- Joel Francisco
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In one of the most anticipated individual matchups on the West Coast in recent memory, UCLA signee 6-4 Jrue Holiday (North Hollywood/ Campbell Hall) demonstrated why he is widely considered the No. 1 player on the West Coast (and maybe the entire country).
Holiday finished with 32 points (12-22 FG) and 12 rebounds, but it's his savvy and mental toughness that separates him from most players, including Demar DeRozan. Holiday is unstoppable off the bounce as he converted some spectacular drives -- think Dwyane Wade -- throughout the game. He has a tendency to over-handle it, but in this game he was quite efficient and allowed the game to come to him.
After an impressive first quarter (13 points, 9 of those coming from the line), DeRozan (29 points on 9-28 from the field) went away from what was working (driving to the basket) and started to take more and more difficult jump shots as the game went on. In addition, he had Holiday in early foul trouble and refused to punish him on the inside, utilizing his size and athletic prowess.
DeRozan's upside is immense, but he needs to hone many areas of the game if he's to reach that potential. He has a tremendous first step but struggles breaking down defenders off the bounce. In addition, he makes very little effort to rebound at both ends. However, most importantly, he needs to get tougher mentally and that is what separates (by a wide margin) him from Holiday.
Klay Thompson spectacular in win over Pasadena
Klay Thompson, a 6-7 Washington State signee out of Rancho Santa Margarita, continues to demonstrate why he is one of the better all-around players in the country. In a 63-60 win over Pasadena, he scorched them for 37 points and handed out a number of nifty assists as well.
Thompson is one of the fastest rising prospects in the Class of 2008. His skill level and versatility are impressive, and it wouldn't surprise me if he is able to play all three perimeter positions at the next level.
Thompson and his teammates overcame a physically imposing team in Pasadena led by their ultra-talented combo-guard 6-3 senior Keion Bell. Bell poured in 28 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and seemingly got to the basket at will for three quarters. However, Thompson (not known for being a defensive stopper) did an excellent job on Bell down the stretch to pull out the victory.
Overall, Thompson should flourish in Tony Bennett's system and should be a fine replacement for current starter Kyle Weaver.
Ocean View High School TOC Notes
• Although Jrue Holiday went for 40 points, 6-5 junior Michael Snaer (Moreno Valley/ Rancho Verde) scored an efficient 19 and did a decent job of defending Holiday.
• He's very turnover prone and his jump shot is a tad erratic, but 6-3 Keion Bell (Pasadena) is a major league talent.
Johnson has all the athletic attributes to be an outstanding two-guard at the next level, especially on the defensive end. Once he gets more confident in his jump shot, he should be a top-flight recruit.
Brown is a lanky SG/SF with upside galore. He's far from a finished product, but his skills, demeanor and overall talent are similar to former Stanford standout Josh Childress.
• Demetrius Walker, a 6-3 junior out of San Juan Capistrano/J Serra, pumped in 34 points against Campbell Hall in an early round matchup. However, his point total is a bit deceiving as he got more than half of them on cherry picks.
• After a pedestrian first game (12 points), UCLA signee 6-5 Malcolm Lee (Riverside/ J.W. North) erupted for 36 points against Valley Christian. Once Lee gains strength and evolves into coach Howland's system, he should be an All-American two-guard before he leaves Westwood.
• One of the better rebounders in the event is 6-7 junior Jesse Hazely (Rancho Santa Margarita). He needs to continue to develop an interior game (a bit mechanical), but he has some bounce and he's tough as well.
• One of the biggest surprises of the event has been the development (both from a physical standpoint and skill) of 6-5 sophomore George Mathews (Phoenix/ St. Mary's).
• Tennessee commitment 6-8 Renaldo Woolridge (North Hollywood/Harvard-Westlake) has displayed his long range shooting touch consistently throughout this tourney. If he utilized his length in the post (jump hook would be nice), he'd be one of the tougher match ups in the country.
• The biggest disappointment of the event thus far was watching the lackadaisical effort turned in by Pepperdine signee 6-8 Paul George (Palmdale/Pete Knight). His talent and upside is immense, but he needs to get tougher and play a lot harder if he's to reach the lofty expectations.