Day 2 Cream of the Crop
Khy Kabellis - 6-2 165 PG, Escondido/ Gamepoint 17u White - Kabellis, a long lefty lead guard with high-level vision and feel, kept his team in the game versus BBC Elite with his play. Kabellis does an excellent job keeping his dribble alive as he probes the defense, and then delivering quick, on-point passes to open teammates. His change of speed keeps defenses off balance, and his understanding of how to exploit defenses on pick-and-role and ball-screen sets is at a very high level. While his shot was not falling consistently through this game, he, like the rest of his teammates, would find his stroke later the rest of the weekend, allowing him to score from all-three levels. Adding size to his frame moving forward, as well as attacking with his right hand (which has improved) will be priorities, but Kabellis has done more than enough to establish himself as a bona fide Division 1 prospect, not just one at the academic D1 level. WCC, Patriot, American East and other conferences of similar profiles should definitely be in the mix. Cornell has offered, and UC Riverside, Northeastern, Davidson, Boston University and Loyola (MD) are in the mix.
Will Christmas - 6-4 170 PG, Oceanside/ Coastal Elite 17u Premier - Christmas was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend, as it appears that his feel for the point guard position as well as his overall skill level are finally starting to match his enviable physical attributes. Christmas has really long arms, big hands and a great basketball frame. Plays the game at a great pace, doesn’t allow quick defenders to speed him up, and uses his body well to get into the lane, where he is a very high-level playmaker. What really stands out is his improved ability to finish at the rim through contact, as he snaked his way through and around defenders for “and 1” opportunities. If Christmas can make the next step in improving his perimeter shooting, he will be a bona fide sleeper at the D1 level.
Dylan Hamlett - 6-7 200 F, Steele Canyon/ San Diego Cougars - Hamlett looks the part of a Division 1 player. He has a sculpted frame, nice athleticism, handles the ball well for a big, can shoot it from the mid-range and step out and hit the occasional three, and has the potential to defend wings and posts. What holds him back from achieving that potential is his lack of assertiveness and inconsistent motor. Hamlett goes for long stretches without having an impact on the game either on offense or on the boards. As a result, he might slip to the D2 level, where he will be an absolute steal, because he has all the tools.
Cameron Wager - 6-2 190 W, Mission Hills/ Gamepoint 15u Black - Wager is an intriguing prospect because of his ability to score the ball almost at will at this stage. He’s got long arms, big broad shoulders and a nice frame, and does a solid job attacking off the dribble from the wing going to his right. He’s made a good jump with his shooting from mid-range and from three, although the latter still needs work (set shot, slow release). But Wager still has the feel of an undersized four at times, so continuing to improve his perimeter skillset, and his left hand, are all must-dos.
Reid Johnson - 6-6 220 PF, Cathedral Catholic/ Gamepoint 16u Black - Johnson continues to play well above his athletic ceiling due to a high motor, basketball IQ and an evolving perimeter skill set. His face-up game has made a significant leap from this time a year ago, and he consistently knock down shots from mid-range and from three. While his upside isn’t quite as high as some of his peers, Johnson continues to be a productive player on the circuit and some colleges will take notice.
Burke Twyman - 6-6 180 PF, Mission Vista/ Coastal Elite 16u Premier - Twyman possesses one of the best motors in San Diego, and when you combine that with his length and bounce, its a great combination on the offensive and defensive ends, where he is a great rebounder, weakside rim-protector and garbage man around the rim. But Twyman also has shown the ability to consistently hit the mid-range jump shot off the catch, and occasionally shoot it from the college three. He will need to continue to put pounds on his wiry frame and maintain that athleticism, as well as improve his handle, and if he does, lower Division 1s and Division 2 schools will show interest sooner than later.
Steven Hickman - 5-10 160 PG, Torrey Pines/ Gamepoint 16u Red - Another player who doesn’t look the part, Hickman continues to impress with his feel, court vision, decision making and ability to score off the dribble. He’s also a feisty on-ball defender. He’s one of the more underrated prospects in his class.
Ed Fenzi - 5-9 170 PG, Army-Navy/ Gamepoint 15u Black - Fenzi is one of the more physical on-ball defenders in his class. He’s got a strong frame and decent quickness, but it his tenacity and competitiveness that allows him to lock-down opposing guards. Offensively, he’s a bit streaky from the perimeter and erratic with his decision making off the dribble, where he lacks that burst to create separation. However, he’s continued to improve in those areas too. If he can continue to improve and add some height, he could be a late bloomer to monitor.
Carsten DenHerder - 5-11 170 G, Scripps Ranch/ Coastal Elite 16u Select - DenHerder is a capable scoring guard who, albeit physically limited, can knock down shots from all three levels and competes on both ends. He’s been floating under the radar, but he could be a valuable cog on an improved Scripps Ranch team this year, and could garner looks from some of the academic D3 schools.
David Wheeler - 6-2 170 SG, Diego Hills/ Diego Hills 17u - Wheeler is a bouncy shooting guard with deep range on his perimeter shot. He showed the ability to hit shots off the catch, but his offensive game needs to evolve to incorporate more of his athleticism, such as attacking off the dribble and scoring from mid-range and in the lane. Wheeler also needs to improve his engagement on the defensive end, where he struggles due to a lack of effort at times.
