- Joel Francisco
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While attending the Double Pump Hoop Fest in Anaheim, Calif., as well as the Pangos Sweet 16 in Long Beach, Calif., there were a number of high-level prospects who put together some spectacular moments. In addition, there were a few sleepers who will become hot commodities in July.
Xavier Johnson (Temecula, Calif./Mater Dei)
2012, SF, 6-foot-6, 190 pounds
Johnson is one of the better wing-types in the country. His game has evolved as evidenced by his much-improved jump shot. When he sets his feet and is on-balance, his shot is smooth. When shooting off the dribble, he has a tendency to get off balance, and as a result, his shot can get erratic. In addition, there were times when he settled too much on his shot and as a result it has taken away from the other areas of his game (posting up and passing), which make him so intriguing.
Calaen Robinson (Chandler, Ariz./Corona Del Sol)
2012, PG/SG, 6-2, 170 pounds
Robinson is not a true point guard, but he is a high-major combo-guard. The left-hander has a sweet stroke who can drain the 3-point shot or the midrange pull-up off the dribble. In addition, he is potent in the open court where he can attack the rim or deliver the assist. He took a number of ill-advised shots and needs to get stronger with the ball in traffic, but his talent and upside are evident.
Ikenna Iroegbu (Elk Grove, Calif./Franklin)
2013, PG, 6-1, 155 pounds
Iroegbu may be the No. 1 point guard prospect out west, regardless of class. He has ideal size and athleticism for the position. His passing (great wrists) is terrific both in transition as well as in the half-court set. In addition, he gets great elevation on his jump shot as he hit a number of 3s over the weekend. He needs to continue to learn how to manage a team and take on more of a leadership role, but he is definitely a major talent.
Grant Jerrett (La Verne, Calif./La Verne Lutheran)
2012, PF, 6-8, 200 pounds
Jerrett is one of the elite prospects in the country due to his length and skill set. However, there are areas he needs to improve, while he prepares for the next level. His strength will improve as he gets acclimated to a college weight program, but his toughness and ability to finish plays through contact are issues. While playing against an undersized Play Hard Play Smart squad he constantly got pushed around and didn't finish one play (rebounding or put backs), unless given space. It would also be beneficial to see him play with a true point guard who knows how to get him the ball through a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop offensive set.
Demarquise Johnson (Phoenix, Ariz./Westwind Prep)
2012, SG, 6-5, 185 pounds
Johnson has the quintessential frame for the 2 or the 3 and the skills as well. He can knock it down from deep and he gets great lift and rotation on his shot. In addition, he has a terrific burst off the dribble and can slash his way to the basket. However, his defensive intensity must improve -- not too mention his toughness. In other words, his approach needs to shift to making plays (defense, rebounding, passing) to ignite his team to victory.
Isaiah Hicks (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan)
2012, WF, 6-5, 180 pounds
Hicks has a lanky frame with long arms and he's an exceptional high-level athlete. He excels in the open court where he has the burst to get to the rim -- usually finishing with a elbow-above-the-rim dunk. In addition to his athletic prowess, his jump shot appeared to be much smoother than the regular season. He gets nice lift on his shot and his release appeared to be rather effortless. His ball skills (struggles going left) need work as does his feel (plays too fast) for the game, but he is an emerging talent.
Two to watch
Christian Wood (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale)
2013, PF/WF, 6-8, 170 pounds
Wood will remind most of current Detroit Piston Austin Daye. Wood has a sinewy frame with a wing span that is albatross-like. He has a feathery touch to the 3-point stripe and his shot is effortless. He can attack off the dribble as well, although he's still quite gawky. He needs to get much stronger and play with more of a sense of urgency (floats too often), but he is a definite talent.
Dakari Allen (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon)
2013, SF, 6-5, 175 pounds
Allen is one of the fastest rising sophomores out west. The willowy wing has great length and ever-improving perimeter skills. His long arms and overall length enable him to be a lock-down defender and his offensive skills are improving. He can slash to the basket and his 3-point shot is getting better. He even displayed a two-dribble, step-back jump shot that looked very natural.
Arizona on the rise
The state of Arizona has some up-and-coming talent emerging in 2013 SG Jaron Hopkins (Chandler, Ariz./Basha), 2013 F Paul Watson (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Paradise Valley) and two 6-9 centers in freshman Isaac Allen (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa) and sophomore Maurice Kirby (San Tan Valley, Ariz./Poston Butte).
Hopkins has an ideal frame for Division I and the athleticism too boot. He needs tighten up his jump shot, but his slashing game is tough to stop. Watson has the prototypical wing-type frame and bounce, while Allen and Kirby, although very raw, have great length.
Team on a mission
Play Hard Play Smart, based out of Sacramento, are a group of hard-nosed prospects who play well as a team as they captured the Pangos 16 Championship over Team Superstar. The team doesn't have one outstanding player, but it has a number of Division I prospects led by 6-6 junior Shawn Smith, 6-3 junior Eric Kienny, 6-3 junior Mike Bryson, 6-2 sophomore D'Erryl Williams and Allen.
• Arik Armstead, a 6-8 junior out of Amador Valley, Calif./Pleasant Grove, is considered one of the top offensive tackle prospects out west. He has a big frame with long arms and very good feet. He committed to USC for football, but he could make an impact on their basketball team as well, due to his underrated skill set and agility.
• His stocky frame may be a cause for concern at the next level, but 6-2 junior Dayton Boddie (Oceanside, Calif./El Camino), knows how to play and is a bonafide winner. He is a physical 2-guard who can shoot the 3-point shot, defend and has a high basketball IQ.
• One of the better looking sleepers was 6-2 junior Keywhon Powns (Los Angeles, Calif./Westchester). His shot has improved as well as his decision making -- and it would be hard to find many more explosive perimeter players.
• Keonta Vernon, a 6-5 sophomore out of Tulare, Calif./Tulare Union, is an undersized 4-man for the next level. He has a chiseled physique and is a terrific rebounder/defender. Not too mention, he handles the ball fairly well in the open court and can knock down the jump shot at the elbow.
• Zena Edosomwan, a 6-8 junior out of North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlak, continues to climb the recruiting charts. He has a strong frame with long arms and his footwork has improved and he is one of the more underrated passers for his size.
• Stanley Johnson, a 6-5 freshman out of Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei, had his whole arsenal on display at the Pangos 16. He can stroke the 3-point shot or maneuver his way to the basket. As he becomes a better passer off the dribble, his game will continue to evolve.
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.
Xavier Johnson, Demarquise Johnson highlight Joel Francisco's West Coast recap from the Double Pump Hoop Fest and Pangos Sweet 16.