Los Angeles recruiting update
A look at Los Angeles' top prospects, how the area colleges are faring and what the future holds.
Top five seniors
Three Things To Watch
1. End of an era?
The Westchester Comets have dominated the L.A. City section for over a decade, but their run may come to an end this season as the Taft Toreadors have a deep and ultra-talented squad. Taft is led by recent Colorado commit 6-3 Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-9 Kevin Johnson, and recent Georgia transfer 6-5 C.J. Blackwell. Look for two underclassmen to make an immediate impact in 6-3 sophomore Alessandro Alberto and 5-9 freshmen Ajon Efferson.
2. Worthy of a second look
One of the more intriguing developments in the Los Angeles area has been the steady improvement of 6-10 senior Antonio Worthy (Montebello, Calif./Montebello). He has improved dramatically in the past couple of seasons and now may warrant some Division I interest. He has terrific hands and extremely long arms. Once he gets acclimated to a college weightlifting and nutrition program, he may turn out be a diamond in the rough.
3. Young guns
Los Angeles doesn't produce the type of talent it did in decades past, but there is a plethora of young gems coming up through the ranks who should garner major Division I interest, including 6-foot junior Donovan Johnson (Los Angeles/Palisades), 6-7 junior Skylar Spencer (Los Angeles/Price), 6-5 junior Nick Stover (Los Angeles/Windward), 6-3 sophomore Isaac Hamilton (Los Angeles/Crenshaw), 6-3 sophomore Chance Murray (Los Angeles/Price), 6-2 sophomore Michael Garcia (Playa Del Rey/St. Bernard), 6-foot sophomore Brandon Randolph (Playa Del Rey/St. Bernard), 6-7 freshman Devin Burleson (Los Angeles/Price) and 5-7 freshman Parker Cartwright (Los Angeles/Loyola).
No. 71 overall, No. 14 PF
There are few prospects who have the upside of Pelle. He is an extremely quick leaper with extraordinary length. His offensive skills are raw, but he may be the most potent shot-blocker on the West Coast. If his love affair with basketball ever improves, he should have a very good career at the next level and possibly beyond. St. John's coach Steve Lavin used his West Cast connections to take the lead for Pelle, but that hasn't stopped Washington, Kansas, and UCLA from trying to lure the talented big man.
No. 25 PG
Dinwiddie is one of the more versatile prospects on the West Coast. He is a late-developing combo guard who recently committed to Colorado. His game has steadily matured over the past couple of seasons and once he gets stronger, the other aspects of his game (shooting and defense) will improve dramatically.
No. 30 PG
After a productive summer, Booker has taken off during the fall evaluation period. The explosive combo guard can hurt the opposition in a variety of ways. He is a potent shooter out to the stripe and his release is quick. In addition, he can break down his defender and explode to the rim. If his decision-making tightens up, he will be a nice get for Colorado.
No. 72 PF
Saunders, who is headed to Harvard next year, is an undersized 4-man for the next level. He is a tenacious competitor with very long arms and a tremendous knack for scoring. His face-up game is quite good, but his jump shot needs to get much better at the next level to keep defenses honest.
(Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft)
No. 25 C
Johnson is a big-bodied 5-man with solid hands and excellent upper-body strength. He is very potent at posting up and turning over his left shoulder for the finish. Despite not having great lift, he is a solid rebounder and shot-blocker. If Johnson is going to sign (San Diego State, UTEP and UNLV are involved) it will be in the spring due to academic issues.
The Bruins have expanded their boundaries in terms of luring prospects back to Westwood. However, the results have not been favorable, as ESPNU 100 targets Adonis Thomas (Memphis), Branden Dawson (Michigan State), and Quinn Cook (Duke) have left the Bruins scrambling for prospects. On the other hand, UCLA did get a commitment from ESPN 100 shooting guard Norman Powell (San Diego/Lincoln).
What does the future hold for the Bruins? Apparently, they will scour the junior college ranks for a point guard and some much-needed depth. If there aren't any viable options, Ben Howland is already heavily involved with some of 2012's finest in 6-foot-8 Grant Jerrett (La Verne, Calif./Lutheran), 6-7 Brandon Ashley (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd), and 6-5 Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Findlay Prep).
The Trojans have done a nice job in snagging 6-5 Byron Wesley (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Etiwanda). Wesley is an interesting prospect who should be able to swing between both forward positions due to his savvy and skill. After 6-2 Alexis Moore (Long Beach/Poly) blew up during the Trojans team camp, that's all it took for Kevin O'Neill to hand out an offer. The 2011 West Coast class is void of bigs, so O'Neill ventured into the juco ranks and corralled 7-1 James Blasczyk (Friendswood, Texas/Lee College). To finish off the class, the Trojans are very much involved with 6-8 DeAndre Daniels (Woodland Hills, Calif./IMG Academy).
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.
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