- Joel Francisco
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SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The first National Prep Classic featured a number of quality prospects, including Michael Carter-Williams (Barrington, R.I./St. Andrews) and Julius Randle (Plano, Tex./Prestonwood Christian), however, it was a complete team in Long Beach Poly that would take the championship over a talent-laden Christian Life squad, 72-64.
2011, SG, 6-foot-5, 175 pounds
The first adjective that comes to mind while describing Carter-Williams is smooth. His midrange game is special and he may have only one rival in that department in Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park). His handle is tight and he has a wicked crossover that leaves defenders in their tracks. He can pull-up for the jump shot at the elbow or drop off a clever assist. His basketball IQ is impressive and once he gains more strength at Syracuse next season, he has a chance to be an All-Conference performer as a freshman.
(Long Beach, Calif/Poly)
2011, PF, 6-8, 215 pounds
Anderson was Poly's best player throughout the tournament and earned tournament MVP as he made one big play after another. He has steadily improved since the summer and he has become bouncier as well. He plays the game with purpose and never forces the issue. He is a potent rebounder in traffic and his feathery shooting touch extends out to 20 feet. In addition, his ballhandling has improved and he made a couple of nifty passes in transition. Overall, he was the catalyst in a number of winning plays that changed the complexion of each and every game.
2013, PF, 6-8, 215 pounds
There is no doubt that Randle is a force and he still has two-and-a-half more seasons of high school basketball. The explosive lefty loves to attack off the bounce and explode to the rim. He has great instincts while finishing up, over and around defenders. He can stick the 3-point shot or glide (covers a lot of ground in a hurry) in transition for the finish as well. In addition, he made a couple of high-level passes on the break as well. For his game to go to another level, he needs to finish better with contact, improve his back-to-the-basket skill set and make defense a priority.
Angelo Chol (San Diego, Calif./Hoover)
2011, PF, 6-7, 200 pounds
Chol was a little banged up in this tournament, but it didn't diminish the reasons why he is a highly-coveted prospect. The left-hander has a go-to move with his potent jump hook and his face-up game has improved as well. His jump shot still has a long release, but he was able to knock down some long-range shots. In addition, he was able to break down some defenders off the dribble to get to the rim. Defensively, he blocked a number of shots and he rebounded well in traffic. He still needs to improve his touch and finishing ability with contact, but overall his game was impressive.
Dakari Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
2012, WF, 6-4,175 pounds
Tucker is a long and wiry wing-type with blossoming skills. He affects the game at both ends due to his defensive presence and relentless pursuit of the ball. He is also quite potent on the fast break where he uses his length and athletic prowess to get to the rim. His slashing nature gets him to the line and he'll rebound despite his need for bulk. He can knock down the 3-point shot, but he'll need to quicken that release for the next level.
Josh Gray (Humble, Texas/Christian Life)
2012, PG, 5-11, 155 pounds
Gray is about as quick as they come at the point guard position. His change of pace and second gear are impressive as he keeps defenders back pedaling most of the time. He can weave his way to the rim and has the dexterity to finish in a variety of ways. While in the paint area, he has the vision to drop off some terrific passes to open teammates. If his drive gets cut off he has the ability to separate off the dribble and pull up for the 20-footer. His release is extremely quick and his shot is prolific. Look for him to continue to get high-major interest in the coming season.
One to watch
Roschon Prince (Long Beach, Calif./Poly)
2013, WF, 6-6, 190 pounds
Prince, one of the elite sophomores in the country, has continued to take his game to another level since his freshman campaign. He has some Ron Artest in his game in terms of defense, rebounding and knocking down the occasional 3-pointer. His competitive nature is impressive and he can attack the rim with a vengeance. He knocked down some 3s and handled the ball well in transition as well. If his perimeter skills continue to improve, his stock will elevate considerably.
• In the championship game, Long Beach Poly received outstanding performances form its bench, most notably 6-4 senior Chris Camper and 5-7 junior Chris Croom.
• The Oregon Ducks have an elite shooter coming to Eugene in 6-5 senior Jabari Brown (Oakland, Calif./Oakland). Overall, his passing ability has evolved, but his ballhandling under pressure and ability to finish in traffic need to improve.
• Alex Fertig (Fresno, Calif./Buchanan), a 6-3 junior, moves as well without the ball as any player we've seen on this level. He has an innate scoring ability inside and out and he's a willing passer as well.
• San Diego (Hoover) has an interesting point guard prospect in 5-11 junior Christopher Jones. He has a strong physique and he keeps his head up while in transition. In addition, his pull-up game in the midrange area is solid as well.
• Zach Peters (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian), a 6-9 junior, can finish with space. However, he doesn't have good feet and as a result he struggled scoring with his back to the basket on numerous occasions.
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.
Tournament MVP Ryan Anderson and Michael Carter-Williams highlight the National Prep Classic, writes Joel Francisco.