- Joel Francisco
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DENVER -- In the first annual adidas Double Pump Spring Tournament, the Northwest Panthers, led by the dynamic guard duo of 6-3 juniors Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley, would finally hit a wall -- that being the host Double Pump Elite squad -- as the attrition of eight games in three days took its toll on a worn-out squad.
Double Pump Elite, directed by entrepreneurs Dana and David Pump and coached by Jim Harrick, utilized its depth and the all-around play of 6-6 UCLA commitment Reeves Nelson (Modesto, Calif./ Modesto Christian), 6-5 sophomore Tyler Lamb (Ontario, Calif./ Colony), up-and-comer 6-7 junior Tyler Honeycutt (Symar, Calif.) and 6-9 San Diego commitment Vander Joaquim (El Cajon, Calif./ Christian) to dominate the weary Panthers and claim the championship.
Abdul Gaddy (6-3, 180)
Junior, Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine Prep
Gaddy was the best player in the event and clearly established himself as the No. 1 point guard in the West -- not to mention the entire country. Gaddy -- think former Arizona standout Mike Bibby -- is one of the special players in the Class of 2009. He is a pure point guard who possesses a crisp handle and has a flair for the spectacular when it comes to passing in transition. His court demeanor is excellent and he never gets rattled despite his team having to rally on a number of occasions to pull out the victory. He is quite the clever finisher -- more finesse than brawn -- on the break, although at times he has a tendency to get too cute. His jump shot (solid lift and arc) has improved from a year go, but he needs to continue to hone that area of his game. Overall, Gaddy is a special talent. As he gets stronger look for him to have an outstanding college career (verbal to Arizona) and possibly beyond.
Greg Smith (6-8, 230)
Junior, Fresno, Calif./Edison
Smith has come a long way in the past year. He was always considered one of the top prospects in the West, but now he is becoming one of its top players. His frame -- with long arms and big hands -- and strength are impressive. He runs well (although not as hard as he could) in transition and can finish with a thunderous dunk. He has solid bounce for a big and surprisingly good feet. In addition, he has soft hands and possesses a nice, soft touch around the basket. His skills in the paint area have improved dramatically from a year ago, and he now has a go-to move -- a jump hook with either hand -- added to his developing arsenal. By the end of the summer, Smith will be regarded as the No. 1 center prospect in the West.
Tyler Lamb (6-5, 190)
Sophomore, Ontario, Calif./ Colony
Lamb is one of the better wing-types in the Class of 2010. Originally, I compared him to former UCLA standout Arron Afflalo. However, he is becoming much more athletic than Afflalo and is better off the bounce at the same stage. His handle has become tight and swift and he uses his solid frame when attacking the rim. He rarely forces the issue and has an excellent feel for the game despite his youth. His demeanor is excellent (he never gets rattled). Lamb is also not afraid to take the big shot -- he hit the game winner with no time left in an early playoff encounter. His jump shot is decent (has a tendency to fade away), but he needs to get much more consistent in that area of the game if he wants to be considered elite at his position.
Trent Lockett (6-5, 215)
Junior, Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins
Lockett (Arizona State verbal) is one of the better all-around players I've seen in the past year. He doesn't possess a typical wing-type frame; he is rather on the thick side. Furthermore, he's a solid athlete with adequate bounce and decent quickness. However, his savvy and skill level are college-ready, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him start as a freshman if current starter James Harden leaves early for the NBA after his sophomore campaign. Lockett's game is quite diverse: He can take defenders off the bounce -- he's quicker than you might think -- and does an excellent job of drawing contact for the 3-point play. He's an excellent passer and his pull-up is more than solid. He rebounds well for a wing and he can hurt you in the post utilizing his strong frame. He may be a 'tweener at the next level in terms of defense; he doesn't have great lateral quickness. But overall, he's an outstanding basketball player.
Reeves Nelson (6-6, 220)
Junior, Modesto, Calif./Modesto Christian
Nelson wasn't as spectacular at this event compared to last summer's exhibition. However, he is without a doubt the leader of this year's version of Double Pump. Nelson does most of his work in the paint area utilizing his strength, bounce and savvy. At this level, he can overpower opponents, but I'm concerned about how his game is going to translate to the next level. His projected position appears to be the 4 at which he can take defenders off the bounce and crash the glass for athletic put-backs. But, by the time he becomes a Bruin (UCLA verbal), it would wise on his part to demonstrate he can consistently hit the outside shot. If this one area becomes a strength rather than a continued weakness, he can show off his underrated passing ability and set up others for the score. Defensively, he's going to be interesting to monitor. His frame is getting quite bulky and he appears to be done growing. He does have the mental make-up to defend, but will his body be up to the task?
