LAS VEGAS -- While sitting in the Foothill auxiliary gym evaluating a national unknown big by the name of Alex Kirk, a 6-10 pleasantly surprising junior out of Los Alamos, N.M., I received a call from my colleague Frank Burlison notifying me of an enticing matchup between Pump-n-Run Elite and MBA Hoops Elite.
It didn't take me long to weigh my options as I hopped on the 515 freeway toward Rancho High School for the Tyler Honeycutt (Sylmar, Calif.) and LaQuinton Ross (Jackson, Miss./Callaway) encounter. The playoff game was a blowout in favor of Pump-n-Run, but the trek was worth the hassle as super sophomore Ross poured in 39 points in the defeat.
Reebok and adidas player notes
John Henson (6-10, 190)
Senior, Austin, Texas/Roundrock
Henson continues to prove he is one of the elite prospects in the country. Although he needs to gains a significant amount of weight to consistently finish at the next level, his skill and savvy are remarkable considering his size. He has very quick feet and is extremely mobile, which allows him to finish in a variety of ways. His frame is slight, but his overall talent is immense.
Joey Brooks (6-5, 200)
Senior, Houston/ Strake Jesuit
Brooks is one of the smoothest jump shooters in the country. He has an excellent frame that is quite chiseled and is a solid athlete to boot. He has a solid first step to the basket and utilizes the jab step very well, but his handle could get better. Overall his demeanor is terrific and he should have a fine career at Notre Dame.
Chad Adams (6-5, 185)
Senior, Albuquerque, N.M./ Highland
Adams had a rough outing against the Arkansas Hawks. It appears he hasn't improved much since last summer for a number of reasons. First, he plays way too fast which led to quite a few turnovers and bad shot selection. His jump shot was erratic throughout the contest and he really needs to get on balance and implement the jump stop to his game. Adams is a fine athlete who plays hard at both ends of the floor, but his perimeter skills as well as his overall feel for the game need to tighten up before he gets to New Mexico.
Alex Kirk (6-10, 230)
Junior, Los Alamos, N.M.
Kirk was one of the pleasant surprises of the day. He has a solid frame with broad shoulders but his arms are short considering his size. He does have terrific hands and he is quite nimble as well. He has a soft shooting touch from the elbow and he can finish in rather fluid fashion in transition. He isn't particularly bouncy, but he is far from a plodder. He has excellent timing on the defensive end and had a number of block shots that were impressive.
Fred Gulley Jr. (6-2, 165)
Senior, Fayetteville, Ark.
Gulley is a solid point guard prospect, but Oklahoma State appears to be a tad high for his skill and overall talent. He had trouble separating himself from defenders due to a lack of elite quickness and speed and he lacks strength as well. His jump shot appears to be solid, but overall his skill and savvy for the 1 are just fair at this point of his career.
Clarence Trent (6-7, 230)
Senior, Henderson, Nev./ Findlay Prep
Trent is a beast at this level and had a number of finishes in traffic that were truly special. He is extremely powerful around the basket and has very good hands. His face-up game is solid as he has the ability to take defenders off the bounce, but his jump shot is a tad unorthodox. He is most effective operating inside and utilizing his brute strength, but he does have a tendency to float around the perimeter too often.
Isaiah Epps (6-0, 155)
Sophomore, Plainfield, N.J.
Epps is an intriguing prospect at 1 for the next level. He has superb quickness and a slick handle and is very explosive in the open court. He has a dynamite pull-up jump shot in transition and his release is quick. He does play at warp speed and needs to develop more savvy for the position, but overall he made a number of nice passes to warrant that point guard label.
Aishon White (6-1, 165)
Sophomore, Union, N.J.
White is an undersized 2-guard at this point, but his athletic prowess is nonetheless elite level. He has some definite pop in his legs as he elevates very high on his jump shot. His first step is extremely quick and he has that second gear college coaches covet. His decision-making needs to be polished (plays too fast), but overall his length and talent suggest Division I.
LaQuinton Ross (6-8, 180)
Sophomore, Jackson, Miss/Callaway
Ross was the most impressive prospect I saw all day. He has a prototypical wing-type frame with extraordinarily long arms. His offensive game is peerless as he can hurt his opponents in a variety of ways. His 3-point stroke is feathery and effortless and he can nail it off the bounce and/or coming off a screen. His handle is slick and tight and he has a very quick first step to the basket despite his size. He does over-handle it on occasion, but overall his talent is remarkable.
