Saturday, July 27, 2013
Ranked guards stand out in Vegas
By Joel Francisco
LAS VEGAS -- The third and final day of pool play Friday at the elite Las Vegas events was filled with a little bit of everything.
ESPN 100 point guard Jordan McLaughlin appears to be back to his old self as he sliced and diced with impeccable passing, smooth shooting and cat-quick drives. Speaking of quickness, ESPN 60 point guard Hyron Edwards has that highly coveted second gear. And then there’s ESPN 100 shooting guard Trey Kell, who came to Vegas with minimal fanfare outside of the West Coast. At this stage, however, there isn't a hotter 2014 prospect out west than Kell.
Here’s a closer look at some of the top performances on Day 3 in Vegas at the adidas Super 64 and Las Vegas Fab 48. Bracket play begins Saturday and continues Sunday.
Best point guard
Jordan McLaughlin (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Etiwanda)
2014, PG, 6-0, 155
Status: UCLA, USC, San Diego State, Indiana, Gonzaga, Kansas and UNLV are involved.
McLaughlin literally has to do everything for his team to make it competitive against talented teams. His burst off the dribble going left or right is special, as are his vision and passing. While attacking the defense, he can pull up and hit the jumper, toss in a runner, or locate a teammate cutting to the basket. If defenders give him space, he'll drain his potent jump shot.
ESPN 60 PG Hyron Edwards has both speed and the ability to change gears to keep defenders off balance.
Speed to burn
Hyron Edwards (East Chicago, Ind./East Chicago Central)
2015, PG, 5-11, 150
Status: Claims offers from Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois-Chicago, with interest from Michigan, Michigan State, DePaul, Northwestern, Florida, Stanford, Miami and Kansas.
Edwards is a blur in transition as he weaves through defenses with relative ease. He can finish with either hand in the paint or drop off a spectacular assist. There are times he plays too fast, but overall he manages a game like a true point guard. Edwards can nail the 3-point shot, as well, but his strength is putting pressure on the defense with his tremendous speed and multiple gears.
Devin Watson (San Diego/Army & Navy)
2014, SG, 6-0, 155
Status: Claims offers from Oregon State, UTEP, San Diego, Cal State Northridge and Northern Arizona.
Although Watson is often listed as a point guard, there is no question scoring is his forte. He has become quite crafty with his handle and has an innate ability to convert buckets at a consistent rate. Watson can nail jump shots on a regular basis, and his pull-up game is tight, especially his high-level floater.
Dominique Collier (Denver/East)
2014, PG/SG, 6-2, 175
Status: Committed to Colorado
Collier is a wiry prospect with good length and quickness. He has the skill set and IQ to play both guard positions at the next level, and he is at his best when penetrating the defense with his low, tight handle. Collier can slither his way between defenders and either launch a floater with excellent body control or set up a teammate with the pass.
Donte Grantham (Chatham, Va./Hargrave)
2014, SF, 6-8, 215 Grantham has that prototypical frame with extreme length, and he's as explosive as they come at his size. In transition, he sprints to the rim for monster throwdowns, or, if the defense is set, he has the ability to come to a jump stop and nail a pull-up jumper. He can hit the 3, as well, especially from the corner. Grantham is still raw in terms of ballhandling, but he’s a prospect with budding upside.
Center of attention
Chinanu Onuaku (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist)
2014, C, 6-10, 250 Onuaku is an intriguing 5-man with great length. His offensive game is raw other than an occasional drop-step move in the paint, but he plays with great energy and affects the game with his shot blocking and rebounding.
ESPN 100 prospect Trey Kell has developed into the best wing in the West.
Trey Kell (San Diego/St. Augustine)
2014, SG, 6-4, 200
Status: His recruiting is heating up as much as anybody's, as he claims new offers from UCLA, Arizona and USC to go along with Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, Virginia, San Diego State and many others.
Kell continues to show why he is the best wing player out west. His game is tight in many areas, especially his decision-making, and he always makes the right basketball play. There is no wasted motion to his game, and he is one of the elite shooters out west. One coach went as far as to say that Kell is better than Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) and Joe Harris (Virginia) at the same stage, and I tend to agree with that assessment.
Horace Spencer (Warminster, Pa./Findlay Prep)
2015, PF, 6-8, 215
Status: Claims offers from Cincinnati, Seton Hall, West Virginia and Temple.
Spencer is a physical specimen with broad shoulders and very long arms. He is a gazelle in the open court and a relentless shot-blocker in and out of his area. His offense is limited to explosive dunks and spot-up jump shots, however, and he needs to polish his fundamentals (such as playing on balance in the paint) to take his game to another level.
Rex Pflueger (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
2015, SG, 6-5, 190 After Pflueger banged on ESPN 60 power forward Carlton Bragg in a pool play game, it appears his confidence is elevating at a rapid pace at the adidas Super 64. Against Indiana Elite/Team Indiana, his jump shot was clicking throughout the game and his release was quicker than I originally thought. He still needs to improve his ballhandling against pressure, but his overall play has been great.
Tim Priller (Dallas/Richland)
2014, PF, 6-8, 215 Priller is somewhat of a gawky 4-man, but he can knock down shots from the elbow out to the 3-point line. Although his shooting is his go-to skill, he isn't afraid to grind down low for rebounds in traffic.
Max Hoetzel (Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas)
2014, SF, 6-6, 215 Hoetzel has a nice lean frame and a high basketball IQ. He showed a little more to his game against Earl Watson Pangos Elite on Friday with his ability to set solid screens and slip those picks for the spot-up jump shot. In addition, he used the pump fake to get past closing defenders. Thanks to his ability to knock down deep jumpers, his recruitment should continue to pick up.
Las Vegas notes
Indiana Elite/Team Indiana has two other prospects who have stood out the past couple of days in juniors Chandler White (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) and Josh Speidel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus). White is somewhat similar to Arizona’s Nick Johnson, although not as bouncy, and Speidel is a hard-nosed but skilled 4-man.
Deron Williams Elite-Pope has a couple of talented 2014 prospects in 6-foot-8 Omar Sherman (Dallas/Prime Prep) and 5-8 Derrick Neal (Dallas/Lincoln). Sherman is a thick lefty with touch, and Neal is as quick as they come off the bounce.