Young Talent at UCLA Hoops Camp

While the UCLA-committed players were exceptional the UCLA Advanced Skills Camp this week, there were also many younger players that stepped up and showed their talent in front of the UCLA coaches...

The UCLA Advanced Skills Camp was a little different this year than previous years. The campers were primarily younger prospects, with a number of high school sophomores and incoming freshmen. In the past, the camp had plenty of older players who would end up at the mid-major, or possibly even high-major level, but they weren't going to be UCLA players. This year's camp didn't have as many quality older players, but there were plenty of interesting young kids. Here's my take on the players I saw during the three days of camp.

Malcolm Lee, 6-4 SR PG/SG Riverside (Calif.) North. Lee was probably the top prospect in camp, but it wasn't by as wide a margin as some might think. Lee's length, frame, quickness and skill level are hard to find in one prospect. There aren't a lot of players his size that can do what he can do. He's got some rough edges that need to be polished, but he's an above average ball handler, passer and shooter. Like most kids his age, he could be a better defender. He's got the length and quickness to really bother opposing ball-handlers when he puts his mind to it. He needs to work on his left hand (really favors his right hand). His shot is streaky, but when he gets it going he's got deep range and a quick release. What's exciting about Lee is the fact that he's already a very good player, yet he has so much room for growth. He's getting by on superior athleticism and talent. Once he gets coached, and really starts to understand the game, Lee will take a big leap forward as a prospect.

Jerime Anderson, 6-1 SR PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon. Anderson had a great camp. Whether it was in games or drills, Anderson looked sharp in everything he did. He's a very smart player and it was interesting to watch him respond to Howland's instruction. More than any other player, Anderson was able to take what Howland told him and apply it immediately to his game. Anderson was on a different level than the younger guards in the camp and everything appeared to come pretty easy to him. His decision-making was flawless, he got in the lane whenever he wanted and he seemed to make every open jumper he took. Watching Anderson go through the drills, it's easy to see why he's become one of the elite point guards in the country. He's very focused in everything he does. When he goes through a drill, he's not just marking time until he gets to play a game. He's actually trying to get better. You can see it in how precise and intense he is as he dribbles around a chair and pulls up for a shot. He's a much better athlete than some people realize and he's gotten more explosive as he's matured. While Malcolm Lee and Jrue Holiday have received a lot of attention – and they're both great prospects – fans shouldn't discount Jerime Anderson. This kid is going to be a great player at UCLA before he's done.

Hollis Thompson, 6-6 JR SF/SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. The first night of the camp, I called a scout and said, "Malcolm Lee is probably the top prospect and Hollis Thompson is probably the second best. But Thompson might catch him by tomorrow night – that's how quickly he's progressing as a prospect." As I've written before, I've never seen a player progress as quickly as Thompson has in the past seven months. He was extremely impressive in this camp and Coach Howland seemingly used him in every demonstration for the campers. He also, not by luck, ended up on the same team for the games as Jerime Anderson and David Wear. Thompson is a scout's dream. His body, length, young face, huge feet, athleticism, feel and skill level get checked off on your list and you realize there's not much more to look for in a prospect. Then you hear he's got a 4.2 GPA and he becomes one of those easy ones to predict – this kid will be one of the elite players in the country for 2009. As good as Thompson is today, he's still scratching the surface. He hasn't grown into his body yet – it seems to defy the laws of nature that he's as quick as he is with those huge feet and gangly arms and legs – and I'm not sure he even realizes what he's capable of doing yet. It's possible he could grow a bit more, but he's going to be an elite player regardless. Normally, you project a player with his body to end up at the three. And that might be the position he plays in college. But it's also possible he'll be one of those unique guys who can play the two at 6-7 or bigger. Look for Thompson to become one of UCLA's primary targets in 2009.

Kendall Williams, 6-2 SO PG Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos. Williams wasn't too far behind Thompson in this camp. Williams has very good size for a guard and he might end up able to play both the one and two. He's a very good athlete, with an excellent frame and above average quickness. He's very skilled for a young guard. His shot was solid all camp and he showed very good ball skills. One of the more impressive things about Williams was his court presence. He just carries himself like a player and you feel like you're watching a veteran player. He's the early leader for top guard in the West Coast class of 2010.

