Jrue Holiday, 6-3 SR SG/PG North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. I sat with a couple West Coast coaches yesterday and they were both shaking their heads in amazement at Holiday. He's in a bit of shooting slump at the moment – mechanics are inconsistent and it could be mental as well – but he did everything else on the court. He got to the rim at will, he rebounded against much bigger players and he was all over the court on defense. He had to have at least six steals in a loss to the I Can All-Stars. Without Holiday, the game would've been a blowout loss for Pump N Run. With him, it came down to a last second shot. He's an incredible competitor.
Jordan Hamilton, 6-7 JR SF Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Hamilton had a very solid game for the I Can All-Stars. He sometimes has a problem with shot selection, but he took good shots (and made several deep threes) in this game. He also did a good job at the defensive end and in terms of rebounding. Those two areas have been a problem in the past for Hamilton, but he was very active in the game yesterday. He's one of the best shooters in the class and he only needs a little space to get his shot off. If he can continue to play the way he has in this tournament, Hamilton has a chance to be among the top West Coast players in 2009.
Malcolm Lee, 6-4 JR PG/SG Riveside (Calif.) North. Lee was very effective yesterday in a blowout win over the Bay Area Warriors. He was breaking down the defense at will and finding teammates off his drives. However, he has a bad habit of throwing one-handed passes. Even though they found the mark yesterday, those passes just aren't going to work at the next level. Or, they may work some of the time, but I have a feeling Coach Howland will gently suggest more passes of the two-handed variety. Lee's shot has been a bit inconsistent this summer, but when he gets it going he's tough to stop. He's got a quick release and deep range. Shot selection can be an issue at times, but he generally makes good decisions.
David Wear and Travis Wear, 6-9 JR PFs, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The twins had a rough day yesterday in the Pump N Run loss. They struggled to rebound against the I Can team and they weren't a presence inside. The main issue for them is one of identity. They have all the talent in the world. They can score inside or on the perimeter. They move very well for their size. They have an excellent feel for the game, with solid fundamentals, and very good overall ball skills. They're underrated as passers. But as long as they see themselves as wings, they're going to struggle against top competition. Their tendency to float to the perimeter has now become a habit. And on the perimeter, they lose much of their advantage as players. They don't have the quickness to be effective 20 feet from the basket. They're fairly quick against opposing post players (when they're in the paint), but certainly not against wings. They both have the beginnings of a solid jump hook and that's something they really need to incorporate into their games. But more than anything, they need to develop the mindset of post players. They're going to be in the 6-9 to 6-10 range (maybe even bigger) by the time they reach college, so they won't be spending any time at the three in college or if they reach the NBA. Every moment they spend now drifting to the perimeter is a lost opportunity to develop as post players. Probably one of the biggest worries is whether they'll be able to rebound against other big men. You have to wonder at this point even if they played more in the paint if they could become good rebounders. Getting the mindset of a post player – to rebound, block shots, be a presence inside – that's what is missing from their game today. If they can develop that attitude, and continue to work on their bodies (you can see they've added muscle in the last three months), I think they can be among the elite players in the 2009 class.
Brendan Lane, 6-8 JR PF Rocklin (Calif.) High. Lane has a great deal of potential as a prospect. He's got outstanding tools. Good frame, long arms, moves extremely well, good hands and pretty bouncy. He can shoot the three, but also play in the paint. He's a very good shot-blocker and pretty good rebounder. His shot selection can be spotty at times, but he generally makes good decisions. He still needs to get stronger, but that appears to be just a matter of time with that frame. He's really started to come on as a prospect since April and it's intriguing to imagine what he might look like a year from now. With continued development, he could be one of the elite players in the country.
Festus Ezeli, 6-11 class of 2007 Simi Valley (Calif.) Stoneridge. There's been a lot of hype on Ezeli, but it's a bit excessive, given his talent level. I know that must be shocking, to learn that Internet recruiting sites can be a bit excessive with the hype. Ezeli certainly looks the part – big kid, with great shoulders, runs very well. But his feel for the game is way behind that of American kids (he's from Nigeria) and he doesn't have good hands. However, he does play hard, he's got the body and he moves well. So, someday, he might be a player. But any high major programs that are thinking he'd be a major contributor in the next couple years are deluding themselves. He'd probably be best at a mid-major program – even at that level, he's a project – but he'll probably get some high major attention just because he looks the part. In fact, we've heard that Connecticut could be offering Ezeli.