The third annual Arizona Cactus Classic is now in the books, with the Houston Hoops winning the crown thanks to a 70-67 win over the Compton Magic Sunday afternoon. On a weekend in which the Class of 2009’s top prospect (LA Dream Team’s Renardo Sidney) showed up, along with quite a few others, it’s unfortunate that the Wear twins, Reeves Nelson and Keith “Tiny” Gallon weren’t on display. But there were plenty of other top-notch prospects, along with some other youngsters who have been under the radar for most of the year.
Here are some scouting reports (broken down in three parts due to the number of reports) on a few of those quality players, and thanks to tournament director Jim Storey for running such a quality event this past weekend.
--Players are from the Class of 2009 unless noted otherwise.
--Ranking within the class and school choices are according to Rivals.com.
--Since members of these classes (2009-12) aren’t allowed to sign a National Letter of Intent at this time, any commitments as of this time are strictly verbal.
Part One: Players #1 to 60 Nationally
PG John Wall (Raleigh, NC; D-One Sports; Rivals #1)
Recruiting experts have made the comparison between Wall and Derrick Rose, and with good reason. Wall (6’4, 184) is explosive in getting to the basket and is a more than capable finisher. And he’s also very adept at setting up his teammates, a requirement for any reputable point guard. Two issues for John: the outside shot is still a work in progress, almost mechanical at times. And on the defensive end of the floor, times of focus are followed by moments in which you wonder if he even knows who he should be guarding.
Still the best pure point in his class, look for Wall to possibly be one of the movers up into the top five in his class with a good summer. Like Sidney, he’s also got a broad list of schools to look at, with just about the entire ACC looking to acquire his services.
F Renardo Sidney (Los Angeles; LA Dream Team; Rivals #4)
Standing at 6-10 and 230 pounds, the rising senior from Fairfax HS can dominate a game due to his size alone. But don’t let that fool you; the young man is skilled, with the ability to make his way to the basket when guarded by one defender or find the open man when doubled. On the other end of the floor, it’s extremely tough to score on him straight up and he does a good job of helping weak side.
The issue with Sidney: sometimes the game can become so easy that he loses focus. As long as he focuses solely on dominating the game from start to finish, he’ll remain atop the ranking for his class. He’s got a broad list of schools to choose from right now, dominated by Pac-10 schools.
F John Henson (Round Rock, TX; Franchize All-Stars; Rivals #5)
Coming in at 6-10, 200 pounds (I think the weight may be a tad inflated) the North Carolina commit has the athletic ability to make his mark on a game. Possessing extremely long arms, Henson can get across the lane on defense to either block or alter opposing teams’ shots. His back to the basket game is decent for a player of his build, something that will only improve as his body matures and fills out.
John also does a good job of attacking the offensive glass, but he needs to be more assertive in regards to defensive rebounding. Combined with the Wear twins and whichever experienced bigs remain in Chapel Hill, head coach Roy Williams won’t be lacking interior options in 2009.
PG Abdul Gaddy (Tacoma, WA; Northwest Panthers; Rivals #14)
Right behind Wall in the point guard rankings is Gaddy, a lead guard (6’3, 170) who has a very good feel for the game. If his team needed scoring, then he brought that to the table. And when they simply needed him to get the ball to the right people in the right spots, he did that as well. One of the early treats of the tournament was the matchup in pool play between Gaddy and Wall, and neither disappointed. The game, however, did show that Gaddy has to improve on the defensive end of the floor.
A verbal commit to Arizona, Gaddy stated this weekend that he’s still a go to Arizona as of now, even with the departure of assistants Miles Simon and Josh Pastner (Pastner hasn’t left just yet, but many expect him to take a position at Memphis).
G Avery Bradley (Tacoma, WA; Northwest Panthers; Rivals # 17)
Along with Abdul Gaddy, Bradley (6-3, 175) helped form one of the tougher backcourt tandems in the event. Of the seven games he played, the combo guard went for at least twenty in six of those contests and scored thirty or more in consecutive games. Suffice it to say, when Bradley decides that he’s going to score then you may as well mark the points down in the scorebook. Three of the four Pac-10 Northwest schools have offered Bradley (not Washington), with conference foes Arizona, Cal and USC following suit. The list right now is a long one, so it’s anyone’s guess where he could end up.
G Nolan Dennis (North Richland Hills, TX; Dallas Mustangs; Rivals # 36)
Yet another spectacular guard who was on display this past weekend, Dennis (6-5, 185) would best be described as a combo guard at this point in time. He can fill it up from just about anywhere on the floor, although he did struggle from behind the arc in the Mustangs’ four games. Also good at finding the open man, Dennis displayed himself as a player equally comfortable on or off of the ball on offense. And when the ball’s in his possession, you may as well forget about taking it from Nolan; his handle is that good. He’s already received offers from a number of schools, most notably Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA.
F Marshawn Powell (Crozet, VA; Boo Williams; Rivals # 45)
Powell (6-6, 230) wasn’t 100% this weekend, but there were some flashes of the skills that have him in the same boat as club teammates Painter and Spurlock in regards to his recruitment. He’s got a quick first step, allowing him to get to the basket off the dribble, and if you play off of Powell he can knock down the open jumper. He’s the type of player that won’t wow you with individual plays, but when you look up he’s on the verge of a double-double. Powell can also be effective with his back to the basket, and he’s a solid defender. With an offer from Arkansas in tow, look for Powell to sift through a few more offers as the summer season progresses.
F Jamil Wilson (Racine, WI; Wisconsin Playground Elite; Rivals # 58)
Wilson (6-7, 211), like a few of the other top swingmen in the Class of 2009, has an impressive wingspan that helps him out on both ends of the floor. He’s not a speed demon, but he does have the handle necessary to get to the basket. He can hit the outside shot when it’s given to him, but he’s more comfortable either at mid-range or close to the basket. On defense, Jamil is a good weak-side defender and can also attack the passing lanes thanks to his length. He’s got quite a few offers on the table right now, with in-state powers Wisconsin and Marquette both hoping to keep him in the state.
F Tristan Spurlock (Rockville, MD; Boo Williams, Rivals #66)
Spurlock (6-6, 216) is an athletic wing who at this stage in his development may be more comfortable as a slasher than an outside shooter. This past weekend he struggled somewhat with his offensive game, but Spurlock is a “stat sheet stuffer” who can find a way to contribute even when his shot isn’t falling. This also highlights his versatility, possessing the strength to go inside along with the ball-handling to be more than capable of playing on the perimeter. With offers from Georgetown, Virginia and Maryland already in tow, look for Spurlock to accumulate even more (Wake Forest?) as the summer progresses.
Check back tomorrow for Part Two, which includes more great Top 100 prospects.