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May 19, 2007

Cactus Classic: Saturday pool action

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Pool play is finished at the Arizona Cactus Classic and Saturday was highlighted by a kid with only one year of high school ball under his belt. Rivals.com breaks down the Saturday morning and afternoon games.

A child shall lead them

At last year's Cactus Classic, Jeremy Tyler made a splash on the national scene with a great first impression. At this year's Cactus Classic, Tyler is making waves with his play on the national scene.

Tyler isn't like most freshmen where he'll tease observers with a key bucket here or a fine play there. This kid is a gamer from start to finish. Paired against the M33M Magic, the 6-foot-9 big man from San Diego (Calif.) All-Stars went to work to the tune of 24 points.

The freshman was banging home three pointers, scored on a beautiful drop step to a spin move and attacked with the dribble to the basket. In the morning game, Tyler had a beautiful turn around face up 10-foot jump shot on the baseline over the outstretched arms of a long defender.

He's showing the full arsenal on the offensive end of the floor. Defensively, he's an active rebounder and makes it difficult for opponents to get around him for rebounds and loose balls. His length is frustrating and his strength is deceptive.

While the jury is still very much out on the class of 2010, it will be difficult not to include Tyler's name as one of the top two players in the class right now. He and Deshaun Thomas are two very special players.

In memory of Dante Anderson

As news spread around the gym on Saturday morning about the tragic death of Florida guard Dante Anderson, the loss hit Malcolm Lee especially hard.

Lee was roommates with Anderson just two weeks ago with Team Reebok at the Bill Hensley Memorial. The two were planning on rooming together in Italy next month as the team traveled to Europe with the shoe company all-star game.

"I was not ready to hear that news," Lee said. "I kept asking myself, 'Is this for real? Is this for real? I just talked to him the other day."

Lee found out of the loss just minutes before the tip off of his 9 a.m. game. He said he dedicated his 28-point effort to his friend.

"It makes you look at a life a little differently," Lee, who he has known Anderson since last summer's ABCD camp, said. "You never know what will happen. I could walk out of this gym right now and something tragic could happen. You have to think about stuff like that."

Lee played with great passion throughout and had his way with the New Mexico Force defense, knifing his way to the basket with no trouble.

I'm looking at…

Seattle Rotary guard Peyton Siva is carving out a nice reputation for himself here in Tucson. The sophomore guard is mixing it all together nicely. He's proving he is a top notch scorer, evident by his 27 points against a balanced Bay Area Hoosiers club. He's proving he is a passer and set up guy with pin point passes and few turnovers. A no-brainer high-major, Siva has an offer from Washington already. Arizona is taking a good look at him, Memphis and Texas.

Mark McLaughlin, another Seattle star, is an intriguing prospect despite his struggles against the Bay Area Hoosiers. The 6-foot-4 guard has an offer from Oregon State and Nevada while Washington and Oregon are in the mix.

D.J. Seely covers a lot of ground with his dribble and gets to the rim from the wing with a couple of bounces. The 6-foot-3 guard from Modesto (Calif.) Christian has played well but not at the level he is capable of so far in Tucson. Seely said he has a top four consisting of Cal, Oklahoma, Illinois and Memphis.

Saturday morning and afternoon was good for Wisconsin Playground Warriors guard Johnnie Lacy. The 6-foot guard from Milwaukee Bay View High School scored 29 points against the Vegas Rebels, he put in 17 points against the West Coast All-Stars. The class of 2009 guard said Tennessee, Purdue and Wisconsin.

Jamil Wilson is driving at a school zone pace right now and has really put his foot down on the accelerator yet. The April star is playing up on the 17 and under division for the first time this season and he is still trying to cut his teeth with the big boys. The smooth 6-foot-7 sophomore scored a quiet 12 points in a 57-36 win over the West Coast All-Stars.

Wilson has been a hot name though with the high-majors. Outside of the in-state programs like Marquette and Wisconsin, Purdue has made it a point to see him early while the big-timers like North Carolina, Texas and Duke have put in calls.