Morrie Neeley - 5-10 165 PG, Diego Hills/ San Diego Cougars 17u - There might not be a more disruptive defender on hand from the San Diego contingent than Neeley, whose quick hands raked up steals both on the ball and in passing lanes. Neeley’s quick feet allow him to stay in front of defenders and then force turnovers. On the offensive side of the ball, he is a score-first point guard who looks to push the tempo and get past defenders or use his crossover to set up his good pull-up game. Neeley needs to learn to play with multiple speeds, as sometimes he plays too fast, and on the defensive end he has a tendency to gamble, which will need to be addressed.
Trevor Johnson - 6-2 185 G, Flagstaff/ Diego Hills PREP - Johnson is dynamic scoring guard who makes things happen at all three levels. The combo guard has great athleticism and is electric in transition, shown by his ability to hammer home dunks on the fast break. He is also a capable on-ball defender whose length and quick feet make him tough. Johnson was a prolific scorer at Flagstaff High in 2014, and, depending on his academic profile, could help lower D1s or D2s after his prep year.
Christian Hayes - 5-10 160 PG, La Jolla Country Day/ Gamepoint 17u White - The evaluation period is of critical importance to Hayes, who was recently denied his request for a fifth year of eligibility by CIF. With that said, he certainly helped his cause this weekend, displaying his much improved point-guard play as well as toughness on defense that has been his trademark. He plays within himself, and doesn’t get rattled and provides a calming presence at the point when spelling Kabellis. Several Division 3 schools inquired about Hayes during the proceedings, and he could definitely thrive at that level, if he chooses to play basketball at the next level (Hayes is also a solid football prospect).
With several major evaluation events going on around town, Full-Time Hoops was busy again. Full-Time’s “Dad” obligations forced him to miss the Battle at the Beach, which featured a number of San Diego standouts, but the Double Pump Best of Summer, Fullcourt Press Cream of the Crop and Pangos Stars of the Future events certainly compensated with a number of teams and standouts on display. JJ Overton of the San Diego All-Stars is making a strong push to overtake Michael Diaz (Orange Glen/ Coastal Elite) as the No. 2 PG in the 2017 class behind Jaylen Hands, and Khy Kabellis continues to show why he should no longer be considered a borderline D1 prospect.
Here is a day-by-day listing of the standouts:
Thursday, Double Pump Best of Summer:
JJ Overton - 2017 6-1 160 PG, Rancho Bernardo/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump and Run- Overton is a wiry lefty lead guard cut from the mold of Khy Kabellis. His frame (long, arms, big feet and hands) suggest that he isn’t done growing. Overton is very quick off the dribble, allowing him to attack the defense, and his vision has improved significantly to allow him to create for others off of his penetration in addition to himself. Overton scores capably from all three levels, and while his jumpshot is streaky, he makes a good deal of them. Moving forward, like Kabellis, it will be interesting to see how much size he can add on his frame, as he has somewhat narrow shoulders. Additionally, cleaning up his handle going right (sometimes plays loose with the ball crossing over), will be a priority. But Overton’s shown enough over the past few viewings that if he hasn’t already passed Michael Diaz as San Diego’s 2nd best point guard prospect in 2017, he is getting close.
Zach Savage- 2016 6’3 190 PF Patrick Henry, San Diego All-Stars 16u Black - Savage is an intriguing prospect in that he is a very one-dimensional guy, but his one skillset is quite good: rebounding. Savage is a ferocious competitor on both the offensive and defensive glass, where his athleticism, length, quick jumping and sheer will allow him to play much bigger than his height. In a lot of ways, his game is much like Dennis Rodman toward the end of his career, when he became a defensive and rebounding specialist. Savage, indeed, is also a very good interior defender. Clearly, it will be interesting to see how much more he grows, and if he can develop some offensive skills moving forward, but he’s one of the best rebounders in his class.
Armstrong Ojunkwu - 2017 6-8 200 PF/C Mission Bay/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump and Run- Ojunkwu at this stage is all about the upside, and his upside is through the roof. He’s a big-time athlete with broad shoulder and a great frame and vertical athleticism. In the game we saw, however, he was erratic on both end. This, however, is really a result of just being introduced to the game several months ago. His improvement over the past few months, however, suggests that he will turn the corner with his feel for the game at both ends. When that happens, watch out.
Alex Cho - 2018 6-0 180 G, La Jolla Country Day/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump and Run - Cho is a scoring point guard who has a strong frame and is a gifted scoring threat. When his feet are set, he is as accurate as you will see from three. Additionally, he has a refined feel for the mid-range game and can score attacking the basket with a variety of runners, floaters and other methods. Cho is also a solid defender, who uses his strength to wear down smaller guards, though he at times struggles with quicker ones. His feel as a passer will need to improve to complement his scoring ability.
Jacob Schneider- 2017 6-4 190 F, Torrey Pines/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump and Run - Schneider is the consummate “glue guy” who does a lot of things well. He is a capable shooter, slasher, low-post scorer and rugged defender. He is undersized as a stretch four, so we will monitor the development of his perimeter skill set with great interest.
Juan Carlos Canahuate - 2018 5-9 150 PG, Army Navy/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump and Run - Canahuate, from the Dominican Republic, is a cat-quick point guard whose ball handling creativity is fun to watch. He is also a streak, yet capable perimeter shooter. He will need to continue to improve his feel for the point guard position, but his raw talent is obvious.
