- Joel Francisco
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Jrue Holiday, the 6-4 two-guard who brings new meaning to the word "relentless," will wrap up his sensational high school career Friday against St. Mary's (Berkeley, Calif.) for the Division IV state crown.
I've been watching high school basketball religiously for about a quarter of a century and I'm not sure I've come across a high school player as well-rounded at both ends of the floor as Holiday. Whether he has the same success as fellow west coasters Baron Davis or Jason Kidd is yet to be determined, but he does possess the ability to change the complexion of the game at both ends more than anybody I can recall in that time frame.
Holiday is just one of many talented prospects -- Demar DeRozan and Seattle's finest Peyton Siva come immediately to mind -- I gazed upon during this season. There were many other standouts as well as surprises and sleepers to emerge in this two-part series review of the 2007-08 season. The first segment will focus on the seniors and juniors, while next week I'll evaluate the most promising talent in the sophomore and freshman classes on the West Coast.
Class of 2008 (seniors)
Jrue Holiday (6-4)
North Hollywood, Calif./Campbell Hall
The best guard in the West since Jason Kidd laced them up for St. Joseph (Alemeda, Calif.). His jump shot and handle need some polishing, but at the defensive end he is peerless.
All West Coast
Demar DeRozan (6-6, 200)
The most promising wing in the West since Inglewood standout Paul Pierce. His performance against Gahr at the Maxpreps Holiday Classic was borderline legendary. Overall, his left hand needs work, but his mid-range game is progressing and his athleticism is off the charts.
Luke Babbitt (6-7, 220)
His skill level and savvy at the four spot are as good as it gets. He has a feathery shooting touch out to the stripe and is one of the better passing big men in the country.
Jerime Anderson (6-2, 180)
Anaheim Hills, Calif./Canyon
Possesses great size for the one spot and has more savvy than any other point guard in the country. Is a consistent jump shot from being an All-American at the next level.
Larry Drew (6-0, 155)
Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft
His decision making improved immensely the second half of the season. There isn't a point guard in the country running the pick-n-roll better than him.
Klay Thompson (6-7, 185)
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita
Although he needs to get tougher, his skill and savvy are better than some of the McDonald's All-Americans selected.
Collin Chiverton (6-5, 190)
San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty
This rangy athletic wing can hurt you from deep or take it strong to the hole. Once his mid-range game tightens up, he'll be a standout in the WCC.
Honorable Mention: 6-5 Malcolm Lee (Riverside, Calif./ J.W. North), 6-11 Jeff Withey (San Diego/ Horizon), 6-4 James Rahon (Del Mar, Calif./ Torrey Pines) and 6-8 Paul George (Palmdale, Calif/ Pete Knight).
Lorne Jackson (6-1, 175)
Simi Valley, Calif.
His overall performance at the Maxpreps Holiday Classic was scintillating to say the least. Doesn't possess great speed and quickness, but his jump shot is solid and his feel for the game is elite level.
Kyle Fogg (6-2, 175)
Brea, Calif./ Brea-Olinda
Has all the intangibles (length, skill, and quickness) to be a high-major two guard. As good as his upside is on the offensive side of the ball, his defensive prowess may be better.
Reggie Moore (6-1, 180)
Fresno State got a steal when this high-major talent signed in November. He has a chiseled frame and can run a team with aplomb and savvy.
Eugene Phelps (6-6, 210)
Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft
Long Beach State scored with this physically gifted four. He power dunks anything around the basket and is solid in the pick-n-pop set as well.
Michael Proctor (6-8, 215)
Big Sky coaches will be wondering if this Tyler Hansbrough clone should have gone higher. Northern Colorado is sure glad he didn't.
Honorable Mention: 6-0 Bryce Cartwright (Compton, Calif./Dominguez), 6-7 Aaron Fuller (Mesa, Ariz.), 6-4 Mychal Ladd (Seattle/Rainier Beach), 6-2 Charles Odum (Lakewood, Calif./Mayfair), James Nunnally (Stockton, Calif./Weston Ranch), 7-1 Greg Somogyi (Portola Valley, Calif./Woodside Priory). 5-8 Caspar Ware (Cerritos, Calif./Gahr).