The kids are alright

Ray Turner, a 6-foot-8 sophomore from Houston (Texas) Jones, is an eye-catching prospect with the New Mexico Force. He scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a tough morning defeat. He has a motor and a nose for doing the dirty work down low. Turner's body, upside and intrigue are three good ingredients for the high-majors. He's worth a look at that level.

Keith Gallon a monstrous 6-foot-8, 275-pound (maybe more) sophomore big man from Timberwood High School in Houston is an immovable force down low. Despite his giant frame, he moves incredibly well and has good lift off of the floor. The big fella parted the sea on several occasions as he barreled down the lane for buckets. Who would want to stand in his way? A trip to the trainer would await them.

Dwayne Baggsby has been the controller of the game for California Supreme this tournament and finding his young teammates for points. The 5-foot-10 sophomore from Berkley (Calif.) High School scored 12 points and handed out four assists in his team's win against the M33M Ballers. Staying consistent will be the key to his success over the next couple of years.

Tyler Lamb, a Colony High School in California, is a good looking 2010 prospect on the wing. He has a great looking, high-arching shot from beyond the perimeter and connected for a handful of three-pointers in a pair of Saturday morning games. At 6-foot-4 and with his shooting touch, Lamb will be a must-see guy for the Pac-10 schools.

Hi, my name is…

The Las Vegas Dogcatchers Elite have already won the unofficial best team name award. And the Sin City team is quickly picking up admirers with their high-energy, non-stop speed and big time wins. Leading the charge is unsigned senior guard Hank Thorns.

The 5-foot-9 from Valley High School has put on a show so far with his jet speed and big shot ability. Paired against Play Hard Play Smart, Thorns put it in the side of the California team with 24 points and matched bucket for bucket with game nemesis Isaiah Thomas.

Thorn, a fully qualified prospect, said Kentucky has turned up the interest in him since Jai Lucas picked Florida. Virginia is waiting to see if Sean Singletary returns to Charlottesville or stays in the draft before deciding on making an offer. Thorns said Old Dominion has offered. After a great start to the action here in Tucson, the senior guard is certainly looking like a player to watch in the late go round.

Thomas, a Washington commitment, kept Play Hard Play Smart in the game until the final buzzer. The scoring guard put in 31 big man points and raised the competition bar up in a notch in this one.

Washington State quietly landed Arizona guard Nick Witherill last year. It went so far under the radar that some of the in-state natives didn't know that the Saguro High School guard had committed to the Pac-10 program. People are starting to catch on now. And he makes perfect sense for Tony Bennett and his style of play.

Witherell, a 6-foot-3 guard, is a smart player that leans on efficiency on offense and shines in structure. Sound familiar with Washington State? The 2008 guard scored 18 points in a 62-61 win over Double Pump Elite.

Two of his points came with less than six seconds to play when he was fouled on a three-point attempt on the left wing. He sunk the first two. The third proved to be the game winner, despite missing it. His miss went into the hands of eighth grader Matt Carlino, who snatched the offensive board and watched his shot attempt roll around the rim before falling through for the victor's score.

News & Notes

Leonard Washington scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a disappointing loss to California Supreme. The former USC commitment has played well in the tournament and despite his added bulk, the 6-foot-6 forward still has the same kind of bounce and bulliness that has been his trademark.

Meet Reno, Nevada's version of Jon Brockman. Olek Czyz is a bruiser of a forward is 6-foot-7, bouncy, tough as nails and a producer. The power forward for the Las Vegas Prospects had a great game against the Las Vegas Dogcatchers, scoring a team high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Reeves Nelson scored 29 points against the Arizona Stars. David Wear chipped in with 22. Brandon Jennings scored 27 points in an 82-75 win over the Stars. Sophomore guard Nick Markovich dropped in 35 of his own in the defeat.

Steve Tchiengang scored 29 while sophomore guard Jamal Fenton scored 25 in an 83-72 win over the Compton Magic. Junior big man Terran Bradshaw scored 30 in the defeat.

James Rahon put in 32 points for Double Pump Elite in a 72-67 win over the Lamar Odom I-Can All-Stars.


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