Anaheim, CA - The first live period was rough on the Full-Time Dad’s car, as we crisscrossed Southern California to catch as many local prospects in action at the four NCAA-certified events: Dinos Trigonis’ Pangos Sweet 16 in Long Beach, the Compton Magic Showcase in Corona, Ryan Silver’s All-Star Camp in Cerritos and the Double Pump Summer Tip-Off in Anaheim.
There were no doubt a number of prospects who took advantage of the viewing period to boost their stock. Here are some of the standouts.
Tim Harrison, 2016 6-8 170 F, Francis Parker/ Gamepoint 16u Black- Harrison reminded people why he is such a sought-after prospect this weekend, closing out the Sweet 16 with a strong performance against Footwork Elite in the 3rd place game of the Select Division. Harrison scored it from all three levels, and displayed the ability to defend both in the post and perimeters. Yes, his feel for the game in the halfcourt has a ways to go, but there are few prospects on the West Coast with his physical gifts.
Miles Norris, 2018 6-7 170 F, Mater Dei Catholic/ Earl Watson Elite 15u- The secret is slowly leaking out about Norris, a gifted young prospect who has made a significant leap over the past year in terms of his assertiveness and skill level. Norris possesses elite length and skill on the low block, but also has very good perimeter skills, even though he did not stray too far from the post in the All-Star game at Silver’s Showcase. Defensively, Norris is a disciplined shot-blocker and moves his feet well laterally. Norris’ versatility, frame and feel for the game make him one of the elite prospects in the 2018 class.
Brandon McCoy, 2017 6-10 190 PF/C, Morse/ The Blues - McCoy showed flashes of dominance in a game versus the Orlando Johnson Basketball Academy team out of Salinas at the Double Pump Hoopfest. The long, lanky big man is already a talented rebounder and shot blocker, and on the offense can stick the face-up 15-footer and makes the right pass out of double teams in the post. What impressed me in the current viewing was his work in the high-low action with fellow big man Tommy Rutherford (below), which could only be described as advanced. McCoy offensively will need to develop his repertoire in the post, as well as develop a mean streak finishing around the rim. Once he does, he will be a Top-50 prospect nationally for his class.
Tommy McCarthy, 2015 6-0 185 PG, La Costa Canyon/ Earl Watson Elite - McCarthy had a reputation of being less of a point guard and more of an undersized shooting guard. That has changed. McCarthy’s game management and court vision have made significant leaps, but what hasn’t changed is the bulldog of a lead guard’s competitive fire and leadership, which stand out on a very talented Earl Watson Elite team. He didn’t shy away from guarding the other team’s top perimeter player, and took big shots. McCarthy’s leap led to him picking up several more scholarship offers in the process.
Mikey Howell - 2016 6-0 150 PG, San Marcos/ Coastal Elite 16u Premier - Howell is a consummate point guard who puts his team’s success ahead of his own statistical output, and that is rare these days. His feel for the position, court vision and passing IQ are all advanced, and he has upside to spare. Pepperdine has begun recruiting him, and I am sure that other WCC schools will at least start to give the talented guard a look.
Tommy Rutherford - 2016 6-9 215 C, Grossmont/ The Blues - Every mid-major team in the country could use a player like Rutherford, a high-IQ physical post player who plays the right way. His passing, footwork and assertiveness on the block are all high level, and his improved conditioning over the past few months has allowed him to sustain the effort for longer periods of time. What really stood out was his weakside post activity, as he did an impressive job sealing the weak side of the zone and making himself available for easy layup attempts. Most bigs at this stage in their development only think about sealing on the strong side of the action. A small detail, but it goes to show Rutherford’s approach to the game.
Jake Gilliam - 2017 6-9 230 C, Torrey Pines/ Gamepoint 15u Black - What stands out about Gilliam, aside from his massive frame, is his defensive communication. He is the quarterback on defense, talking guards through screens, hedging hard on guards and hustling back to take away post entry passes on the roll. He’s a plodder at this point, and his strength and athleticism will need to improve, but he’s probably further ahead of Kameron Rooks at the same stage in his development, which is the type of player Gilliam projects to be.
Michael Diaz - 2017 6-0 180 PG, Orange Glen/Coastal Elite 15u Premier - Diaz has been in a tough position to showcase his talents at the point due to his team’s lack of size, but he showed flashes of his playmaking ability off the dribble. At one point in a game during the Double Pump Hoop Fest, he scored or assisted on 10 straight possessions. That is the definition of a valuable player. He’s a tremendous competitor though, and it shows on the defensive end and on the boards, where he competes relentlessly. He will need to continue to improve his perimeter shooting, and we will monitor his growth, as he already has a mature frame.
Paulo Cruz- 2015 6-3 180 SG, Francis Parker/ Next Generation - Cruz has one of the best “basketball frames” in the class, and his game is starting to catch up. He’s putting it on the floor with more confidence, and starting to make plays off the dribble, either for himself or others. It is still a work in progress, but a big improvement from HS season. Shot is streaky, but a potent weapon. He’s evolved into a nice Division 2 prospect, with a reasonable amount of upside left.
Sean Birk - 6-0, 170 G, El Camino/ Gamepoint 16u Black - Birk has bounced back from an inconsistent spring, largely due to improved shooting consistency and decision making. He does a good job in drive-and-kick situations, and has adequate vision, though it still needs improvement. He is roughly at the same stage in his development as Tommy McCarthy was at this time during his sophomore year. If he can make the leap McCarthy did, he will return to the D1 conversation.
