While there were some very interesting prospects, particularly among the younger players, there were some notable players that didn't make it to camp. Anthony Stover, Anthony Marshall, Michael Snaer and Norvel Pelle were all not in attendance. Stover was in Paris with a club team and Marshall was out with an injury. Snaer was tentatively scheduled to play on Saturday, but didn't make it. I wouldn't take his absence to mean anything in terms of his recruitment. He's been on campus a couple times recently for unofficial visits. I'm not sure why Pelle didn't make it.
In addition to the high schools kids that didn't make it, J'Mison Morgan and Jerime Anderson didn't play due to injuries (nothing serious). Drew Gordon played part of the first day, then sat out with a minor injury. Jrue Holiday played a good portion of the first day, but not on Saturday. Malcolm Lee was away on a family vacation. Not having the incoming players participating in the camp hurt the level of competition, as well as the overall intensity level of the camp. When Holiday did play, he was dominating. Not only was he the most talented and athletic player there (obviously), but he also played the hardest. That's a point that Coach Garson made to the campers. If Holiday, who already has his scholarship to UCLA, is more talented and more athletic than you, and he's going to outwork you, what chance to do you have? In other words, you guys better pick it up if you want to play at a high level.
That point was made Friday night after a very lackluster day of drills and some five-on-five. I've been to every day of the camps since Coach Howland arrived at UCLA and Friday was by far the worst in terms of intensity, focus, toughness and just overall competitiveness. It's very interesting to watch the reaction of high school players when they're put in an environment that approximates (very roughly) what goes on in a UCLA practice. The vast majority of the kids are just not used to the level of intensity demanded and the attention to detail. They've all been to many camps and workouts before, where coaches put them through some drills. And usually they go through those drills somewhat half-assed and it's just something to do until they get to play games. But it's a little different at this camp and most of the players weren't ready to perform at the level the UCLA staff demands.
Fortunately, Saturday was a much better day as the players seemed to get acclimated to what was being demanded of them. Guys competed much better, there was much better energy and the prospects seemed to get the point that this was serious business and there were potential scholarships on the line. Here are my thoughts on the top prospects in attendance, in order by class.
Tyler Honeycutt, 6-7 SF Sylmar (Calif.) High. Like most of the players, Honeycutt wasn't ready the first day. Part of that I attribute to not understanding what was going to be demanded of him and part of it was due to his very hectic schedule and a lack of rest. He'd spent a day at the ASU camp and had very little sleep the previous couple days. So he didn't show well the first day. His play was somewhat lethargic and he spent too much time drifting to the perimeter. On Saturday, however, the UCLA staff had a chance to see why I've been so high on Honeycutt since the spring. He was much more active, battled inside for rebounds and showed off his superior skill level in the four-on-four and five-on-five stuff. Honeycutt is never going to be a really physical player or tough guy. However, he's long and skilled, with range beyond the arc, and he's not close to physically mature. I don't like to project height, but he could easily grow some more. Even if he doesn't, he's got great size for the small forward spot and the shooting touch that UCLA has been looking for in a three man.
Reeves Nelson, 6-6 PF Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian. There was some question as to whether Nelson was going to make it, but he showed up and played after lunch on Saturday. He went through some drills with the guards and wings, but probably would've been better served working with the post players. He's a big, strong kid and there's no way his body will allow him to play on the perimeter at the next level. In the drills with the guards, he just physically overpowered smaller kids and bulldozed his way to the basket – but that won't play in college. He needs to work on learning to score over (or around) the kind of size he'll face in college. Also, Coach Howland likes his fours to be able to face-up and shoot from the perimeter. That's an area Reeves needs to really focus on – developing a reliable jumper from 17-19 feet.
Stephan Van Treese, 6-8 PF Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North. Van Treese had a fair showing at the camp, but I don't see him as a UCLA-level prospect. He's got a decent body, with pretty good shoulders, but lacks lift and quickness. His overall skill level is just average. He can face and shoot it a bit to 16-18 feet, but doesn't have much of a low-post game. Just off these two days, I'd project him at the upper mid major to lower end of the high major spectrum.
