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December 28, 2012

7-footer could decide next week

MORE: Mailbag: Austin makes a move

SAN DIEGO -- The Torrey Pines Holiday Classic tipped off Wednesday afternoon, and while there weren't many marquee seniors in the event, the field was loaded with talented underclassmen. Even then, however, one of the biggest 2013 players in the annual event made waves, saying a decision could come soon. More and more juniors, sophomores and freshmen emerged as key prospects.

7-footer almost ready to choose

Three-star 7-foot center Kameron Rooks has a final five, a good idea of where he stands with those programs and a solid supporting cast leading him in the right direction.

Now the only thing he needs is a decision date.

Rooks is closing in on that. The big man told Rivals.com Wednesday, the first day of the Holiday Classic, that he could be making his college choice as early as next week from a final group of Arizona, Arizona State, California, Connecticut and Washington.

"I'm thinking about the end of December, maybe," Rooks said. "I don't know, maybe."

Rooks has taken all five of his official visits, with his most recent going to Arizona, California and Washington. While he's saying publicly that he has no favorites, he offered his take on what he likes about those three schools.

On Arizona: "I just liked the energy there. My dad (former NBA center Sean Rooks) went there, and everybody was coming up to me and was like, 'Be a Wildcat, be a Wildcat!' So it was cool. It was great energy. I loved the coaches, loved the players."

On Cal: "I honestly like their campus way better than Arizona's. If I went there, I could get a good academic diploma."

On Washington: "It's a lot colder there. I really liked coach Lorenzo (Romar) -- he was the one who was showing me around the place, other than just assistant coaches. It was cool."

Rooks said he's looking for a place with good academics, an NCAA tournament-worthy team and solid players. He's hoping he can find the college that mixes all of those just right in the next few days.

"I'm just trying to figure out what is the better school -- what school I would fit in mostly," Rooks said. "So I've been talking to my mom and my dad and my coaches."

Five-star battle goes to the sophomore

The tournament's biggest matchup came on opening night, with two five-stars battling on the event's biggest stage.

Five-star 2014 guard Justise Winslow faced 2015 five-star center Ivan Rabb, and the matchup didn't disappoint.

Winslow, who gave up some serious length and height to Rabb, was saddled with the assignment of guarding him in the post, and it affected him on offense. The two went after each other, piling up double-digit points apiece.

"We put on a show," said Winslow, who saw his Houston (Texas) St. John's team fall to Rabb and his Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd squad. "I think the tournament got what they wanted to see. Two top prospects going at it in the first round.

"He had a little height, size advantage on me, but I think I toughed it out," Winslow added. "I think I played better defense than he expected. He didn't play well the first half, but the second half he came out really strong, attacking really well and just showed why he was the No. 2 prospect in his class."

Feeling at home

Four-star Rivals150 small forward Dakarai Allen had butterflies fluttering in his stomach before Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon's first game on Wednesday. It was his first time playing in San Diego since committing and signing with San Diego State.

"I came out a little bit nervous because it was my first game back in San Diego since the commitment," Allen told Rivals.com. "So I really wanted to come out and do well in front of the fans who came out."

SDSU fans came out in bunches to see Allen and fellow Aztecs signee D'Erryl Williams. SDSU assistant coach Tony Bland stopped by to see the future Aztecs on Thursday, and players Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and Matt Shrigley visited the Torrey Pines High School gym to show support.

"As soon as they called my name for announcements, all I heard was, 'Aztecs!' " Allen said. "So that felt really good going into the game."

The excitement of playing in San Diego was enough to make Williams -- a three-star point guard -- grind through a painful ankle injury that has severely limited him for about seven weeks.

"I was really trying to get out there on my ankle; it's my first game back, so I was really trying to get in the rhythm of the game and get back to normal," Williams said. "It's a great feeling, all the fans coming out and talking to me and really supporting us. It just makes everything better and makes me feel glad that I picked San Diego State."

2014 point guard making his case

In the state of California, two point guards are vying for the top 2014 PG spot: Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Etiwanda (Calif.) guard Jordan McLaughlin.

If Devin Watson had his way, though, his name would be up there with those two.

Watson has grown about two inches since the last time he played in the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, and his game has improved as well. On the opening day of the tournament, Watson piled up 26 points and double-digit assists in an overtime loss to Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln.

He's hoping that, along with more solid games this season, will be enough to get him in the same pantheon as some of the other top-flight 2014 West Coast guards.

"I feel like I can play with them; I feel like I can," said Watson, who's coming in at 6-foot. "I haven't had the chance to match up with them yet, but when we do, it's going to be a show."

Watson's lone offer comes from the University of San Diego, but he's receiving heavy interest from UC Irvine, San Diego State, Oregon State and St. Mary's.

Tip-ins

In a battle with 2015 four-star forward Cameron Walker Wednesday evening, 2014 three-star forward D.J. Wilson held his own. The 6-foot-8 wing said he's grown two inches since the summer and has seen his game grow as well. Wilson claims offers from Boise State, Nevada and Cal, and he said Gonzaga, Colorado, Georgetown, Stanford and Harvard are coming after him strong, too.

Speaking of Walker, he put together a huge opening stretch to his tournament. After scoring 22 points in his matchup against Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian on Wednesday, Walker followed with a 33-point performance against Yale Secondary School (Canada) Thursday. The 6-foot-6 wing holds offers from SDSU, Fresno State, Cal Poly and UC Irvine. Oregon State became the first Pac-12 school to offer the talented sophomore after watching him Wednesday night.

Sheldon High should be adding firepower soon. Three-star shooting guard Darin Johnson said he should finally be able to join Allen and Williams on the court Sunday because of transfer rules. Johnson signed with Washington in the fall.

UCLA assistant coach Korey McCray stopped by the tournament Thursday to catch Winslow's game. Winslow, who scored 35 points in the win, said he feels a strong pull to UCLA because his brother lives in Los Angeles. Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Arizona and many others are involved.



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