Bret Johnson - 5-10 160 G, Santa Fe Christian/ Gamepoint 16u Red - Sometimes it’s good to give a kid nod for improvement, even if he might not be a college prospect at this stage. Johnson appears to have made significant strides in every phase of his game, which might be a product of him being fully healed from a knee injury two years ago. He appears to be headed to a solid HS season.
New guy on the scene:
Joah Robinett - 6-8 210 PF San Marcos/ Coastal Elite 16u Premier - Robinett is a recent addition to Coastal’s top 16 team, a transfer from Illinois (who lived in SD until his 8th grade year). He’s a big true post with decent hands and footwork in the post, and a willing banger on the boards. He struggled at times finishing plays through contact, and while a decent rebounder, could be better. It will also be interesting to see if he continues to grow, as he is slightly undersized for a true center, and doesn’t attempt shots from the perimeter, so a transition to the power forward position will be tough. With that said, he’s shown enough to debut in the updated Sweet 16 rankings, later in the fall.
Lucas Johnson- 6-2 170 SG, Mt. Carmel/ Coastal Elite 16u Premier - Johnson is a player who until recently I believed was exclusively going to play football at the next level, but recently told Full-Time Hoops that he has not ruled out playing hoops at the next level. It really changes things a bit, because Johnson has the prototypical frame for a combo guard, is fairly explosive and a really good shooter, off the catch and off of one to two dribbles. If he continues to improve his ball handling and defense on the perimeter, Johnson has a ton of upside as a basketball prospect.
Xavier Browne - 6-5 170 W, Kearny/ Next Generation - Browne often is overshadowed by his younger brother, explosive jitterbug point guard Takoda Browne, but Xavier is no slouch himself. He’s got a long wiry frame, fairly decent ball skills, and is a lockdown perimeter defender. His jumpshot is more of a set shot and the release is low, but he makes a fair amount of them when his feet are set. Divsion 3 Oberlin has made serious overtures, but he might be under-recruited. Division 2 schools should monitor.
Doing the dirty work
Martin Tombe - 6-6 200 PF, St. Augustine/ Compton Magic Elite - We saw Tombe at the Magic Showcase at Player’s Edge and the Sweet 16, and each time we were impressed with the undersized four man’s defensive prowess. He’s an excellent position defender who has quicker feet than you think, and does a good job walling up on defenders to alter shots. He’s also quite versatile as a defender, as he often was asked to guard team’s lead guards, due to his length and good defensive footwork. Offensively, he’s limited, but he makes others better with his defensive effort and motor.
Omajae Smith - 6’4 180 W, Foothills Christian/ Team Bayless - Smith is a bulldog on the defensive end, whose instincts, footwork, and physicality are reminiscent of 2015 G Jeffrey McClendon, who is often considered the best perimeter defender in the country. Smith has that type of potential on the defensive end. Offensively, his is gradually improving his skill set to the point where he looks the part of a college wing, but it’s his defense that sets him apart from his peers.
Jackson Strong - 6-4 190 SG, Torrey Pines/ Gamepoint 16u Black - Strong is a prolific and accurate perimeter shooter who has one of the quickest releases you will see. He’s cut from the mold of Dalton Soffer. His next step will be freeing himself from tight defense when teams key on him, an area that needs significant improvement.
Anthony Jensen - 6-0 160 G, Madison/ San Diego All Stars - Jensen is a sharpshooter in every definition of the word. If his feet are set, he usually knocks them down. He’s got a feathery release that usually leads to picture perfect rotation. Jensen is undersized and struggles handling the ball against longer, more athletic defenders, so improvement in this area will be paramount.
Luis Salgado - 6-3 190 G, Foothills Christian/ Gamepoint - Salgado is a slow-footed playmaker who has great court vision and passing, but is also a very good perimeter shooter. Like all the shooters listed, his release is quick enough to get his shot off in tight quarters. His mechanics are a bit flawed (off hand too involved on the release), but its hard to ague with the results.
For the second straight year, former Horizon High star and Los Angeles Clippers forward Jared Dudley returned to San Diego to give the city’s top basketball players an opportunity to showcase their talent.
And for the second straight year, the Jared Dudley Camp of Opportunity delivered on its promise.
A number of San Diego’s top prospects (and some from out of the area) participated in the three-day camp, which also included guest speakers Clippers superstar Chris Paul and PJ Tucker from the Phoenix Suns.
Full-Time Hoops was in attendance, and has your standouts and superlatives from the event.
Justin Moore – 2016 6-3 170 PG, Mission Bay – Moore’s combination of size, savvy, and high basketball IQ were on full display throughout the camp. He won’t wow you with explosive athleticism, but doesn’t need to because he controls the pace of the game so well. Rarely will you see him get sped up, and if he does speed up it is because he is pushing the pace in transition. His size allows him to see the floor over smaller guards and score over them when necessary. Moore does have a tendency to pound the ball at times, but it is largely a result of him setting up a play. Still, it is an area that Moore should continue to monitor, in addition to his shooting from the perimeter, which still needs work.
