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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

Player Rankings:  A Consensus View
Of The Class of 2002 PGs--(August 22, 2000)

Yes we know we've said many times that we hate rankings. .   . detest them, and won't do them.  Why then, you ask, are we posting up other people's rankings?  Well, because they did all the hard work picking guys and we get to have all the fun picking their picks apart. . . . seriously, all we want to do is give some extra attention and recognition to some of the players these other sites have noticed, because all of the players listed are really special players, among the best in their class at their positions.  Opinions may differ about who is "best" but hardly anyone can argue that these guys listed below are not among the top players.

So, with the conclusion of the summer viewing period, many of the other recruiting websites have have started to post up their "Player Rankings" for the class of 2002, the current crop of rising juniors.  Fullcourt Press posted theirs up last week, and yesterday, PacWestHoops started off with their list of top point guards. . . .so we thought it would be interesting to see how PWH's Tracy Pierson's and Greg Hicks' views compare with those of Dinos Trigonis and Etop Udo-Ema over at FullCourt Press when it comes to the point guards in SoCal.

Keep in mind that Fullcourt Press ranks players only from the SoCal area, while PacWest tries to cover the entire west coast.  In order to make some valid comparisons and develop a consensus, we've edited out the players from other states like Washington and Oregon (and NorCal, which is, after all, like another country sometimes) who were listed and ranked by PWH.   After making the edits, we've continued to list these players in exactly the order they were listed by each site, and while PWH's listing beyond their "Top 15" may or may not be in any particular order (it's clearly not alphabetical), in contrast, once you get past FCP's "Top 10",  their list is clearly alphabetical.  Still, we didn't monkey around with the order. And to make it easier to spot those players who are "consensus" picks, i.e., players who have been ranked by both PWH and FCP (although they clearly have different opinions about some of the same players, relative to the rest of the players rated), we've highlighted those players selected by both PWH and FCP:

FullCourtPress SoCal Players Pac West SoCal Players (other States excluded)
1.Patrick Haddan 6'1" Woodbridge (Irvine CA)
2.Jason McKinney 5'10" Inglewood (Inglewood CA)
3.Keith Ellison 6'0" Redondo Union (Redondo Beach CA)
4.Carlos Rivers 5'10" Poly (Long Beach CA)
5.David Gale 6'0" Buckley (Sherman Oaks CA)
6.Ashanti Cook 6'1" Westchester (Los Angeles CA)
7.Omar Amaral 5'11" Bolsa Grande (Garden Grove CA)
9.Aaron Tudor 6'2" Trabuco Hills (Mission Viejo CA)
10..Jamar Sloan 5'9" Centennial (Compton CA)
David Anderson 5'11" Thousand Oaks (Thousand Oaks CA)
Jeremiah Barnes 5'9" Rowland (Rowland Heights CA)
Brendan Behan 5'9" Redondo Union (Redondo Beach CA)
Justin Bell 5'11" Escondido (Escondido CA)
Herbie Brown 5'11" Cabrillo (Long Beach CA)
Talani Calhoun 5'10" Notre Dame (Riverside CA)
Eugene Carey 5'9" Lakewood (Lakewood CA)
Marvin Carraway 5'11" Washington Union (Fresno CA)
Patrick Chu 5'9" Poly (Long Beach CA)
Julius Coleman 5'10" Upland (Upland CA)
Jacob Crawley 5'7" Artesia (Lakewood CA)
Jemar Davis 5'10" Pacific (San Bernardino CA)
Jonathan Davis 6'0" Oxnard (Oxnard CA)
Dante Derose 5'10" Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara CA)
Aaron Gipson 5'9" Fontana (Fontana CA)
Ramar Green 5'7" Claremont (Claremont CA)
Mark Holmquist 5'10" Saugus (Santa Clarita CA)
Eugene Jeter 5'8" Serra (Gardena CA)
Chris Johnson 5'9" Manual Arts (Los Angeles CA)
Rommel Marentez 5'11" St. Augustine (San Diego CA)
Carl McCullough 6'0" El Camino (Oceanside CA)
Joshua Myles 5'11" Bishop Amat (La Puente CA)
Reed Nakagawa 5'10" El Dorado (Placentia CA)
Greg Nelson 5'10" Carlsbad (Carlsbad CA)
Randy Rogers 5'8" Sonora (La Habra CA)
Travis Rogers 5'8" Sonora (La Habra CA)
Dominique Sims 5'11" Sonora (La Habra CA)
Jonathan Smith 5'8" Centennial (Compton CA)
Chris Tarne 6'0" Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta CA)
Jason Taylor 5'11" Canyon (Anaheim CA)
Mike Washington 5'10" Poly (Long Beach CA)
Craig Weinstein 6'0" Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood CA)
2. Tim Drisdom, 6-2 Downey (Calif.) Cavalry Chapel
3. Keion Kindred, 6-2 Compton (Calif.) Dominguez
4. Jason McKinney, 5-9 Inglewood (Calif.) High
5. Eugene "Pooh" Jeter, 5-7 Gardena (Calif.) Serra
8. Ashanti Cook, 6-1 Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester
11. Keith Ellison, 6-0 Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union
12. Carlos Rivers, 5-10 Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Patrick Haddan, 6-1 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
David Gale, 5-11 Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Buckley
Rommel Marentez, 5-9 San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine
Geoffrey Clayton, 6-3 Anaheim (Calif.) Magnolia
Jason Taylor, 5-11 Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon
Will Sheslow, 5-11 Van Nuys (Calif.) Montclair Prep
Aaron Gipson, 5-8 Fontana (Calif.) High
Jamel Gay, 6-0 Compton (Calif.) Dominguez
Kevin Stacey, 6-2 Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita
Dino Wilburn, 6-1, Pasadena (Calif.) High
Carl McCullough, 6-0 Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino
Fernando Sampson, 6-1 Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax
Greg Nelson, 5-11 Carlsbad (Calif.) High
Justin Bell, 5-11 Escondido (Calif.) High
Marvin Carraway, 6-2 Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union

