Luke Babbitt, 6-7 JR PF Reno (Nev.) Galena. Babbitt's Galena team was at the Westchester tournament last week. Galena doesn't have much talent besides Babbitt, so the lefty forward had to carry much of the load and he was outstanding in the two games we saw. Babbitt has added muscle since the summer and his body looks great. He seems to be a little quicker and he elevated well for a couple rebounds in traffic. His long arms allow him to play a little bigger than his height and he's not afraid of contact. Unlike a lot of young players who can shoot the three, Babbitt is not one-dimensional. He'll post you up with a solid jump hook inside and he can put the ball on the floor if you close out too hard when he spots up at the stripe. He's easily the best post prospect in the west for 2008.
Larry Drew, 5-11 JR PG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. We saw two of Drew's games at the Westchester tournament. While he wasn't playing at quite the same level he did in the summer – the game is pretty loose and easy in AAU ball – he was solid in the two wins we saw. He's very polished for a young point (no surprise with a father who was a pro) and his shot has improved in the last year. He does tend to wind it up a bit, though, and he'll need to quicken it up at the next level. Drew generally makes good decisions and he has a very good vision. He can get a little casual, at times, playing against high school competition and he could do a better job of maintaining his focus. Drew has good, not great, quickness and he's especially effective when running the pick and roll. He's got long arms, but he's not especially big otherwise and there is a question as to how he'll do against bigger/stronger guards in college. But Drew is certainly one of the elite guards prospects in the west for 2008.
Chace Stanback, 6-7 SR SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback led Fairfax to an upset win over rival Westchester this week in an early league game. Stanback doesn't have much talent surrounding him this year and he's been given the green light to shoot. While that led to some questionable shot selection, Stanback basically carried Fairfax on Wednesday night. He's improved his ability to create his own shot and his jab step kept Westchester defenders off balance. He's more of a scorer than pure shooter and he made several mid range shots. Stanback provided good weakside help defense on a couple of occasions and he had several blocks. He also rebounded well throughout the game. Stanback will have a tough time get major minutes early at UCLA, but he should be a solid contributor by his sophomore year.
Demar DeRozan, 6-6 JR SF Compton (Calif.) High. We watched DeRozan for the second time in two weeks and he had a couple solid games at the Tournament of Champions. He's as gifted an athlete as there is in the class of 2008 and, at times, he can overpower high school kids with his physical tools. He showed good judgment in the games we watched and took generally good shots. His stroke is much improved from a year ago. He used to just look for the highlight reel type play, but he's making better decisions now and learning to just make the simple play. He pulled up for a couple nice mid-range shots on plays where, in the past, he would have tried to get to the rim for a dunk. His handle still needs a lot of work. If he can improve his ability to create his own shot, he could be one of the best players in the 2008 class.
Renaldo Woolridge, 6-7 JR PF North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. Woolridge has a good frame, very big feet and some length. He's got a nice stroke out to the stripe and he might still be growing. However, his lateral quickness is not good and he struggles when defenders get into him. While some are projecting him as a three, we think he ends up at the four, due his body type. He wants to play a small forward's game – very much a finesse game – but he'll need to get more physical and play with toughness if he's to play at the next level.
Michael Snaer, 6-4 SO SG/PG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer is a big, strong, young guard with a chance to play the one or two. Right now, we have him as a two, but his ball skills are solid and might play some point guard eventually. He's got a decent shot to 18-19 feet. The most impressive aspect of his game, though, was how hard he played. He works at both ends of the court. He's a good athlete and he's well put together. He's definitely one to watch in 2009 – a potential high major prospect.
Hollis Thompson, 6-7 SO PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Long and slender young forward with a young face and big upside. He's moves well for his size and he's got a nice stroke to 16-17 feet. He's still very young and growing into his body, but Thompson has the look of a potential high major prospect down the road.
Dwayne Polee, Jr., 6-6 FR PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Polee, who is a very early verbal commitment to USC, is a long and extremely bouncy young prospect. He's seemingly bouncing off the floor even when he's just running down the court. He's not yet strong, or skilled, enough to have much of an impact at the high school level, but there is a significant upside. He'll block shots inside and he's a willing rebounder/defender, even though he can get beat up pretty good by older/stronger players. It's too early to project him as a college player – he's really quite raw – but young Polee does have a ton of potential.
Deonte Burton, 6-0 FR SG Long Beach (Calif.) Cabrillo. Burton has a very good body – good shoulders, fairly long – and he's a nice athlete. His overall ball skills are decent. Physically, he's a good-looking young prospect and he could be someone to watch if his ball skills continue to progress.