- Joel Francisco
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NEWARK, Calif. -- Although the third annual Nor Cal Tip Off Classic wasn't chock-full of high-major talent, it did provide fans and scouts a glimpse of two scintillating juniors on the West Coast. ESPNU Super 60 recruit 6-3 Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif./Sacramento) and up-and-coming dynamo 5-9 T.J. Taylor (Oakland, Calif./Oakland) demonstrated why they'll be considered two of the top prospects not only on the West Coast, but nationally as well.
Each can dominate a game in a variety of ways. Turner is molding into a scoring point guard type who can get his own shot, while Taylor is best described as the traditional lead guard who sets the table for his teammates with the ability to knock down open 3s. As they continue to progress, look for the both of them to escalate up the national rankings in the coming seasons.
T.J. Taylor, PG (5-9, 155)
Taylor is one of the top point guards in the West, regardless of class. He doesn't have the coveted size for a lead guard, but due to his high basketball IQ, strength and skill, his upside is quite promising. He is a spark plug on the court and understands the intangibles of the game. He pushes it well in transition and always has his head up. His passes are always on the money, and he knows how to hit his teammates in stride for the easy score. In addition, he has the dexterity to deliver the assist with either hand. His jump shot is more than solid out to the stripe, and he is equally effective in a catch-and-shoot set as he is at pulling up in transition. Overall, Taylor is an absolute steal for Kerry Keating and Santa Clara.
Josiah Turner, PG (6-3,185)
Turner is the most physically gifted point guard prospect in the West, regardless of class. Although his passing prowess wasn't on display as much as in the past, he definitely knows how to get his own shot. He has an assortment of scoring skills, particularly off his slick handle, that will bode well for him at the next level. His low crossover, strength and deceptive burst were highly impressive. He used his length and mass to ward off defenders getting to the basket, and he did a nice job finishing with his left hand. His midrange jump shot is solid, but it needs to be more consistent if he wants to reach that elite level on the national scene. In addition, his game management can be shaky at times, as he has a tendency to force the issue (turnover prone) when the play isn't there. However, with coaching and continued skill development, he has all the physical intangibles to be special at the next level.
Dominique Lee, SF (6-4, 190)
2010, Berkeley, Calif./ St. Mary's
Lee is a power wing who is a beast in transition. While on the break, he assaults the rim with reckless abandon and has the ability to either go through the defense utilizing his powerful frame or around it with his bounce. Due to his strength, he gets a bevy of 3-point opportunities, and he's a horse on the boards at both ends. However, the key to his effectiveness at the next level will be the improvement of his jump shot. He is not comfortable (or doesn't appear to be) shooting outside the midrange area, but that will need to improve in order for his stock to rise in the West. Overall, Lee plays extremely hard at both ends and projects to being that glue-type next season for the Utah Utes.
Jackson Carbajal, SF (6-3, 180)
2010, Fresno, Calif./ Buchanon
The Sacramento State signee understands how to play this game. He has a decent frame with solid length and is a deceptive leaper. He moves very well without the ball and can really slash to the basket. He knows where to find holes in the defense and can use either hand equally well. Out on the perimeter, he possesses a really smooth stroke that extends out beyond the arc. His release is textbook, and he gets it off quickly. In addition to his shooting prowess, he has an innate ability to find the open man. He has excellent vision and can deliver an assist with either hand to avoid defensive pressure. With his savviness and ability to affect the game on multiple levels, he should have a fine career in the Big Sky.
John Green, SF (6-5, 175)
2010, Oakland, Calif./ Castlemont
Green has slimmed down, and as a result, his game has transformed. He now should be considered a definite sleeper on the West Coast due to his added versatility. He has solid length for the small forward position and is quite springy around the basket. He can face-up his defender and take him off the dribble, and he has a decent burst as well. In addition, he demonstrates the ability to locate his teammates, as he delivered a couple of nifty assists. At this stage, he'll need to improve the range on his jump shot for him to snag one of those remaining scholarships in the spring. He is solid in the midrange area, but his shot tends to fall apart outside of 15 feet.
Robert Garrett, C (6-10, 250)
2011, Sacramento, Calif./Sacramento
For most bigs, it takes time to develop, and Garrett is no exception. He has continued to progress as a player each and every year since his freshman season, and he now forecasts to be one of the most highly recruited big men on the West Coast. He possesses a high-major frame with broad shoulders and extraordinary length. He is still quite mechanical around the paint area and he doesn't have much bounce, but he is very strong and he has a great pair of hands. He catches the ball well in traffic and has the strength to finish with defenders draped over him. His go-to move is the drop step, but with continued development, that area of his game will continue to progress. Garrett is a project, but there is a lot to work with and he appears to have an excellent attitude.
• Dominique Taplin, a 6-1 junior out of Oakland, Calif., needs to tighten up his jump shot before he arrives at Santa Clara. He has a terrific frame and solid ball skills, and is a tenacious defender.
• One of the more intriguing prospects of the day was the slick junior lefty Noah Springwater (San Francisco/University). He doesn't have great quickness or speed, but he changes speed very well, has excellent court vision and can really shoot it from deep.
• Brendan Keane, a 6-8 junior out of Alemeda, Calif./St. Joseph, projects well for the mid-major level. He doesn't have great length (short arms), but he does have very good hands, is a solid passer out of the post and possesses a soft jump hook turning over his left shoulder.
• Juan Anderson, a 6-5 junior out of Castro Valley, has that prototypical wing-type frame, but his game is rough around the edges. He has a nice feel for the game (good passer), but he needs to tighten up his handle, polish his jump shot and get much stronger to be a Division I priority.
• In addition to the aforementioned recruits, there were a handful of Division I prospects for coaches to keep an eye on in juniors 6-2 Roderick Bobbitt, 6-4 Chris Read (Castro Valley, Calif./Castro Valley) and 5-7 Jacari Whitfield (Alemeda, Calif./ St. Joseph) as well as sophomores 6-3 Alex Fertig (Fresno, Calif./ Buchanan) and 6-2 Glenn Baral (Berkeley, Calif./ St. Mary's).
Joel Francisco is the West Coast recruiting coordinator for ESPN's Scouts Inc.
Two junior point guards from California were the main attractions, writes Joel Francisco.