As is evident, both sites agree on 13 players overall, but in fairness, it should be noted that some of the top players on PWH's list were ranked as "combo guards" by FCP (an additional category used by FCP, but not by PWH, and the latter sitge just uses the traditional five positions: Point, shooting, small forward, power forward and center):  FullcourtPress listed these guys as "combos":  Tim Drisdom 6'3" Calvary Chapel (Downey CA) Keion Kindred 6'3" Dominguez (Compton CA),  Fernando Samson 6'1" Fairfax (Los Angeles CA), Jamel Gay 6'1" Poly (Long Beach CA), Will Sheslow 6'1" Chaminade (West Hills CA) and Dino Wilburn 6'1" Pasadena (Pasadena CA). So we'll include them here as consensus players, which brings the overall list to 19 players.

Who has the more "accurate" rankings?  Well, accuracy is probably a misleading term to use here, since it's important to remember that these are just expressions of opinion, but we must say that we give the edge to FCP when it comes to accuracy in listing heights of players. Eugene Jeter, Rommel Marentez, David Gale and Aaron Gipson are all taller than as listed by PWH by at least an inch, while Marvin Carraway (he's really 6'-0") is actually shorter than how PWH lists him, but bigger than the 5'-11" which FCP has him shown as.  Having now pointed out the obvious, here's our own take on each of the "consensus" players listed (in alphabetical order):

Justin Bell, 5-11 Escondido (Calif.) High--We can honestly say we didn't see Justin Bell at all this summer, or if we did, we didn't realize it.   Justin was, however, a First Team All-League selection at the end of the last season in the San Diego Section's Valley League for Escondido.  We didn't see him at the Big Time, at the Best of Summer or at the Pump Camp, but obviously, someone did (Tracy? Greg? help us out on this one. . . ). Not to be confused with Kevin Bell, Jr. of Fairfax (a rising soph) whom we did see quite a bit of this summer.

