- Joel Francisco
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LYNWOOD, Calif. -- The 2008 Fullcourt Press Fall Hoops Classic didn't have a plethora of high-major prospects, but it was chock-full of intriguing underclassmen.
The story of the event may have been the coming out party for 6-6, wiry senior Quincy Lawson (Vista, Calif.). Lawson was a virtual unknown prior to this weekend, but after watching him dominate all comers in a variety of ways for three games it would not surprise me if ends up at the mid-major level or higher.
In the gold-medal game The Hood, the name for Dominguez high school's team during the offseason, dominated the runner-up Gamepoint out of San Diego 77-55 to capture the championship.
The Hood was led by their All-American 6-foot-7 Jordan Hamilton (who has yet to find out if he will be eligible this coming season) as well as 6-2 senior Myron Green, 6-5 senior Thurman Woods and 6-4 junior Keala King. The overall depth coach Russell Otis has corralled the past couple of seasons is astounding -- he could have eight Division I prospects on his roster. In other words, whether Hamilton is eligible or not should not deter the Dons from being one of the favorites for the Division 1 state championship.
In the silver division championship game, California Select defeated a youthful Belmont Shore squad 68-54 behind a balanced attack of 5-11 Antonio Biglow (Stoneridge Prep), 5-8 Dominique O'Connor (Los Angeles/ Westchester) and 6-7 junior Dwayne Polee (Los Angeles/ Westchester). Belmont Shore was led by 5-11 sophomore dynamo Cezar Guerrero (City of Industry, Calif./ Workman) with 25 points.
Quincy Lawson (6-6, 185)
Senior, Vista, Calif.
Lawson went from the surprise category to the list of standouts with his outstanding all-around play at this event. Although his brother Kenny plays at Creighton, it's amazing that Quincy wasn't unveiled to the AAU circuit until his senior season. He has an outstanding frame with long arms and is very athletic. He is somewhat of a 'tweener at this stage; he possesses the prototypical wing-type body, but his skills are not yet polished enough to play that position. His perimeter skills need to tighten up, but he can handle the ball in the open court and he is a gifted passer. His jump shot is a work in progress, but he made a number of 3-pointers this weekend. He is very active and quite bouncy around the basket. He utilizes his length to snag rebounds against taller opponents and deflect passes into the post. Lawson is a diamond in the rough with tremendous upside, it will be interesting how his recruitment unfolds in the coming months.
Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 220)
Senior, Compton, Calif./ Dominguez
Hamilton was a man among boys at this event. He is the most gifted scorer on the West Coast and might have the most polished offensive game in the country. He is a menace in the open court and a very underrated passer. He has range on his shot out to 25 feet and he is equally effective in a catch-n-shoot situation and off the bounce. He has good straight-line speed, but he doesn't possess great lateral quickness. He has a variety of ways to score at his disposal and he also possesses that killer instinct, especially on the offensive end. There have been many times in the past where Hamilton has lost his composure and he has a tendency to hunt for his own shot far too often, but at this event he played under control and kept his emotions in check.
Chris Manresa (6-9, 230)
Senior, Las Flores, Calif./ Tesoro
Manresa—think a poor man's Kevin Love—displayed his skill and overall savvy throughout the weekend. He has a mature frame that is Division 1 ready with long arms and has some of the best hands I've seen on a big as well. His fundamentals and overall feel for the game are high-level. He possesses quite the arsenal on the offensive end. Whether it's a strong drop-step move where he uses his huge frame to ward off potential shot-blockers or his soft shooting touch out to the stripe, he is quite polished on the offensive end. He uses the rim well for his reverse finishes and he is equally effective with either hand. Furthermore, despite not having great quickness or bounce, he can face up and take his defender off the dribble utilizing his outstanding footwork. In addition to his scoring prowess he has an innate ability to pass the basketball. He has a terrific feel for the game and is one of the best passing bigs I've seen this season. Despite all his skills, Manresa could play with more intensity at both ends, especially in transition.
Myron Green (6-2, 190)
Senior, Compton, Calif./ Dominguez
Green is one of the more underrated prospects on the West Coast. He is a good 2-guard with a strong frame and solid athleticism. He isn't overly quick and/or bouncy, but Green has a great feel for the game and he is always on balance. His game has progressed nicely since his sophomore season, and he should now be considered a Division I recruit. His outside shot is smooth and his release is textbook. He is much more effective in a catch-n-shoot situation than off the dribble, but overall his shot is effective. He is getting better off the bounce and does a nice job using his strong frame to convert inside. Despite his size, he is an excellent rebounder and isn't afraid to mix it up in the paint area. In addition to his toughness, his demeanor is outstanding. He rarely gets rattled during the game and handles adversity very well.
Dwayne Polee (6-7, 190)
Junior, Los Angeles/ Westchester
Polee may be the most explosive athlete in the West, regardless of class. He is one of the few prospects around the country who is equally bouncy off one foot in transition or two feet in the paint. His most effective move other than a dunk is his ability to come to a jump stop off the drive and weave his way to the basket. However, despite his surreal leaping ability, the rest of his game is far from polished. His ballhandling is shaky, especially in the half-court set, and he is rarely on balance when he is pulling up for his jump shot. In addition, he doesn't have a very good feel for the game -- Polee's shot selection and decision-making are troublesome -- and he plays every possession like it's a pick-up game. On the other hand, there is still a significant amount of upside to his game. Whether or not Polee's perimeter skills and savvy develop, he still can be an effective player at the next level. Due to his extraordinary athleticism, he could be a terrific rebounder and shot-blocker. He attacks the offensive glass with a vengeance; he gets a bevy of put-backs and follow dunks. On the defensive end, he has excellent timing and plays hard on every possession.
