Jordan Wilkes, 6-11 JR C Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Wilkes continues to improve every couple of months that we see him. He's growing more comfortable with his body and moves much better now than he did a year ago. Good skills with the ball – nice touch to about 15-17 feet. He was overwhelmed a bit physically by some bigger athletes here, and obviously needs to add strength, and play more aggressively, but he's developing into a possible high major prospect. UCLA will be watching him.
Davon Jefferson, 6-7 JR PF, Lynwood (Calif.) High. He had a huge weekend, really using his great athleticism to his advantage. His springiness around the basket enabled him to out-rebound and score on some pretty elite competition, while he also displayed a nice touch from 15 feet and in. He's still pretty thin, weighing probably 195 pounds, and he hasn't put on much weight, which is his primary limitation right now. But he looked like one of the few best frontcourt players in the west for 2005 this last weekend. Academics are an issue, and will keep UCLA from recruiting him.
Lawrence Hill, 6-7 JR PF, Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley. We saw him play two games this weekend. One game was very good, the other was poor. Hill hasn't put on much weight since last summer, still probably in the 200 pound range, even though he has a frame that looks like it could. He has some good explosion off the floor, and long arms, which enable him to get things done around the basket without really possessing any set post moves. He also loves to catch and shoot from the outside, with a jumper that needs work. But he's definitely a four man, and because of his athleticism and the frame that looks to be able to hold more weight, he's still considered one of the best in 2005 and UCLA will stay on him.
Jamal Boykin, 6-6 JR PF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Boykin continues to elicit a wide-range of opinions. He plays so hard, and his skills have improved to the point that many say, "He's such a winner. He just gets it done." Others are skeptical that his limited athleticism and thick body will be able to get it done once it's playing against elite high-major competition on the college level. While his skills have improved, his shot is still a slow set shot that he struggles to get off when guarded. UCLA isn't recruiting him.
Harvey Perry, 6-4 SR SG, Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. The senior guard played well, staying well within himself and playing intelligently, for the most part. His outside jumper has continued to improve, to the point that it's a real threat. And he's still one of the best athletes for his size, able to move laterally very well to guard much smaller guards. The plan is still for him to go to prep school, while some schools like Fresno State and others are inquiring about his status this year. It's unlikely UCLA will recruit him.
Terrence Williams, 6-5 JR SG Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. Williams played point guard with his Rotary Select team, but he'll be a wing in college. Big, strong body – he can overpower kids in high school – and a very good athlete. Overall skill level is good, not great. Shot is inconsistent, but stroke isn't bad. Handles well for his size, needs to work on decisions with the ball. Big upside if he tightens up his game. High major prospect.
Marcus Johnson, 6-6 JR SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. There isn't a better athlete in the west than Johnson. He has the perfect, 6-6 wing body, and his hops are unequaled. Johnson can throw down dunks with the best of them, and, when he wants to, he can be a great defender, with some great foot quickness which enables him to guard anyone. The skill set, though, hasn't developed much, nor has his grasp of the game. He's great at getting out on a break and finishing, but a bit lost in the halfcourt game. His outside jumper is still not very consistent. High majors will undoubtedly be intrigued with his athleticism, and if he ever developed the skills to match, he'd be a truly elite prospect. UCLA isn't involved.
Marcus Williams, 6-6 JR SG Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt. Long, with a good frame, and a fairly good athlete. Outside shot was inconsistent in game we saw – release is a bit slow. Nice feel for the game. High major prospect.
Matt Mortensen, 6-5 JR SG Provo (Utah) Timpview. Good body, long arms and has some hops. Very good stroke. Good instincts – understands the game. Nice handle for a wing. High major prospect.
Jeff Pendergraph, 6-9 JR C, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. In the game we saw, Pendergraph didn't do anything spectacular, but was a strong presence inside, much the same as he was when we saw him during his junior season. Raw offensively, Pendergraph is long and athletic, translating into a good rebounder and shot blocker. He'll be in the lower end of the high majors.
