UCLA Prospects in Vegas -- Day 1

The three big tournaments kicked off Sunday in Lazs Vegas, and we got our first glimpse of the summer of UCLA-committed Drew Gordon, who recovered from a fracture in his hand; of course, the UCLA-recruit-laden Pump team, J'mison Morgan, another 6-9 senior post who UCLA could recruit and more...

Renardo Sidney, 6-9 JR C/PF Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia, looks dramatically different today than he did at the Rumble in the Bay tournament over Memorial Day. Sidney's body was in very good shape roughly seven weeks ago, but that's not the case now. He's added bad weight and he appears somewhat doughy. He was out of breath very early in his game playing for the L.A. Dream Team and he struggled to get up and down the court. Sidney has very good skills for a young post player and he's an excellent athlete when he's in shape. But right now, he looks nothing like the #1 prospect in the country for 2009. He faded away on post-up opportunities and spent most of the game on the perimeter taking jumpshots. Sidney's talent is obvious and he's clearly an elite prospect when he's in shape and playing with energy and focus. But right now, he's none of those things and he's a long way from being the best player in the country for 2009. UCLA's Ben Howland was in attendance.

Colton Iverson, 6-9 SR C, Yankton (South Dakota) High. The team his South Dakota Heat squad as supposed to play apparently didn't show so they played against El Modena High from Orange, Calif., who had one player 6-2. So, in other words, you couldn't get a really accurate evaluation of Iverson on the first day here. But you can see he has a high major body, with wide shoulders, and probably already weighing 225. He also knows he's a 5, which is refreshing in this era. Even though he was supposed to be nursing a sore ankle, he looked pretty athletic, with decent lateral quickness and the ability to get off the floor fairly well. He also showed some nice skills, and particularly had a good feel for the game. It was interesting to see, in a remote Vegas gym where the smaller teams play, Florida's Billy Donovan and one of his assistants, Minnesota's Tubby Smith, and UCLA's Donnie Daniels, all there to see Iverson. Today we'll check him out again and hopefully see him against more formidable competition. Just from looking at him in this game, however, he's a Pac-10 prospect, at least.

J'mison Morgan, 6-10 SR C, Dallas (Calif.) South Oak Cliff. A very big body, with skills, it's easy to see why so many elite high majors are on him. He reminds a bit of Deon Thompson – bigger and maybe not quite as skilled – but similar. He didn't play hard at all in his first game Sunday, even though coaches from Kansas, Alabama, Baylor (the entire staff), UCLA (Scott Duncan) and more were there to watch him.

Drew Gordon, 6-8.5 SR C, San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty. The UCLA-committed player sat out the first half of the July evaluation period because of a fractured hand and was eager to get back to it. It was uncertain if he'd play in Vegas, but there he was, with the Oakland Soldiers. And he came out in his first game of July and looked very good. He played hard, was very active, blocked many shots, got many rebounds, and showed some good moves in the post. Even though we've seen him many, many times, it was good to be reminded how athletic he is for his size. He doesn't have a great natural feel for the game – for instance, not recognizing when to leave the floor, provide help defense, etc. – and it's encouraging that he can be this good and have so much more to learn. Today is going to be very interesting when he goes against J'mison Morgan.

With UCLA head coach Ben Howland looking on, the Pump N Run Elite team lost one game and won another, and generally didn't play particularly well. It could be that we're just very used to them also. Jerime Anderson, the UCLA committed point guard from Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon, made more mistakes than usual; UCLA-committed Jrue Holiday, the 6-3 guard from North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, played fairly well, still in a bit of a shooting slump.

Travis Wear and David Wear, 6-9 junior post from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, played more aggressively, at least in their second game of the day. In the earlier loss, which we didn't see, we heard that they were out-rebounded pretty clearly, but shot the ball very well. In the Pump's second game, the Wears were more physical, and definitely posted up more offensively. David showed a number of post moves, including a very fluid, natural left-handed jump hook.

Reeves Nelson, the 6-7 junior forward from Modesto (Calif.) Christian, was on the bench but didn't play due to an ankle injury.

Greg Smith, the 6-8 junior center from Fresno (Calif.) Edison, is getting better and better. With that great body and good athleticism, he's getting more comfortable playing at the elite travel team level and impacting the game more. This kid looks like a baby and he has a chance to be a monster if he keeps developing.

Monday, we're hoping to have a very busy day and take in a number of UCLA prospects, including: UCLA-committed Malcolm Lee, Mike Snaer, Hollis Thompson, Kendall Williams, Colton Iverson, Drew Gordon v. J'mison Morgan, Elijah Johnson, Jeremy Tyler and Kenneth Hall.

Also, we're hearing that UCLA is starting to recruit 6-9 junior post Stephan Van Treese, from Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North. Van Treese is supposed to be in Southern California for a tournament at the end of July and is supposed to visit UCLA's campus unofficially. Van Treese, reportedly, has been offered by Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio State and Purdue, and is a top 50 national-caliber national prospect. We'll also hopefully see him Monday.

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