LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA – I spent about 27 hours over Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas, most of that stint coming in the Bishop Gorman High gymnasium.
For that I thank my wife, Julie, who kindly offered up a roundtrip Southwest ticket Thursday night and the opportunity to catch a hunk of the Best Buy Basketball Challenge Series/Spring Classic.
I owe you, big-time, baby. But then again you already know that . . .
Here are 10 of the better prospects I watched, listed alphabetically:
*Casey Benson (6-1/16U Arizona Magic Pump N Run/Tempe, AZ, Corona Del Sol)
Frank Says: Here is just another example of why the western Class of 2014 is chock full of quality point-guard prospects. He’s left-handed but you would never know it on the court unless he is shooting free throws or jump shots. Benson is darn-near ambidextrous and never makes bad passing decisions.
*Zylan Cheatham (6-7/16U Arizona Magic Pump N Run/Phoenix, AZ, South Mountain)
Frank Says: Athletically, is as good as they come in “wing-types” in the western Class of 2014. He was on the finishing end of a lot of Casey Benson passes over the weekend.
*Brynton Lemar (6-1/17U SDA Pump N Run/San Diego, CA, St. Augustine)
Frank Says: He challenged Benson and London Perrantes for the crown of best passer in the event.
*Jordan McLaughlin (6-0/Prodigy Elite Red/Etiwanda, CA, Etiwanda)
Frank Says: He was the clearly the best prospect I witnessed – and by quite a significant margin – during the event. He’s a lot like Russell Westbrook was as a senior in high school only McLaughlin is a much better jump shooter than Westbrook was as a prep – and McLaughlin is not going to be a junior until September.
*Mamadou Ndiaye (7-5/17U Double Pump Elite/Huntington Beach, CA, Brethren Christian)
Frank Says: The import by way of Senegal is certainly the most imposing physical presence in all of high school basketball; he swatted most shots fired in his vicinity and dunk nearly every time he caught the ball within 10-feet of the area under the rim. He will be interesting to watch him against legitimate high-major big men prospects this spring and/or summer.
*London Perrantes (6-1/17UN Double Pump 2013 Elite/Encino, CA, Crespi)
Frank Says: Until someone demonstrates otherwise, I’ll proceed with the presumption that he’s the best “true point guard” in the California Class of 2013.
*Brandon Randolph (6-2/17U Double Pump Elite/Playa Del Rey, CA, St. Bernard)
Frank Says: He’s a combination “slasher” and jump shooter who powers his way to and over the rim with remarkable ease. He also has formidable defensive potential.
*Kendall Smith (6-1/17U LAX Hoops Red/ Antioch, CA, Deer Valley)
Frank Says: He’s one of two players on this list that I watched for the first time and I came away duly impressed; I would imagine he’s one of the better point guard-types in Northern California in the Class of 2013.
*Jahmel Taylor (6-1/17U Pump N Run Elite/Chatsworth, CA, Sierra Canyon)
Frank Says: He’s probably a bit better jump shooter than Brandon Randolph is right now and is every bit as strong but is a tad more erratic in his passing decisions.
*Kaleb Warner (6-6/17U Emerald City Pioneers/Mercer Island, WA, Mercer Island)
Frank Says: Along with Kendall Smith, his play took be by surprised. This left-handed junior-to-be can score efficiently in a variety of fashions.