Big Time: West Coast Perspective

Here's a roundup of the Las Vegas Big Time looking at it from the west coast, with the latest, hottest recruiting news (including a Pac-10 commitment), and a rundown on the best west coast senior prospects and the best underclassmen, including a very impressive freshman-to-be center...

The Las Vegas Big Time has been -- and was this year -- the best opportunity to see the best prospects in the nation and the west coast.

And it was also the best place to get all of the breaking news on west coast players.

The latest is the commitment of Nick Young, 6-5 SG/SF, Reseda (Calif.) High, to USC.

Young, who was a senior last year at Cleveland, intends to go to prep school for a year and then enroll at USC in the fall of 2004.

He is a superior athlete whose basketball skills continue to improve. He had a very good senior year, and has continued to improve his stock while playing for the Pump N Run All-Stars during this evaluation period. Young scored 36 points in one game at the Las Vegas Big Time this week.

Young chose USC over Pepperdine and DePaul.

The hottest recruiting stock coming out of the Big Time of any west coast player is probably that of C.J. Giles, 6-10 SR C, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach.

Giles showed this week at the Big Time that he has some of the biggest upside of any center in his class in the nation. He's grown from 6-8ish to 6-10 in the last year and looks like he could continue to grow. He has big shoulders, and a good frame that could hold quite a bit more weight (already weighing 220ish). For his size, he has great quickness, mobility and feet -- already a very good shot blocker and rebounder. He was one of the best defensive centers at the Big Time, with a great natural ability to defend the post and alter shots. He even showed flashes of some nice offense, with a pretty face-up jumper and turn-around.

When asked at the Big Time about his favorite schools, he said that UCLA since he had heard UCLA was now interested in him.

A big man who didn't play particularly well, but is still sitting well in the eyes of most college coaches is David Burgess, 6-10 SR C, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge. He admitted that wasn't playing well at the Big Time, but has a pretty good excuse, having played for the last two weeks in Greece with the USA Basketball Junior Team and being pretty tired.

"I am pretty tired," Burgess said. "But I'll get some energy back."

Burgess missed the first couple of days at the Big Time, and with his flight delayed from Greece, he had to fly directly to Las Vegas. "It took me a total of about 18 hours," Burgess said. I went from Greece, to Franfort, to Washington D.C. and then to Denver. My flight was delayed in Denver, and I was going to go home for a while before coming to Las Vegas. But because of the delay, I flew directly here. I didn't get much sleep in those 18 hours."

As for recruiting, Burgess said he's had the same top five for a while – Indiana just offered me," he said. "That puts those schools on my list, but probably not with those top five. Those top five probably stay the same."

When asked if he had a leader, Burgess said, "Probably UCLA. I know UCLA pretty well. It's the only school I've seen. But I have a top three of UCLA, Louisville and Gonzaga."

In August, when Burgess finally settles back in to home in Southern California, he said he'll try to start planning his official and unofficial visits. "I want to take official visits to those top five. We'll see if I can do it."

Burgess said he worked hard last school year and raised his GPA to a 3.0. He said he also took the SAT and scored "around a 900," but he intends to take it again to improve that score.

West Coast Seniors:

With over 400 teams at the Big Time, it's impossible to really cover the whole thing. We saw probably 100 teams play during the week but we still didn't get to see all of the west coast teams compete. Here's a quick look at some of the west coast players we saw who stood out to us. This, again, isn't saying others didn't play well, but these were the guys who stood out to us among those we watched.

Marvin Williams, 6-8 SR SF Bremerton (Wash.) High. Williams has been the best West Coast prospect at this event, getting it done inside and from the perimeter. He is the prototypical NBA three man – explosive athlete, great body and very skilled. He's played with terrific intensity in each of the games we've seen him in this week. He scored 34 points against the loaded Atlanta Celtics in the semi-final game Saturday, and looked like he very well would have a good chance in the NBA draft.

Jordan Farmar, 6-2 SR PG Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. If Williams has been the best West Coast player in Vegas, Farmar is right there with him. He did a terrific job of getting everyone on his team involved in the offense and he's been raining threes all week.