Rodney Hood (6-6, 180)
Sophomore, Meridian, Miss.
Hood is another Mississippi product who has a bright future. Hood is a lefty combo-guard who has a plethora of talent but is far from a finished product. Although he plays point guard on his AAU team, I foresee him being a versatile 3-man down the road. He has quite a burst going to the basket, and he utilizes his length and athleticism to finish with regularity. His jump shot is solid as is his handle, but he does have a propensity to go one-on-one too often.
Tyler Honeycutt (6-7, 180)
Senior, Sylmar, Calif.
Honeycutt put together a very efficient performance against MBA Elite. He moved without the ball very well and had some acrobatic finishes. His passing is high-level -- he delivered a one-handed 25-foot pass to a cutting Chase Tapley that was impressive. He didn't take very many jump shots because he got to the basket so easily. Honeycutt is one of the better all-around 3-men in the country.
Kendall Williams (6-2, 165)
Junior, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos
After a pedestrian spring Williams has put together some fine performances during the summer period. He does have limited speed and quickness, but he has a high basketball IQ and he plays extremely hard all the time. His court vision is high-level and he always has his head up in transition.
Kawhi Leonard (6-6, 210)
Senior, Riverside, Calif./Martin Luther King
Leonard is putting together a strong summer campaign. He is one of the better 3-point shooters in the West and his ball skills have improved since the regular season. He isn't settling for his shot as often in the past and is making a much more concerted effort to get to the basket. His huge hands allow him to adjust his shot while finishing in the paint area as well.
Eric Lawton (6-1, 155)
Senior, Hemet, Calif./West Valley
Lawton is an electrifying point guard prospect with a knack for the spectacular finish among the bigs. He has high-level speed and quickness and that second gear in transition that is attractive to college coaches. He has played much more under control this summer and is rounding out into a solid 1 for the next level.
Anthony Brown (6-6, 180)
Junior, Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View
Brown continues to climb up the recruiting charts with his performance here in Vegas. He is a late bloomer and as his body matures, his game will continue to elevate. He is the No. 1 2-guard prospect out west in the Class of 2010 and could play some 1 because of his savvy. His jump shot is smooth out to the stripe and his release is tight.
Jordan Mackie (6-4, 170)
Senior, Los Angeles/ Dorsey
Mackie has terrific all-around skills and an ideal frame to go along with it. His length is impressive especially on the defensive end. He is a very good all-around player and has shown definite improvement on his outside shot. He can get to the rim off the bounce and/or come to a jump stop and deliver the nice assist.
Nate Lubick (6-7, 220)
Junior, Southborough, Mass/St. Mark's
Lubick doesn't have a prototypical Division I frame, but he does have fairly long arms and is extremely productive around the basket -- finishes usually with a thunderous two-handed dunk. His feel for the game is solid as he delivered a few nice passes with his off-hand to open shooters when being double-teamed. His jump shot, more like a set shot, needs to smoothen out but it does have a soft landing.
Jordan Williams (6-8, 240)
Senior, Torrington, Conn.
Williams is a late bloomer who is now getting attention from the high-major level. He has thick frame with long arms and very soft hands. He doesn't have great lift but his feet are quite nimble for a man his size. He is best described as blue-collar around the basket and he rebounds well in traffic. He has a strong drop-step move, but overall his post moves are raw.
Fuquan Edwin (6-4, 175)
Sophomore, Paterson, N.J.
Edwin is one of the best slashers I've seen this summer. He has a live body and he's extremely athletic, especially in transition. His jump shot is a tad unorthodox as he releases it from his side -- similar to former NBA great George Gervin.
Ryan Rhoomes (6-8, 215)
Sophomore, Middleton, N.J.
Rhoomes projects as one of the better-looking bigs in the Class of 2011. He has a solid frame with long arms and he's blessed with a soft pair of hands. He is still growing into his body and may add a couple of more inches. His post game and overall feel for the game are in their infantile stage, but he has the physical tools to be a Division I recruit someday.
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Scouts Inc. He has been a high school basketball scout for 15 years, has written for Hoopscoop Magazine and Basketball Times and organized "So-Cal's Finest," his own scouting service.