bennie Boatwright, among others...

We spend the weekend at the SoCal Hoop Review in Garden Grove. Here are our most recent thoughts on some of the notable players in attendance.

Aaron Holiday, 6-0 PG/SG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Holiday had a good showing over the weekend in terms of his athleticism and shooting. He looked a little more explosive on his many forays into the lane and his jump shot is a weapon. His ability to play point guard at the next level remains an open question, as his ability to create for others needs to improve. He loves to attack the rim off the dribble, and he's good at it, but running a team, decision-making and setting up teammates are all areas where he needs to improve if he's to play point guard for UCLA.

Justin Simon, 6-5 PG Temecula (Calif.) Temecula Valley. Simon had a strong showing in the games I saw, demonstrating his versatility as a prospect at both ends of the court. He didn't shoot it great from the perimeter, but he was very good in most other areas. He's a very good rebounder for a guard and it's quite an advantage when he can grab a rebound and then lead a break right away. He's very difficult to handle in transition, as he has the size and athleticism to finish at the rim, with the passing skills to create lay-ups for teammates. He's an active defender and he had several impressive blocks coming off the weak side in help situations. UCLA is recruiting Simon.

Jeremy Hemsley, 6-3 SG La Verne (Calif.) Damien. Hemsley was taking the SAT on Saturday, so I only saw his two games on Sunday. One of the games was a hack fest that the refs let get out of hand and it degenerated into a horrible game (even by AAU standards). The second game was slightly better but, overall, it was a tough environment to evaluate as there was little resemblance to real basketball. Hemsley was in attack mode most of the day, getting to the rim often. His decision-making was a little erratic and that might have been partly a result of his Superior Athletes team playing very little team ball and forcing a lot of shots. Overall, it wasn't his best showing, but it doesn't change my opinion that he's one of the elite guards in the west for 2015.

Stephen Thompson, 6-3 SG Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery. Thompson had the best showing of the Superior Athletes players over the weekend, consistently knocking down deep jump shots and finding a variety of ways to score. He's still immature physically, and his narrow frame is somewhat of a concern, but he's definitely one of the best scorers in the west. He has a very good feel for a two guard and generally makes good decisions. He's a decent, not great, athlete, but it's possible he'll improve in that area as his body matures.

Bennie Boatwright, 6-8 PF Sun Valley (Calif.) Village Christian. Boatwright's best attribute as a prospect is his ability to knock down jump shots and he made his share over the weekend. Rebounding and defending are two areas where he's been lacking in the past and he showed a little improvement in those areas in the games I saw. He still needs to become a more consistent physical presence, and not float so much to the perimeter, in order to fulfill his potential at the next level. He's a fairly good athlete and, at his size, he could be a much more impactful rebounder than he is today. Boatwright is a main UCLA target for 2015.

Kendall Small, 5-11 PG Bellflower (Calif.) Mayfair. Small had an up-and-down weekend. He had a solid showing in the first game I saw, looking a little quicker than I remembered and making several nice plays off the bounce. But as the weekend progressed, he struggled with decisions and too often found himself trying to finish unsuccessfully inside against size. He's just a fair jump shooter and that's an area where he needs to improve in order to take his game to the next level.

M.J. Cage, 6-9 C Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Cage was resting on Saturday, so I only had a chance to see him play one game on Sunday. He's still maturing physically and he doesn't yet have the strength to consistently make plays inside with his back to the basket. His skills, though, have improved in the last year and he's a threat facing up out to 15 feet or so. He's an adequate rebounder at this time, but that's an area where he'll likely improve as he gets stronger. He's a decent athlete, but he's not especially explosive and it will be interesting to see if that changes in the next couple years. He's made progress in the last year, though, and he's on track to play at the high major level in college. UCLA has offered and is recruiting Cage.

Trevor Stanback, 6-9 C West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade. Stanback had some good and not so good moments over the weekend. He doesn't have a great frame and there's a question to just how strong he'll ultimately get. That lack of strength was an issue a few times as he got pushed off the low post and had trouble converting around the basket on several opportunities. He has a nice touch, and he's comfortable playing with his back to the basket, but he'll need to add some weight/strength to become a more consistent low-post scorer. UCLA is showing interest in Stanback.

DeAndre Ayton, 6-9 PF San Diego (Calif.) Balboa City. Ayton was extremely impressive in the two games I saw. He has a terrific basketball body, with long arms, good hands and great feet. An explosive athlete, Ayton had a number of big-time dunks and several very impressive rebounds. He plays with very good energy and aggressiveness at both ends of the court and he had several steals and blocks. His ball skills are very good for a young post prospect and he's got a nice touch out to 15 feet. He showed a good feel and passed out of a double team a couple times. He's easily the top prospect in the west for 2017 and a strong contender for the top prospect in the country.


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