DeAndre Ayton – 2017 6-11 200 PF, Balboa Prep – Ayton in the first three minutes of the camp game exhibited almost every skill that makes him to most coveted prospect in San Diego, regardless of class. He blocked a shot after several head fakes, rebounded a missed basket, made a pinpoint outlet pass, raced up court to rebound the shot, finished it with a dunk, rebounded a miss on the other end, made another outlet pass and faced up his man on the perimeter and hit a contested jump shot. At his size, not too many prospects in the country have the tools he does.
Abdul Shanun- 2015 6-8 200 PF, Balboa Prep – The open-style play in the camp setting really gives Shanun a chance to showcase his natural gifts: his smooth gait, explosive athleticism, and powerful finishes around the rim. He passes the “eye test” with his elite length and prototypical basketball frame. But he is improving as a basketball player too, exhibiting a few more moves on the low block and more patience on the defensive end on the block. He is still an unfinished product, but he possesses a very high ceiling with the right tutelage.
Simon Okolue- 6-10 210 C Capistrano Valley Christian – Okolue is a massive prospect with long arms, huge hands (probably 10 inches from tip to wrist) who blocks a ton of shots and alters a number of others. He isn’t a fluid runner end-to-end, and his low-post acumen is rudimentary at this stage, but he was almost unstoppable at times just because of his size and strength. Okolue is a sleeper at the low and mid major levels.
Baka Gowolo – 2017 6-5 170 SF Balboa Prep – We first saw Gowolo play limited minutes as a freshman at Hoover in 2012-2013. Gowolo has since reclassified at Balboa Prep, and his game has definitely taken a decent-sized leap. He is a wiry and long prospect who is a crafty left-handed scorer. His shooting has improved to the point where he is consistent out to 18 feet, and can step back and hit the college three when his feet are set. He thrives in transition situations, where he displayed solid handle and above-average court vision and passing. In isolation situations in the halfcourt, Gowolo used his quickness to beat slower defenders off the dribble, and size to score over guards. Gowolo needs to translate these skills from the camp setting to the game setting, and if he can do this, he can definitely be a D1 sleeper in the deep 2017 class.
Dante Foster, Jr. – 2015 5-9 170 PG, Diego Hills Prep – What stood out about Foster this weekend was his frame and improved shooting, as he was nailing jumpers when he was open. He’s added what appears to be about 10-15 pounds of muscle without losing the quickness that makes him a tough cover. Foster needs to improve his decision making with the ball, as well as clean up his handle, as he can get turnover prone. While his shooting has improved, he needs to continue to work on his shot off the dribble, as he tends to change his release point seemingly arbitrarily. Making his release point more consistent should help lead to more consistent results.
Josh Moran – 2016 6-3 170 G, Serra – Moran appears to have grown a couple of inches since the beginning of the year, and he is rounding into a quality prospect. Moran, who possesses ideal size and length for a lead guard, doesn’t really have a position. He is simply a basketball player. He does a little bit of everything – handles it, slashes, scores around the rim, makes great passes and decisions in transition, and plays hard on both ends. His fundamentals on his perimeter shot need work, but overall, Moran has a chance to play basketball at the next level. He is also a quarterback at Serra High.
Donte Hillenbrand – 2015 6-5 190 SF, El Camino – Hillenbrand is a rugged combo forward who is a lights out shooter from deep when his feet are set. He has a quick trigger release, and though his shot sometimes has a flat trajectory, he knocks them down in bunches. Hillenbrand is kind of a tweener, not great handling the ball, not a great rebounder for his size and a reticent defender, but his shooting will give him a chance at the next level.
Rafael Felix – 2017 6-3 170 SG, High Tech Chula Vista – Felix is a sleeper in the 2017 class because he plays for a small school, but make no mistake about it: he can flat out shoot the ball. The lanky guard type has a quick release and can shoot both off the catch and off of one dribble with the pull up. He also plays very hard on the defensive end, and his length gives defenders problems on the perimeter. If he can grow as a ball handler and continue to strengthen his frame, Felix will become a household name sooner than later.
Nikko Paranada – 2016 5-11 155 PG Otay Ranch – Paranada is a crafty guard whose change of pace of the dribble lulls defenders to sleep and allows him to get in the creases of defenses and score seemingly at will. His solid perimeter shooting complements his advanced penetration game. Additionally, while he is primarily a scoring guard, Paranada has decent court vision and makes decent reads off of the pick and roll, though his willingness as a passer needs to improve. In order for Paranada to elevate his stock as a prospect, he will need to get considerably stronger, as well as become more engaged on the defensive end, where his lack of lateral quickness and effort make him a liability.
Otto Taylor – 2017 6-1 160 SG St. Augustine – Taylor is a lanky two-guard type who has a buttery jump shot with range beyond the college three. Even though it was not falling consistently during the proceedings, you can see the consistency in his release and mechanics. While Taylor is a capable slasher, he needs to improve his handle on the ball as well as his distributing ability at the point. At 6-1, he will need a couple of more inches to become a D1 prospect on the wing, so it will be interesting to see his physical development over the next few years.
Nate Pearson – 2016 6-5 180 F Balboa Prep – Pearson is a crafty lefty who possesses great length and good scoring instincts around the rim. Additionally, Pearson has some solid point-forward skills, as he handles it well enough to initiate the offense and is quick enough to beat bigger defenders off the dribble from the perimeter. He has a solid mid-range game, but his perimeter shooting will need improvement, as will his motor, as he has a tendency to take plays off and not run back on defense.
