LYNWOOD, Calif. -- The Fullcourt Press Hoops Classic, directed my Dinos Trigonis, has been one of the more anticipated events through the years. However, the 2009 version brought new meaning to the term "watered down." In years past the tournament was chock full of quality teams and players, but due to the hindrance of an economy spiraling downward, the talent pool was a bit shallow.
However, despite the poor economy, the tournament did have a handful of quality teams -- Mater Dei, Poly, and Bishop Gorman come immediately to mind -- and players (Tyler Lamb, Shelton Boykin, Shabazz Muhammad, and Keala King) that kept audiences attention throughout the weekend. Not to mention a couple of prospects in 6-3 junior Norman Powell (San Diego, Calif./ Lincoln) and 6-7 sophomore Rosco Allen (Las Vegas, Nev./ Bishop Montgomery) that should be attracting recruiting attention sooner than later.
Tyler Lamb (6-5, 190)
2010, Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei
Quite possibly the best feature of Lamb's game is how he always plays with an even keel. He rarely shows emotion and his overall decision-making is quite good. In addition, he is one of the few prospects in the country who brings an honest effort at both ends. He is a solid on-the-ball defender, and he is even better as a help-side defender. He has gotten stronger finishing around the basket and his ball skills have improved as well. There were a few times this weekend when he broke his opponent down off the bounce to get to the rim. His jump shot is solid, but it needs to get more consistent to take his game to another level. Overall, Lamb has steadily improved through the years and although he isn't a high-level athlete, he should be an immediate contributor during his freshman season at UCLA due to his all-around skills.
Shabazz Muhammad (6-4, 180)
2012, Las Vegas, Nev./ Bishop Gorman
Before going down with an ankle injury, Muhammad was exhibiting why he is considered the No. 1 prospect in the West for the Class of 2012. The rangy lefty can impact the game on many different levels. He is one of the most impressive offensive rebounders (for his size) that I've seen in a long time. His instincts around the basket are high-level and he's a quick leaper. In addition to his rebounding prowess, he fills the lane very well on the break and his jump shot is smooth out to the stripe. Despite his size, he can be tough to handle in the post due to his bounce and improved jump hook. Whether he's a 3 or a 2 at the next level, Muhammad has a very high ceiling.
Gary Franklin (6-1,185)
2010, Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei
Franklin is one of the more debatable players in the country. Although he is projected by many to be a 1, he is definitely more effective at the 2-guard. He is an outstanding shooter either in transition or spotting up and he gets it off quickly. In addition, he can pound smaller defenders going to the basket due to his strength and moxy. He has improved as a passer, especially in transition, but he doesn't go left very well to keep defenses honest. Overall, Franklin brings energy every game and is an ultimate competitor, but will he be content playing off the ball at the next level because that's where he can be most damaging to his foes.
LaBradford Franklin (6-2, 160)
2010, Temecula Valley, Calif./ Great Oak
Franklin is another prospect who dramatically improved the past year. He has ideal size for the lead guard position at the next level and his game management is improving as well. He is a scoring point guard who loves to push it in the open court and his passing can be spectacular at times -- he handed out a one-handed lob in transition to 6-2 sophomore Gabe York (Orange, Calif./ Lutheran) that was spectacular. His jumper is consistently smooth out to about 19-feet, but due to a lack of strength his shot tends to drift on him when launching further out. With added strength and continued development in the mental aspects of the game, Franklin could play at the high-major level.
Player to watch
Shelton Boykin (6-5, 190)
2010, Long Beach, Calif./ Poly
Boykin is the most improved prospects on the West Coast in the class of 2012. A relative unknown coming into the spring, he has taken his game to a new level. His athleticism is off the charts and he's just beginning to tap into his enormous potential. He has a burst off the dribble on which he can get to the rim with a single bounce from the elbow. He is a very good offensive rebounder, but he needs to punish would-be defenders in the post instead of wandering around on the perimeter. His handle has improved, but the degree to which he'll contribute at Long Beach State will probably be determined on the improvement of his outside shot. On the other hand, he could become a lock-down defender due to his length, quickness, and bounce.
Norman Powell (6-3, 180), SF,
2011, San Diego, Calif./ Lincoln
Powell was a definite revelation this weekend at this event. He has a terrific frame with long arms and his lift is awe-inspiring. He has an explosive 1st step to the basket and he can bounce with the best of them—had a few dunks in traffic that were stunning. He has big hands to power dunk on most bigs and his mid-range game is showing signs of maturity. His jump shot (gets great lift) needs an overhaul (winds up), especially out beyond 15-feet. On the other hand, he does have the ability to stick the mid-range jump shot with more regularity. Overall, his shot selection needs refining as he forces the action far too often when the play isn't there, but he's a talent worth monitoring for the next level.
Rosco Allen (6-7, 180)
2012, Las Vegas, Nev./ Bishop Gorman
Allen -- think Kyle Korver -- has one of the smoothest strokes on the West Coast, regardless of class. He is a gawky youngster who possesses a high basketball IQ and he's just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. He moves well without the ball and is a nifty passer. He's a versatile performer who plays inside and out, but he does get pushed out of the post (for now). However, once he gets stronger, he's going to be a handful to guard. He faces up his defenders very well and will either shoot the jump shot or find the open man. Allen is definitely one of the more intriguing sophomores on the West Coast.
Fullcourt press notes
• Deonta Burton, a 6-1 senior out of Compton, Calif./ Centennial, is one of the top athletes on the West Coast. He is very good off the dribble and his jump shot (great lift) is consistent when he gets his feet set.
• Keala King, a 6-5 senior out of Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei, may be the most unique talent on the West Coast. His jump shot is a work in progress, but he can be a nasty defender, a prolific passer, and is one of the better offensive rebounders in the country.
• Deandre Daniels, a 6-8 reclassified junior out of Woodland Hills, Calif./ Taft, needs to focus on developing some savvy (shot selection) for this game. He can score in bunches, but it's not uncommon for him to go one-on-five, which will not translate well at the next level.
• Although he gets overshadowed by the "Big Three" (Lamb, King, and Franklin) 6-4 sophomore Katin Reinhardt (Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei) is a fine prospect. He has nice length and his jump shot is high-level as well.
• Ryan Anderson, 6-7 junior out of Long Beach, Calif./ Poly, is developing into a solid face-up 4-man for the Division 1 level. His body is beginning to fill-out and he has an assortment of skills. He needs to get tougher finishing in the paint, but that should come with added strength.
• Although he doesn't have a true position for the next level (yet), 6-2 junior Alex Carmon (Long Beach, Calif./ Poly) is a gamer. His jump shot looks to be improved in the mid-range area and he's a relentless competitor at both ends.
Joel Francisco is the West Coast recruiting coordinator for ESPN's Scouts Inc.