- Joel Francisco
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SAN PABLO, Calif. -- The first annual Nor Cal Clash, organized by Gerry Freitas, provided a nice preview of things to come in terms of high school basketball in the Bay Area. The event was a showcase game between the region's top juniors and seniors. Although the Class of 2010 came out strong to take a comfortable 32-17 lead, it would be the sensational junior backcourt of 6-foot-2 Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif.) and 5-7 Kiwi Gardner (Manteca, Calif.) who led the 2011 prospects to a 105-99 victory.
Turner's pull-up game and Gardner's athletic ability in the transition game would be the difference; the 2010 team's defense got shredded to ribbons on a consistent basis. In addition to the aforementioned dynamic duo, the 2011 squad also received strong performances by 6-6 J.T. Adenrele (Roseville, Calif./Oakmont), 6-5 Darius Nelson (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon), and 6-2 Roderick Bobbitt (Castro Valley, Calif.).
Kiwi Gardner (5-7, 150) PG
2011, Manteca, Calif.
Gardner doesn't possess ideal size for a Division I point guard, but he has many other physical attributes, such as speed and quickness, that will attract coaches from that particular level. Gardner has an exceptional burst off the dribble. He gets in the lane whenever he wants with a blow-by or a crossover. He has great bounce and can finish much of the time in traffic. However, at the next level, his game will have to slow down because his decision-making, at times, will result in costly turnovers. He has a tendency to overpenetrate and leave his feet in traffic while passing. He is a true point guard who can knock down the 3-point shot and his shot overall looks solid with a smooth release. Gardner will need to learn to manage the game and not play at such a fast pace, but there is no question his talent will be recognized among Division I coaches.
Josiah Turner (6-2, 180) PG
2011, Sacramento, Calif.
Turner is arguably the top point guard prospect in California, regardless of class. He has a terrific frame that has filled out nicely since his freshman campaign. He doesn't have great quickness, speed or bounce, but it's certainly good enough to play at the high-major level. His handle is slick, and he has improved his ability to finish with either hand in traffic. The area of his game that is consistently impressive is his passing. He always has his head up and advances the ball quickly in transition. He has great wrists and can really flick passes to open teammates in tight situations. His jump shot has improved (especially in the midrange area) dramatically in the past year, but he still needs to become more consistent out to the stripe.
Travon Abraham (5-9, 155) PG
2010, Sacramento, Calif.
Although backcourt mate Josiah Turner gets most of the hype, and rightfully so, Abraham is a fine player in his own right. He is a true point guard who loves to push it in transition -- although he plays too fast at times -- and makes plays with both quickness to the rim and passing. Although he is a tad on the short side, he has long arms and his athleticism is high-level. He is very slick with the ball and has multiple gears while trying to get his opponent off balance. He thinks "score" more than "pass," but he does possess solid vision. He can knock down the 3-point shot with regularity and is especially dependable in the midrange area. Abraham is flying under the radar in terms of recruiting (Rice is on him hard) and it's fairly shocking that there isn't a solid number of mid-majors taking a harder look.
Johnny McArthur (6-8,220) PF
2010, Concord, Calif./De La Salle
McArthur might be the most dependable post prospect in the West Coast Class of 2010. And it comes as no surprise, as he plays for arguably the best coach on the coast in De La Salle's Frank Allocco. The best way to describe McArthur's game is blue-collar madness. He has a strong physique that allows him to power through his defender despite not having much bounce. In addition, his footwork and dexterity allow him to score on a consistent basis in the paint area. He can step out and hit the midrange jump shot with regularity, and his stroke is smooth. When he arrives at Santa Clara a year from now, it would not surprise me to see him make an immediate impact as a true frosh.