Norvel Pelle (6-8, 180)
Sophomore, Compton, Calif./ Dominguez
No one at the event had as much upside as Pelle. Although his skills and fundamentals are in their infantile stages, his athleticism and upside are off the charts. He is extremely quick off his feet and his timing at both ends is outstanding. Pelle played for two teams, and while he is strictly an interior player for his high school team, he unveiled his perimeter skills while playing for his AAU team. He can handle the ball effectively in the open court and his outside stroke is smooth out to the 3-point stripe. Overall, his game is rough around the edges, but his future is certainly bright. He needs to continue to develop his post game and footwork, but with his frame it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up a face-up 4-man for the next level. He has a very quick first step to the basket and he is a deceptively efficient passer in the post as well as out on the perimeter. Defensively, he is one of the better shot-blockers on the West Coast, due to his length and bouncy nature. He also possesses solid lateral quickness.
Frankie Edwards Jr. (6-7, 180)
Junior, Los Angeles/ Cathedral
Edwards was merely a project a year ago; however, he has added a couple of inches to his wiry frame and his skills have improved immensely since the regular season. He is yet another lefty who has recently been unveiled here on the West Coast. He has a feathery shooting stroke out to the stripe and he understands how to square up for his shot and remain on balance. His release is tight and overall his shot is smooth. He has developed a face-up game in recent months and he has the ability to take defenders off the bounce. He struggles converting inside due to a lack of strength, but the skills are there. He needs to polish up his handle; defenders who get into him tend to make him struggle and become turnover-prone. Overall, he has the upside to be an intriguing face-up 4-man for the next level.
Xavier Johnson (6-5, 180)
Freshman, Temecula, Calif./ Chaparral
Johnson projects as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2012 on the West Coast. This gangly lefty is far from a finished product, but his length is impressive and his feet are enormous. He can play multiple positions despite his youth. He doesn't have exceptional quickness yet -- Johnson's still growing into his body -- but he changes speeds very well and can get to the rim off the bounce utilizing his long arms. In addition to being able to slash to the basket, he is also a solid rebounder. He is pretty quick off the floor and his length allows him to snag rebounds amongst the bigs. His jump shot, which is more like a set shot, is a tad unorthodox (he has a high release), but he can nail the midrange pull-up and his shot has a soft landing. Overall, Johnson has a bright future and with his blossoming athleticism and developing skills.
Kevin Panzer (6-8, 180)
Junior, San Juan Capistrano, Calif./ Capistrano Valley
Panzer had an up-and-down summer, but at this event he displayed all the skills and upside that make him such an intriguing prospect for the next level. At his size there may not be another 4-man around the country who can shoot like he can. His release is textbook and he has range out to 23 feet. He is very good at spotting up for his shot and he is far from selfish. In addition to his prolific shooting stroke, he is quite bouncy around the rim; he had a number of outstanding finishes around the basket. He still needs to get stronger and much tougher around the basket, but he still has two years left before he reaches the next level. He is an excellent passer, especially in the half-court set, but his ballhandling is shaky when defenders get into him. Panzer should be an excellent fit in a motion style offense in which he could come off of screens and shoot or be lethal in a pick-n-pop situation.
Fullcourt Press notes
• Keala King, a 6-4 combo-guard out of Compton, Calif./ Dominguez, continued to demonstrate why he will be one of the most recruited prospects a year from now. He is a unique talent that is extremely skilled and smooth and has innate ability to find open teammates.
• He needs to considerably tougher and play with more urgency, but 6-9 junior Dennis Kramer (La Costa Canyon, Calif.) has a lengthy frame, very good hands, and an excellent touch around the basket.
• In addition to Quincy Lawson, Gamepoint (based out of San Diego) had two of the most prolific shooters of the event in 5-11 junior Joe Hudson (Escondido, Calif.) and 5-10 sophomore Johnny Dee (Rancho Buena Vista, Calif.). Each has a textbook release and can get it off quick as well.
• Although he was terrific in the silver division championship game, 5-11 sophomore Cezar Guerrero (City of Industry, Calif./ Workman) needs to develop more pace to his game (plays way too fast) as well as learn better shot selection. At this stage, he is an undersized scoring guard masquerading as a point guard.
• He doesn't have a true position yet, but 6-1 sophomore Bruce English (La Verne, Calif./ Lutheran) plays hard at both ends of the floor and is very explosive around the basket.
• Todd Lewis, a 6-3 freshman out of Etiwanda, Calif., has a very bright future. He has a prototypical frame for the 2, with long arms and overall great length. His jump shot looked solid out to the stripe and he possesses very good lateral quickness.
• Dominguez picked up another good looking prospect in 5-10 sophomore Chris Brown. He is a true point guard with solid length as well as savvy. The jury is still out on whether he has that second gear to blow by defenders, but his passing was high-level.
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.