A couple of days later it was time to head down to San Diego and take in the action at the San Diego Pangos Showcase and an eye-opening performance by arguably the best prospect in California, 6-foot-9 freshman-to-be DeAndre Ayton. This event again proved coordinator Ryan Silver is one of the up-and-comers in orchestrating events on the club basketball scene.
Here's a look at which prospects stood out at the two SoCal events.
There may not be a better incoming freshman in the nation than 6-9 PF DeAndre Ayton.
DeAndre Ayton (San Diego/Balboa City Schools)
2017, PF, 6-foot-9, 195 pounds If there is a better incoming freshman than Ayton around the country, I would faint. The willowy 4-man with magnetic hands, major bounce, ball skills and a sweet stroke is scary impressive. He is still raw in the paint but he can already utilize the triple threat game on the perimeter and his production -- both as a rebounder and finisher, is impressive. Defensively, he has excellent timing as a shot blocker and he'll even get into a defensive stance while guarding on the perimeter. If he is willing to stay humble, stay focused and work diligently on all aspects of the game, his upside is immense.
Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
2014, WF, 6-foot-5, 220 pounds
Status: Arizona and Kentucky appear to be out in front but USC, UCLA, Oregon, Florida, Kansas and Duke are still in the mix.
Johnson is simply a man among boys at this level. His team was going through a transition not having the steady Jordan Strawberry managing the offense. However, after the Monarchs started to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, Johnson simply went into point forward mode, and the rest was history.
Best Point Guard
Kendall Small (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View)
2015, PG, 6-foot, 170 pounds
Status: Claims interest from Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Gonzaga, Washington, Washington State, Pepperdine, San Francisco, Portland, UTEP and Bowling Green
Small is one of the most promising point guards out west due to his strength, moxie and improving skill-set. He is a bulldog defender and isn't afraid of the moment in tight games. He can knock down treys or use his strength to punish defenders off the dribble. However, the most impressive aspect of his game this weekend was his pin-point passing in transition.
Max Heidegger (Encino, Calif./Crespi)
2016, PG, 5-foot-11, 155 pounds
Status: Claims offers from Utah State, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona
Heidegger is dynamic with the ball in his hands and is a fearless competitor who can score at all three levels. He can slither his way to the rim due to his potent dribble and can hit the defense with a floater or acrobatic finish through contact. His 3-point shot is very good and his release is quick. He is more scorer than facilitator at this stage, but he does whatever his team needs at any given time.
Jayce Johnson (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
2016, 6-foot-9, 215 pounds Johnson is a gawky center who is still growing in length and with his game on the court. The rangy 5-man plays with assertiveness, purpose and he can finish with either hand in the paint area. Once his frame fills out and his coordination kicks in, he will be a force going forward.
Roman Davis (Los Angeles/Windward)
2015, WF/PF, 6-foot-6, 195 pounds This chiseled lefty has improved his all-around game and is playing with much more confidence and assertiveness at both ends. His rebounding production is impressive and he has become a potent attacker from the elbows. He can either hit the midrange jump shot or use his quick first step to get to the rim. His shot breaks down a bit outside of 15-feet (somewhat of a hitch), but that should improve as he gets stronger in his core.
Jack of all trades
Dorian Pickens (Cave Creek, Ariz./Pinnacle)
2014, SG/WF, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds
Status: The whole Pac-12 is involved as well as the Ivy League, Gonzaga and Vanderbilt.
Pickens will not wow you with athletic prowess, but he'll catch your eye with a high basketball IQ and a bevy of skill. He can score from the triple threat position and is very clever off the dribble. There is no wasted motion with his game and he seems to always make the right basketball play.
Jordan Griffin (Corona, Calif./Centennial)
2016, SG, 6-foot-3, 160 pounds
Although he is a younger prospect, Griffin can score with the best of them. He is blindingly quick off the dribble and has that special gift to score from all three levels. His runner along the baseline has touch and his 3-point shot has improved as well. If he can start getting others involved when the lane is cut off, his game will rise to another level.
Daniel Melifonwu (San Diego/Lincoln)
2014, PF/C, 6-foot-8, 215 pounds Long arms, broad shoulders and major bounce describe this raw thoroughbred. He needs to improve his post skills and feel around the basket, but possesses physical traits that you cannot teach.