Tyler Lamb, 6-3 SG Ontario (Calif.) Colony. Lamb and Honeycutt were easily the two most skilled players in the camp. Lamb projects very well due to his frame, length, athleticism and skill level. He's got the ball skills to possibly play some back-up point guard, as well as the feel for the game. Like everyone else, he needed to turn it up a notch after the first couple sessions on Friday. But during the evening, and especially on Saturday, Lamb showed why he's such an elite prospect. He can get his own shot whenever he wants and he's a very versatile prospect. He rebounds well for a guard and he can really slide his feet and defend when he puts his mind to it. The Bruin staff will no doubt be closely monitoring Lamb this summer as he plays for the Pump N Run top team.
Allen Crabbe, 6-3 SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Price. Crabbe didn't play on Friday, but he showed up Saturday and performed extremely well. Crabbe has been an interesting prospect for the last couple years, but he's really starting to come into his own as he gains weight and strength. He's also been a very good shooter, but now he has the size to do something other than stroke threes from the arc (which he does very well). He played several plays off the bounce and knocked down a couple of very impressive little runners in the lane where he showed great touch. He definitely got the attention of the coaching staff on Saturday and he'll get plenty of looks as he plays on the Pump N Run young team.
Atanga Yannick, 6-6 C/PF Ojai (Calif.) Besant Hill. Originally from Cameroon, Yannick is an undersized post in the mode of an Alfred Aboya type. He's not nearly as good as Aboya, and may never get to that level, but he is kind of interesting. He's a good athlete and plays with a lot of energy. He doesn't have much skill and isn't really a scorer at this time. But if he grows a bit more, he might be intriguing.
Kendall Williams, 6-2 SG/PG Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos. Williams had an up-and-down camp. He did a good job of competing and seemed to have a better understanding of the energy level/intensity the coaches were demanding. He was focused in the drills and you could see him really making an attempt to apply the specifics of each coaching point. His overall skill level still needs to get better, as his shot was inconsistent and his ball-handling just fair. He has a tendency to try to play too fast, which sometimes leads to him getting out of control. At that point, he'll jump in the air to try to make a play – a bad habit that Coach Howland pointed out several times. Williams has just fair quickness, which is one reason why he really needs to get stronger. If you're not going to beat people with quickness as a guard, then you better be strong. And, right now, Williams is not yet physically strong enough to make up for just average quickness.
Steven Adams, 6-7 PF/C Pasadena (Calif.) High. Adams is a big boy who could stand to lose a few pounds and that extra weight was wearing on him over the two days. The big man was huffing and puffing through some drills and it was apparent that he needs to improve his conditioning. However, it was also apparent as the camp went on that Adams has upside. As a point of comparison, he's better than Deon Thompson at the same stage. Of course, Thompson made a radical transformation to his body and game over the last 18 months of his high school career. There's no guarantee that Adams will make that type of commitment to the game. But if he does, he's got a chance to be a player. He's got very nice hands, good feet for a big kid (a dancing hippo type, as we say) and above average skills. He can score around the basket, but also pop out and knocked down jumpers to 16-18 feet. He may never get to be a top prospect, but he's a got a chance if he figures it out and really commits to the game.
Kevin Panzer, 6-7 PF Mission Viejo (Calif.) Capistrano Valley. Panzer was one of the best shooters in the camp – really nice stroke – and he's also got some life to his body. He's not a great athlete, but he's got some bounce and he looks like he's still maturing physically. He needs to develop a more well-rounded game – especially needs to learn to play in the post and play a more physical game. But he's got some length, bounce and a very nice stroke. That's enough right there to make him interesting if the other stuff comes together.
Jordin Mayes, 6-2 PG Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Mayes has a an old-school game and a terrific feel. He rarely makes mistakes, he's got good skills and he plays unselfishly. He's not a real explosive athlete, but he'll surprise you with his ability to change speeds. I like his frame and length – think there's some upside there. He's an accurate shooter to the arc and a very good decision-maker. He's potentially one to watch in the next couple years.
I'll have more on the 2011 and 2012 players in part two of my report tomorrow.