Scout on the Road, 12/28

With the December high school tournament season coming to a close, we've seen more UCLA prospects and other recruits recently, including UCLA signee Kevin Love, UCLA-committed Malcolm Lee, big target Jrue Holiday, and a potentialluy elite point guard in the 2009 class...

We've spent the last couple weeks at various high school tournaments in California. In particular, we'd like to thank the organizers of the Mission Prep Christmas Classic and the Torrey Pines Holiday Prep Classic. Both tournaments were very well organized and featured some quality teams in a great environment.

Here are our most recent evaluations on some of the top prospects we saw over the last couple weeks.

Kevin Love, 6-10 SR C Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. We didn't see Love in a tournament, but rather a one-day event at Pauley Pavilion a few weeks ago. Love looks like he's done some work on his body since the summer, as he was toned up and jumping better than he did in July. His body is really the one question mark for him as he gets ready to enter college. He's naturally thick and he needs to be vigilant in his physical conditioning. He was moving well in the game we saw and he blocked nine shots, which is the most we can recall seeing him ever block in a game. His low-post game never really got going, as Compton Centennial constantly double-teamed him and he was fouled a number of times. But he looked great at the free-throw line, knocking down 13 of 14 attempts.

Love is an underrated passer. Everyone talks about his outlet passes – which were evident at this game – but his passing in the halfcourt game is also terrific. Love may play the five or four in college, as his perimeter skills are more than adequate for a power forward. He's got a very good stroke to about 21-22 feet and you might see UCLA utilizing him in a high-low game with Lorenzo Mata next year. Many people assume that Love will be one and out at UCLA, but that's not necessarily written in stone. I believe he'll be an impact player right away in the Pac-10, but I'm not sure he'll be dominant in his freshman year.

Jrue Holiday, 6-3 JR SG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Holiday led his team to the championship of the Mission Prep tournament and he made it look easy at times. At the high school level, there are very few guards who are capable of challenging Holiday. He's too athletic, strong and skilled for most kids at this level. He's capable of creating his own shot whenever he wants and he's equally adept at shooting the three, pulling up for a mid-range or getting to the basket for a lay-up. One advantage that Holiday enjoys when he gets to the rim is a very strong off-hand. Holiday finishes as well with his left hand as most kids do with their right hand. In the championship win over Dorsey, Holiday got into it a bit with some Dorsey kids who were doing a lot of talking. My advice to future Campbell Hall opponents – let sleeping dogs lie. Holiday's tough enough to deal with when he's just playing his normal game. Get him riled up with some trash talking and he might embarrass you on the court.

Justin Holiday, 6-6 SR SF/SG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Justin is the secondary option behind his younger brother, but he's a very nice second option at the high school level. He's very good in the open court, when he has room to put his considerable athleticism to good use. He can get in trouble when he over-dribbles, especially when he gets in traffic or is facing strong defensive pressure. He's a terrific defender, though, and he can create havoc with his long arms and quickness. Holiday's shot is generally accurate when he's on balance and squared up. He'll sometimes rush his shot and drift in the air – those are usually the shots he'll miss. Overall, I think Holiday is a very solid prospect at the high major level. I don't expect him to have an immediate impact at Washington, but he should be a nice player when he gains weight and gets stronger.

Malcolm Lee, 6-4 JR PG/SG Riverside (Calif.) North. Lee is a long and rangy prospect who might play anywhere from the one to the three in college. He's in the middle of a growth spurt and there's no telling how tall he might end up. He had a grandfather who was 6-9, so his position is really yet to be determined. He's got the ball skills and feel to play the one as of today, but he might grow out of the position. His shot looked very good at the Mission Prep tournament – quick release and deep range. Like most high school players, Lee has a lot to learn about defense. But he generally gives a good effort at that end – it's more about technique where he can improve. He moves very well laterally and his length is going to bother opposing guards. For his high school team, Lee plays a variety of roles. He'll be shooting threes, posting up or creating off the dribble in the same game. As we said, he's got good range on his shot, but that should get even better when he gets into a real weight-training program. Lee is definitely among the top couple prospects we've seen in the past month.

Klay Thompson, 6-5 JR SG/SF Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita. I have Thompson listed as a shooting guard, but he might grow into the small forward spot by college. He's a good, not great, athlete. Moves pretty well, fairly good quickness for his size, decent hops. Thompson's strength is his skill level and feel for the game. He's very good with the ball and sees the court well. He has an excellent stroke with three-point range, but he's not limited to shooting off the catch. He showed several nice pull-ups in the games I saw. Like most kids his age, he's not done yet physically and needs to get stronger. He's certainly a high major prospect and he might end up among the top wings in the west for 2008.

Michael Snaer, 6-4 SO SG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer has a very good body and pretty high skill level for a young wing. He's already quite strong and he moves very well for his size. His decision-making is impressive for a young prospect, as is his willingness to play hard at both ends of the court. He's got a solid stroke to about 18-19 feet and also showed a decent mid-range game. He handles the ball well enough that he might have a chance to play some one down the road. With continued development, Snaer has a chance to be an elite prospect in the 2009 class.

Peyton Siva, 5-11 SO PG Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Siva is a very explosive athlete with a nice shot to 18-20 feet. He's not a true one in the sense of a guy who will run a team and distribute the ball. He's more of a shoot-first guy, but he does have the ball skills to create for his teammates. He gets great lift on his shot, which helps to compensate for his lack of height. He's a good ball-handler, but could improve in that area (got picked a couple times in game I saw). His decisions at a camp last July were really quite bad, but he showed improvement in that area this past week. He's got the physical tools and skill level to potentially be a top prospect in his class, but he still has a long way to go to reach that level.


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