Jeffrey McClendon (Pasadena, Calif./Pasadena)
2015, CG, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds McClendon has shown remarkable improvement in the past few months. He has always possessed a great frame and explosiveness, but now his shooting and ball skills are coming around. One thing that has not changed is his ability to lock up opponents.
Torin Webb is one of California's top defenders and has a solid offensive game.
Torin Webb (Temecula, Calif./Great Oak)
2015, PG, 6-foot, 160 pounds Webb has slowly, but assuredly improved his all-around game. His jump shot is smooth and he is a top-notch defender due to his lateral quickness, strength and active hands. For his game to rise to the next level, he needs to improve his point guard skills, specifically handling pressure with the dribble and making sound decisions.
Nuwriyl Williams (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica)
2015, SG, 6-foot, 150 pounds When describing Williams the first description that comes to mind is "explosive." He is electric in the open court thanks to his quickness, speed and bounce. He can step outside and knock in jumpers as well, but his game is attacking the rim.
Brady Twombly (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon)
2015, WF, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds Simply put, Twombly is a beast. He plays the game with maximum energy at both ends. Whether it's attacking the rim and finishing through contact or getting a chase-down block, Twombly’s game is about winning basketball. Going forward it will be interesting to see where his frame goes in terms of a position at the next level.
Best Scoring Point Guard
Devin Watson (San Diego/Army/Navy)
2014, PG, 6-foot, 160 pounds
Status: UC Davis and Oregon State are showing the most interest.
Watson is one of the better scoring point guards out west. He gets into the lane and can finish in a variety of ways or drain the 3-point shot. He isn't scared of the moment and can hit the clutch shot as well. However, for his stock to rise he needs to do a much better job of advancing the ball and getting his teammates more involved through communication.
Eyassu Worku (Los Alamitos, Calif./Los Alamitos)
2016, PG, 6-foot, 150 pounds Worku has an ideal frame for the Division I level with long arms and overall good length. He has sneaky burst in transition and can get to the rim. His jump shot, despite a low release, is potent as well. He is a true point guard with nice vision, but needs to improve his game management skills.
Dillon Reise (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View)
2014, SG, 6-foot-4, 175 pounds Reise has a prototypical frame with long arms and blossoming athleticism. His forte is unleashing that feathery stroke and it's consistent. His ball skills have improved and he is starting to attack more off the dribble -- sometimes ending up with a nice dunk.
Austin Morgan (San Diego/Coronado)
2014, SG, 6-foot-3, 180 pound This Ivy League-type student can shoot it from deep with a consistent stroke. He has a solid looking frame, but needs to improve his quickness and speed with the dribble to improve his stock.
Tommy McCarthy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon)
2014, PG, 6-foot, 155 pounds Before suffering an injury, McCarthy was draining jump shots. He is more of a scoring point guard, but does a nice job of managing the game and is quite the competitor at both ends.
• Henry Welsh, a 6-foot-8 freshman out of Los Angeles Loyola, is the younger brother of elite recruit Thomas Welsh. Look for Henry to have that same level of success as his brother due to his length, savvy and budding skills.
• He has a tendency to play a bit too fast, but 6-foot-3 junior D.J. Ursery (Encino, Calif./Crespi) has improved immensely in the past four months. In addition to his shooting, he is slick off the dribble and his passing instincts were on display as well.
• Chris White, a 6-foot-2 junior-to-be out of Lawndale, Calif., exhibited a much-improved shooting stroke and all-around game during the Pangos Showcase.
• One of the better looking physical specimens was 6-foot-4 Riley Schaefer (Temecula Valley, Calif.). He is a bit rigid, but is very broad, long and can shoot it from deep.
• The aforementioned Ayton wasn’t the only 2017 prospect who impressed at the Pangos Showcase. Christian Popoola Jr. (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) is a smooth lefty point guard type and 6-foot-8 Brandon McCoy (San Diego/Balboa City Schools) has a great frame and scoring instincts. Not to mention 6-foot-6 Richard Polanco (San Diego/Army/Navy) is a lengthy left-hander who has gifted ball skills.