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Young guards shine at Carson event

CARSON, Calif. -- Although the standout performances were few and far between, there was a plethora of outstanding prospects -- 6-6 freshman Xavier Johnson (Temecula Valley, Calif./ Chaparral) being one -- who exhibited their skills at the Double Pump Double Pump Adidas May tournament.

California Supreme, led by UCLA commit Tyler Lamb (Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei), continued its onslaught on the spring circuit; the squad dismantled foe after foe in route to its third championship. Supreme's full-court pressure defense and ESPNU Super 60 Gary Franklin's (Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei) timely 3-point shooting would be the catalysts for its championship run.

While the West Coast Class of 2010 falls quite short as compared to its predecessors, there are many signs pointing to a more illustrious future for the quality of basketball out West. Although it's early on, the classes of 2011 and 2012 possess the type of elite-level talent to catapult the West back onto the national scene -- 6-2 sophomore Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif.) and 6-9 freshman Robert Upshaw (Fresno, Calif./ Edison) are a couple of names who ooze big time upside for the next level.

Standouts

Xavier Johnson (6-6, 190), Double Pump Elite

Freshman, Temecula Valley, Calif./ Chaparral

Johnson is one of the most promising freshmen out West. Whether he ends up a 3 or a 4 remains to be seen, but his skills and savvy are high-level regardless of class. He has great length (very long arms) and is bouncy off two feet. His forte is hitting the offensive glass as well as passing. His feel for the game is special considering his age, and he made a number of high-level passes throughout the event. His jump shot has improved immensely since the regular season; he knocked down a quite a few 3s over the weekend. His shot is still a tad stiff, but it has definitely progressed. At this stage, he projects to being a face-up 4-man with a bevy of offensive versatility. Overall, due to his feel for the game, skills, and the impact he makes at both ends, he'll garner high-major interest during the summer circuit.


Josiah Turner (6-2, 175) Double Pump Elite
Sophomore, Sacramento, Calif.

Turner has definitely grown as a player the past six months. His passing and handle have always been high-level, but now there are other aspects of his game that are very much improved. His jump shot is much smoother than in the past and he has extended his range out to the stripe. He gets nice lift on his shot and his release is smooth. In addition, his pull-up in transition has become quite potent. Turner's passing ability might be his strongest skill and this weekend was no exception. His passing skills in transition as well as in the half-court set are special. Defensively, he has made strides as well. He doesn't have great lateral quickness, but he did show the ability to get down in a defensive stance and he has very quick hands. Overall, Turner is best point guard prospect in California, regardless of class.

Keala King (6-5, 190) Team Odom
Junior, Compton, Calif.

When King is focused there are few players out West with his athleticism and skill. He can get his own shot at any time and his passing is high-level. In addition, he is one of the most efficient rebounders for his size. He attacks the offensive glass with reckless abandon and can finish with either hand. His jump shot, although not has consistent as you would like, has improved since the regular season. His release is solid, but his shot is a tad flat. King has the potential to be a top 50 player in the country, but that will depend on the continued improvement on his jump shot and staying focused on the task at hand on the court.

Tyler Lamb (6-5, 190) California Supreme
Junior, Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei

Prior to this event, Lamb was having a subpar spring campaign. He isn't an elite level talent, but he does many things well that help you win games. He plays hard every possession and has the potential to be a top-notch defender. His shot has been suspect for awhile, but it was very efficient at this event. He didn't force the issue and allowed the game to come to him and as a result he was quite effective. He plays the lanes on defense as well as any prospect out West and he has quick hands. Lamb is not a type of prospect that can get his own shot regular basis, but he could be very good in a motion style offense because he has a very good feel (good passer) for the game.

Surprises

Dillon Biggs (6-6, 175) California Supreme

Sophomore, Los Angeles/ Dorsey

Biggs has the prototypical frame and athleticism to be a high-major wing down the road. His length is impressive, and he's quick enough to be a devastating defender at the next level. His jump shot has improved since the regular season and he handles the ball well in the open court. Despite having all the intangibles to be an elite wing-type, he has many areas of his game, including his approach, that need polishing. His decision-making is erratic (can be turnover prone) and he doesn't play with purpose in mind much of the time. In addition, he needs to play more physical (needs to get stronger) inside and develop a mid-range game. He can shoot the 3-ball, but he needs to be more effective going to the basket or hitting the mid-range pull-up. Biggs has a ton of upside and as his skills and feel for the game improve, he has a chance to be a big-time prospect.

Robert Upshaw (6-10, 215) Double Pump Elite 2012

Freshman, Fresno, Calif./ Edison

Upshaw may be the No. 1 center prospect out West in the class of 2012. He has a very lengthy frame with long arms and he has soft hands. He is very agile for his size, but he doesn't have much lift as of yet. In addition, he needs to run harder, especially in transition. He is a very good rebounder and his passing is quite good for a young big. He passes well out of double teams and he is quite effective in a high-low offensive set. His offensive skills are developing, specifically his right-handed jump hook. In addition, he has a nice touch from the free throw line. Upshaw shows great promise and if he continues to develop his offensive skills and overall feel for the game, the physical aspects should naturally progress.

Sam Beeler (6-9, 200) High Intensity
Freshman, San Diego, Calif./ Poway

Beeler is another center prospect out West that oozes potential. He is quite lengthy with very long arms, but his shoulders are fairly narrow. He runs extremely well for a young big and he is quite agile as well. He lacks strength and doesn't possess great bounce right now, but he is still very young. Despite his slight frame, he isn't afraid to battle inside for rebounds and he has very good hands. His footwork is fairly solid for someone his age and he has a nice left-handed jump hook as well. Like most young big men, he has a tendency to put the ball down on the floor instead of keeping it high, but that should develop over time. Overall, Beeler has high-major potential and it will be interesting to see how he develops in the coming seasons.