Avery Bradley (6-3, 180)
Junior, Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine Prep
"Relentless" and/or "warrior" are a couple of adjectives that come to mind when describing Bradley. He had an outstanding tournament and could be considered one of the top five 2-guards in the West. His wiry frame and explosiveness allow him to finish among the bigs and he never appears to wear down. His handle is solid although he could get better off the bounce and his jump shot (gets good lift, but its trajectory is flat) needs to get more consistent. He is one of the more bouncy athletes around, and his quick feet and hands should translate into being an excellent defender at the next level.
Vander Joaquim (6-9, 220)
Junior, El Cajon, Calif./Christian
Joaquim is arguably the best kept secret on the West Coast. He is originally out of Angola and barely speaks English -- Portuguese to be exact -- but he appears to be adapting (basketball-wise) quite nicely here. In a nutshell, Joaquim oozes upside. He has the ideal length, athleticism and savvy to be a high-major 4. He gets most of his points off of tip-ins, dunks and midrange jump shots. His back-to-the-basket game is raw, but he has great hands and appears to be very coachable. He has solid instincts around the basket and is an underrated passer. Other than continued development in the skill department, another area that needs to be addressed is his propensity to foul -- he went over the back of the opposition on numerous occasions.
Brandon Davies (6-8, 230)
Junior, Provo, Utah
Davies is a solid mid-major 4/5 for the next level. He has a strong physique with fairly long arms and very good hands. He has decent bounce and solid quickness as well. His footwork is fundamentally sound and he can finish with either hand in the post. He's a tough competitor and takes pride in rebounding at both ends. In addition, he can step out to hit the 15-foot shot with regularity. He plays hard at both ends and is a decent shot-blocker, but that is an area that could improve. Davies appears to have a high basketball IQ and possesses solid instincts when operating around the basket.
Andrew Bock (6-1, 155)
Junior, Rialto, Calif./Eisenhower
Bock probably improved his stock more than any other prospect at this event. He is a true point guard and ranks only behind Robert Smith (Perris, Calif.) in terms of point guard prospects in California. He has a wiry frame, long arms and quick feet. He has improved his shot selection since the regular season and did an outstanding job of setting up his teammates. He has a solid first step and a tight crossover. He isn't a blazer in the open court, but he's very deceptive utilizing various speeds depending on the situation. Despite all his positive attributes, there are areas that need sharpening up. But most of it should take care of itself as he gets stronger. At this stage, Bock can get to the basket but he struggles finishing due to his lack of upper-body strength. Secondly, his jump shot, which more like a set shot, is a work in progress and needs some fine tuning. On the other hand, he has become a solid defender and moves his feet well laterally. Overall, Bock should continue to gain recruiting interest as the spring and summer evolves.
Trevor Williams (6-9, 230)
Junior, Littleton, Colo./Denver Lutheran
Williams is a project, but he's a high-major project. He won't be 17 until July and he apparently has a size 20 shoe. He has a solid-looking frame with long arms and great hands. He isn't overly bouncy but is fairly quick off his feet. His offensive game would best be described as mechanical. But for most bigs, it takes time to develop that aspect of the game. He can score in the post (has a solid drop-step), but overall his game is raw. He gets most of his points hitting the offensive glass. He has good instincts around the basket and his soft hands come in handy more often than not. Defensively, he's a solid shot-blocker with excellent timing. As his fundamentals and skills continue to blossom, Williams should be a solid high-major recruit.
Tyler Honeycutt (6-7, 170)
Junior, Sylmar, Calif.
Honeycutt went from sleeper to high-major recruit in a matter of weeks. He resembles a young Austin Daye (Gonzaga), but he has more bounce to his game. He has grown a few inches since last year and may add a couple more. Offensively, he gets most of his points in transition and on tip-ins. He handles the ball well, but it's his passing ability that strikes you while watching this young thoroughbred. He has great feel for the game, terrific hands and quick wrists that allow him to have a flair for the spectacular when assisting other teammates. His jump shot is inconsistent, but his release is solid and his shot has a soft landing. If there is an area of the game that may be a concern, it is his ability to guard at the next level. He doesn't possess great lateral quickness to guard a wing and he is too slender to check a power forward.
What we learned
• Recent Santa Clara commit 5-11 Robert Smith (Perris, Calif.) had a solid outing at this event. He's the best true point guard in the state and as he improves his jump-shooting ability, his ability to create off the bounce will increase tenfold.
