The December holiday tournament season is one of my favorite times of the year, as it gives me the opportunity to see multiple games each day with quality competition. This year I spent time at the Bishop Gorman Holiday Classic and the Torrey Pines Holiday Prep Classic. This was the first year of the Bishop Gorman tournament and it had a smaller field, with twelve teams participating. But the new gym at Bishop Gorman has three courts and I expect this tournament will become one of the better holiday events in the west in the coming years. The Torrey Pines tournament has long been one of the best events in the west and this year's field was as strong as any in recent memory. Thanks to the organizers of both tournaments for putting together such quality events.
Here are my most recent thoughts on the players I've seen in the past couple weeks.
Krys Faber, 6-9 SR C Los Angeles (Calif.) Ribet. Faber has made huge strides since the summer and he's developed into one of the best post prospects in the west for 2008. He's got a good frame and he's probably in the range of 230 pounds. A lefty, he has a nice little jump hook that should develop into a go-to move and he's got good instincts around the basket. He's got good hands and feet, with a solid feel for the game. He passed out of the post several times in the games I saw. Overall, his skill level and feel for the game are good. He can face-up to about 15 feet, although he's better in the low post. He's a good, not exceptional, athlete and he moves well for his size. He's naturally big and doesn't look like he's done any serious weight-training. His progress since the summer is truly surprising and there's no question he's a high major prospect. UCLA has already begun to scout him, with UCLA assistant Scott Duncan attending a recent Ribet practice.
Jerime Anderson, 6-2 SR PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon. Anderson's game has improved seemingly every couple months over the last year and he was terrific in the game I saw last week. The UCLA commit is bigger and longer, with a little more explosiveness, and a better handle. He has no help on his team, but he almost single-handedly led Canyon to a near upset win over J Serra. Anderson is a true point guard and he showed outstanding vision and passing ability, as he consistently found open teammates for lay-ups. With his added size and strength, he's a better defender than he was a year ago. He's got quick hands on defense and excellent anticipation in jumping the passing lanes. While Jrue Holiday is my top-ranked PG in the west for 2008, there's a chance that he plays some shooting guard. If you think Holiday plays the two, then Anderson is the best PG in the 2009 West Coast class.
Lorne Jackson, 6-1 SR PG/SG Simi Valley (Calif.) High. Jackson is another prospect that has made significant improvement to his game since the summer. He had an outstanding tournament at Torrey Pines, as he nearly led his team to an upset win over Dominguez. Jackson made good decisions in the game I saw and he showed an ability to score and run his team. He's a fairly good athlete, but his skill level and feel are what makes him stand out as a prospect. A very good student, Jackson figures to hear from plenty of mid to high majors in the next couple months.
James Rahon, 6-3 SR SG Encinitas (Calif.) Torrey Pines. Rahon convinced me that he's the best shooter in the West Coast class of 2008. Not only does he have a great stroke from the stripe, he also possesses an outstanding touch at the mid-range level. And he's not just a shooter – he can score in a variety of ways. He's working on becoming a better defender, although he'll probably never be great in that area as a collegian. But he's certainly going to make his mark as a scorer at the next level and he should have a terrific career at Santa Clara playing for ex-UCLA assistant Kerry Keating.
Olek Czyz, 6-7 SR PF Reno (Nev.) High. Czyz is very bouncy, he plays with excellent energy and he's a good competitor. However, he has a long way to go before he's ready to play at Duke. His shot is just fair and he's an undersized four man. He might eventually develop into a role player at Duke, but his ball skills are going to need to get much better for him to see significant time.
Peyton Siva, 5-11 JR PG Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Siva has improved his decision-making in the last year and he played much more like a point guard at the Torrey Pines tournament. In the past, Siva has had a tendency to force shots, but he made good decisions in the games I saw. He's got the quickness, and skill level, to create a shot for himself most of the time. But at the next level, he'll find that getting his own shot will be much more difficult (especially at his size). Which is why it was encouraging to see him playing more like a point guard. He's still got a ways to go defensively – gambles too much at times – but he competes well and he should eventually be a pretty good defender. He's a definite high major prospect. Washington would seem to have the inside track for him, while Arizona is also heavily involved.
Jerry Evans, 6-6 JR SF Lawndale (Ariz.) Leuzinger. A long and skinny young wing, Evans has some attributes of Stacy Augmon. He covers a lot of ground – seemingly all over the court – and his skill level is getting better by the day. He's extremely skinny, and that may scare off some coaches, but he's got a very high upside. One of the elite small forwards in the west for 2009.
Derrick Williams, 6-6 JR PF La Mirada (Calif.) High. Williams has a very good frame and he's a good athlete, with good feet and some explosiveness. His skills are coming along nicely and he's starting to show some ability with the ball on the perimeter. He's a very good rebounder and he's most effective when he's around the basket. He's getting better by the day and might end up one of the top four men in the class of 2009.
Donte Medder, 6-1 JR PG Mesa (Ariz.) High. Medder is a great-looking young prospect. His skills are still developing, but he's got the body type and athleticism to be a very good player someday. Good feel for the game, pretty good shot and a lot of upside. One to watch in 2009.
George Matthews, 6-6 SO SF Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's. Matthews has improved quite a bit since I last saw him. His body looks leaner, he's longer and he moves better. His stroke is a bit funky, but he's pretty accurate. Overall his ball skills are solid and he appears to have quite a bit of upside. He's got a chance to be one of the top wings in the 2010 West Coast class.
Terrell Stoglin, 5-11 SO PG Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita. A lefty with a high skill level, Stoglin was impressive at the Torrey Pines tournament. While he has the ability to score, Stoglin showed good vision and instincts for a young point. He's got a solid stroke to the stripe, but also the ability to create his own shot off the bounce. He's very talented for a young guard. The only question I have on him is his body. He's somewhat squat, with short arms, and his quickness is good, not great. So there's a question as to just how much physical upside he has as a prospect. There's no question he'll be a D1 prospect – probably at least a mid major – but whether he reaches an elite level will depend on how his body goes in the next couple years. In any event, he's certainly one to watch in 2010.
Ramon Eaton, 6-7 FR SF Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. Eaton is one of the better West Coast 2011 prospects. He's long and wiry, with above average ball skills for a young small forward. He's effective when slashing to the basket, but his jumpshot is just fair at this time. He's an above average athlete and he should eventually be a good defender. His frame is a bit narrow and it'll be interesting to see just how much weight/strength he adds. Assuming his body turns out good, he should be an elite prospect in the 2011 class.
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