Big Impact West Coasters

There were a small group of players from each class in the west that made big impressions this summer -- either improving their stock or getting discovered for the first time. In fact, the 2007 class on the west coast could be developing into a monster...

This is by no means a comprehensive review of the best prospects from the Summer of 2003.  Many other players not included on this list had good summers, but summers that you would have expected from them. But we thought we'd write about the players that definitely made the biggest impressions this summer, either with college coaches, with us, or both.

SENIORS

Jordan Farmar, 6-2 SR PG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, proved he's one of the top two or three point guards in the country.  He ran the Pump N Run team tremendously, and not only showed that great jumper but really impressed college coaches with his leadership and point guard feel, as well as his great passing ability. 

Bryce Taylor, 6-4 SR SG, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard Westlake. While we didn't get to see all of the most-hyped shooters around the country, we did see enough, and Taylor could arguably be the best shooter among them. He's the best catch-and-shoot guy we saw all summer. His outside jumper is incredibly consistent, and his mid-range pull-up is almost as dependable.  We believe he cemented himself as a top 50 national player because of his summer performance.

Marvin Williams, 6-9 SR SF, Bremerton (Wash.) High.  He had some games at the Big Time where he legitimately looked like he could be a lottery pick in next spring's NBA draft.  In fact, the word is that NBA scouts are in love with him, but the speculation is that he'll still want to go to North Carolina to play for Roy Williams - for a year, anyway.

C.J. Giles, 6-10 SR C, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach.  He has continued to grow, get more athletic and is developing some nice skills. He's easily the most agile and athletic center on the west coast. On one play during a game at the Big Time, Giles stepped out to contest a shot, and when the player he was defending passed the ball to a cutter, Giles did a ballet-like pirouette, took a light step and swatted the ball with his left hand.  He has the most upside among any center in the west and deserves to be among the top 10 centers in the country. 

DeMarcus Nelson, 6-2 SR SG, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon.  Nelson had a very good ABCD camp, showing his more consistent jumper and the ability to score from both outside and when taking it to the rack.  He plays so hard and has a great intensity level, and has learned to play at a high intensity but stay more under control.  

Lee Cummard, 6-6 SR SG Mesa (Ariz.) High. He'll likely be ranked as our #1 shooting guard, but he could end up playing some small forward as well. Great feel for the game and very skilled. He was under the radar for most of the summer, but coaches noticed when he led the Arizona Cagers to a win over a talented Friends of Hoop Seattle team in the Best of Summer.

Quentin Thomas, 6-3 SR PG Oakland (Calif.) Tech. When asked for his assessment of Thomas, one high-major assistant coach replied, "I'll give you three letters - P-R-O." We agree with the coach. Thomas is long, with explosive quickness and terrific point guard instincts. He'll be able to guard either PGs or SGs and he's unselfish to a fault. His stroke is fine and he'll end up being a good shooter in college. Along with Cummard, Thomas is the most underrated prospect in the west among national recruiting analysts.  Not only were Kansas coaches following him around, but UNC's Roy Williams was seen at almost all of Thomas's games. 

Rodney Stuckey, SR SG Covington (Wash.) Kentwood. The best defender among West Coast wings, Stuckey is only a consistent jump shot away from being an elite prospect. Very good athlete, strong body and he plays hard. A high-major prospect.

Alex Harris, 6-4 SR SG Alameda (Calif.) St. Joseph's Notre Dame. Harris created quite a buzz among mid- to high-major West Coast coaches. Long and lean, with a nice outside shot and the ability to get to the basket, Harris has a significant upside. He also has grades and he's hearing from Ivy League schools.

Josh Shipp, 6-5 SR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax.  He had an okay junior season, where he settled pretty much on being a catch-and-shoot guy. Then he went to the Nike Camp in early July and put on a show.  He really wasn't a different player - but everything he did before he was successful doing in Indianapolis at Nike. His shot went down consistently, his passes hit their mark, he had some great opportunities for dunks, etc.  He didn't all of a sudden become quicker, play more actively or with more intensity, though.  The rest of July he fell back into the player we were familiar with.  He settled for outside shots commonly, but still hit them on a regular basis, but didn't show any improved quickness or intensity.  Many high-major coaches stepped up their recruitment of him after Nike, and some were split on their opinion after watching him since. 

JUNIORS

Martell Webster, 6-6 SF, Seattle (Wash.) Seattle Prep.  He was very impressive at the Nike Camp, where he excelled against some very high-level competition.  Showing his advanced skills at Nike really confirmed for many coaches around the country that Webster is among the best wing players in the national class of 2005. 

Jon Brockman, 6-6 PF, Snohomish (Wash.) High. Brockman always has something to prove every time he steps on the court since he's just 6-6 and not overly springy.  But by the end of each game he's made believers of all on-lookers, including high-major coaches.  He'll probably have to prove himself again next spring and summer to those same high-major coaches - that he's a high-major recruit - but we trust Brockman will. He's just a guy that gets it done, despite his physical limitations, and he makes up for those limitations with other physical advantages, such as his strength.  If he developed some more offensive skills, particularly a shot out to 15 feet or so, it would add a dimension that would help sell him to those high-majors schools. 

