UCLA Prospects in Vegas Tourney, #1

Juniors Chace Stanback and Darnell Gant look good in the Las Vegas Easter Classic Thursday, and some freshmen also prove they're going to be big-time prospects...

The first day of the Las Vegas Easter Classic was somewhat tame, with few outstanding performances. Here are some early impressions of the players we saw Thursday.

Chace Stanback, 6-6 JR SF/SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback had the best showing we've seen from him in some time. Stanback's feel for the game, and his decision-making, are excellent. His jumpshot looked smooth and effortless, while his ball-handling appears to have improved dramatically. He had several plays where he crossed-over defenders and stopped on a dime for his shot. Physically, he looks a little bigger – he may be close to 6-7 – and he did a good job of playing inside at both ends of the court. Stanback has the ball skills to play the two, but if he gets any bigger he probably ends up at the three. He's an elite, high major prospect.

Darnell Gant, 6-8 JR PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. Gant has filled out a bit through the chest and shoulders. He sometimes has a habit of floating to the perimeter, but he showed a couple strong post-up moves in the game yesterday. He's got the quickness to defend a three on the wing, but the size to guard a four in the paint. His shot is pretty accurate to 17-19 feet, but he needs to quicken up his release a bit. At the defensive end, he's got very good timing as a shot blocker. He's a four right now at the college level, but we see him eventually developing into a three. He's also an elite, high major prospect.

Malcolm Thomas, 6-8 JR PF/C San Diego (Calif.) Crawford. We only saw about a half of his game, but Thomas showed off some impressive athleticism. He runs and jumps very well. We didn't get to see much in the way of skills with the ball, but he had a couple nice finishes at the rim. He's someone we'll definitely keep an eye on this spring.

Maurice Jackson, 6-2 JR SG Gilbert (Ariz.) High. This was our first viewing of Jackson and he had a decent showing. He's got a great body – well put together with long arms – and he's a fairly good athlete. His shot looked pretty good to the stripe and he showed a nice feel for the game. A possible low to mid major prospect.

Travis Wear, 6-8 FR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. On a high school team loaded with players, Wear is the best prospect on Mater Dei. For a big, young kid, Wear shows great feet and plays with terrific energy. His ability to slide laterally against smaller players is extremely impressive. He's got a very good stroke to the stripe, but he doesn't just settle for jumpshots. He shot-faked a couple times yesterday and demonstrated a surprising ability to take defenders off the dribble. We also liked the way Wear competed. Sometimes young kids with his skill level only want to play with the ball in their hands. But Wear defended well and battled inside for rebounds. Wear has big feet and the look of someone who might still be growing. With continued development, a likely elite, high major prospect.

David Wear, 6-8 FR PF/C Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. David isn't quite as skilled, nor does he move as well as Travis, but he's got just about everything else that his brother does. He plays with the same great energy and competes very well. He too has no problem going in the paint with bigger players and he can step out to the stripe as well. David also has a chance to be a big-time player in a few years.

Colin Borchert, 6-6 FR PF Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge. Borchert is another very impressive freshman. He's got a solid body and he's willing to use it inside, banging all game against older players. What makes him somewhat unusual, though, is his ability to play both on the perimeter and inside with his back to the basket. On the wing, he's got excellent ball skills and a pretty stroke to the stripe. But in the paint, he'll post up strong and he has a nice feel with his back to the basket. He's also got very good feet. He's just a fair athlete at this time, but he's still young and he may improve in that area. If he grows a bit, or becomes just a little more explosive, Borchert has a chance to be a terrific player.


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