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April 27, 2008

Vegas action

LAS VEGAS - Rivals.com bounced around from gym to gym catching the action from the Las Vegas Spring Showcase and Double Pump Spring Classic over the weekend. And no prospect looked better than 2009 shooting guard Avery Bradley.

In his first game of the weekend with the Northwest Panthers, Bradley scorched the nets for 33 points on 14-17 shooting from the field against EBO. The rangy scorer knocked down all three of his three-point attempts while also scoring everywhere else on the court. The most impressive aspect of his scoring arsenal is his advanced midrange game. Whether its off a quick pull up jumper or on a turn around jumper off a post move, Bradley has a great feel for finding the bottom of the net. And at the rim he was explosive, finishing most of his opportunities with dunks.

Defensively, Bradley was impressive as well. He moves extremely well laterally and pressures the ball with his long reach and is equally effective guarding the point and the shooting guard. If there was a week spot to his performance, it was a lack of defensive rebounding. Bradley only corralled three rebounds and all three were on the offensive end, which on the other hand, further bolsters his prowess as a scorer.

On the recruiting front, Bradley said he is intent on playing in the Pac-10 but is without a leader at this point. Every school in the conference has offered with the exception of UCLA, who already has a bevy of guards either signed or committed.

Abdul Gaddy- Bradley's running mate in the backcourt, Gaddy did not play with the same dominating explosiveness as Bradley. On 6-14 shooting from the field (1-5 from behind the arc), Gaddy scored 13 points. He also had five assists, but some lackadaisical upright ball handling also produced five turnovers. Gaddy certainly has a good feel for the game and a high skill level, but his less than explosive athleticism and below average strength leave room for concern as to whether he is truly the second best point guard in the class of 2009. Improving his physical strength is must for him to maintain his status as one of the best guards in the country.

Jared Cunningham- The Arizona State commitment matched up well against Gaddy, who is headed to rival Arizona in the Northwest Panters, EBO match up. We didn't chart Cunningham's stats, but he did end up with 11 points. Cunningham has a lot of the same positive traits as Gaddy in regards to feel for the game and skill level, but looked a bit more bouncier athletically. Arizona State should immediately benefit from Cunningham's addition to the roster.

Demetrius Walker- This physical wing prospect looked awful impressive for the SoCal All Stars. He is a tough to handle off the dribble due to his physicality, but Walker also looked good shooting the ball from the outside. His focused intensity on the court was impressive also impressive as he did a great job rebounding his position and drew a number of charges on defense when we watched him. In a tough loss to Martin Brothers of Iowa, Walker scored 24 points.

As for his recruitment, Walker listed Indiana, Memphis, California and Tennessee as his top four and said all four have offered him.

Malik Story- The 2008 prospect ran with the SoCal All Stars this weekend since he has not yet signed a Letter of Intent with USC. Nonetheless, he maintained that he will be signing with the Trojans and is simply waiting for an academic hang up to be worked out.

On the court, the big bodied guard did what he does best, rain jumpers from deep and use his size to create space for soft midrange jumpers as well. Story led SoCal with 27 points against Martin Brothers.

Hollis Thompson- The Georgetown commitment was impressive during the 2/3rds of the game we watched him play. During that stretch Thompson poured in 21 points on an efficient 9-11 shooting from the field (2-3 from behind the arc). He used his wiry frame to get buckets off the dribble in the lane and looked good shooting the ball from three. A legitimate small forward, Thompson also dished out a couple assists without turning the ball over and gobbled up three steals. Once he dedicates himself to the weight room, Thompson will be able to take his game to the next level.

Jordan Hamilton- Thompson's teammate slowly worked his way into this same game, passing up shots early in the game. It didn't take Hamilton long, however, to pick up a few baskets with zigzagging muscle drives to the rim and stamp his presence on the game. Then in the second half he nailed a couple threes with his vintage stroke to break the game open. Matching Hollis' efficiency, Hamilton went 9-12 from the field (2-3 from behind the arc) for a total of 23 points 2/3rds through the game.

Justin Cobbs- A physical point guard for California Supreme, Cobb was disruptive defensively and did a nice job organizing the his team's attack. Cobb's game places him on the mid-major/high major bubble.

Gary Franklin- One of the top 2010 guards in the country, Franklin has a reassuring solidity to his game. He can control a game at the point guard position as well as take it over as a scorer off the ball.

Solomon Hill- The junior from Los Angeles Fairfax High School is establishing himself as a legitimate high major small forward. A rangy athlete, Hill scored around the basket, knocked down threes and was a presence defensively. His versatility as a combo forward has to be attractive to college coaches.

Elijah Johnson- He might not have the pure speed of John Wall, but when you account for lateral quickness, strength and leaping ability, Johnson is the most athletic point guard in the 2009 class. His handles were tight, his passing on time but a little reckless and his shot too flat to bee consistent. Certainly a big time threat any time the game is loose, Johnson still has room to tighten up his game in order to control the game in a half court setting. Nonetheless, there is no denying he is making progress with his game.

Carlos Lopez- The most productive of the Pump N Run big men, Lopez is a skilled four man with upside and a feel for the game. He will be the center of the Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep attack next year, and his effectiveness at UNLV will depend largely on how much stronger he becomes.

Darius Morris- The four-star combo guard has really developed physically since last summer. His added strength showed on some strong drives to the basket during our viewing. During our viewing Morris played the point, but he now has the size to be a legitimate high major shooting guard as well.

Morris did say that Michigan is at the top of his school list, which also includes Texas, Washington State, Washington, USC and Kentucky. Michigan, Washington State and USC have offered.


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