Darius Nelson (6-5, 220) PF
2011, Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon
Nelson was one of the breakout players of the event. He still possesses that scorer's mentality and has a tendency to force the issue, but overall he might be in the best shape of his early playing career. His body has really tightened up since July and it's helped with his quickness, speed, and lift. His jump shot was smooth throughout the contest and he got to the rim quite often off the dribble. Nelson needs to look to pass more, so defenses don't crowd the lane. In addition, it would also benefit him if he could utilize his thick frame and punish would-be defenders in the post. However, his face-up skills and overall scoring ability cannot be denied.
J.T. Adenrele (6-6, 190) PF
2011, Roseville, Calif./Oakmont
Adenrele might be the best-kept secret in Northern California's Class of 2011. The bouncy 4-man has an outstanding frame with broad shoulders and long arms. He has excellent timing at both ends and had some crowd-pleasing blocked shots to boot. His offensive game is still in its infantile stage, but he possesses the ability to knock down the midrange jumper. In addition, he is a high-level rebounder in traffic with a soft pair of hands. In the half-court set, he knows how to feed the post, and overall his savvy for the game is quite good. If Adenrele continues to develop his skills inside and out, he might be turn out to be one of the better 4-men out West.
Roderick Bobbitt (6-2, 175) SG
2011, Castro Valley, Calif.
Bobbitt came into this event as a relative unknown outside the Bay Area. But after his performance here he should start getting some attention from schools in the Big West, Big Sky and possibly the WCC. He has a decent frame with fairly long arms and he is deceptively bouncy. Although he doesn't possess great physical attributes, he is a solid all-around basketball player. He has the strength and explosiveness to get to the rim off the dribble or hit the 3-point shot. His jump shot, which is more like a set shot, is fine when he has his feet set. On the other hand, in transition he has a tendency to get off balance while shooting, and as a result his shot is all over the rim. Bobbitt is an aberration compared to the rest of his classmates; he doesn't participate in club basketball events during the spring and summer. However, due to his skills and overall savvy for the game, he should be a solid Division I recruit before it's all said and done.
Desmond Simmons (6-7, 200) F
2010, Richmond, Calif./Salesian
Simmons, who has committed to Washington, has a way to go (in terms of skill and fundamentals) if he expects to make an impact as a freshman in the Pac-10. His frame has filled out nicely since his sophomore campaign, and his skills at both ends have progressed as well, just not to Pac-10 level standards. He plays hard at both ends and excels in transition while slashing to the basket. His handle is adequate and he utilizes the pump fake very well to get separation from his opponent. However, his jump shot needs an overhaul. He releases his shot on the way down and as a result his shot is very flat. In addition, he isn't as bouncy as you might think. He has very good straight-line speed and can take his defender off the dribble, but he struggled scoring in traffic.
Nor Cal notes
• Stuart Wesonga (Novato, Calif./San Marin), a 6-6 junior, is an intriguing prospect for the Division I level. He has a terrific frame (long arms) and outstanding athleticism. His perimeter skills are raw, but he is very active in the paint due to his length and bounce.
• Ramon Eaton (Sacramento/Sheldon), a 6-7 junior, displayed an improved 3-point shooting stroke. His face-up skills (projected 4-man) are progressing, but he needs to bring a more consistent effort to reach his potential.
• Jeremiah Kreisberg (Oakland, Calif./Head-Royce), a 6-8 senior who recently committed to Yale, has a solid frame, good feet, and an impressive skill set. He can knock down the jump shot at the elbow and his footwork in and around the paint is impressive.
• Dominique Lee (Berkeley, Calif./St. Mary's), a 6-4 senior, needs to polish his inconsistent jump shot. However, he is an explosive athlete in transition and can really attack the rim at both ends.
• When it's all said and done, 6-8 senior Josh Ritchart (Auburn, Calif./Forest Lake Christian) might turn out to be the most productive college player in the Northern California Class of 2010. He has many of the intangibles scouts and coaches look for in a 4-man. His length is impressive, as are his hands and bounce. He might need a redshirt year to gain strength, but the rest of his game is solid.
Joel Francisco covers basketball recruiting for Scouts Inc.