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May 23, 2007
Cactus Classic: More news and notes
The Arizona Cactus Classic finished on Sunday afternoon at the University of Arizona and after looking deeper into our notes, there are still some things to uncover from a great weekend of hoops.
Staying in Tucson
Having 32 teams, mostly from the West Coast, was a major recruiting opportunity for the Wildcats. Three players – Brandon Jennings, Larry Drew and James Rahon – stayed around on Monday for an unofficial visit.
The visit yielded a commitment from Jennings, the nation's top point guard. The Oak Hill Academy guard helped Belmont Shore reach the championship game. He was unstoppable to the basket and used his great combination of speed and athleticism every chance he could. Jennings averaged 28.4, a tournament high, in eight games of action.
Sources tell Rivals.com that Drew was also ready to make a commitment to the Wildcats but Jennings beat him to the punch. Drew is also looking at North Carolina and UCLA.
Hoosiers shine with fundamentals
The Bay Area Hoosiers were one of the best teams in the tournament because of the club's unselfishness and chemistry. Perhaps the two most impressive prospects on the club were junior guard Quentin Dailey, Jr. of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and sophomore guard Jared Cunningham from San Leandro in California.
Cunningham, a 6-foot-3 wing, didn't put up eye-popping numbers but he did open eyes with his play. With the ability to play three positions, Cunningham showed off a good nose for the ball and is potentially a college point guard. He's a smooth operator and despite being the youngster player on the floor most times, he played like a guy that had little problem making decisions with the ball in his hands.
Hank Thorns was one of the biggest surprises from the event. The unsigned senior has struck a chord in Virginia. He's visiting Virginia Tech officially this week. He has already tripped to Virginia and has an offer from Old Dominion.
Sophomore guard Nick Markovich was the fourth leading scorer in the event, despite a seven point guard on opening night when Rivals.com was watching him. The 6-foot-3 combo guard from Basha (Ariz.) High School averaged 23 points a game in four games of action. He proved to be one of the top shooters in the event as well.
Michael Snaer, a powerfully built wing for Inland Reebok, emerged at the event on a national level. The 6-foot-4 guard from Rancho Verde (Calif.) High School is an efficient scorer and didn't shy away from attacking the basket. He benefited from having Malcolm Lee, a 2008 UCLA commit, as his running mate. Snaer will be recruited by the high-majors and he's still a bit of an under-appreciated player nationally.
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Turner, a 6-foot-8 little known big man from Houston (Texas) Jones High School, is a raw prospect but plays with a high motor and well on the glass. He was the team's enforcer down low and converted nearly everything at point blank range down low.
Tate, a 6-foot-6 wing from Hobbs (N.M.) High School went out with a bang on Saturday, scoring 34 points against the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. He's a versatile wing that handles the ball well and passes better than most at his position.
Phillip plays big role
Like last year's Meanstreets Express team featuring Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon, the New York Gauchos have a couple of quality big men that know their roles. Bishop Loughlin 2008 forward Kevin Phillip quietly put in the work from start to finish and wrote a great final chapter to his weekend with 19 points and nine rebounds in the championship game.
Phillips came into the event as a Northeast mid-major target but don't be surprised to see him land on his feet at the Big East level. He's bouncy, tough and loves to throw his body around. Sounds a lot like Tim Flowers of last summer, doesn't it?
Ready right now?
Max Zhang, a 7-foot-2 presence for the California Supreme via China, seemed to get better as the tournament went along. He's a 2007 prospect and according to his coaches, he has interest from UCLA and USC but is awaiting word on his academic standing from the NCAA.
17-year-old forward Festus Ezeli graduated from Jesuit High School in Sacramento when he was 15. From there, the 6-foot-8 high-energy guy has yet to play any ball in college. A potential trip to prep school could be in the works. According to his NorCal Pharaohs coach Jason Barton, Ezeli has heard from Virginia, Oregon State, Northern Arizona, St. Mary's and Fresno State.
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