Las Vegas: Early Evals

Jaylen Brown, Stephen Zimmerman and Chance Comanche are among the UCLA targets that we profile after the first day and a half in Las Vegas...

After the first day and a half of action in Las Vegas, here are some thoughts on the UCLA targets we’ve seen so far, as well as guys that have a chance to become UCLA-level prospects.

Jaylen Brown, 6-6 SF Marietta (Georgia) Wheeler. Brown has definitely looked the part of a potential #1 prospect in the country with his early showings. Some have compared him to Stanley Johnson, but he has a better body than Johnson, with superior athleticism and body control, as well as a much better feel for the game. He’s got a good stroke, very good ball skills and he impacts the game at both ends of the court. He lets the game come to him, which doesn’t always happen with players of his talent level. He appears to be an impact player from day one at the college level.

Stephen Zimmerman
Stephen Zimmerman, 6-10 C Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. Zimmerman didn’t have one of his better showings in yesterday’s game, but it was likely due to fatigue. He was outstanding at the Pangos Camp, but yesterday he didn’t appear to have the same level of energy. That being said, he still showed some flashes of the attributes that make him an elite prospect. He had a couple impressive blocks coming off the weak side and tracking down an opponent in transition. His agility at that size is truly impressive.

Chance Comanche, 6-10 C Los Angeles (Calif.) View Park. Comanche was very impressive in his game yesterday, running the court very well and posting up strong several times for easy baskets. He’s still very slender and you can envision his game going to a whole different level when he gets in a college weight program. But he’s made very nice progress in the last year. He’s a center that has no problem playing with his back to the basket (strange to realize what a rare thing that is these days). He’s really grown into his body over the last year and his coordination is much improved. He made several difficult catches in transition. He’s got good awareness in the post, showing solid instincts on when to pass out of double teams. He’s got a chance to be an elite post player when he gets to college.

Jean Marc Christ Koumadje, 7'3 C Montverde (Fla.). Thursday night was our first opportunity to see Koumadje this evaluation period. His listed size is legitimate -- he's definitely 7'2+. He has natural athletic ability, and is able to run the floor surprisingly well for a guy his size. He also shows quick reactions to the ball. The issues are that he has only been playing basketball for a year and a half, and really is still in the nascent stages of learning the skills and movement of the game. Simple things like jumping for rebounds or knowing how quickly the ball might carom off the room aren't yet instinctual for him. He'd be a project at the college level. In speaking with him after the game yesterday, he is not focused on the process of college selection on the moment, and didn't name any favorites.

Brandon Sampson, 6'4 SG Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep. UCLA offered Sampson on the first day of the evaluation period, and then watched his games on Thursday. He was battling residual symptoms from a concussion so he wasn't playing his best and seemed a little distracted. It's clear that he has some considerable skills and athleticism, though.

Brandon Sampson
He's probably more in the 6'3/6'4 range, but showed the athleticism and skills to post up on the low block several times during the game. He showed a good passing ability and a decent feel, and also shot the ball well. He lost the ball several times due to a loose handle, so that would need to be cleaned up. He told us afterward that he is considering taking an official visit to UCLA.

Carlton Bragg, 6'9 PF Cleveland (Ohio) Villa Angela - St. Joseph. Bragg is athletically gifted, with a body made for playing power forward at the college and NBA level. He has skills to face up from the perimeter, but also showed an ability to play with his back to the basket. One considerable question mark, though, is whether he's interested in playing hard. In the two games we saw him over the last two days, he'd go through long stretches where he looked disinterested in the game and would just float around on the perimeter. Perhaps it was the fatigue of the July season, but we've heard that's been a complaint about his play int he past.

Brandon Ingram, 6'8 Wing Kinston (NC). We saw Ingram twice over the last two days, and he's an impressive offensive player, with good range on his jumper and a nice passing ability. He doesn't have great lateral quickness on the defensive end, which will likely limit his ability to guard 2s and 3s at the college level. At any rate, we've heard that UCLA would likely have to move mountains (named North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, and Wake Forest) to get into this recruitment.

Brendan Bailey
Brendan Bailey, 6-6 SF/PF American Fork (Utah) High. The son of former NBA player Thurl Bailey, Brendan is a very good looking prospect in his own right. He’s long and slender, with good ball skills, and he’s effective slashing to the basket. He’s still young-looking and not yet physically mature, so there is a question as to where he ultimately ends up. But he’s got a lot of upside and he’s one to watch in 2016.

Thon Maker, 7'0 C Martinsville (Virg.) Carlisle. When we saw Maker last year at the Pangos All-American Camp, he was very impressive both athletically and in his skills, but he was trying to do to many silly things, like bring the ball up the court, for a guy his size. Watching him this week, he looks like a much more polished player. He has great quickness for his size, with the ability to guard smaller players on the perimeter, and when he does get beaten, his long arms allow him to still pressure the shot. Offensively, he showed an ability to hit perimeter jump shots, but also demonstrated a decent passing ability. The whole country is on him, for good reason.

Ernie Sears, Jr., 6-2 SG Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany. Sears is a great-looking young prospect, with a classic basketball body, high level athleticism, very good skills and excellent instincts. Long and slender, he’s got a baby face and it’s quite possible he gets bigger. His father is 6-4 and played at Cal back in the 80s. Ernie, Jr. is just scratching the surface of his potential. An effortless athlete, he had several impressive steals in transition Wednesday night. He’s got a smooth stroke and its impressive how he can get on balance with his pull-up jumper off the dribble. He hasn’t been seen yet by many coaches, but watch for him to blow up in the coming months. With continued development, he’s got a chance to be one of the elite prospects in 2017.

Cody Riley

Cody Riley, 6-7 PF Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon. Riley had a mixed game yesterday, making several very impressive plays around the basket, as well as demonstrating a very good handle for a big man. However, that handle also got him into trouble several times when he tried to dribble through multiple defenders which resulted in some key turnovers. Riley is already built like a college four man and there is a question of where his body goes from here. He’s physically mature and he’ll be entering the 10th grade next year. That being said, he’s got a chance to be a really tough match-up in college. He’s got range to the three-point line, the strength and size to finish inside, and the ability to beat opposing posts off the dribble. His decision-making still needs work, but one would assume that gets better over time. He’s definitely one of the elite prospects in 2017.

Alex Barcello, 6-1 PG Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol. Barcello is reminiscent of former Stanford point guard Chris Hernandez at the same stage, except he’s got a superior jump shot and he’s a better athlete. He doesn’t look like much until the game starts. He’s a true PG, with a great feel, excellent vision and passing ability, and a really good stroke. He’s a deceptive athlete, with a strong core, and he’s always on balance. It’s very difficult to knock him off the ball, especially with his terrific handle. He projects as one of the elite prospects in the country for 2017.

Marcus Shaver, 5-11 PG Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary’s. Shaver plays with Barcello on Team Bayless and they make for an outstanding backcourt. Shaver also has terrific ball skills and a great stroke with three-point range. He’s somewhat slight physically and there is a question as to how much bigger/stronger he gets. However, he’s got a young face and it’s possible he’s not yet physically mature. Arizona head coach Sean Miller was courtside for Team Bayless’s game last night and it’s easy to see why. This is the best backcourt I’ve seen on an Arizona club team and they’ve got three years of high school ball still to go.

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