Andre McGee, 5-10 JR PG, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. The well-hyped junior guard looked better in this tournament than when we saw him during his high school season. He had put on a bit of weight a couple of months ago, and it looks like he's trimmed down a bit and regained his quickness. There is no one who can break down a defender like McGee, and his outside shot has gone from a set shot to now a more fluid, quicker jumper, and it's still very accurate. The question is – McGee has been playing his break-you-down, shoot-first type of game for so long, can he really execute the point guard position in a structured college offense? As of right now, even though we list him as a point guard, his mentality is better suited to the shooting guard position.
SOPHOMORES AND FRESHMEN
Christian Polk, 6-3 SO SG Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley. Polk was very impressive in the one game we saw him over the weekend. He's got a great body –long and lean – but also has good quickness for his size. His shot isn't real pure – sideways rotation – but he knocks down a good percentage. He's improved his ability to take defenders off the dribble. The most impressive aspect of his game, though, was his defense. He's got the physical attributes to be a great defender, but we had never seen him apply himself before at that end of the floor. Saturday night, though, he did a great job of closing out on shooters – blocking two jump shots – and also showed great lateral movement defending on the ball. Polk has a chance to be among the elite two guards in the west for 2006.
Jerryd Bayless, 6-0 FR PG Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's. We've had Bayless as the top point guard in the west for 2007 since last summer and we didn't see anything in Las Vegas to change our mind. Good size and strength, great explosiveness – both in terms of quickness and off the floor. Very advanced mid-range game and an adequate shot from three-point range. He's playing on a team where he needs to score -- so we didn't see the passing ability he's shown in the past – but there's no question he's got the vision and instincts to be a big-time point guard. He's got a strong handle and plays with a lot of confidence for a freshman. With continued development, Bayless has a chance to be among the top point guards nationally in the class of 2007.
Derrick Jasper, 6-5 SO SG/SF Paso Robles (Calif.) High. Good size and athleticism, nice shot to three-point line. Good ball skills for a wing. One of the elite wings in the West Coast class of 2006.
Tre'Von Willis, 6-3 JR SG Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union. A big-time scorer who can create his own shot and score in a variety of ways. Very good athlete. Among the elite two guards in the west for 2006.
Blake Wallace, 6-6 SO SF/PF Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. Wallace is difficult to categorize at this point – could end up a three or four. Great feel, nice stroke and a good rebounder. A likely high major prospect.
Daniel Deane, 6-8 SO PF Salt Lake City (Utah) Judge. Very good frame – great shoulders – physical and moves well. Decent stroke to three-point line. Strong fundamentals. High major prospect.
Wendell McKines, 6-5 FR PF Richmond (Calif.) High. An intriguing young post player, McKines's future will likely be determined by how much he grows in the next couple years. Very active, good rebounder and good hands.
Khelcey Barrs, 6-6 SO SF, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger. Barrs is one of the best sophomores in the west, with a long, athletic body and a warrior mentality. His skills have improved, but they still have a ways to go, with his jumper and ball-handling still in the raw stages.
Brook Lopez, 6-9 SO C, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial.
Robin Lopez, 6-9 SO PF, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial. The two Lopez twins have had many comparisons made to the Collins twins, and coincidentally, there is a very apt comparison. Not necessarily in level of talent, but in type of players. Brook, like Jason Collins, is the true post player, with more of a bangers mentality. He has limited offensive skills but plays hard and is an effective shot blocker and rebounder. Robin is more like Jarron Collins, playing more like a face-up four, floating further away from the basket, with a better jumper. You can even see it in the way they handle themselves, with Brook walking more confidently and Robin appearing more passive. It's early in their development, so it's still undetermined if they'll be elite high-major level, but they have the bodies and decent athleticism, and have a chance.
Alex Stepheson, 6-9 SO PF, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. With every event, you can see Stepheson getting more confident and aggressive. He used his athleticism to play more above the rim this last weekend, and went banging inside quite a bit more often. He has a good upper body, just needs to get thicker in his lower body to be able to hold his inside position. But he's definitely one of the best prospects in the class of 2006 in the west.
We didn't get the chance to see a few of the bigger-named prospects participating this weekend -- Amir Johnson, 6-9 JR PF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, Darren Collison, 5-11 JR PG, Etiwanda (Calif.) High, or Tyrone Shelley, 6-6 FR SF, San Diego (Calif.) Christian, regrettably.