Las Vegas Day Two

6-9 senior post <b>Sam Warren</b> looks like he could be among the elite bigs in the west for 2005. His AAU teammate, 6-10 junior <b>Ray Hall</b>, and 6-8 senior post <b>Coby Leavitt</b> look good, along with others, on the second day of Vegas Madness...

Probably the biggest west coast-related revelation today was Sam Warren, the 6-9 center from Denver (Col.) Cherry Creek. It's the first time we've seen Warren since last season, and he's changed and improved quite a bit. A year ago he was probably 6-8 and 200 skinny pounds; now he's 6-8 to 6-9 and a good 225. He always had a good, wide frame, and he's starting to put good weight on it. He didn't play much in his game Friday due to some issues with his AAU coach apparently, but when he did he showed why he impressed at the Adidas Superstar Camp. He has become very active, impacting on both sides of the court, with his athleticism and quickness. He has very long arms, and uses them and his explosiveness to rebound and block shots very well. Offensively, he's tough around the basket, with a developing low-post game and even a good-looking stroke. In this business, you have to project, and seeing where Warren came from and where it looks like his body and skills are going, you'd have to say he's among the best big man prospects on the west coast for the class of 2005. He very well could end up 6-9 to 6-10 and 245 to 250 by his sophomore year in college. A recruiting update is coming up.

Ray Hall, 6-10 junior center Denver (Col.) Mullen, had a terrific game, showing off his tremendous passing skills. There is no post player in the west with Hall's size – he might be 260 pounds – and his feel for the game. Hall has great feet and he moves a lot better than you'd think looking at him. He's not especially explosive off the floor, but he doesn't need to be with his size. He does need to give a more consistent effort, and tone up a bit, but he will almost certainly be one of the elite post prospects in the west for 2006.

Marcus Williams, 6-6 senior shooting guard, Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt, hasn't filled out much physically, but he still has a nice game. He's long, with long arms, and athletic, with good lateral quickness for his size and hops. Driving the baseline, he threw down a reverse slam that was very impressive today. He's still more of a shooting guard, choosing to stay on the perimeter rather than getting inside and rebounding, and shying away a bit from contact. But his body could really fill out, and if he doesn, perhaps he'll be more aggressive physically. A recruiting update is on the way.

Coby Leavitt, 6-8 senior power forward from St. George (Utah) Snow Canyon is probably the west coast player that has helped his stock most in the last couple of weeks. Weighing only 190 pounds probably, Leavitt was thought to be a mid-major previously, even though we saw some hints of more potential during the April evaluation period. He's showing more of that potential here in Vegas, and more often. Leavitt, first, has good skills, able to consistently hit jumpers out to 15 feet. He's then quick off his feet around the basket, and has become a very good rebounder and shot blocker. But his game hasn't stopped there – he's also a good passer from the post, and even looking downcourt on the break. To the dismay of many mid-majors, Leavitt is only 25 pounds away from being a high major, and even though he's very thin he has the frame you would think would be able to put on the weight and add strength.

Darren Collison, 5-11 senior point guard, Etiwanda (Calif.) High, came close to single-handedly beating the Tim Thomas Playaz from New Jersey today. Collison continues to improve, and is not one of the few most difficult players to stay in front of on the west coast. He has an assortment of hesitations, fakes and a crossover, combined with great quickness, which makes him very tough to guard. He is very good at finishing for his size, and then has great vision and passing ability. He's probably just some bulk and strength away from being a very good college player. He again looks like a great commit for the Bruins here in Vegas.

Jordan Wilkes, the 6-11 senior center from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, continues to improve, looking more aggressive today than he did the last several months. He's trying to be very active, especially on the defensive end, now altering and blocking many shots during the course of the game. He still needs to take his aggressiveness to higher levels, particularly in playing above the rim with his height. It is encouraging, though, that he's continuing to get more active every time we see him.

Alex Stepheson, 6-8 junior power forward, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, struggled against a team from Dallas with a slew of athletic 6-7 guys that blocked a number of his shots and dunks. Stepheson, to his credit, kept working, and actually stepped up and had a few moments toward the end of his game. He, like Wilkes, has to play higher, continually wanting to negate his height and bring the ball down around his knees or lay it in off the glass rather than going up strong. Today's game seemed to resonate with Stepheson.

Andrew Brown, 5-10 senior point guard Littleton (Col.) Heritage, was a revelation for us. We'd never seen Brown before and he put on a show in a win over Salt Lake Metro. He's very quick, with deep range on his jump shot. He made a bunch of threes in the game we saw and also showed some defensive ability and toughness. We'll have a story on his recruitment in the next day or so.

Richie Phillips, 6-6 SR PF Seattle (Wash.) Franklin, showed off his considerable upside with some impressive dunks and rebounds. He's very quick off his feet and he's got a solid body. He's still a bit raw in terms of his skills, and he can disappear at times, but there is a high ceiling with him.

More from the UCLA Perspective:

UCLA will probably take a close scouting look at Sam Warren, and probably even take a look at Coby Leavitt.

D'Andre Bell, the 6-4 senior wing from Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades, will sit out the week due to an injured groin muscle. Again, it's probably good for UCLA if Bell is seen my no more schools.

Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, the 6-10 junior centers from Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial, have a entourage of coaches at their games. Coaches from Stanford, Arizona, USC, Washington, Kansas, Michigan State and Gonzaga, as well as UCLA's Ernie Zeigler, were in attendance today. Such high coaching attendance is also due to Tre'Von Willis, the 6-2 junior shooting guard from Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union and Derrick Jasper, the 6-4 junior shooting guard from Paso Robles (Calif.) High, who also play on the EBO team.

Alfonso Gee, a 6-6 senior small forward from Palm Beach Gardens (Flor.) Dwyer, who was once being recruited by Charlotte and South Florida, has had such a good July, his recruitment as stepped up into the elite high-major level. Coaches from Miami, Florida and Alabama were at his game today. Gee said last week that UCLA is now involved with him, and the Bruins will gauge the level of interest. He has a great body, well-built, with good athleticism and a good-looking outside shot. He stands out because he plays hard and knows how to play.

Head Coach Ben Howland was in attendance to watch Collison go up against fellow Bruin target Brandon Costner, the 6-8 senior combo forward from West Orange (NJ) Seton Hall Prep. Costner flashed his talents, finishing well around the basket and being tough rebounding inside as well as showing his nice, lefty jumper. He does, though, appear to have slowed down from earlier in the month, obviously fatigued. Costner would fit into UCLA's plans well, being able to fill the roll of the face-up four or even play the small forward position.

A potential prospect to watch is Kenneth Cooper, a 6-9, 240-pound center from Monroe (Louisiana) Richwood. Cooper wasn't getting much recruiting attention until he lost probably 40 pounds and now has looked good this summer. Being a year younger than his grade, we've heard that some schools want to stash him away at a prep school for a year. UCLA has made contact and he says he's interested, even though LSU, Texas Tech and some others have a head start. He'll come to Los Angeles for the Best of Summer tourney and perhaps an unofficial visit to UCLA's campus.


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