There are two local tournaments in L.A., the Pumps Best of Summer and the End of the Trail Clasic, featuring many of UCLA's prospects in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 classes.
Kevin Love, the 6-9 center from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, who verbally committed to UCLA in Las Vegas last week, is not playing. His AAU team, the So Cal All-Stars won the Reebok Big Time tournament, completing their spring and summer undefeated, and then closed up shop. Love, also, personally, had nothing else to play for the last few days of the evaluation period and it was good he closed it down personally also.
Kyle Singler, the 6-8 forward from Medford (Ore.) South Medford, also decided not to play with the Portland Legends in Las Vegas, being fatigued from playing in on the USA National team as well as in the Nike Camp. UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland did make an appearance at Singler's high school to watch im work out, as permitted by NCAA rules, as did other coaches.
More and more we're hearing that Duke is clearly the leader for Singler's services and it would take a complete change in direction in his recruitment for Singler not to end up a Blue Devil.
With it looking like Singler is going to Duke, UCLA could very well move on Clint Chapman, the 6-10 senior center from Canby (Ore.) High (to understand the scholarship count ramifications, go to this recent rundown). Chapman has had a terrific month of July and multiple Pac-10 programs are now recruiting him. He showed flashes of his ability in games here, but it wasn't his best effort. Chapman moves well for a big man and his skill level has shown remarkable improvement in the last year. A year ago in the spring, Chapman barely got off the bench for his AAU team. But his outside shot has really gotten better and he's grown into his body. He'll likely be ranked right behind Kevin Love in our post-summer West Coast center rankings. As we've stated before, Chapman attended UCLA's Advanced Skills Camp and his mother is a UCLA alum, so it'd be interesting to see if UCLA offers Chapman and tries to get a commitment from him, especially with the thought around recruiting circles is that Singler is going to Duke.
The Best of Summer tournament reached the elimination round yesterday and the quality of play actually picked up in the games. It was nice to see that some of the players are, in fact, competitive and not just motivated to earn a college scholarship. The desire to win is not always present in summer ball and it was good to see kids who wanted to compete.
The best prospect from the west currently playing in either tournament is Jrue Holiday, 6-2 JR SG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Holiday put on a show yesterday, as he carried his Double Pump team to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Holiday doesn't have much to work with on his team, beyond his brother Justin and point guard Jerime Anderson. But he can dominate a game at times, at both ends, and he did just that on several occasions during the day. The superlatives were flying up and down the row of coaches who were watching Holiday play. He's the best point guard and the best shooting guard in the country for 2008. Whatever position you put him at, he's the best.
One of the great things about Holiday's game is he plays hard all the time. It doesn't matter if it is a big game or a meaningless game – he plays the same way. He plays the game in attack mode, whether he's on offense or defense. There will be times when you look up and realize he just made every play for a couple minutes. Hit a three, grab a rebound, assist, steal, bucket, rebound, dunk, steal and then another assist. He dominates the action. Look for every top school in the country to try to get in on Holiday's recruitment. UCLA offered Holiday a scholarship.
Malcolm Lee, 6-3 JR PG Riverside (Calif.) North, hasn't received as much hype as some of the other 2008 point guards, but he has a chance to be the best of the bunch when it's all said and done. Lee was terrific in the game we watched yesterday morning. His decision-making was sharp and he made several outstanding passes. The competition was admittedly not that good, but Lee showed why he should be considered for the top spot among 2008 PGs in the west. He's not as pure a one as Jerime Anderson or Larry Drew, but Lee has more upside. He's longer, and more athletic, than either player, while also being a better shooter. Lee has a chance to be a great defender when he gets taught how to defend. He hasn't received much coaching to this point and it's very intriguing to think about what he might become once he gets some real instruction.
Jerime Anderson, 6-1 JR PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon, also had a very good day yesterday in leading his Double Pump team to the quarterfinals. While Jrue Holiday is clearly the star of the team, Anderson is the one who runs the show. He thinks the game as well as any point guard in the west and he does a great job of setting up teammates. His shot has been inconsistent this summer, but we saw him shoot it well enough in the regular season to know that he'll be fine in that area. Anderson is a pure point and his decision-making has been excellent all summer. He rarely turns it over and his assist numbers would be much higher on a more talented team. He's also one of the best defensive guards in the west. Despite what some may have written, the debate over the top point guard in the west has not been settled and Anderson is squarely in the mix.
Another player who is in that discussion for top point guard is Larry Drew, the 5-11 junior from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Drew was terrific again yesterday, as he found just the right mixture of shots and playmaking for others. The Pump N Run team is loaded with talent and Drew does a great job of getting everyone involved. Drew did not shoot the ball well during the regular season, but he's been consistent from the outside most of the summer. He's playing with a lot of confidence, as his game has seemingly gone up a notch since the end of the high school season. Projecting him against the other point guards in the west, the one issue against Drew might be his size. We've been expecting him to grow a little more for some time now – his long arms appear to be disproportional to his body – but he's been the same size for a while now. Even if he doesn't grow, though, Drew has a case to be the top-ranked point in the west. He's got a complete game and a very advanced understanding of the game.
Howland and assistants Kerry Keating and Donnie Daniels were all in attendance Sunday night to watch Holiday, Anderson and Drew.
As we've written many times, it will be interesting to see what UCLA does with its 2008 point guard situation. None of the three -- Anderson, Drew or Lee -- have been offered a scholarship. UCLA, though, recognizes that it's critical they get a commitment from a 2008 point guard, and you'd have to think want it done with a verbal commitment early. It very well could be UCLA offers the three of them, and sees who jumps in the boat first. It could be Anderson, who we know is heavily leaning toward UCLA and would almost certainly commit immediately, especially if he knew Drew and Lee were offered also. As we've stated, a big selling point for Anderson is his friendship with Holiday. If Anderson can help you get Holiday, it improves his stock with UCLA immensely. UCLA very well could be making a move and possibly extending offers to one or more of these point guards fairly quickly this fall.
Drew Gordon, 6-8 JR C/PF San Jose (Calif.) Mitty, had a big crowd of coaches at his game the other day. UCLA coaches, as well as those form Arizona, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Oregon, Louisville, Cal, Illinois, Gonzaga and Kansas were all in the gym to see Gordon.