Marvin Carraway, 6-2 Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union--Marvin, he of the disputed height, played this summer at the Pump's West Coast All Star camp where wasn't a star, but he played well enough to attract some attention. He also played at Mats Madness in the spring for the Panthers and while his Washington Union team, led by DeShawn Stevenson didn't repeat as D-III state champs, Marvin played an instrumental role in their season.  A skilled guard, he has good speed, decent decision making and is a good ball handler.   

Ashanti Cook, 6-1 Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester-- Ashanti took over the lead guard spot at Westchester when Jason McKinney pulled up either wth a leg injury or a grade-injury (i.e., an eligibility problem) last season, and he really hasn't looked back.  His biggest ally on the court is one of the top two guards in the class, Brandon Heath (who will undoubtedly be listed by PWH among their top 2 guards).   A smooth player with good size and quickness, he has excellent hands and good lateral speed as well. Ashanti helped lead Westchester to some very impressive wins early this summer, although after the Slam N Jam "Summer Finale" (which actually took place in June) we only saw him one more time at the Best of Summer, and then only briefly.  Will get a lot of mid to high D-I attention.

Tim Drisdom 6'3" Calvary Chapel (Downey CA)--Became a mainstay of the LA Rockfish team, and while he didn't start much for them, at least not until Vegas, and in some instances looked a tad slower than some of the other players on what is at times a blindingly quick team (with guys like Jermaine Harper and Solomon Brown), Tim had more than his share of good moments where he displayed his ability to get to the basket and finish or find the open man, or knock down the open shot.  Tim was the D-V Player of the Year in Southern Section, and while many would say "Oh, well it's just D-V" those who know basketball in SoCal would likely recognize that the only difference between D-V and D-I or II is the size of the enrollment.  Tim's got excellent size, good vision and skills with tremendous upside.  Is he a point?   Is he a combo?  Who knows.  He can shoot and he can direct an offense, so yes, he's got the skills (and the size) to play either spot at the next level.    Mike Miller described him, if we recall correctly, as having a "slow leg" (or something similar) and it's true that he's not as quick as many of the jet-quick guards in this class, but he will likely be one of two lead guards for the No. 1 Rockfish team next summer and a top prospect in this class.  

Keith Ellison, 6-0 Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union-- Ranked No. 3 by FCP, we unfortunately didn't get to see Keith play enough this summer to really say anything more useful than what you'll find over at Fullcourt Press.  Dinos Trigonis swears that he's going to be one of the next top guards in the class, and from what little we saw of him, we'd have to agree that he's got skills and polish and knows how to lead a team. . . but then when you've got Dijon Thompson to pass to, well. . . . He came back from an injury last season, he had a very good summer at the Rim Rattler AllWest Camp and with his Redondo Union squad. Keith is quick, but not overly quick, has good court vision and according to Dinos, could be the best playmaker in the class.  Will develop into a solid prospect within the next two years.

David Gale, 6-0 Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Buckley--Vastly improved vertical, conditioning and strength after a year with conditioning coach Todd Person (trains Jason Kapono, Jelani McCoy, Baron Davis, etc., at the Metabolic Project in Westwood),  David had a solid and productive summer. Reliable shot, quick hands, and deft passing and playmaking, FCP listed him as their No. 5 ranked PG, saying he is "a sweet shooting lead guard who also has potential to contend for the top spot in this group" and "with increased strength and quickness, David could very well surpass those listed above."  He showed good skills and quickness at both sessions of WCAll StarCamps, then travelled with the Double Pump All Stars to the Big Time, the Best of Summer (where his team finished in the top 16), and to Oakland/ Berkeley for the   S&J/EBO Elite 8x2.  Last week, he helped lead the LA Maccabi team to a Gold Medal in Richmond, VA (his 4th consecutive, also sneaking in an unofficial visit with to University of Richmond Spiders).  In Vegas, he played against some of the top rising senior point guards (like Terrance Ford and Josh Reisman), and also showed his ability to contain some of the better guards on the West Coast in the class of 2002, like Jason McKinney, Carlos Rivers, Jamel Gay, and Pat Hadden.

