Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 JR PG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. Gaddy has just about everything you look for in a point guard, with the possible exception of great quickness. However, the quickness issue is offset by his size. Gaddy has the ball skills, shooting ability, feel for the game, vision, decision-making and overall presence that indicate a top-flight point guard. His shot, in particular, is noticeably better than it was last year. He knocked down threes – off the dribble or the catch – all weekend. He also got in the lane several times and pulled up for a nice mid-range shot. Gaddy is one of those guards who can grab a rebound, take it the length of the court, and then finish himself or find a teammate. As of now, he's clearly the top point guard in the west for 2009.
Greg Smith, 6-8 JR C Fresno (Calif.) High. Smith has a great body for a young post – long arms, big hands and feet, great shoulders and very well put together. He also has above-average quickness, coordination and agility for a young post. Smith has shown progress in the last year with his offensive game. He's still not polished in the low-post, but he's starting to show a nice jump hook with either hand and he's finishing on a higher percentage of shots from close range. He's got the strength to go right through defenders and get to the rim. Smith should be a more than adequate defender/rebounder at the next level. He's got a chance to be among the top post players in the country for 2009.
Elijah Johnson, 6-1 JR PG/SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. Johnson will make two or three plays a game that will make you say, "wow." Then he'll take some plays off on defense, or make a questionable decision, and you'll see that he still has a ways to go. But with Johnson, it's all about coaching. He needs to get some coaching, and apply it to his game, in order to fulfill his considerable promise. He's got all the tools, both in terms of physical attributes and skills, to be an elite player. You won't find many guards with his athleticism and he's got great balance. He's got a solid handle, and he's a good passer, when he's not making careless turnovers. He's not a pure point guard, but he figures to play that position when his game gets cleaned up with coaching. He's not nearly the polished player that Gaddy is, but his upside is every bit as high as Gaddy's.
Vander Joaquim, 6-10 JR PF/C El Cajon (Calif.) High. Originally from Angola, Joaquim is new to the U.S. game and he's still learning how to play. However, he's got the body, skill level, quickness, agility and other attributes to be a high-level player at the next level. As a prospect, he probably trails only Renardo Sidney among West Coast 2009 post prospects. Joaquim is used to playing with the ball in his hands about 80% of the time on his high school team and it was obvious that he wasn't as comfortable playing without the ball on a talented Pump N Run team. He was out of position at times on both ends of the court and ended up not being as "productive" as you might imagine an elite prospect would be. However, his size, length and skill level is likely going to win out in the end. Assuming he has any kind of heart, or desire to be a player, Joaquim figures to be much better than some of his more highly hyped contemporaries on the West Coast.
|UCLA-committed Reeves Nelson.|
Reeves Nelson, 6-6 JR PF Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian. Nelson had a rough weekend in Denver, for a few reasons. For one thing, he was playing with his back to the basket for Pump N Run and that's really not his game. He ended up taking a lot of contested, difficult shots inside when he would've been better off finding a teammate. At the next level, he'll be spending most of his time facing the basket, not posting up in the paint. Also, his body is a bit thicker and stiffer than it was last summer, which makes it difficult for him to be the whirling dervish of activity that he was in July. And it's not that Nelson has gained any bad weight – it's just a product of natural maturation. He's a big boy and what nimbleness/quickness he did possess last July is no longer there. He has trouble scoring inside against size and he'll need to make an adjustment to his game as he goes against high level athletes. Where Nelson figures to have an advantage over some other power forwards is on the perimeter. He's a good passer/handler/shooter for a four man and he'll need to continue to develop those skills. He might not be a monster rebounder/inside scorer in the Pac-10, but he can be an effective player by being able to do a lot of things well.
Anthony Stover, 6-9 JR C La Canada (Calif.) Renaissance Academy. Stover is the kind of young post prospect that isn't going to show great in an AAU environment. He's still growing into his body and he doesn't have an advanced offensive game, so his teammates don't get him a lot of touches in the paint. However, Stover has great physical attributes. He's extremely long – wingspan has to be over seven feet – with huge feet and big hands. I don't like to project height, but it's difficult to imagine Stover staying at 6-9. One thing Stover can do very well already is block shots. He's developed excellent timing and he consistently surprised opponents by getting to their shots. A big issue for Stover right now is lack of physical strength. His frame is good, and he will get much stronger in the future, but right now he's lacking in lower body strength. Once he does add weight and strength, I expect Stover's game to go to a whole different level. He's a hard worker, with an excellent feel for the game (great passer) and his upside is significant. He's among the top few post prospects in the west for 2009.
Avery Bradley, 6-2 JR SG Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. Bradley is an active "energy guy" who loves to attack the rim. And while he's not a shooter, he has developed his shot to the point where he's a threat in the 15-17 foot range. I was impressed with how hard he played all weekend, as well as his willingness to defend. His overall ball skills are solid, but not great. I'm not sure he has the ability to create off the bounce against high level athletes. It's difficult to judge him in an AAU environment, as he gets a ton of open court/slashing buckets that just aren't available in real basketball games. However, he's an excellent competitor with a great motor and he will play at the high major level.
Tyler Honneycutt, 6-7 JR SF/PF Sylmar (Calif.) High. Honneycutt had a terrific showing at this event as he displayed a solid all-around game. He's nowhere close to maturity yet and he's grown several inches in the last couple years. He's long and slender, though, and there is some question about what position he defends at the next level. It's debatable whether he'll get strong enough to defend power forwards at a high level or quick enough to guard threes on the perimeter. However, he's very skilled and he has a soft touch with deep range. He showed a very high basketball IQ and an ability to create for his teammates. Despite not being real strong yet, he was a willing rebounder in traffic. He's also a very good shot-blocker, using his length and ability to anticipate the action. Projecting a level for him at this time is really difficult, as he's clearly not done yet physically.
