Viva Las Vegas
Nation’s premier PUNKS put on a show in the desert.
Every year, right around this time in fact, some of the nation’s premier prep players gather in the City of Sin with the hopes of playing well at the numerous tournaments taking place in Las Vegas, and thus, improve their stock in the eyes of the powers that be.
If ever there was a critical time during the recruiting process, it’s now.
Seemingly every high-profile NCAA Division I college coach from around the country is in attendance and their staff of scouts isn’t far behind. Everyone, undoubtedly, is searching for that certain someone that could end up being a good fit for their program.
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. Only time will tell. Around this time next year, we’ll know for sure. Nevetheless, let’s move on to the point.
Several West Coast cats put in major work over the course of the past week, or so. The left side of the United States was well represented. That said, here’s an inside look at some of the individuals who left a lasting impression.
Myck Kabongo | 6-2 | G | Findlay Prep | 2011
The North of the border baller is from Canada, but he plays high school hoops in Nevada. And in doing so, Kabongo has developed a reputation for being one of the more heady floor generals around, for his class that is. Kabongo is at his best when he’s out in transition, leading the break and creating for others around him. An extremely competitive player, Kabongo isn’t afraid to mix it up on defense either. He committed to Texas quite a while ago and his game is tailor-made for the next level.
Kyle Wiltjer | 6-9 | F | Jesuit | 2011
Doesn’t do anything to elicit the wow-factor. Nevertheless, the kid from Oregon has a more well-rounded game than most. Leave Wiltjer alone out on the perimeter, and more often than not, he’ll make you pay with a quick release and superb mechanics. When the defender cheats, Wiltjer is capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim, effectively finishing with either hand. He’s good with his back to the basket too.
Angelo Chol | 6-8 | C | Hoover | 2011
We’ve talked about this kid from sunny San Diego before. The love was warranted back then, and after the lefty’s recent standout effort, he deserves, at the very least, another shout-out. Chol hits the glass with reckless abandon and never met an opponent’s shot that wasn’t worth challenging. He’s got a motor that never stops, and once his game on the offensive end of the floor catches up with everything else, sky’s the limit. In the meantime, he has offers on the table from UConn and Georgetown.
Josiah Turner | 6-3 | G | Sacramento | 2011
Can play both backcourt positions, equally well. Ultimately, he might be better suited running the show in college given the fact that he‘s got decent size for the point guard position. The California kid, from the state’s capital, is a play-maker, no doubt about it. And for someone to not taking advantage of his complete skill set would be a mistake. Just about every powerhouse program in the country has courted him, although Kansas appears to be the front-runner at this stage of the game.
Jabari Brown | 6-3 | G | Oakland | 2011
He’s one of the nation’s top shooting guards, right up there with Austin Rivers and Bradley Beal. Brown has a knack for getting to the goal. Once there, he can finish with the best of them. Slashing isn’t the only aspect of his game though. Brown knocks down open jumpers with regularity. His range extends well beyond the three-point arc. He’s good with the rock in his hands too and battling down in the low block for rebounds doesn‘t bother him. What we’re saying is the Northern Californian can do it all.
Amir Garrett | 6-6 | F | Findlay Prep | 2011
Was emerging of the toast of the town in Los Angeles when he played at Leuzinger High, but decided to take his game Nevada for his senior season. Garrett possesses all the qualities you look for in a wing. He runs the floor well, consistently strokes it from the outside and gets into the lane and scores at will. And when all the attention is being focused on him, Garrett doesn’t hesitate to give up the ball. Basically, he does what’s expected of top-notch prospect and people are starting to take notice.
Cezar Guerrero | 6-0 | G | St. John Bosco | 2011
Has a serious handle and does things with the ball that others can’t. Tends to be a bit flashy at times, but that’s what makes him so unique. For every bad play Guerrero might make, he erases any thoughts about the miscue with a highlight reel move. Several programs have been on contact with the point guard from the Los Angeles area, including Gonzaga, St. John’s and UCLA. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain: Once Guerrero lands somewhere, he’ll make an immediate impact.
Norvel Pelle | 6-10 | C | Price | 2011
Fellow big men have a difficult time with his long frame and big-time wing span. Problem is, Pelle is slender, extremely thin. Eating a couple of steaks and baked potatoes once in a while wouldn’t hurt. He’d greatly benefit from getting into the gym, bulking up and putting on some much-needed additional weight. If, and when, that happens, everyone had better look out. Pelle will be an unstoppable force down in the low block. In the meantime, there’s still plenty to like about the cat from the City of Compton.
Jahii Carson | 5-10 | G | Mesa | 2011
Some think he’s slight of stature. Others not so much. Make no mistake, Carson plays much bigger than his listed height and those who’ve underestimated him in the past have learned that size doesn’t always matter. You can’t teach heart and desire and Carson has both. From Arizona, he’s unselfish, always looking to make the extra pass. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt if he looked to score more. Bottom line: Carson is a leader and that’s an most important trait, a must for any point guard.
Norman Powell | 6-3 | G | Lincoln | 2011
This time last year, Powell was relative unknown on the basketball landscape. Things have changed since. The San Diego native is one of the hottest prospects around and several recruiting services rank him among the top 100 ballers in the business. His athleticism is off the charts and Powell has head honchos from all over the country interested in his services. Arizona and UCLA are couple of the schools in the mix and and others figure to follow.
There you have it, a review of some of the best the West Coast had to offer during the week-long play that took place in Las Vegas.
Our guess is, this isn’t the first time SLAMonline readers have heard about some of these youngsters. And it certainly won’t be the last.