Robby Robinson – 2015 6-7 180 F, Kearny – Robinson has made major strides in the area of effort level, and it was on full display at the camp. His on-ball defense of the much larger Simon Okolue was impressive, a he constantly fought to not give up an inch of position on the block while talking his teammates through screens and directing help-side defense. Robinson is an intriguing combo forward prospect who can handle the ball and make plays in transition for his teammates, and can face up his defender on the offensive end and knock down the mid-range shot with consistency. Robinson is sort of a tweener though; he doesn’t possess ideal lateral quickness on the perimeter, his skillset in the post needs improvement and he needs to continue to get stronger to contend with bigger bodies in the paint. But Robinson’s motor and improvement as a player bode well for the future.
Spencer Mattox – 2014 5-10 170 PG Sweetwater – If there is one player in San Diego who embodies the term “high motor” it is Mattox, who will be playing for San Diego City College next season – which is a crime in itself. Mattox is constantly in motion on both ends, harasses ball handlers 94 feet, makes defensive plays away from the ball, attacks off the dribble, and is a tremendous vocal leader. He leaves games physically spent because he plays every minute – even in a showcase – with maximum intensity. You can’t ask for more out of your floor general.
Jason Simmrin - 2016 6-5 PF San Marcos - Simmrin’s game is reminiscent of an undersized Kevin Love. He is a tremendous rebounder who uses his big bottom to carve out space down low, and rips the ball down with authority. Offensively, his IQ is off the charts. His understanding of what to do off of ball screens was unparalleled in the camp setting, making him a favorite of the point guards. Additionally, Simmrin can step out and shoot the perimeter shot. He has firmly moved into the second tier of 2016 recruits and will have a chance to get on D1 radars if 1) he grows or 2) he can continue to improve some of the facets of his perimeter game. But he is a player, plain and simple.
Justin Young – 6-7 180 PF, Eastlake – Young’s freakish length and hand size allows him to play much bigger than his listed height. He is a disciplined shot-blocker who keeps blocked shots in play to initiate the break, then races down and fills transition lanes to finish the break with powerful dunks. Young needs a lot of work on the offensive end, though. He is rather flatfooted, which limits his leaping ability in traffic, his perimeter shot is unreliable and his footwork needs substantial development. He does have one go-to move in the post, a solid jumphook over his left shoulder, which gives him a solid base from which to grow.
Morrie Neeley – 5-11 170 PG, Diego Hills – Neeley’s quick hands and lateral movement make him a nightmare for opposing point guards, as he racked up steals against some of the camp’s best ball handlers. On the offensive end, Neeley is a very quick scoring guard who can get to the rim and finish through contact, though his perimeter shooting is inconsistent. His motor needs to improve, as his effort level was inconsistent in the camp games.
The three “tweeners” of 2016
Omajae Smith, Justin Davis and Bruce Edwards are three 2016 players with very similar profiles as prospects – each are one-time big men in youth leagues who are trying to make the successful transition to the wing, where they project at the college level. The camp provided a unique chance to see all three of them in the same gym at the same time to see where each is in their development. In this setting, the three each displayed strengths and weaknesses that show they still have work to do to play full time on the wing.
Omajae Smith – 6-4 180 G/F, Foothills Christian – Smith is an explosive rugged combo forward who possesses a great motor and tenacity on the defensive end. Offensively, Smith has his struggles handling the ball off the dribble, but does enough to get to the basket, where he finishes plays. He can also shoot the ball consistently from the mid-range and has made strides as a spot-up shooter, though it still can be classified as streaky. Where Smith is further along than Davis and Edwards is his playmaking in transition, where he has excellent court vision and dropped some nifty passes throughout the camp.
Justin Davis – 6-4 190 G/F, Morse – Davis is a bruising wing who does most of his damage around the rim and outside the arc, where he excels as a spot-up shooter. The big gap in his game is in the mid-range, where he struggles with handling the ball and pulling up for shots when the defense cuts off his penetration. Defensively, Davis is fierce rebounder and versatile defender both in the post and on the perimeter. If he can improve that mid-range and ball skills, he has the potential to be a solid Division 1 wing.
Bruce Edwards – 6-4 190 G/F La Jolla Country Day – Edwards is a powerfully built forward who is at his best on the defensive end, where he uses his length and strength to smother opponents. Offensively, he is quite rigid in his movement and struggles handling the ball in the halfcourt and transition. His shooting is decent around the rim, but his mechanics fall apart outside of 15 feet. For Edwards to realize his full potential, he needs to make a considerable leap in those categories.
It has been nearly 8 months since Full-Time Hoops launched its inaugural class of 16 rankings, which we called the “Sweet 16.” Since then, a lot has changed.
Some prospects have gotten better. Others have taken a step back. And then there is Mikey Howell.
Howell, who we listed in our third tier of prospects in the first rankings, went out and had possibly one of the best springs you could have, outplaying higher-profile prospects including Double Pump G Eyassu Worku and Team Superstar PG Alize Travis. As a result of his strong spring, Howell cracks our Sweet 16 at No. 14.
Another player who debuts in our rankings is Austin Beech, a transfer to Cathedral Catholic from nearby Vista Murrieta in Riverside County. Beech is a rangy point-foward type who will have an immediate impact next season for the Dons, and his upside is quite high. He’s our No. 8 prospect, and could rise depending on how he plays during the month of July.
