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.
2014 El Camino PG Devin Watson entertained hopes of playing at the Pac-12, Big-12 or SEC at the next level. The talented scoring guard had previously committed to Oregon State before reopening his recruitment on the eve of the early signing period.
End the end, Watson announced Monday that he will sign with San Francisco, a school in West Coast Conference - a school that might end up being a perfect fit for the guard’s game and goals.
Watson, 6-0 and 170 lbs, is a dynamic scoring guard who has the ability to create for himself and for others. While he does not possess elite athleticism or quickness, Watson possesses enough of both attributes to get by his man off the dribble with an array of crossover dribbles and spin moves, get into the teeth of the defense, and score at the rim or find open teammates on the perimeter and in the paint with the lob pass. Watson has a solid feel in screen-and-roll sets and does a good job pushing his defender to the level of the screen, avoiding the hedge and hitting either the rolling big or the open perimeter shooter when the help-side defender cuts off the roller. What makes all of this possible, though, is Watson’s prolific shooting range, which extends well beyond the college three. While streaky, Watson makes enough of them to keep defenders honest, making him a handful for opposing guards. Watson does have a tendency to pound the ball on the perimeter, which then forces him to take poor shots late in the shot clock. Conversely, he will also sometimes force shots early in the shot clock, so improving his shot selection will be a priority at the next level. Defensively, Watson showed flashes throughout the year of being a capable on-ball defender, but a more consistent effort on this end will be needed at the next level.
How Watson fits at San Francisco
Watson was a huge get for the Dons, which lost starting point guard Avry Holmes to transfer after his sophomore season where he averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game. Holmes was a prolific three-point shooter (42 percent) who could play on the ball and off the ball in the pinch. While two inches shorter, Watson does many of the same things Holmes did for the Dons, and he will be expected to come in and contribute immediately, possibly even start as a freshman. Watson said the allure of playing and contributing immediately was one of the key things that sold him on San Francisco. In terms of fit in the conference, the WCC is filled with guards of similar stature to Watson that have had great careers, including most recently LMU guard Anthony Ireland and former Dons’ guard Cody Doolin. Watson could very well be an All-Conference freshman team performer if he plays his cards right.
Whereas in the Pac-12 or the Mountain West Conference where Watson’s slight stature and lack of elite quickness and athleticism could be considered a liability, the West Coast Conference provides him the ideal conference to showcase his strengths - his tremendous scoring IQ, creative handle and highlight reel passing. Watson has an opportunity to not only start, but to be an All-WCC level performer by as early as his sophomore year. He must improve his shot selection and his consistency as a defender, but Watson is in the ideal situation to have a successful college career.
Here are some other San Diego standouts from this weekend’s #MagicMemorial tournament:
Daniel Melifonwu, 6-9 PF/C, Lincoln/ San Diego All-Stars 17u Pump – Athletically gifted power forward is raw on the offensive end and has a fluctuating motor, but has unlimited upside due to his physical gifts.
Miles Nolen-Webb, 6-1 PG, Hoover/Supreme Court - Nolen-Webb, who is going to walk on at CSUN, is a stocky point guard who can put defenders on his hip and score at the rim, create for others. Solid on-ball defender, but needs to stay engaged in off-ball situations.
Isaiah Milan, 6-1 G, Mission Bay/ San Diego All-Stars 17u Pump – Athletic combo guard has a nonstop motor and is a capable slasher, streaky jump shooter.
Kalyn Thomas, 6-2 G, Orange Glen/San Diego All-Stars 17u Pump – Prolific scorer who suffers from bouts of erratic shot selection.
Jahmere Mitchell, 6-2 G, Morse/ San Diego All-Stars 17u Pump- Physical combo guard has really made strides with his shooting this spring. One juco stint away from being a D1 point guard.
Christian Hayes, 5-10 PG, La Jolla Country Day/ Gamepoint 17u White – Came into the spring as a rugged defender, leaves as a capable floor general, crafty ball handler and physical scorer. Perimeter shooting needs work.
Caleb Morris, 6-3 SG, Army Navy/ Gamepoint 17u White – Slimmed-down sharpshooter has improved off the dribble, rebounds and finishes among the trees. Handle still needs to improve.
Kris Wixted, 6-5 F, Scripps Ranch/ Gamepoint 17u White – Lefty forward is a mismatch at the four, where he can shoot it and slash to the basket. Needs to play with a more consistent motor.
James Schwindt, 5-9 PG, Valley Center/ Coastal Elite 17u Select – Undersized point guard is deceptively long and athletic, a solid shooter and capable on-ball defender.
Landon Budenholzer, 6-1 G, Westview/ Coastal Elite 17u Select – Athletic slasher has improved with the consistency of his jump shot, quick release. Needs to continue to hone his passing skills in the halfcourt.
Adam Wallace, 5-9 PG, Monte Vista/ Gamepoint 17u Silver – Cat-quick guard can score and finish at the rim, makes nice passes off the dribble. Perimeter shooting needs work, as well as effort-level on defense.