Chris McNealy (6-2, 170) Lakeshow # 1

Junior, San Ramon Valley, Calif.

McNealy might have been the biggest surprise of the event. He has a terrific frame for the 2-guard slot with long arms and overall great length. He is a solid athlete that can get to the rim off the bounce and in transition. What stands out the most in his game is his unselfishness. His passing is quite good and he always makes great decisions. He is a very good defender and has all the intangibles to be special in that area of the game. He hit a few pull-up jump shots, but he needs to get much more confident with that aspect of his game. If he develops his mid-range game and extend the range on his shot, his mid-major status will elevate higher.

J'Quon Wroten (6-1, 165) Las Vegas Dogcatchers Elite

Junior, Las Vegas, Nev./ Cheyenne

Wroten may have been the most explosive guard prospect at the event. This lefty has a wiry frame and he possesses high-level quickness and bounce. He is extremely difficult to contain off the dribble with his tight handle and burst and he can get to the rim in a hurry. However, despite all his natural talent, there are areas of the game that need immediate attention. He has the potential to be a 1 at the next level, but he has too much Allen Iverson in him right now for that to happen. He needs to play much more under control and pick his spots instead of forcing the issue every possession. In addition, he over handles the ball too much and doesn't get his teammates involved. Wroten has Division 1 potential, but his savvy for the game must improve considerably during his senior campaign.

Lonnie Pearson (6-4, 180) Northwest Panthers
Junior, Seattle, Wash./ Rainier Beach

Pearson has that prototypical frame for the wing position that college coaches covet. His length is impressive and he has a nice feel for the game as well. He allows the game to come to him and he's a very good passer. His jump shot is decent, with 3-point range, but he'll need to get more consistent in that area. His handle is solid in the open court and he has very good vision. Defensively, due to his reach, he has the potential to be a lock-down defender as well. Pearson has many of the qualities you look for in a high-major recruit, and if his jump shot becomes more consistent, he'll probably end up at that level.

Double Pump Notes

• One of the better looking freshman in the event was 6-7 Landen Lucas (Portland, Ore./ Sunset). He has a very nice frame and excellent footwork for someone so young.

Kevin Mulloy, a 6-6 power forward out of Oxnard, Calif., recently picked up an offer from San Jose State. He has very long arms and deceptive jumping ability. In addition, he can knock down the 3-point shot. He appears to be a solid mid-major recruit.

• Dylan Gerrity, a 6-1 sophomore out of Huntington Beach, Calif./ Edison, doesn't have elite speed and quickness, but his savvy is tremendous and he is a tough competitor.

Ryan Anderson, a 6-7 sophomore out of Long Beach, Calif./ Poly, needs to fill out his frame, but his shooting touch and passing ability are high-level.

• One of the more athletic combo-guards in the class of 2012 is 6-2 Brendyn Taylor (Los Angeles/ Viewpark). He doesn't have a true position yet, but he is explosive and can knock down the 3-point shot.

Bryce Thompson, a 6-2 sophomore out of Richmond, Calif./ Salesian, is an intriguing combo-guard for the next level. This lefty is quick, makes good decisions, and has a lot of moxy.

• One of the top sleepers out West is 6-9 senior Darrell Haley (Palmdale, Calif.). He has a terrific lengthy frame and good hands. He is a tad mechanical and is still very raw, but the upside is there.

Jordan Gathers, a 6-2 junior out of Los Angeles (Loyola) had an excellent weekend. He plays both ends with intensity and has the skill and savvy to play both guard positions at the next level.

• Gary Franklin, a 6-2 junior out of Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei, is one of the better spot-up shooters in the country. He has gotten better attacking the basket, but his decision-making is still troublesome (plays too fast).

• Lonnie Jackson, a 6-2 sophomore out of Valencia, Calif./ is a tremendous shooter in a catch and shoot situation. In addition, he did a much better job of creating off the bounce for others at this tournament as opposed to Las Vegas a week ago.

Bobby Miles, a 6-2 junior out of City of Industry, Calif./ Workman, doesn't have a great frame (stocky) for the next level, but he's a great competitor and understands the point guard position.

Kendall Williams, a 6-2 junior out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./ Los Osos, hasn't progressed much since his freshman campaign. His frame is still quite wiry and he doesn't possess the necessary strength to finish in the paint area. He does have solid leadership skills, but he doesn't have the burst to get by defenders and he's a streaky shooter to boot.

• It will be interesting to see where 6-4 sophomore Byron Wesley's (Cajon, Calif.) frame develops over the next couple of seasons. His physique is quite chiseled and mature, but his overall offensive skill package is impressive.

• His offensive skills are raw, but 6-6 sophomore Marcus Fuggins (Perris, Calif./ Citrus Hill, has a terrific frame with long arms, solid shoulder width, and huge hands.

Jamon Echols, a 5-9 junior out of Seattle, Wash./ Rainier Beach, is an undersized combo-guard, but he is explosive off the bounce and he can drain the 3-point shot.

• His jump shot needs polishing, but 6-2 junior Corey Hawkins (Goodyear, Ariz./Estrella Foothill) attacks the rim with reckless abandon and he's an outstanding competitor at both ends.

• He's physically maxed-out, but 6-2 junior Terrell Stoglin (Tucson, Ariz./ Santa Rita) had an impressive weekend. He can knock down shots and he uses his thick frame to score inside. The ACC (Maryland commit) is too high for him, but he's definitely a Division 1 guard.