The top of our prospect rankings also had a slight change, as PG Justin Moore has moved to No. 3 in our Sweet 16, and San Marcos SG Johnny McWilliams has now moved to 4, more as a nod to some things we believe Moore has done than any indictment on McWilliams play. We believe both players will play at the high major level.
- TJ Leaf- 6’10” 200 F, Foothills Christian - Solidified his status as the No. 1 prospect in the region and San Diego’s first McDonald’s All American since Chase Budinger. The versatile forward can score from all three levels, and either from face-up or back-to-the-basket situations. Leaf handles the ball extremely well for a player his size, and can create for others off the bounce. Defensively, he is laterally quick enough to guard small forwards on the perimeter, but is more of an interior defender with his ability to protect the rim due to his length. If there were an area he needs to improve, it would probably be in his post-game, which is very good, but could continue to use fine tuning.
Brandon Cyrus- 6’4” 180 G, Torrey Pines- Cyrus made a huge leap in Year 2 at Torrey Pines from athletic defender to efficient combination guard. His shot from the perimeter, his major weakness, has markedly improved, which opens up his potent slashing game. Cyrus also made a major leap in his assertiveness on the offensive end, unafraid now to take control of a game at critical points for his team. All the while, he still possesses elite vertical and lateral athleticism and length. While improved, Cyrus will still need to tighten his ball handling, but he’s a Top-100 prospect nationally with Top 50 upside.
Justin Moore- 6’3” 170 PG, Mission Bay- The lanky point guard prospect has an impressive feel for the position, dictating pace and tempo masterfully. He rarely gets sped up, and as a result he can see the entire floor and make the right play (pass or score) both in the halfcourt and transition. As a scorer, he does a good job attacking off the dribble and drawing fouls, and can knock down the mid-range jump shot, but his shooting from three, albeit improved, needs to continue to improve to complement the other facets of his game. Defensively, Moore is a capable on-ball defender, but should continue to improve his lateral quickness, which will allow him to defend smaller, quicker point guards.
Johnny McWilliams- 6’5” 170 SG, San Marcos- McWilliams is a smooth wing who possesses the prototypical frame and length for the shooting-guard position. His jumpshot is smooth and release is quick, though he is more of a volume scorer than a pure shooter. His mid-range game is very advanced, either off of the catch, one-dribble pull ups, or a turnaround shot that he has perfected. He has improved as a slasher with his strong hand and can get to the rim and finish with authority or finish through contact. For McWilliams to continue to improve, his shot selection must improve, as he still has a tendency to dominate the ball on the offensive end. He also needs to continue to improve attacking with his off hand. Defensively, he has the potential to be a capable wing defender if his effort level on that end improves.
Tim Harrison- 6’8” 180 F, Francis Parker- Harrison is at a critical juncture in his development. He has greater upside than almost everyone ranked ahead of him, and his frame oozes with potential as a collegiate wing. Harrison is blessed with elite length, solid scoring instincts from all three levels, and is a matchup nightmare in the open court with his ability to handle the ball and distribute. On defense, he is a formidable weak-side rim protector who has elite shot-blocking instincts. But as the game slows down in the halfcourt, Harrison struggles with his decision making on both ends. He tends to float too much on the perimeter instead of taking advantage of his quickness against slower defenders. As an on-ball defender, he needs to improve his discipline, as he picks up fouls at a high rate which limits his effectiveness because he isn’t on the floor as much as he should be. Overall, we believe Harrison will be recruited at the high-major level, but in order to solidify that interest, he needs to continue to hone his feel in the halfcourt.
Eric Monroe- 6’1” 170 PG, St. Augustine- Monroe had a strong spring on the 17u circuit, which has helped elevate his recruiting level in the process. He’s grown to nearly 6’2” and continues to be one of the savviest guards you will see. His passing IQ and court vision are at an elite level, as is his ability to run the pick-and-roll, a staple at the next level. Where Monroe has made a big stride from last year is his ability to create his own offense, whether by breaking his man off the dribble and scoring on the drive to becoming a more consistent shooter from the perimeter. Defensively, he has improved as an on-ball defender due to improved lateral quickness, but this is an area of continued development. One thing that you can count on is that Monroe will always play hard on that end, which helps compensate for his lack of elite athleticism.
Tommy Rutherford- 6’9” 215 C, Grossmont- Rutherford is a wall of a human being who has an impressive offensive package on the low block. He can score with either hand (he favors his right hand/ over left shoulder), and can score with the hook, drop step, turnaround, and power moves in the post. Rutherford does a great job passing out of double teams, moving from block to block with the ball, and re-establishing position after the double leaves. Defensively, he takes up a lot of space in the post and is a good position defender, but is only an average shot blocker. Many of Rutherford’s deficiencies (transitioning from end to end, stamina, lack of lateral and vertical athleticism) are a result of his lack of conditioning. As he continues to improve this aspect of his game, he has the ability to be a dominant center prospect at the lower and mid-major level.
Austin Beech- 6’5” 180 G/F, Cathedral Catholic- A newcomer to the rankings, Beech transferred from Vista Murrieta to Cathedral Catholic. Beech is a long, wiry point-forward type who has the ability to play (and defend) all three perimeter positions. Offensively, he is at his best when slashing to the rim, where he can score for himself or find open teammates when the defense collapses (solid court vision). Defensively, his length and lateral quickness make him formidable on the ball or in helpside situations where he collects steals shooting through passing lanes. Offensively, he needs to assert himself more, as he often defers to his teammates in situations where he has a distinct matchup advantage, and he has to improve his perimeter shot (slow release, no lift).
