Prospects at the Extravaganza

The Nike Extravaganza was held this past weekend, and participating were UCLA's two committed players, Kevin Love, the 6-9 senior center from Lake Oswego, Ore., who was spectacular, as well as 6-7 Chace Stanback from L.A. Fairfax. There were also other prospects to know about...

I spent part of the day Friday and Saturday at the Nike Extravaganza. Here are my latest thoughts on some of the top players that I saw.

Kevin Love, 6-10 SR C Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. Love, the #1 post prospect in the country and committed to UCLA, had one of the more impressive games that I've seen from him in the four years I've been watching him play. Love ended up with 36 points and 15 rebounds in the game. He dominated in the game against Mater Dei at both ends of the court. Love's timing as a shot blocker has improved and it looks like he's getting up a little better than he did in the summer. He blocked or altered a number of Mater Dei shots in the paint. Love has textbook fundamentals and he plays with great poise. Mater Dei tried to pressure Lake Oswego, but Love would get the ball to relieve the pressure on his guards and then calmly make a pass to an open teammate. Love's passing ability doesn't get mentioned enough. Yes, he can score inside and from the perimeter, but his passing ability makes the Lake Oswego offense run smoothly. Love threw a couple of his trademark outlet passes that had the crowd gasping in amazement.

Love has a great feel for the game and he really understands spacing, angles, footwork in the paint – he's like a pro going against high school kids in terms of his overall feel for the game. As I've said before, Love also has a nasty streak and he's not afraid to get physical. The Mater Dei kids had no chance trying to defend Love with single coverage and even their double teams were often beaten. One aspect of his game that makes Love particularly tough to deal with is his outstanding free-throw shooting. You can't just hack Love to keep him from getting lay-ups, as he'll just go to the line and knock down free-throws. I also want to compliment the other Lake Oswego players. They did the best job that I've seen from a group of high school players in terms of playing with a dominant big man. Often when I watch a big-time post player, I'm frustrated because his teammates don't understand how to get him the ball at the proper time and place. But the Lake Oswego kids did a great job of dealing with Mater Dei's pressure and then getting Love the ball on time and in position to make a play.

Chace Stanback, 6-7 SR SF Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback, also committed to UCLA, did his best to keep Fairfax in the game against Oak Hill, but he didn't have enough help from his teammates to get the win. Stanback has grown a bit in the last year and it's difficult to project him at the next level without knowing how his body will end up. He's still on the slender side, but if he gets much bigger he may move out of the small forward spot and into a power forward. His shot from three-point range is good, not great, and he's more of a scorer than pure shooter. He's become adept at the bank shot in the 12-15 range on the wing. Stanback is very good at a number of things on the court, but he's not really great at any one part of the game. He handles the ball well for a kid his size and he's able to create his own shot. He's also a pretty good, but not great, rebounder. He's got a very good feel for the game, though, and he should be a solid defender at the next level.

Taylor King, 6-7 SR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. King, as everyone knows, had committed to UCLA but then rescinded his verbal commitment to later commit to Duke, struggled in the game against Lake Oswego Saturday. Ernie Spada, the 6-0 senior guard from Lake Oswego who defended King, must've gotten some tips from Kevin Love (King's teammate on the Southern California All-Stars) on how to defend King. Spada did a good job of denying King the ball and, when King did get the ball on the perimeter, Spada was right up in him and made it difficult for King to get a clean look. King is an outstanding shooter with range well beyond the stripe, but he can be defended on the perimeter if you make him put the ball on the floor. I've said for some time that I think King needs to work on his low-post game – he's got the toughness and length to do damage inside – and he would have been better served by attacking Lake Oswego in the paint.

Kamyron Brown, 6-1 SR PG Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Brown, who is committed to Oregon, was the leading scorer for Mater Dei in the game, as he finished with 16 points. Brown is an interesting prospect at the next level. He's always had the body and athleticism to play at a high level, but his skills and feel for the game have been slow in developing. While Brown did have a couple nice plays off of penetration in this game, his decision-making still left a lot to be desired. He doesn't see the court the way you'd like for a high major point guard and he doesn't do a great job of creating for his teammates. He's got a chance to be a very good defender at the next level, but he's going to need to be coached out of some bad habits.

Travis and David Wear, 6-8 SO PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Both Wear brothers tried their hand at defending Love, but they don't have the size or strength yet to deal with a guy like Love. To their credit, though, they were both more than willing to try. I think the Wear brothers have deferred, somewhat, to Taylor King in their first two years at Mater Dei and it will be very interesting to see how their games progress next season when King, Alex Jacobson and Brown are all in college. Both of the twins have an exceptional feel for the game, as well as the versatility to shoot the three or a jump-hook in the paint. They're still not close to being done physically and their games will go to another level as they get stronger. The Wears are two of the biggest targets for UCLA in the 2009 class.

Klay Thompson, 6-5 JR SF Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita. Thompson is a very smooth and skilled wing, with a nice shot to the stripe and very good overall ball skills. He's got the length to do damage inside, but he prefers at this time to play primarily on the perimeter. Thompson is very much a finesse player and will need to play with a little more physicality as his game matures. But there's no question that Thompson is very skilled and he'll likely end up a high major player.


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