UCLA Perspective on Vegas Day Two

The So Cal All-Stars, featuring elite 6-9 junior center, Kevin Love and 6-7 senior Chase Budinger, play two elite opponents, and have two different results. We also check out more UCLA prospects, like 6-8 senior post Alex Stepheson, and a soph point guard, among others...

The So Cal All-Stars, behind Kevin Love and Brandon Jennings, beat the D-1 Greyhounds and O.J. Mayo, 87-73, in a big matchup Saturday afternoon at the Reebok Big Time.

Love finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds and was, obviously, dominant. If he played in the Pac-10 this upcoming season, he'd be the league's best low-post scorer and probably a Pac-10 first-teamer.

Jennings played well, under control, and made some beautiful passes. He had 24 points and 10 assists.

Chase Budinger struggled somewhat. He did hit a couple of long distance threes, and was active around the basket, but the quickness of the Greyhounds, particularly of Bill Walker, the elite forward for the Greyhounds, kept him pretty busy. Budinger did have 15 points.

Taylor King also struggled a bit, going 3 for 8 from three and finishing with 9 points.

Alex Tyus, for the Greyhounds, played well. He had 8 points and 5 rebounds, but was very active, long and athletic.

There were some heavy hitters in terms of coaches in the stands watching, including coaches from North Carolina, Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas and Ben Howland and Kerry Keating from UCLA.

In SCA's second big game of the day they didn't fare as well, losing to Spiece Indy Heat, 81-57. Greg Oden, the consensus #1 prospect in the country in the class of 2006, is probably the only player in the land who can handle Kevin Love. His height, at about 7-0, and amazing athleticism, would negate the effectiveness of many current NBA players, too. Love struggled some, and got smacked on the back of his head, which had him sitting for a good portion of the game. Brandon Jennings, after a great first game of the day, had a poor one against Spiece, going up against one of the best guards in the land, Mike Conley. Chase Budinger hit some long threes and did better off the dribble. Taylor King struggled again. Overall, just about every SCA player struggled against the superior athleticism of Spiece Indy Heat.

Next was Inland Reebok, which features 2008 point guard Malcolm Lee, from Riverside (Calif.) J.W. North. At about 6-2, Lee has a chance to be an elite point guard, with good quickness and body control at that size. He's still very skinny, and has somewhat of a narrow frame, but his skills are decent for a rising soph, with good handle and a decent-looking shot. He's someone that will be on UCLA's growing list of 2008 point guards.

Deon Thompson, the 6-8 senior post from Torrance (Calif.) High, was next, playing with Branch West Reebok. Thompson started out quickly, scoring easily around the basket with excellent footwork. Then the opposing team caught on and started double- and triple-teaming Thompson in the post. Thompson's a great passer out of the post, seeing cutters and kicking out to open shooters, but the defense did limit him a bit. He still finished with 18 points. UCLA assistant coach Kerry Keating was in the gym. More than likely, you can expect UCLA to start recruiting Thompson quite a bit more seriously. It's probably still undetermined whether they'll offer him, and the next few days here in Vegas, and then back in Los Angeles for the Best of Summer tournament could determine it.

On to the Rising Stars of America, featuring Darnell Gant, the 6-7 junior forward from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. There were some coaches in the gym watching, particularly Lute Olson along with Arizona assistant Josh Pastner. Gant, though, didn't have his best game, playing against a team from Mississippi called MBA Black, that featured some very talented athletes in the frontcourt. Gant, whose game will probably develop more on the perimeter, probably growing into a 3-4, will struggle against 6-9, 220-pound types at this point. In fact, Olson left after a half, which, if you're a UCLA fan, is good since you'd rather Olson not see Gant play well.

To his credit also, Saturday was the first day Gant played in Vegas, choosing not to miss summer school.

After the SCA game against Spiece Indy Heat, it was on to Pump N Run #1, which features Alex Stepheson, against Compton Magic, with Jamelle Horne, the elite, 6-6 junior small forward. Pump won the game, and Stepheson played fairly well. He's a good rebounder, fast to the ball off the floor, with good upper body strength to hold onto the ball in traffic, and he showed again that he's a good defensive post and good shot blocker. Howland and Keating were both in attendance. We'll have a recruiting update with Stepheson coming soon.

Horne, returning from an injured ankle, wasn't himself.

Some Things Heard:

-- UCLA could be trying to get involved with 6-10 senior center, Matt Hill, from Lincoln (Neb.) High. We'll try to check out Hill today.

-- A super elite national freshman is more than likely moving into the Los Angeles area. He's 6-9 and about 220 and handles the ball like a guard.


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