Marcus Hentley- 6’1” 170 PG, Escondido- Hentley only participated in one event during the spring, the Double Pump Hoop Fest, but made a big impression against several higher-profile guards. Hentley’s approach to the game is becoming more like Andre Miller, which is a great player for him to emulate due to similarities in their frame. During the fall, we felt that Hentley was settling for far too many perimeter shots given his strong build. He steadily improved his assertiveness on the drive to the point where it is an effective weapon in his arsenal, complementing his streaky, but potent, perimeter shooting and his great court vision, both in the halfcourt and transition. Improving his ability to penetrate to his non-dominant hand will open up more of the court for him on the offensive end. Defensively, he can be overaggressive on his initial on-ball defense which leaves him prone to getting beat off the dribble, but does a good job of recovering. Improving his lateral agility and control as an on-ball defender will be key in the next stage of his development.
Martin Tombe- 6’6” 200 PF, St. Augustine- Tombe is a hard-working forward who plays with a ton of energy on both ends of the floor. He doesn’t possess an ideal basketball frame, but makes up for it with his relentless motor. He rebounds at a high rate on both ends and is a very good interior defender. Offensively, he does most of his damage on the boards, but has shown the ability to stretch the defense with shooting out to 18 feet and slash to the basket. He struggles against quick players and players with elite length, largely due to his lack of elite athleticism. If Tombe can continue to work on his offensive skillset to complement his defensive prowess, he is going to make a coach at the next level happy.
Justin Davis- 6’4” 180 G/F, Morse- Davis, who is now a full-time basketball player, made some impressive strides since the last evaluation, especially in his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He is now a solid spot-up shooter, which helps set up his slashing game, where he has an uncanny knack for drawing fouls against defenders and racking up free-throw attempts. Davis has a beastly frame for a wing player, and his approach on the offensive end is much like Cedric Ceballos: he scores at the foul line, and on offensive put-backs as he is a tremendous offensive rebounder. Overall, though, Davis is still quite raw on the offensive end, especially as a ball handler and a scorer from the mid-range. Defensively, he has the potential to be a lockdown wing defender, but needs to put forth more consistent effort on that end.
Omajae Smith- 6’4” 175 G/F, Foothills Christian- Smith, a rugged, defensive-minded wing type, much like Davis, has continued to show improvement as a spot-up perimeter shooter over the year, and marginal improvement handling the ball. But Smith’s value is still on the defensive end, where he his combination of active hands, quick feet, and physicality allow him to suffocate opposing wings. Offensively, however, is game is still a work in progress, as he struggles to handle against pressure and to create for others off the dribble.
Reid Johnson- 6’6” 220 PF, Cathedral Catholic- Johnson’s rise in the rankings is due to a very positive development during the spring period- Johnson was able to score effectively and consistently against elite length in several games, most notably the Supreme Court/ Force game when he was matched up against DeAndre Ayton and Abdul Shanun for most of the game. These performances go a long way toward shedding the notion that Johnson, who doesn’t have the upside of some of his classmates, can’t have an impact on the next level. The nimble-footed has shown steady improvement in his face-up game, hitting shots out to 20 feet consistently, and improving his ability to score off the drive on one or two dribbles from the short-corner and elbow areas. Defensively, Johnson does a solid job not allowing opposing posts to establish good post position, which helps him compensate for his lack of elite size and length, and he also uses that same ability to gain position on the boards, making him one of the better rebounders in the class.
Mikey Howell- 6’0 150 PG, San Marcos- Howell was listed as a lower-tiered guard in my first rankings, which tells you how major of a leap as a prospect he has made. The wiry floor general has made strong strides in his ability to handle pressure against elite guards, which has allowed his playmaking ability to blossom. He is a heady guard with impressive handle and court vision who seems to always make the right pass to the right player, elevating his teammates in the process. Defensively, he is an elite on-ball defender whose length and quickness allow him to make life difficult for opposing guards. As the point guard position has evolved to include more of a scoring role, Howell, who has improved as a scorer, will need to continue to hone that area of his game – especially from the perimeter. This will allow him to have an impact when defenses take away passing lanes. Physically, he will need to continue to add size to his frame, but his body looks like he still has several inches left – he could easily make another leap come next ranking.
- Andrew Cross- 6’1” 180 G, Francis Parker- Cross opted to train during the spring as opposed to play on the travel circuit, so our last look at him was during the state playoffs. Cross still has a very strong frame and is a bulldog off the dribble who can create for himself and score through contact. He shows flashes of solid court vision, though he needs to continue to improve creating for others. Defensively, he does a good job with his initial defense, but struggles staying in front of quicker guards. His upside is limited due to the maturity of his frame, so it will be interesting to see where he trends next season. He is a prospect who is definitely at a crossroads.
Keegan Cummins- 6’8” 210 C, Escondido- Cummins has great size and upside due to the fact he is still growing, can shoot the ball with accuracy out to 15 feet, and his ability to defend in the post when engaged, but his game is purely upside at this point. He needs to make substantial improvements on the offensive (establishing and maintaining post position, developing a go-to post move, offensive rebounding) and defensive (playing with more discipline/ foul prone, improving transitioning from end to end) ends, as well as his on-court demeanor, as he has a tendency to give up on plays when he makes a mistake.