Mats Madness Tourney

There weren't many juniors participating in the annual Memorial Day tournament that UCLA is recruiting, but there were some real youngsters to watch for the future...

Omar Wilkes, 6-2 JR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, was probably the only recruit that played at the Mats Madness tournament in Fresno this weekend that UCLA clearly has some interest in. And that's actually in question. After asking him about his recruitment, and he mentioning schools like Kansas, Stanford and Cal, we asked him about his situation with UCLA. He said, "I don't know what's going on there. I haven't heard that much from them. They either think they have me in the bag or have no chance." Wilkes was sick for the weekend and didn't play up to his usual level. He did look a little bigger physically, and said he has put on some muscle weight. While he's a shooting guard, he's also playing point guard more often, and is showing some ample quickness to play the position, and possibly provide backup minutes at the point in college.

Tron Smith, 6-1 JR PG, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. Smith is one of the best guards, either point or shooting, on the west coast. He is very, very athletic, and built really well, which he combines with some great skills. His shooting range has moved out to 25 feet, he's shifty enough to find seams and penetrate, and athletic enough to finish inside. He's not a pure point, but more of a lead guard. I included him here in regards to UCLA because we're hearing that UCLA could be sniffing around Smith. There have been various reports over the last couple of months that he committed to ASU. Current ASU point guard Jason Braxton is one of Smith's best friends, and Smith has said that ASU was his dream school. But this weekend he denied that he's veballed, and said he'd like to officially trip to at least ASU and Boston College. He is one of probably the best bets to blow up this summer among any west coast prospects.

A couple of more guys for UCLA fans to pay attention to for various reasons are: David Padgett, 6-10 JR C, Reno (Nev.) High. Padgett is the #1 center on the west coast and played for the first time this weekend in months. He looked good, active and athletic, hording rebounds and blocking shots right and left. He's visited Stanford, Arizona and Kansas, and is deciding between Louisville, Cal, North Carolina, Oregon and Florida as possibilities for the last two trips. Kyle Jeffers, 6-8 JR PF, Santa Rosa (Calif.) Montgomery is a new name to watch. We'd heard about Jeffers the last couple of months but it was our first opportunity to see him play. He is raw, and isn't really explosive off the floor just yet, but looks like a baby and has potential for growth. He has a nice feel, very good feet, and, if he continues to get bigger and better, has the potential to be one of the best post players in the west. Cal is on him pretty hard early. Sean Marshall, 6-4 SF, Rialto (Calif.) Eisenhower, is another junior who is someone to watch. He's a 6-4 look-a-like of Matt Barnes, has good athleticism, shoots pretty well, and slashes to the basket very well.

Underclassmen:

If you're a UCLA fan, there were quite a few more underclassmen to watch at Mats Madness than juniors.

Bryce Taylor, 6-3 SO SG, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. He is a scorer – able to score from anywhere on the court at anytime. Still pretty thin, but has two years to develop physically. A potentially elite prospect.

Curtis Allen, 6-4 SO SF/SG, Palos Verdes (Calif.) Rolling Hills Prep. Along with Taylor, among probably the top 3-5 wings in the west coast sophomore class at this point. Athletic, skilled and has a great body.

Vince Oliver, 6-1 SO PG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Solid point guard with a good body, if he gets quicker and more athletic he has a chance to be big-time.

Enrico Tucker, 5-10 SO PG, San Diego (Calif.) University. We wrote about him in the Palo Alto Nike Football camp, Tucker is also a top running back. Very quick and athletic, if he gets his game under control, he could be very good point guard.

Derek Lee, 5-11 SO PG, Bakersfield (Calif.) High. The best sophomore point guard we saw at the tournament, and probably turned in the best performance in this tournament regardless of class. He has excellent ball-handling skills combined with great quickness, make him very difficult to defend. Also he can hit his outside jumper beyond the 3-point arc.

Dwight O'Neil, 6-1 SO PG, Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union. He played point guard this weekend, which was a very smart move for him. He's very athletic, has a great body and some nice, raw talent.

Cornell Littlejohn, 6-0 SO PG, Fairfield (Calif.) Vanden. Pretty thin and narrow, but talented player. He likes to shoot first, mainly because he has unconscious range out to about 28 feet. And he's very quick, and penetrates well. If he continues to develop his point guard skills, definitely one to watch.

Tim Pierce, 6-5 SO SG?SF, Oakland (Calif.) Fremont. A scorer with great range, he has a nice body and if continues to develop, could be one of the best in the class by his senior year.

Titus Shelton, 6-6 FR PF, Bakersfield (Calif.) High. The son of former NBAer Lonnie Shelton, Titus is big, long, athletic and has good skills for a freshman. He's come a long way from when we even first saw him in December. If he gets just two more inches in the next three years, he'll be a huge recruiting target.

Rashad Austin, 6-6 FR PF, Claremont (Calif.) High. Bouncy and rangy, Austin is all over the court, impacting the game with his athleticism. If he, like Shelton, grows just a bit, he'll be a big-time prospect.

Andre McGee, 5-10 FR PG, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. Probably the quickest point guard in Southern California, there isn't a defender who can stay with him. His first step and jukes are something to see. He's pretty slight, but is only a freshman, and needs to learn how to play the point under control. But if he does, he'll get big looks.


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