California Love, the Remix
PUNKS put on another show in Los Angeles.
Just when you think things can’t get any better, they do.
For the second time in as many weeks, Southern California was the place to be for hardcore high school hoop fans. Spectators flocked to the Mater Dei gym in Santa Ana over the weekend to catch a glimpse of some the country’s premier prep players in action at the 15th annual NIKE Extravaganza.
And no one left disappointed.
Here’s an inside look at several of the individuals that ended up making an appearance at the most recent showcase out in my neck of the woods, Los Angeles. Make no mistake, the talent level was right on par with what we witnessed about 10 days ago at the Fairfax State Preview Classic.
In fact, the group of players assembled this time around was even better, if that’s possible. We’re talking about some of the best young ballers in the business.
Kyrie Irving | 6-1 | G | St. Patrick | 2010
They don’t make point guards like him out here on the West Coast, that’s for sure. Irving is the total package. Tremendous handle. Great vision. Explosive first step. Sweet stroke. The New Jersey product was the prospect that everyone came out to see and he certainly lived up to the hype. And then some. No wonder he was coveted by seemingly all of the nation’s big-time schools before choosing Duke. The Blue Devils have been searching for a playmaker and coach Mike Krzyzewski may have finally found his man to assume the role.
Michael Gilchrist | 6-6 | F | St. Patrick | 2011
Another East Coast cat. Perhaps the best of the bunch, regardless of class. Several NCAA Division I scouts consider Gilchrist as the top player in the country. All the recruiting services agree that he’s legit. After seeing him lace up his shoes for what must be the third or fourth time, the distinction is warranted too. Word to the wise, make plans to see him in person if you have the opportunity. Trust us, it’ll be worth it. Gilchrist is man among boys at the high school level who figures to be a star in college. Beyond that, he’s destined for a gig in the League in the not so distant future. Word is born. Take that to the bank.
Tyler Lamb | 6-3 | G | Mater Dei | 2010
UCLA does a good job of keeping players from the Golden State close to home. Such was the case when the Bruins landed a commitment from Lamb. He‘s ranked among the nation’s top 10 shooting guards and is acknowledged as one of the top 50 overall. He might by a bit undersized for a two, in my humble opinion. Not to worry, Lamb is lethal with the ball in his hands and could be groomed to run the point.
Keala King | 6-5 | G | Mater Dei | 2010
In some respects, he’s the complete opposite of Lamb, although both are immensely talented. King, however, is one of those floor generals that ultimately could end up making the switch to shooting guard. Once he reaches the next level, at Arizona State, it will be interesting to see what coach Herb Sendek decides on doing with the leftie. One thing is certain: King is more than capable of playing either position.
Gary Franklin | 6-2 | G | Mater Dei | 2010
With Lamb and King in town, one might think that there’s not enough ball to go around. On the contrary, there are enough looks for everyone. Plenty of looks, Franklin makes sure of it. A true point guard, keeping his teammates involved from the opening tip until the final buzzer sounds is in his job description. And when the opportunity presents itself, he gets his. Franklin can fill it up, especially from out on the perimeter. He has unlimited range and isn’t afraid to let it fly. He’ll play college ball at Cal.
Anthony Brown | 6-6 | G | Ocean View | 2010
He’s talented enough to play all three perimeter positions, on both ends of the floor, mind you. Suppose that best explains why Brown had so many scholarship offers, particularly from the schools in Pac-10 Conference. In the end, Stanford was the best fit for him. Having great grades certainly didn’t hurt his chances of being accepted in Palo Alto. Brown doesn’t force things. He lets the game come to him. That said, all signs point to him being a solid contributor for the Cardinal right away.
Avery Johnson | 6-3 | G | Ocean View | 2010
Has been overshadowed by Brown, for the most part. Nevertheless, Johnson has managed to carve out his own little niche. An improving jumper and willingness to get down and dirty on defensive has improved his stock. The mid-majors are all over him, Pepperdine and Portland included. Still, the point guard holds out hope that someone like Arizona or Washington will eventually come calling. Who knows, Brown may be the hidden gem of his class. We’ll find out soon enough. Or will we?
Shabazz Muhammad | 6-5 | G | Bishop Gorman | 2012
We mentioned Muhammad over the summer, and at the time, told you to keep a watchful eye on him. Nothing’s changed. The underclassman from Nevada is still on the radar of most powerhouse programs such as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. More recently, Louisville, Texas and UCLA have expressed interest. Must be nice having options. Keep in mind, this kid is only a sophomore. We can only imagine the laundry list of potential suitors once he receives his diploma.
Jelan Kendrick | 6-6 | F | Wheeler | 2010
When it comes to small forwards, Harrison Barnes is without peer. Hands down, he is the best three in the country. No questions asked. Hypothetically speaking, if Barnes wasn’t in the picture, Kendrick would be considered the nation’s top wing around. There’s plenty to like about him. The Georgia native, via Marietta, possesses a scorer’s mentality. If left alone, he can light it up from the outside. Getting into the lane and finishing isn’t a problem either. Given the chance, he’s capable of putting in work at the free-throw line. Kendrick is heading to Memphis. Once there, he’ll join the likes of Joe Jackson, Will Barton and Chris Crawford. Watch out world.
Mark Jackson Jr. | 6-4 | G | Taft | 2010
Following in someone’s footsteps is never an easy task and no one understands that well-known fact better than the senior from California. His dad, Mark “Action” Jackson, played in the NBA for close to 20 years. Living up to those kind of lofty expectations is next to impossible. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being unreasonable. Thing is, there’s no pressure on the younger Jackson to be something he’s not. Playing on a team where DeAndre Daniels and Bryce Jones are the stars has enabled him to develop at his own pace. Jackson Jr. has the good genes, now let’s see if can put them to good use.