David Wear, 6-9 JR PF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Wear missed the first day of camp, but he had some very impressive moments during the second day. He was particularly good in a four-on-four drill in front of Howland. Wear had several nice jump hooks inside and he made a concerted effort to play in the paint. Like his brother Travis (who sat out with an injury), Wear will have the ability to play inside and on the perimeter at the next level. But in order to take the next step forward in his development, he needs to really focus on the inside part of the game. In particular, he needs to become a much more physical and aggressive rebounder. He's still maturing physically – he's noticeably thicker than he was in April – and I expect he'll venture inside more when he has the body to do some damage. The entire UCLA staff spent plenty of time with the Wears during the camp.

Michael Snaer, 6-5 JR SG Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer is one of those players that is above average in just about every category, but he's not flashy and therefore doesn't get a lot of hype. Howland singled him out during the camp for his size and strength, as well as defensive ability. He just looks like the kind of guard that Howland would like. He's got the size and physicality, with good skills and feel, plus that willingness to play defense. The competition for UCLA scholarships will be very tough in 2009, but Snaer figures to be among the main contenders.

Victor Rudd, 6-8 JR SF/PF Van Nuys (Calif.) High. Rudd has the athleticism and skill level to be one of the top players in the class. He's got a very good body, with long arms, and he might end up a very athletic four man. He shot the ball very well from the stripe and showed very good ball skills for a kid his size. He reminds me a bit of Trevor Ariza at the same age. Where he needs to improve as a prospect in his approach to the game (another similarity to Ariza). There's a sloppiness and carelessness to his game that needs to be addressed. Everything comes pretty easy to Rudd and he's able to succeed at the high school level without being real sharp in his attention to detail. Whether it's his shot preparation, keeping vision on defense off the ball, or footwork on the perimeter, Rudd is just a little careless. One of the UCLA coaches asked him the question, "Do you want to be good or do you want to be great?" And that's the key question for Rudd. He's got a chance to be great if he decides to take the necessary steps to reach that goal.

Kenneth Hall, 6-8 C/PF Stone Mountain (Georgia) Redan. Hall is an intriguing post prospect who is originally from the San Fernando Valley. He moved out to Georgia sometime around the age of 11, but he still has family in California. He's a long and mobile big kid, with good feet and hands. He's got a pretty nice touch around the basket and he played with excellent energy. The UCLA staff was very impressed with how hard he played. Based on his performance in camp, he figures to be a guy that UCLA will monitor in the coming months.

Jared Cunningham, 6-3 JR PG/SG San Leandro (Calif.) High. Cunningham is another one of those players that gets you excited as a scout. All the physical signs are there and his skill level has improved in the past year. Cunningham caught the attention of Coach Howland in one shooting drill. The players were supposed to shoot a couple jump shots from about 16 feet. But after Cunningham made a couple, Howland told him to keep going. Cunningham proceeded to knock down 13 straight. He's still maturing physically, so it's still a little difficult to project exactly what kind of player he'll end up. He needs to continue to improve his ball-handling and he could be a little more assertive and physical. I don't think he knows sometimes just what he's capable of doing on the court. As he matures, I think he'll start to become aggressive and look to dominate opponents. Whether he ends up a UCLA-level player remains to be seen, but Cunningham is going to be good enough for the Pac-10.

Matt Carlino, 6-1 FR PG/SG Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland. Carlino is an extremely skilled young guard who may play the one or two down the line. He's an excellent shooter, but he's more of a scorer than pure shooter. He's got an advanced feel for the game and he plays with a lot of confidence. His father is in the 6-8 range, so it's possible he gets bigger. However, he's already filled out a bit, so he may not get real tall. He's a little bouncier than you might think, but he has just average quickness. It'll be interesting to see how his body changes in the coming years and whether that impacts his athleticism. In any event, he's easily one of the elite prospects in the west for 2011.

Angelo Chol, 6-7 FR PF/C San Diego (Calif.) Hoover. A young post from the Sudan, Chol has a bright future. He's long and slender, with very good feet and nice hands. He was a bit overmatched in terms of strength against some older players, but he's obviously got a nice feel for the game and considerable skills for a young big. He's an early kid to watch in the West Coast class of 2011.

Kyle Caudill, 6-10 FR C Brea (Calif.) High. Caudill is a huge young post who UCLA will no doubt monitor for the next few years. He's still growing into his body, but he's got a pretty decent skill level for a young big kid. He obviously has a desire to be a player and he was very attentive in all the drills. It's way too early to project a level on him, but he's got a chance.

Anthony Brown, 6-3 SO SG Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View. Another great-looking young prospect, Brown looks like a baby. He's all arms and legs, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he grows some more. He's got some nice skills and he showed a very good understanding of the game. He's another kid who seemed to soak up everything the coaches told him. He's got a chance to be one of the top 2010 kids in the west.

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