Las Vegas, West Coast: Day One

Elijah Holman

The circus that is summer club basketball has come to Las Vegas. We have news and notes, with a West Coast slant, on the first half day of action. Eli Holman, Zane Johnson and Malcolm Lee were amont the early standouts...

A little more than halfway through the first day in Las Vegas, we have an update on some of the action so far.

We saw Malcolm Lee, 6-3 JR PG/SG Riverside (Calif.) North, this morning in a 9:00 a.m. game. Lee was a little wound up, and played a little careless at times, but he also showed why he's among the top West Coast guards in his class. Lee drained several jumpers from deep and led his teammates in a furious last minute comeback to get the win. Lee's Inland team was down by seven with around 30 seconds to go, but Lee came up with a couple steals and assists to pull out the victory.

Arizona's committed wing Zane Johnson played very well in a morning game. Johnson's Arizona Magic team is missing Jerryd Bayless (he's gone to play with EBO) and Johnson now has a much bigger role with the Magic. He's the go-to guy and he showed off his smooth three-point stroke several times. Johnson used to be much easiesr to defend, when he couldn't put the ball on the floor. But he's improved in that area and now he's able to create his own shot or penetrate and make plays in the lane. Johnson might have as good a stroke as any player in the west for 2007.

The Oakland Soldiers had an easy win this morning over an out-manned Donyell Marshall Foundation team. Leading the way for the Soldiers was Eli Holman, 6-7 SR C Richmond (Calif.) High. Holman was extremely impressive, as he did a little bit of everything. He knocked down three jumpshots in the 14-15 foot range, he showed a very nice little jump hook and, most impressively, he was a force at the defensive end. Holman has very long arms -- he plays more more like a 6-9 guy in the middle -- and he was swatting shots left and right. Holman needs to work on his discipline, and staying focused, but he has an extremely high upside. He might end up one of the top couple post prospects in the west for 2007 when it is all said and done.

Wendell McKines, 6-4 SR PF Richmond (Calif.) High, is undersized at the four, but he's got a big heart and plays with great passion. He was excellent this morning, as he even stepped out to knock down a couple jumpers. If that part of his game becomes more consistent, then McKines becomes a much more intriguing prospect. As it is, we think he's a very good player at the mid major level.

Rome Draper, 6-5 SO SG/SG Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Etiwanda, is a smooth and talented wing. Draper plays with a calmness and control to his game that is very unusual for a high school sophomore. He's got a terrific stroke with three-point range, but also an outstanding mid-range game. He makes very good decisions and we believe he has a chance to be one of the best wings in his class. We spoke with Draper briefly after his game and asked if he has an early list of colleges. "I like UCLA," said Draper. "Also, UConn and Boston College."

The Las Vegas Prospects young team has a terrific-looking young guard named Elijah Johnson, a 6-1 sophomore point guard from Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. Johnson is a very good scorer, but he plays unselfishly and he made great decisions in the game we watched. He has the look of a player who might end up at the elite level down the road.

In the gym today watching Malcolm Lee, we saw coaches from UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, USC, Washington and Stanford.

Drew Gordon had a big audience for his game. North Carolina, Cal, UCLA, Louisville, Washington, Gonzaga, Arizona, UConn and Arizona State were all in the gym watching the talented post prospect.

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