Isaiah Reed, 6-2 G, Vista/Gamepoint 17u Silver – Intriguing prospect has great length, athleticism, lateral quickness and decent handle. He needs to play more under control, however, and improve his decision making.
Patrick Fisher, 6-4 G, La Costa Canyon/ Gamepoint 17u Black – Slashing lead guard is strong at attacking the rim and is a solid passer in transition. Needs to improve passing in the halfcourt, especially off the dribble.
Jordan Alexander, 6-5 F Diego Hills/ San Diego All-Stars 17u Pump – Explosive athlete can score from the perimeter and off the drive. Needs to improve his scoring from mid-range, as well as playing under control
Anthony Jensen, 6-0 G, Madison/ San Diego All-Stars 17u Black - Deadeye three-point shooter is automatic if left open for even a split second. Needs to continue to improve his ball handling, lateral quickness, engagement on defense.
Oscar Limon, 5-10 PG, Otay Ranch/ Compton Magic Black – Pass-first point guard has excellent court vision, good quickness off the dribble. Solid on-ball defender. Limited offensively, needs to improve perimeter shooting and finishing at the rim.
Martin Tombe, 6-6 PF, St. Augustine/ Compton Magic Select – High-energy forward is an excellent rebounder, interior defender. Limited athletically, Tombe needs to improve finishing plays at the rim.
Michael Pelaiz, 5-9 PG, Francis Parker/ Gamepoint 16u Black – High-IQ pg has the ball on a string, is a very good distributor off the dribble. Needs to improve as a scorer, shooter, to keep defenders honest.
Cameron Moore, 5-11 PG, Cathedral Catholic/ Gamepoint 16u Black – Capable floor general is solid, albeit not elite, in most facets of his game. Needs to improve his handle going left, perimeter shooting.
Burke Twyman, 6-6 PF, Mission Vista/ Coastal Elite 16u Premier – Bouncy, long forward is a formidable interior defender and rim protector due to his length, energy. Offensively raw, Twyman needs to continue to improve his post game.
Vaso Rakovic, 6-0 G, Mission Hills/ Coastal Elite 16u Premier – Feisty slasher scores at the rim and finishes in and around contact, strong on-ball defender despite less-than-average length. Perimeter shooting and off hand need work.
JJ Overton, 6-1 PG, Rancho Bernardo/san Diego All-Stars 15u Pump – Good size and length for a lead guard. More of combo guard than a true point, Overton is making strides with his decision making off the dribble (pass vs. score).
Armstrong Chungkwu, 6-8 PF Mission Bay/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump – Big, athletic forward is far from a finished product, but has tons of upside, shows flashes of high-level play in the post, mid-post.
Ed Fenzi, 5-10 PG, Army Navy/ Gamepoint 15u Black – Heady point guard is a solid on-ball defender, effective passer off penetration. Needs to improve quickness with the handle, shooting and decision making.
Jack Peterson, 6-1 SG, Saint Augustine/ San Diego All-Stars 15u Pump – Silky shooter is a capable scorer off the dribble and defender, despite average quickness.
Simion Habtemichael, 6-5 G/F, Balboa Prep/ Supreme Court- Lefty shooter has a smooth stroke, decent off the one-dribble pull up, needs to improve his ball handling, struggles on defensive side of ball.
Jalen Flanagan, 5-11 G, Coastal Elite 14u Premier – Rangy, long, athletic guard can score at the rim and hit a couple of perimeter buckets. His ball handling on the perimeter needs to improve, as well as his consistency shooting from the three.
Alex Cho, 6-0 G, La Jolla Country Day/ San Diego All-Stars 14u Pump – Cho might be a better player right now than several players listed as top prospects. Scoring guard is a physical penetrator and solid spot-up shooter. Must improve handle going to his off hand, and be more efficient with the dribble (pounds it too much).
Warren Washington, 6-3 F, Escondido/ Coastal Elite 14u Premier – Long and wiry forward is a crafty scorer around the rim, needs to get considerably stronger, improve as a rebounder.
Well, it’s been a great year for the Full-Time Hoops movement. I’ve really been able to provide San Diego the prep and grassroots coverage that has been lacking for some time.
And now, Full-Time Hoops is taking the next step forward: I am proud to introduce the Full-Time Hoops Scouting Service (NCAA approval pending).
For $150 annually, Full-Time Hoops will provide college coaches of ALL LEVELS (NCAA D1, D2, D3, NAIA and JUCO) no fewer than six reports per season, plus exclusive content and advanced scouting reports delivered in print and PDF format.
Coaches who are interested in the service can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, title and school name and college division and I will add you to my soon-to-start mailing list.
I will be providing financial information shortly, so please stay tuned for more details!
Again, thank you so much for all of your support over the past year! Let’s make the 2014-15 season a great one for the Full-Time Hoop movement!