Advanced Skills Camp, Part Two

The UCLA Advanced Skills Camp had several very promising young prospects in attendance, including Josiah Turner, Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Johnson, among others...

The UCLA Advanced Skills Camp had a number of very promising young players in attendance. Here's my take on the players who project as possible UCLA targets down the road.

2011

Josiah Turner, 6-0 PG Sacramento (Calif.) High. I first saw Turner a month ago at the Rumble In The Bay. After watching him play one game, it was pretty obvious that he needed to be a priority for the UCLA Camp. A true point guard, Turner is a great passer. He's probably the best passing sophomore to-be point guard that I've seen. In one of the early drills on Friday, Turner put on a show with his passing, just zipping the ball all over the court with pinpoint accuracy. That got the attention of a couple of the coaches in a hurry. Turner snaps the ball when he passes, something you don't see a lot of kids do anymore. His vision is outstanding and he makes great decisions. He also plays under control, something else a lot of young point guards struggle to do. Turner is particularly promising because you don't need him to change physically. He's already got the size, and quickness, to play at a high level. He's got a solid shot to the arc, to go with a pretty nice mid-range game. With continued development, he projects as an elite prospect.

Kevin Johnson, 6-9 C Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Johnson didn't show up until Friday night, but he had a terrific camp once he got there. He's grown in recent months and he's just big all over. Big shoulders, great frame, good legs – he's a great-looking young big man. Johnson's hands are very good and he's really improved his ability to finish around the basket. He made a couple plays where he just bumped guys out of the way with his hips and butt. He didn't need to put his shoulder down – just bumped them with his lower half and gave himself space to score. He's a fairly good, but not exceptional, athlete. It'll be interesting to see how his body goes in the coming years, but he looks great right now. Another potential elite prospect.

Kyle Wiltjer, 6-7 PF/C Portland (Ore.) Jesuit. Wiltjer's dad was a player at Oregon State back in the day and it's easy to see the influence on Kyle. He has a terrific skill set, feel for the game and fundamentals. His stroke to the stripe was as good as anyone's in the camp. Great release and deep range. He looks like a baby and he's nowhere close to mature physically. Still very slender and hasn't filled out at all. It won't be a surprise if he grows some more. I believe someone said his dad is 6-11. Wiltjer was particularly impressive at picking up concepts in the drills. The Bruin coaches would tell him something once and he immediately incorporated it into the drill. At this point, it's really difficult to tell what kind of athlete he'll be, since he's so far from physical maturity. But assuming his body stays good, and he continues to develop, he too has a chance to be one of the top prospects in the country.

Jabari Brown, 6-1 SG Richmond (Calif.) Salesian. Brown is a very talented scorer who can get his own and score from multiple spots on the court. He's got a strong body and he finished well several times inside against size. He's a deceptive athlete as well. You'd hope that, at his size, he might be able to play the one. However, he really projects as a shooting guard at this time. In any event, he's got a chance to be a big-time scorer. His ultimate level will depend on how his body goes, but he projects as a high major guy at this time.

Kyle Caudill, 6-10 C Brea (Calif.) High. Caudill is massive and you hope that he turns into an Arron Gray type. He's not real athletic, and he'll never be bouncy or quick, but he's got a huge body and his skills are coming along nicely. He's really done a good job of developing his left hand and he can now score with either hand in the post. He's got a very good feel for the game and he passes well out of the post. He's definitely still growing into his body, though, and it'll take some time before he's ready to dominate at the high school level. However, he's a very hard worker and I like his chances of ending up a high major player down the road.

Nick Johnson, 6-0 SG Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland. Johnson's father is former player Joey Johnson and his uncle was former Celtic Dennis Johnson. So it's not surprising that Nick has a great understanding for the game. At one point, Coach Howland asked the campers "who is the best player in the NBA at reading screens?" Johnson raised his hand and said, "Rip Hamilton." Howland said, "that's right – who was best before him?" Again, Johnson raised his hand and said "Reggie Miller." That's impressive, folks – not many high school sophomores have that kind of understanding of the game. In addition to his feel, though, Johnson has some considerable skills. He's got a terrific stroke and he gets great elevation on his shot. At his size, I'm hoping that he can convert to the one, as that would give him a chance to play at a very high level. Of course, if he grows, he'll be fine at the two. In any event, he's got a real shot at being a high major player in a few years.

2012

Xavier Johnson, 6-2 SG/SG Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral. Johnson is a scout's dream in terms of his physical attributes. Great-looking body, with long arms, a great frame, young face…he just oozes upside. Add to that a pretty impressive skill package, and advanced feel for the game, and you have a potential elite player down the road. A lefty, Johnson has a nice shot to 17-18 feet and he finishes very well at the basket. His father is a big guy, so I'm guessing Xavier probably grows a few more inches in the coming years. But even if he doesn't, this kid has the look of a big-time player.

Brandon Ashley, 6-5 PF/SF San Francisco (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. Young-looking kid with length and pretty good skill level. He showed surprising poise for an incoming freshman and had some very good moments both days. Definitely one to watch in the future.

Zach Peters, 6-7 PF Plano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christianwood Academy. Originally in the class of 2011, Peters is apparently being "reclassified" into the 2012 class. He's got a solid frame and above average skill level. He left early and I didn't get to see him much on the second day. He's definitely very intriguing, but reclassifications always make me a little leery and there is a question as to how his body goes (already pretty mature).


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