Andrew Bock, 6-0 JR PG Rialto (Calif.) Carter. Bock was one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament. While he's always had a good feel for the game, and a pretty high skill level, there was a concern about his size and strength. He's grown, though, in the last year and you can see that his frame will eventually fill out nicely. He's not real strong yet, but he's got good shoulders and he'll be fine as he matures. He still looks very young – you wouldn't be surprised if someone told you he was a sophomore or even freshman – and there's definitely some upside with him. He's also gone from a good, to now great, feel for the position of point guard. His decision-making was flawless all weekend – I can't recall a single instance where I said, "bad play." He's not super quick, but he's deceptive and he can change gears to create space for himself. He moves his feel very well on defense and he really works at that end of the court. The other big improvement for him is with his shot. He gets it off quicker and he's a threat to three-point range. Some coaches might be a bit scared off because he still looks a bit frail, but he's going to be very good in a few years. He's a no-brainer at the mid major level and I expect him to get high major looks as well.
Demetrius Walker, 6-3 JR SF San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra. Walker is physically mature and stronger than many of the players he went against in this event. As a result, he does end up overpowering them at times and gets to the line quite a bit. His jump shot has improved in the last year and he can knock down shots if left open. However, there is little to no upside with Walker – he is what he is. His body has been the same for the last three years and he's extremely stiff. He's a straight-line athlete -- struggles to move laterally or change direction (not good qualities in a wing). His ball skills are more small forward than shooting guard and thus he struggles to create off the bounce if anyone with similar strength gets into him. He loves to play a physical game and throw his body into defenders when he goes to the basket. Unfortunately, that tactic won't work when he is scouted and playing against similar sized athletes at the next level.
Tyler Lamb, 6-4 JR SG Ontario (Calif.) Colony. Lamb had an outstanding weekend in Denver, as he almost single-handedly led his Pump N Run back from big deficits a couple times to pull out wins and advance in the tournament. Lamb has a lot of positive attributes as a prospect. He's got good size and athleticism, a high skill level, a willingness to defend and a terrific feel for the game at both ends of the court. He made multiple impressive defensive plays. He's got long arms and he surprised his opponents a coupe times with deflections or steals. Lamb has a nice release on his shot, but does need to speed up his stroke. He's got some wasted motion in his shot, but that should be easily correctable by the time he gets to college. He had a couple very impressive finishes in transition where he seemed to glide to the basket. His versatility is going to allow him to play the two or three in college and he might even be able to play some back-up point guard. He's the best 2010 guard prospect in the west that I've seen to date.
Kendall Williams, 6-2 SO PG/SG Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos. Williams had a mixed weekend. On the one hand, he competed very well, he knocked down a number of shots from three-point range and he had some nice plays where finished inside off drives. However, he also showed that he needs to do a lot of work on his handle and overall ability to play the one. He's not especially quick or explosive and he had trouble going by defenders who got into him. And while he competed pretty well at the defensive end, there were times when he was beaten off the dribble, or to a rebound, by someone with superior quickness/explosiveness. Because he's not an elite level athlete, he'll need to be as good as possible in terms of skill level, decision-making, running a team, etc. Of course, he's only a sophomore and a lot can change in two years. He figures to get much stronger as he matures – there's not much to him right now – and that should help his game in a number of areas.
Jordan Mayes, 6-2 SO PG Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Mayes didn't play a ton of minutes this year with Westchester, as the Comet had a talented, veteran backcourt. But Mayes has the look of a prospect. He's got a very good frame, good shoulders, long arms and he understands the game. I was very impressed with his decision-making and unselfishness. He's got a nice little runner when he gets in the lane – shoots it on the way up – and his jumper is playable. He also has a chance to be a good defensive player. A potential high major prospect down the road.
Jabari Brown, 6-2 FR SG/PG Richmond (Calif.) Salesian. Brown has a high skill level and advanced feel for the game. He's got a very nice stroke to the stripe, but he's not just a shooter – he can score in a variety of ways. He doesn't seem to be especially quick, but then he'll surprise you with a deceptive move to get by his defender. He's also stronger than he looks. He had one big-time play where he attacked the basket, held off a defender with his left arm and finished strong at the rim. Brown's body isn't the prototype for an elite prospect – not especially long -- but he is only a sophomore and may still be growing. In any event, he projects as a likely high major prospect down the road.
Angelo Chol, 6-7 FR PF/C San Diego (Calif.) Hoover. A long lefty with a big upside, Chol has made significant strides in the last year. He's starting to develop a nice touch around the basket and even showed one jumper from 18 feet that looked very nice. He figures to be a good rebounder – gets up pretty easy for a young post – and, if he grows anymore, he should be a solid shot-blocker. Chol has a good approach to the game. He doesn't appear to get rattled on the court and he's a good competitor. Like most young bigs, he's going to get a lot better when he adds weight and strength. He will almost certainly end up a high major prospect.
Kyle Caudill, 6-10 FR C Brea (Calif.) High. Caudill is a huge young post – he looks like a young Aaron Gray. He's got very good hands, he's a surprisingly good passer and he really knows how to play. He's still somewhat earthbound and it'll be interesting to see how his body/athleticism go in the next couple years. In any event, he's going to be a space-eating post player that will play at a high level.
Anthony Marshall, 6-1 JR SG Las Vegas (Nev.) Mojave, says he has offers from Colorado State, UNLV, Gonzaga, Miami, Virginia, Washington and Kentucky. He said he's also hearing from UCLA, USC and Kansas.