Aaron Gordon - It's no secret that the Huskies have made San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty phenom Aaron Gordon their top 2013 recruiting target in what could potentially be the most heralded recruiting class in the programs history.
It's been nearly a year since I last watched Gordon in person at the Nike Global Challenge in Portland. I was skeptical when he revealed to me his desire to be recruited as a small forward in college, but after watching him this weekend a transition to the wing suddenly seems much more realistic.
Athletically speaking, Gordon is peerless in his class. His incredible leaping ability is truly unique. He threw down a 360-degree dunk in transition Saturday night that looked like it belonged in the NBA Slam Dunk competition.
Though his flashy leaping skills are responsible for his growing cult following, his game is much more versatile than that. Gordon's agility is breathtaking for a player that checks in at nearly 6-foot-9. Setting up on the perimeter his explosive first step allows him to blow past defenders with ease and he weaves through the paint with an unpredictable grace. Gordon is a brilliant finisher at the cup but he has more weapons in is arsenal than merely dunking. With a soft touch he's able to finish with either hand when he's near the cup.
Gordon's biggest improvement is with his handle which has really opened up the rest of his game. He didn't shoot it very well from outside, missing all three three-point attempts Saturday night, but he's reportedly improved significantly in that department.
As Gordon matures he's becoming more of a leader as well. When a minor fracas broke out between the Soldiers and Seattle Rotary, Gordon, who wasn't suited up nursing a minor ankle injury, calmly intervened. On the floor he takes charge, directing perimeter defenders to their position from the paint. He's still got a long ways to go defensively, but his quickness and long reach allow him to defend much smaller players
From a recruiting perspective, Washington still leads for Gordon as it has pretty much from Day One. His relationship with UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar spans nearly a decade and they continue to maintain a close bond. While Gordon is coveted by every major program in the country, his recruitment will likely come down to UW, Arizona and Kentucky. The Huskies remain in pole position to land arguably the top recruit in the country.
Jabari Bird - The wiry 6-foot-7 Oakland Soldier guard is a truly special prospect. With teammate and close friend Aaron Gordon sidelined for most of the tournament, the powerhouse Soldier squad turned to the talented guard from Salesian High to power their way to the championship game versus another powerhouse AAU program, Chicago's Mac Irving.
Bird is cut from the same cloth as former Husky guards Terrence Ross, Quincy Pondexter and Bobby Jones. He's explosive, especially in transition, and possesses deadly three-point range that extends to 25 feet. He's also highly effective around the basket and an instinctive rebounder, though he's got some work to do in the weight room. He can score in a multitude of ways and is quick enough in isolation to consistently get off his own shot.
On the recruiting front for Bird, its down to Washington and Cal. While Cal has been the presumptive leader all along, the Huskies are closing fast. Part of that has to do with Gordon which has helped pave the way for Romar to connect with Bird, who has been unabashed in his affection for the Huskies' affable coach. Bird has indicated he will wait until spring to decide.
Marcus Lee - One of the fastest rising post prospects in the country is rising 6-foot-9 forward Marcus Lee. Lee hit Husky fans' radar after AAU teammate Nigel Williams-Goss committed to Washington in late Spring. The narrow-framed forward is being pursued by the biggest programs in the country and it isn't hard to see why. Lee is an exceptional athlete with fabulous body control and loves to blaze up and down the court. He's an exceptional finisher in transition and surprisingly nimble for a post player. He showed off an impressive drop step one hander and uses his long reach to rebound and block shots.
Recruiting-wise, the Huskies have a lot of ground to make up on Lee after coming late to the party. His close relationship with Washington's new point guard ensures that they have a shot at him, though.
Daeshon Hall - While UW football fans are still celebrating the recent commitment of the former Garfield athlete, Husky basketball fans may get the last laugh should he decide to suit up on the hardwood. while Daeshon (or Dede for short) may be undersized for a typical Pac-12 post player checking in at 6-foot-6, he plays much bigger. He can be an absolute brute in the paint, and I couldn't help but think of Husky Legend Jon Brockman as Hall tossed around larger post players. Not only did Hall hold his ground defensively in Rotary's upset win against California Supremes and their big men Marcus Lee and Torren Jones, but he often got the better of them on the offensive end as well.
Hall is surprisingly skilled, and unlike another UW two-sport star Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, plays above the rim. He's an excellent standing leaper and consistently elevates over taller defenders to drop in shots close to the bucket. And unlike most players his size in the modern era, Hall knows his place is under the basket. He's an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker - he swatted the 6-foot-10 Jones - and he plays with a mean streak. He's even an above-average ball handler.
If Hall decides to play basketball for Washington, he'll add a rugged, athletic element to the Huskies front court.
Isaac Hamilton - One of the challenges with bringing 1200 AAU teams to one city means that there's never enough time to see everyone. That was the case with Hamilton, whose team was eliminated early in the tournament. Renowned for his scoring ability, Hamilton stunk it up Thursday before recovering Friday and dropping 51 points with the Husky coaching staff in attendance.
Hamilton is being recruited by elite programs across the country but the Huskies are reportedly at the top of his list of suitors, especially with teammate Williams-Goss already committed.
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