SDSU Team Camp: Biggest surprises

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Southern California

Posted On: 06/26/18 11:31 AM

San Diego State’s second session of its team camp proved to be a very telling weekend of basketball, both regionally and beyond.

In addition to standouts, there were a number of players who surprised us, either by their dominance or their emergence over the weekend.

Here’s a list of some of the players who caught our attention.

Michael Pope, 2019 G, Torrey Pines

The surprise isn’t that Michael Pope played well. He’s been on the radar as one of the top shooters in the region for some time. What surprised me was how dominant he was for long stretches of the weekend. The longer, leaner of the Pope twins is playing with a ton of confidence, both as a shooter and a playmaker on the ball. Pope managed the point guard position for much of the weekend for the Falcons, and appeared largely unflappable under pressure. His pull-up from mid-range is becoming a more consistent weapon to complement his shooting from deep. Along with his brother, Michael should be receiving interest from lower Division 1 schools due to his productivity and skill set. This, however, comes as no surprise to the Torrey Pines’ contingent, which was very vocal that Pope should have been included in the ‘event standouts’ report.

Malcolm Little, 2019 G, Balboa School

Little has always been an athletic combo guard capable of scoring in bunches. This weekend, he showed improved game management skills at the point, and an improved ability to finish in the paint through – and over – contact. He is one of those guards that always gets two feet in the paint when he attacks with his right hand. Developing his off hand will be the next step to diversifying his game.

CJ Jackson, 2019 F, Christian

Jackson caught my attention last year with Mt Miguel due to his imposing frame and solid athleticism. This weekend, his first with his new school, Jackson had several eye opening performances. Jackson finishes everything around the basket and does it with authority. Perhaps more impressive was his ability to dominate the boards and trigger the fast break with pinpoint outlet passes. Jackson, a dual-sport athlete, has a football player’s frame, but is improving rapidly as a basketball player. He’s a sleeper in the 2019 class.

Tanner Swindall, 2020 F, Poway

Swindall, who played JV for Poway last year, made a huge impression this weekend. The 6-4, big bodied “point forward” did an excellent job initiating the offense for the Titans at times and exploited mismatches against slower forwards by attacking off the dribble and finishing for mid range. He’s a little doughy, and has to improve his lateral quickness on defense, but he’s an intriguing prospect to monitor over the next two years.

The Titans have a bevy of sleeper prospects, including 6-4 wings Lucas and Logan Shephard, and 6-8 2021 C Cole Stephens.

Josh Sims, 2020 F, Pacifica Christian

Sims, a 6-5 forward, plays with a tremendous motor. He sprints the floor hard, attacks off the dribble aggressively, and rebounds with an edge. If anything, Sims plays too fast at times, which leads to ill-advised shots or turnovers. But with star forward Solomon Davis in and out of the lineup this weekend (illness), Sims proved to be a reliable “Robin” to Judah Brown’s “Batman.”

Vincent Warren, 2020 F, Mater Dei Catholic

Warren, a 6-4 wing forward, is playing a bigger role this year for a new-look Crusaders group. He operates largely out of the high post, where he effectively slashes to the basket and scores with his right hand on quick drives. He also has the length, athleticism and quickness to be a versatile defender and rebounder. Warren is still quite raw in terms of his feel for the game, but he’s an intriguing prospect moving forward.

Isaiah Jones, 2020 G Vista

Another JV player last year, Jones really impressed in the Panthers championship run with the energy and defensive intensity he brought off the bench. Blessed with top-end speed with the ball, Jones was able to turn over guards, collect the turnover and finish in a blur. The 5-10 guard also appeared confident picking his spots to attack in the halfcourt, culminated by a strong drive and finish that all but sealed the team’s win over Lewis Palmer. Taylor’s fellow reserve Maqui Taylor also deserves a nod for his strong play throughout the weekend.