Carson's stock keeps rising
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The 2010 Pangos Sweet 16 wasn't as deep (in terms of quality teams) as the event was a year ago, but it did provide an opportunity to evaluate a plethora of improved prospects -- Michael Caffey and Kenyatta Smith come immediately to mind. Although most games went down to the wire, the championship was a different story as the ultra-talented Compton Magic squad stormed passed Play Hard Play Smart (Sacramento) 85-53.
The Magic were playing without any true bigs (6-7 Greg Sequele was injured), but they have a bevy of perimeter stars led by 5-11 junior Jahii Carson (Mesa, Ariz.), who was unstoppable throughout the tourney.
Jahii Carson, PG (5-11, 155)
2011, Mesa, Ariz.
Carson, a former Oregon State commit, is one of the better looking point guards in the country. He has a stocky frame with solid length and his athleticism is off the charts -- he had an alley-oop finish in the semifinals that was a jaw-dropper. He has that highly coveted second gear, and he can knock down the 3-point shot. He has a tendency to palm the ball while scoping the court, but his one-handed passes in traffic are high-level.
Michael Caffey, PG (6-0, 155)
2011, Corona, Calif./Centennial
Caffey demonstrated throughout the weekend that he is one of the top five point guards on the West Coast. He has solid size for the 1, with nice length, and his speed and quickness are impressive. He made solid decisions in transition and the half-court set, and he displayed an improved jump shot out to the stripe.
Ali Hameed, SG (6-2, 175)
2011, San Leandro, Calif.
Although Hameed has a slender upper body, his skills and savvy were evident during this event. He hit a number of on-balance runners in the lane and advanced the ball well in transition. He still needs to exhibit a consistent jump shot to the stripe, but his IQ and skill set should warrant Division-I interest during the summer.
One to watch
Donovan Johnson, SG (6-1, 175)
2012, Los Angeles/Palisades
Relentless is the first adjective that comes to mind when describing Johnson. He is a warrior at both ends of the floor and extremely difficult to stop off the dribble. His jump shot is playable and he is a willing passer to boot. If everything comes together (smoother jump shot) in the next couple of seasons, he should be a sure-fire Division-I recruit.
• Jalon Wilson, a 5-7 freshman out of Los Angeles/Palisades, doesn't possess ideal point guard size just yet. Still, he changes speeds very well, has a high basketball IQ and can drain the 3-point shot with regularity.
• Los Angeles/Ribet Academy has a major sleeper in 6-7 junior Greg Sequele. His offensive skills very raw and he has few fundamentals, but his physical attributes are impressive.
• One of the more skilled 4-men in the Class of 2012 is 6-7 Grant Verhoeven (Central Valley Christian). He is deceptively bouncy and has a variety of ways to score in the paint, and he can knock down the jump shot at the elbow.
• Once 6-6 junior Juan Anderson (Castro Valley, Calif.) consistently sticks the outside shot, he'll look that much more attractive for the mid-major level. He affects the game on many levels and he plays with purpose.
• Grant Jerrett, a 6-8 sophomore out of La Verne, Calif./Lutheran, doesn't get many touches, but when he does his footwork and skill are impressive.
• Darius Nelson, a 6-5 junior out of Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon, has a game similar to former UCLA standout Kris Johnson. He has a thick frame and can score inside and out.
• He's an undersized face-up 5-man, but 6-6 Damiene Cain (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) has improved. He has a smooth stroke out to the stripe and is a handful in the paint because of his skill and toughness.
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.