Amir Johnson, 6-9 C, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei. He's like a water faucet running hot and cold - sometimes he's cold, but other times he's very hot. He was pretty heated at the Nike Camp at the beginning of the month, where he dominated play on his team. By the end of the week his teammates were looking to get him the ball on every possession since he had become such a go-to guy.  As we've said in the past, Johnson's potential is unlimited.  After that good showing at Nike many national scouts indicated he'll be ranked among the top 40 players in the country in the class of 2005.

Mario Chalmers, 6-1 PG/SG, Anchorage (Alask.) Bartlett.  Being almost unknown to the nation, Chalmers proved himself at ABCD, making the underclass all-star game, where he at least held his own.  Athletic and skilled, we've known about Chalmers for a year, but this summer he proved that he's a national prospect and will undoubtedly get recruited on that level. 

Artem Wallace, 6-8 JR PF Toledo (Wash.) High. Big and naturally strong, Wallace is more explosive and nimble than you'd think. He played in the low-post with his traveling team, but he has the ability to step out and make jump shots. A high-major prospect that most coaches hadn't heard of before this summer.

Jonathan Gibson, 5-11 JR PG West Covina (Calif.) High. With a nice frame and excellent quickness, Gibson bears watching. He didn't get seen much in the tournaments this month, but we like his upside. A good shooter who can hit his shot off the dribble, he needs to work on his decisions and making sure he gets his teammates involved. A possible high-major prospect.

Micah Downs, 6-7 JR SF Bothell (Wash.) High. Long and lanky, Downs is reminiscent of Mike Dunleavy. He played very little with a deep Friends of Hoop Seattle team, but we've heard about him for two years and we liked what we saw in limited minutes. A potential high-major prospect.

SOPHOMORES

Ray Hall, 6-10 SO C Denver (Col.) Mullen. A very promising young big man, Hall has great hands and a big body. He's already very big, but with weight lifting and conditioning he's going to be a load inside. Excellent passer and very unselfish. A high-major prospect.

Daniel Deane, 6-7 SO PF Salt Lake City (Utah) Judge. Strong and physical, Deane is effective around the basket, but can also step out and knock down shots. We liked his aggressiveness and intensity. A possible high-major prospect.

Chase Budinger, 6-5 SO SG La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High. Very skilled, with excellent hops (he's a big-time volleyball prospect as well), Budinger is among the elite wings in the class of 2006. He shoots it with deep range, but plays unselfishly. A high major prospect.

FRESHMEN

It's almost impossible to say how good a class will be before it's even arrived in high school, but the early indications we got this spring and summer are that 2007 has the potential to be a monster class.  Elite front-court players usually make or break a class and usually at this early stage, they're non-existent. But 2007 already has a few. If you project that this class will continue to add more high-majors to it over the next four years, it really has a chance to be a high-impact class in the west.

Kevin Love, 6-7 FR PF Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. Among the most skilled young post players that we've seen, Love gets your attention in a hurry. His footwork and low-post game is so advanced that it's difficult to believe he'll be entering the 9th grade this year. He also plays with a physical presence that you just don't see in kids this young. With reasonable development, he'll be an elite, high-major prospect.

Tyrone Shelley, 6-6 FR SF, San Diego (Calif.) Christian.  We knew about Shelley before, but he's gotten bigger and better. Long, lean and athletic, he also has some developed skills, which puts him among the best freshmen in the west for 2007.

Alex Jacobson, 6-10 FR C, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.  When college coaches first saw him and didn't know who he was this summer, they marked him down as a prospect - thinking he was in the 2004 class. When we told them he was only 14 years old, their jaws dropped.  He has uncanny control of his body for being 6-10ish and only 14 years old, and an equally precocious feel for the post.  As with Love, if Jacobson develops at just a reasonable rate, he's an elite, high-major prospect.

Taylor King, 6-6 FR SF/PF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. He received the most hype this summer, and it was justified. He is one of the best shooters in the west regardless of class. A very prominent national head coach said he was the best prospect he saw all summer.  He's getting a bit over-hyped, when some are calling him the best player in the 2007 class nationally. It very well may be, but it's impossible to tell at this point.  King is, obviously very talented, and even if he doesn't grow and become a true PF, he's still offensively talented enough to be a high-major prospect. If he does grow, and his athleticism continues to develop at (here we go again) a reasonable rate, his potential is limitless.

Quentin Watkins, 6-2 FR PF/SG, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Very good athlete, with a great body and long arms. His outside shot needs to develop, but he's explosive, quick and handles the ball really well enough that he could be an elite high-major point guard.

Daniel Hackett, 6-3 FR PG, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.  We didn't see him this summer. No one's seen him actually. He's the son of former Syracuse player Rudy Hackett, and he missed the summer in the U.S. playing in Italy, where he grew up.  Among many people in the know, he's apparently the best among the freshmen trio headed to St. John Bosco next year, which is really saying something.  He's so good that many are thinking he'll never play college ball in the U.S., but after high school go back to Italy to play in the Italian pro leagues before trying to make a jump to the NBA eventually. 


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