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July 14, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - After spending the first two days of the first of three open periods on the East Coast at the Reebok Breakout Challenge, Rivals.com moved on to the opposite side of the country to check in on West Coast talent. The first stop on the agenda was the Pangos Sweet 16 at Cabrillo High in Long Beach. 2014 big man Andre Adams made a splash as did the West's top prospect in that class, Malik Pope.
Arizona big man shows promise
During his sophomore year at Avondale (Ariz.) High, 6-foot-8 big man Andre Adams wasn't a huge factor. But, young post players often take a little more time to develop. Given his play with the Arizona Magic Elite's 16 and under team at the sweet 16, Adams looks to be kicking that development into overdrive.
A skinny kid who only weighs 190 pounds, Adams is a southpaw with impressive natural instincts on the glass and as a shot blocker. He's got length, good timing and he changes directions very well. On top of that, he plays with a high level motor.
Offensively, Adams is relatively raw. However, he shows good touch out to around 15 feet, made an impressive baseline drive for a dunk while also whipping some sharp one handed passes out of the high post.
On Friday night, Adams was watched primarily by mid to upper end mid major programs but his coaches report that most of the Pac-12 has indicated that they will watch him. Judging by what Adams did, he looks to be a no brainer for high major programs to be monitoring as he matures. Especially since Adams told Rivals.com that he's grown five inches in the last year.
"On defense I'm a lot better," said Adams of his improvement. "I have to get more strength and be more comfortable on offense.
A five-star prospect that currently ranks No. 14 in the class of 2014, Malik Pope played up to his lofty reputation on Friday night. Hitting the floor with Team Superstar, the 6-foot-8 small forward displayed a high level of skill, athleticism and potential in front of a big crowd of coaches.
Among the mostly West Coast based programs on hand to watch Pope were Colorado (head coach Tad Boyle), Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Utah, Gonzaga, San Diego State, New Mexico and many more. They could often be seen shaking their heads after Pope made plays.
With the height of a power forward prospect, Pope is a long and lean wing with legitimate perimeter skill. He's a dangerous shooter out to the three point line and gets anywhere he needs to be on the floor within one or two dribbles. He's quick, he can pass, he can finish in transition and he plays hard on both ends of the floor.
Given that he won't turn 16 until the end of the month, he sometimes forces things and makes silly mistakes. But, there's a good chance that he's still got even more growing left to do. There are some good young wings on the West Coast, but Pope is firmly establishing himself as the best prospect in his neck of the woods from the class of 2014.
At the Elite 100 in June, 6-foot-4 wing Dorian Pickens impressed with his balanced game and perimeter marksmanship. Playing with the Arizona Stars, Pickens was knocking down shots again and looks to be a pure jump shooter. He has a frame that will fill out and the athleticism to finish in traffic.
Also impressing for the Arizona stars was rising senior wing Richaud Gittens from Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza. A 6-foot-4 wing, Gittens is a big time athlete with major rise and a good first step. His jump shot doesn't look to bad either and his coaches reported that he's being tracked by mid majors and that Weber State has been particularly active with him.
The Las Vegas Prospects 17 and under squad put on an exhibition of running and gunning late Friday night at Cabrillo. A team with athleticism at positions one through five, the Prospects played high octane basketball
Utah commitment Julian Jacobs is a combo guard with explosive finishing ability at the rim and he's capable of forcing some tempo. On the wing, UNLV commitment Christian Wood continued a big summer. He's been canning deep jumpers at stops all over but was using his length to get on the glass and finishing at the rim with authority more than usual.
On the Prospects 16 and under squad, Shaquile Carr is a pure point guard. The six-footer looks to break down defenders off the dribble, plays fast and is all about finding his teammates for open shots.
Pope isn't the only prospect on Team Superstar. They actually have several good looking young players. One that was particularly intriguing on Friday was class of 2015 point guard Austin Armstead. Armstead is big, physical, athletic and seems to have good command of an offense.
A nice find on Friday night was 6-foot-5 wing Nick Hornsby. Playing for Team Mercadel, the product of Tustin (Calif.) High impressed in several ways. A skinny athlete, Hornsby has a good skill level, shoots with good range and has some athleticism around the rim. At a minimum, he's a good mid-major prospect but with added strength and a little more game off the dribble, he could have more upside than that.