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Posted On: 08/1/18 2:27 PM
With literally hundreds of basketball teams converging on the Mecca of summer basketball, Las Vegas lived up to the hype.
My colleagues Frank Burlison and Joel Francisco were flanked across the region, capturing as much of the action as humanly possible, from Dinos Trigonis’ Las Vegas Fab 48 (perhaps the strongest field in the even’t history), Bigfoot Hoops’ Las Vegas Classic, the West Coast Elite UA Finals and Rising Stars Invitational and the Rebound Hoops Las Vegas Finals.
For my part, I’ll be breaking down the showing of the large San Diego contingent in a series of reports, starting with the 2019 standouts, with the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes to follow.
You can argue that no prospect in the class has taken a bigger step forward the past two live periods than Wilhite. The skilled post player was dominant for long stretches this weekend, scoring in the paint with either hand, and showing improved footwork and toughness on defense. Wilhite is also becoming a formidable rim protector, using his length to alter and block shots.
Jessie, a very young 2021 prospect (doesn’t turn 15 until this month), is steadily becoming more productive against elite talent. Against Nightrydas, he was Coastal’s best offensive weapon, attacking the paint and finishing through and around contact, sometimes with an eye on finishing above the rim. He’s a streaky shooter from three, but his mechanics are sound off the catch. Additionally, his pull-up jumper from midrange has become a weapon. Jessie’s upside is enormous.
Burgin, who turns 15 in September, had a string of impressive efforts to help lead his team to the Rebound Hoops semifinals. The sharpshooting combo guard continues to evolve offensively, becoming a more improved threat off the bounce and moving without the ball. Burgin also filled the stat sheet, pursuing rebounds in the paint and collecting assists off of kick-outs to shooters off his penetration. Defensively, his length, lateral quickness and IQ make him a strong on-ball defender capable of checking multiple positions.
Solis didn’t back down from the challenge posed by the Nightrydas Elite and its talented backcourt. The scrappy, tough lead guard hit timely threes to keep Coastal Elite within striking distance. He also battled for rebounds against the team’s bigs. Defensively, Solis sets in a stance, slides his feet and uses his active hands to cause steals, and he always gives maximum effort on the court. This isn’t surprising, given his prowess on the gridiron, where he is also a standout football player.
Love, a well-built combo guard known as a downhill guard, showed big strides in his shooting. He connected on multiple three pointers in each of his games, including back-to-back threes that helped turn close contests into blowouts. Love, whose older brother Malik starred at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, has an imposing frame and elite length for the position. Defensively, he’s a strong on-ball defender who stifles ball handlers with his lateral quickness and strength.
A relentless competitor, Notarainni used straight-line drives to knife to the paint and mid-range, where he does most of his damage as a scorer. He creates space by decelerating and using his shoulder to create separation, setting up his solid pull-up jumper. Notarainni’s range extends to the college three-point line off the catch, where he knocked down a pair of critical jumpers in the Powerhouse Hoops quarterfinals game. Notarainni, which has several reported mid-major offers, is a tad rigid moving laterally (stiff hips). Improved lateral movement will further open up his scoring repertoire and allow him to guard quicker guards in the back court.
Stratton is a very intriguing prospect and gets better with each viewing. He possesses a willowy frame, but competes admirably on the boards and gives a good effort on the interior defensively. But he also has some budding perimeter traits. He sat in a stance and guarded on the perimeter in the team’s matchup zone concept, and also knocked down midrange and short-corner jumpers consistently. He needs to improve his ball handling on the perimeter, but Stratton has some serious upside as a face-up four.
Anyanwu forcefully made his presence felt throughout the weekend playing in the Bigfoot Hoops tournament. His combination of strength, explosiveness allow him to dominate the offensive and defensive glass, and finish plays around and above the rim through contact. From the mid-post, Anyanwu was able to use one or two dribbles to get into the paint, where he finished at a high-percentage clip. His motor on both ends is excellent. The next evolution in his game will be from the perimeter, where he showed in flashes that he can knock down the 15- to 18-foot jump shot, but not consistently.