• Wisconsin Swing might have won the tournament if they didn't have to play with only five players in the semifinals because of early plane reservations. Their motion offense was a thing of beauty and 6-7 junior Ben Averkamp (Cedarburg, Wis.) was one of the better skilled 4s at the event.
• Elijah Johnson, a 6-2 junior out of Las Vegas, is far from a finished product. However, his overall talent (athleticism and blossoming skills) is off the charts. He is one of the top 10 prospects on the West Coast.
• Jordan Finn, a 6-4 combo-guard out of Etiwanda, Calif., helped his stock with a solid all-around performance. The improvement on his jump shot since the regular season has been impressive.
• Terrell Stoglin, a 6-1 sophomore out of Tucson, Ariz./Santa Rita, plays with savvy and poise well beyond his years. His jump shot, however, needs to tighten up and become more consistent.
• The most complete player in Nevada is none other than 6-3 junior Anthony Marshall (Las Vegas/Mojave). The aforementioned Elijah Johnson possesses the more significant upside due to his elite athleticism, but Marshall's savvy, toughness and skill at the defensive end gives him the nod at this stage.
• King James Shooting Stars lost early on in the playoffs, but that did not tarnish the opinion of their overall talent. Their top performers included 6-6 junior Jonathon Smith (Grove City, Ohio) and 6-8 junior Jordon Morgan (Redford, Mich./University of Detroit Jesuit).
Smith is a wiry 3 who is explosive off the bounce and possesses a soft shooting touch as well. Morgan doesn't have great bounce, but his body is D-I ready and he has solid hands.
• Royce Woolridge, a 6-2 sophomore out of Phoenix/Sunnyslope, is an undersized 2 for the next level, but he's an excellent scorer with a smooth looking jump shot.
• Keegan Hornbuckle , a 6-6 junior out of La Canada, Calif./Campbell Hall, played fairly soft during the regular season. However, at this event he played with greater urgency, especially off the dribble.
• One of the surprises of the event was the play of 6-7 junior Lucas Devenney (Santa Rosa, Calif./Piner). I originally pegged him as a Big Sky player. However, with his tenacity and deceptive bounce he may project to the WCC.
• Chris Brew, a 6-3 junior out of Berkeley, Calif./St. Mary's, needs to sharpen up his decision-making -- he has a tendency to be selfish -- to make an impact at UC Santa Barbara for the 2009-2010 season.
• Gus Gabel, a 6-6 3 from Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chapparal, was one of the pleasant surprises of the event. He's fairly bouncy and his jump shot is terrific out to the stripe.
• One of the bigger surprises of the event was the inconsistent play of 6-2 freshman Matt Carlino (Highland, Ariz.). Carlino is very skilled and plays well beyond his years. However, at this event he forced the issue too much (became turnover prone) and his shot selection was troublesome.
• Collin Borchert, a 6-7 junior out of Glendale, Ariz./Kellis, is a handful when he's focused. But there are many times throughout the game he drifts and doesn't play with purpose.
• Despite his size 6-6 Alec Williams (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./J Serra) has a soft touch out to 19 feet and should garner recruiting interest from the Big West and maybe higher.
• One of the better glue-types in the country is 6-8 junior Andy Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei). Brown isn't overly athletic, but he has a great feel for the game and can hit shots.
• Although he's on the small side, 5-8 junior Brandon Smith (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) is a tough, true point guard with excellent speed and quickness. If he can improve his jump shot he should be a D-I player.
• He'll need to redshirt -- he is raw and needs to get stronger strength -- his first year in college, but Anthony Stover's (La Canada, Calif./Reniassance Academy) length and bounce are intriguing for the high-majors.
• One of the top sleepers in the Class of 2009 is 6-6 Marcus Ruppel (Glendale, Ariz./Deer Valley). He possesses great length, a smooth shooting touch and is explosive in transition.
• Demetrius Walker, a 6-3 junior out of San Juan Capistrano, Calif./ J Serra, is a great competitor and attacks the rim at a relentless pace. However, he needs to develop his rigid jump shot and become a better decision-maker; at the next level, defenses will adjust and clog the key area.
• The Double Pump event, held at the Gold Crown Field House, was well-organized and held in a facility that was capable of holding six games at a time. This allowed coaches and scouts to focus on the games at hand and not waste time driving frantically around town to get to a game.
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.
Tyler Lamb and Double Pump Elite proved too much for the weary Abdul Gaddy-led Northwest Panthers, writes Joel Francisco.