Class of 2009 (juniors)
Renardo Sidney (6-9, 230)
Put on one of the most memorable performances during the LA City semifinals against rival Westchester. His post game is far from polished, but his stroke is smooth and he's an underrated passer.
All West Coast
Peyton Siva (6-0, 170)
Siva is the most explosive point guard in the country. He has deep range on his jump shot and has the uncanny ability to either get to the rim or dish off to an open teammate.
Brendan Lane (6-9, 210)
Lane reminds me of a young Ryan Anderson (Cal-Berkeley). He has a solid shooting touch behind the stripe and is pretty effective off the bounce as well.
Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 190)
When he allows the game to come to him, he's an exceptional wing talent. His stroke is smooth and has become a tough rebounder as well.
Abdul Gaddy (6-3, 170)
Tacoma, Wash/Bellarmine Prep
His size and passing ability are high-level to say the least. How effective his jump shot becomes will determine his career beyond Arizona.
Hollis Thompson (6-7, 180)
Late-blooming wing has smoothened out his jump shot -- now he needs to get better off the bounce.
Honorable Mention: 6-9 Greg Smith (Fresno, Calif./Edison), 5-11 Robert Smith (Perris, Calif.), 6-9 David Wear (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), 6-8 Andy Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), 6-2 Anthony Marshall (Las Vegas/Mojave), 6-6 Reeves Nelson (Modesto, Calif./Modesto Christian) and 6-5 Michael Snaer (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde).
Joseph Burton (6-7, 260)
Hemet, Calif./West Valley
Due to his weight loss he has once again positioned himself to be highly recruited. His footwork in the post and nifty passing ability are a sight to see.
Aaron Dotson (6-4, 190)
High-flying finisher in the open court and his jump shot is beginning to come around.
Solomon Hill (6-5, 180)
For two seasons he was tabbed as an undersized four; now he's evolving into a point forward type with a solid shooting touch.
Anthony Stover (6-9, 200)
La Canada, Calif./Renaissance Academy
Is years away from becoming a finished product, but his improvement since last season has been astonishing. Has a nice shooting touch out to 15 feet and is bouncy.
Kawhi Leonard (6-6, 200)
Riverside, Calif./Martin Luther King
He's a tad rigid and a bit reluctant to post-up, but his shooting ability and big-time frame (long arms and broad shoulders) will attract the high-majors.
Chase Tapley (6-2, 180)
Blue-collar point guard has recovered nicely from an injury-plagued sophomore season. He needs to extend his shooting range, but his point guard skill, savvy and toughness speak volumes.
Derrick Williams (6-7, 215)
La Mirada, Calif.
Doesn't possess high-major lift, but his perimeter skills -- most notably his shooting -- are developing and his length is impressive.
Eric Lawton (6-1, 155)
Hemet, Calif./West Valley
Has a slight frame, but he's a high-major scorer and defender due to his explosive nature. Wouldn't surprise me if he turned into a point guard down the road either due to his overall feel for the game.
Jerry Evans (6-7, 160)
This left-handed wiry wing-type needs strength, but he's a great athlete with solid perimeter skills. He reminds me a little of former UNLV standout Stacey Augmon.
Alex Osborne (6-7, 215)
Los Angeles/Pacific Hills
Displayed a solid face-up game at the Pacific Shores tourney. He can hit the 15-footer or take defenders off the bounce from the elbow.
Eric Hutchinson (6-7, 215)
Longview, Wash./Mark Morris
He's an undersized five, but he's quite bouncy and possesses a solid all-around feel for the game.
Trevor Williams (6-10, 230)
Has a solid looking frame with long arms and runs well. His skills need polishing, but in this era he'll probably end up high-major.
Marcus Ruppel (6-6, 180)
Glendale, Ariz./Deer Valley
Possesses the intangibles (lengthy frame and solid bounce) of a blossoming wing for at least the mid-major level. His jump shot is streaky and he has a quick first step.
Best West Coast sophomores and freshmen coming next week.
Joel Francisco has been a high school basketball scout for 15 years. He has written for Hoopscoop Magazine and Basketball Times and organized "So-Cal's Finest," his own scouting service.