But the current top three guys on our list as of today are Jerime Anderson, Larry Drew and Brandon Jennings. We've seen each of these players in recent weeks and the following is our most current evaluation of them as prospects.
Brandon Jennings, 6-2 SO PG Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. A quick and explosive lefty, Jennings shined last spring and summer in the open-court game of travel ball. His speed and ability to get to the rim really served him well in the fast-paced, no-defense games of April and July. Jennings generally shot the ball well – at times, very well – and any shortcomings were overlooked (by some) because of the highlight type plays he often made. However, as we've pointed out in the past, travel ball isn't real basketball. This season with his high school team, Jennings has struggled in the games we've seen. His penchant for trying to make the spectacular play has got him in trouble. Instead of playing like a point guard, and looking to make his teammates better, Jennings constantly looks for the spectacular play. His decisions have been very shaky and his fundamentals non-existent. He looks for steals rather than playing solid defense and his shot has become erratic. Overall, his game has regressed dramatically from where it was a year ago.
So why is Jennings still among our top three point guard prospects? Because he is very talented and he's an explosive athlete with a considerable upside -- if he will play the game the right way. Unfortunately, he has received some bad advice from people looking to capitalize off his talent and, in our opinion, it has had a negative impact on his game. Jennings has the athleticism, size and ball skills to be an impact player at the high major level. But he needs to really work on his fundamentals and approach to the game if he's going to be successful at that level.
Larry Drew, 5-11 SO PG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Our top-rated 2008 point guard coming into the season, Drew hasn't regressed so much as he's seemingly stagnated. Physically, he's about the same size as he was a year ago, not having added much weight or strength. He's got good, not exceptional, quickness. He looks like he should grow some more, as his body appears disproportional. Like Jennings, Drew has not shot the ball as well this season as he did last spring and summer. Unlike Jennings, Drew has a good feel for the position of point guard and he generally makes good decisions. He finds open teammates off of penetration and knows how to draw the defense to create open looks.
Drew's overall skill level, however, has not improved much in the last year. As we mentioned, he's not lightning quick, so his handle will need to improve if he's to go by defenders at the next level. His shot from three-point range is just adequate at this time. He's got the beginnings of a mid-range game, but that needs to improve as well. Part of the lack of development in Drew's game, though, is due to his size and lack of physical strength. He doesn't finish a lot of plays because he just isn't strong enough yet. We still feel optimistic about Drew's chances of developing into an elite, high major point guard, but he's currently number two on our West Coast list.
Jerime Anderson, 6-1 SO PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon. Anderson is currently our top-rated point in 2008. He's got a very good combination of size, athleticism, skill level and overall feel for the game. We've watched him play two big games recently against rival Villa Park – in tight games with packed crowds – and he's been outstanding. He's the rare point who not only understands the position, and is unselfish enough to play it correctly, but also possesses very good scoring ability. Anderson scored in just about every conceivable way in the games we saw. He shot the three well, showed off a nice mid range game, finished at the rim off drives and excelled in the open court. Physically, Anderson has a solid frame with long arms and good quickness. He's a deceptive athlete who will fool defenders with his second gear when he's driving and he's got some bounce to him as well. He's got good instincts at the defensive end and he'll jump the passing lanes and get a lot of deflections.
But putting aside his scoring ability, his athleticism and his overall skill level, the thing that most impresses us about Anderson is the fact that he's a true point guard with the right approach. There aren't very many of them out there anymore. Guys who make people better, who understand the game and who know that there's one reason they're out there – to win the game. It's not about getting "exposure" for college or the NBA, or having idiot hangers-on tell you how good you are. It's about winning. Guys who truly understand that, and play the game to the right way, are in short supply these days. Anderson appears to be one of those guys. Here's hoping that he keeps that approach.