Josh Heytvelt, 6-10 SR PF, Clarkston (Wash.) High. The question on Gonzaga-committed Heytvelt was whether he can sustain intensity and bring it in every game. In the national spotlight at the Big Time, he did more often than not and proved that he's a top 40 national player and a potential pro. He is very long and athletic, and very effective around the basket, but nimble enough to create a shot for himself, and possessing a good outside stroke. He's one of the most talented power forwards to come out of the west in a while, and his success is only a matter of how hard he's going to want it.

Rodney Stuckey, 6-4 SR SG Kent (Wash.) Kentwood. Stuckey has been a very pleasant surprise. We had not seen him play since last summer and he made an impression with his play this week. A great defender who gets after it every minute he's on the court, he also showed an improved outside stroke. He should be able to defend either wing spot in college.

C.J. Giles, 6-10 SR C Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. Giles has filled out some since we last saw him and he has a huge upside. Great length and feet. He's been blocking shots in every game we've seen and his inside post moves have improved considerably. One of the elite big men in the west.

Bryce Taylor, 6-3 SR SG North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. Taylor was on fire all week from the perimeter. He is the best catch-and-shooter on the west coast and probably the country. His size and stroke should fit in very nicely with Ernie Kent's system in Oregon.

North Carolina and Kansas have been at each of his games.

Lee Cummard, 6-5 SR SG, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mesa. Cummard is making a run at the #1 shooting guard spot in the west. He is explosively athletic, can knock down shots all over the floor, can handle the ball exceptionally well, is one of the best passers in the west and is a warrior physically and mentally. He's skinny, probably a buck-50, but with how good he is being this skinny and the possibility of adding more muscle to wield it makes him have possibly the most potential of any wing in the west.

Underclassmen Who Definitely Need Watching:

Martell Webster, 6-6 JR SF, Seattle (Wash.) Prep. Webster now has elite high major college coaches following him around like puppy dogs, and he continued to play hard and well.

Jon Brockman, 6-6 JR PF, Snohomish (Wash.) High. He also continued to impress, and continued to show that, despite being undersized, he's a warrior that beats up and dominates players bigger or more athletic. He's a high major.

Micah Downs, 6-6 JR SF, Bothell (Wash.) High. A Mike Dunleavy type, who can handle the ball like a point guard and actually play the point, while he is most damaging from the wing, being able to shoot, put the ball on the floor or find open teammates. He has explosion, too, making some of the most impressive blocks this week among west coasters. If he continues to gain weight, he's big time.

Terrence Williams, 6-5 JR SG Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. Great body, very athletic and a very nice upside. Gets a little out of control at times, and his skills still need polishing, but a high major upside.

Marcus Williams, 6-5 JR SG, Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt. He's got a great body, at a legit 6-5 and maybe taller, but looking like he's still just a baby and could continue to grow. He has a great feel for the game, enough so he could give you back-up minutes at the point, combined with good skills, particularly a pretty outside stroke. He's among the best guards in the west in the 2005 class.

Ray Hall, 6-10 SO C Denver (Col.) Mullen. A big-bodied young post, Hall is thick all over, but surprisingly nimble and agile for his size. It's clear he's been coached – very good feel for the game. Posts up strong, holds position well and can find people out of the low post. Excellent hands and very skilled – he'll likely be among the top centers in his class.

Taylor King, 6-6 FR PF/SF Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The precocious lefty had coaches and fans shaking their heads Thursday night as he drained deep threes for the Southern California All-Stars in their win over the Juice All Stars from New York. But King isn't just a shooter. He's a terrific all-around player who plays with amazing poise for someone so young. And again, he's only going to be a freshman at Mater Dei next year.

Kevin Love, 6-7 FR C Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. The 2007 class on the West Coast is already shaping up to be exceptional. Love is the son of former NBA player Stan Love and it's clear Kevin has spent some time learning the game from his dad. A wide body with great hands, footwork and skills, Love is extremely precocious. Love is the most skilled freshman-to-be post that we've ever seen, having better post skills right now than any west coast post player in any class.


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