Jamel Gay 6'1" Poly (Long Beach CA)-- Jamel will likely not be as tall as his brother, but he's very skilled and smooth, shoots well from out to three point range and can dunk.  A bit on the thin side, he had two excellent sessions at the Double Pump West Coast All Stars Camp and then played with his Long Beach Poly HS team at the Best of Summer.  Will he be the next star at Poly?  We think that spot, at least at the point, is probably reserved (at least for next year) for Carlos Rivers, at least that was Coach Palmer's thinking when we caught up with him in mid summer, but there's no denying that Jamel is maturing nicely and with the usual Jackrabbit three-guard offense, you're likely to see a lot of both Carlos and Jamel in games at the same time.  If there's only one area that we think Jamel needs to work on right now it would be improving his defensive ability and putting on some muscle mass.  If he can do that during the next two years, there's no doubt he'll be a top player.

Aaron Gipson, 5-8 Fontana (Calif.) High-- Aaron was another player we didn't really get to see a lot of this past summer, so our observations are pretty much limited to what we saw of him last season and during the very early summer and late spring.  A quick, agile ball-handler, his only shortcoming (bad pun) will be size at the next level.  He could though, with his athleticism be one of the top guards at Fontana next season, particularly now that Trevante Nelson has transferred back to Mater Dei.

Patrick Haddan, 6-1 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei--Rated as the top PG by FCP, Patrick had a very productive summer and spring, playing with the LA Rockfish on various of their teams and from what we've seen of him, it looks like he's a solid shot to move up to their No. 1 team next year.  His game seems to have improved and he's a lot looser now that he's transferred from Mater Dei (where he rarely saw the floor during games last year) to Woodbridge, where he will undoubtedly draw much attention this year.  Excellent quickness, solid handle, and good size for a point.  Tends to play more straight up and down on defense than laterally, FCP has him ranked as their top pick at the point, even though they acknowledge that between the top 5 (Haddan, McKinney, Ellison, Rivers and Gale) there's no clear cut No. 1 choice.  A smart, solid player with great upside.

Eugene Jeter, 5-7 Gardena (Calif.) Serra-- PWH keeps calling him "Pooh" Jeter, and like Mark Mayemura and Dave Benezra who renamed Solomon "Chili" Brown, we just have can't bring ourselves to call him Pooh. . . if his mom wanted to call him Pooh, that's what it would have said on his birth certificate. . . Very quick lead guard for Serra who will likely come into his own this season without having to play in the shadows of Aerick Sanders (SDSU) or Doyle Cole (still unsigned?).  Jeter has quick hands, but his only difficulty at the next level that we can forsee will be his ability to defend against and see over the taller guards he'll likely face.  Candidly, we didn't get to see a lot of him this summer, but evidently he impressed someone.  We've liked his play for the last few years and have consistently listed him as among the better players in the class. 

Keion Kindred 6'3" Dominguez (Compton CA)-- Keion is listed as a point by PWH and as a "combo" by FCP.  Whatever, the one thing that distinguishes him from virtually all of the rest of these guys is his tremendous athleticism, and he's perhaps the most dominating and athletic of the guards on this list, perhaps on the entire West Coast, or at least among the hundreds and hundreds of rising junior guards we saw this summer.  At the West Coast All Star Camp he was truly dazzling, drivng to the hole, pulling up for the jumper and in general putting a major hurt on his opponents, and he was virtually unstoppable.  He may not think like a point and doesn't necessarily look for the open man or for the easy score for others,   but he's sure fun to watch.  We'd expect him to challenge Mingus Murray for the starting point spot (if Russell Otis can bring himself to put up with Keion's creative streak), which is only fitting since Jamel Gay has now transferred out of Dominguez and the Dons will be in search of a point now that Micah McKinney has graduated.  Hmmm.   Keion Kindred at the one, Bobby Jones at the two, Darius Sanders at the three, Samir Hernandez at the four and Tyson Chandler at center. . . could be scary.

Rommel Marentez, 5-9 San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine-- We only caught glimpses of Rommel this summer, but he improved a lot from what we saw during the spring, and that was impressive too.  Rommel played for the Alleycats in Vegas at the Big Time and he was on a team loaded with guard talent, but clearly stood out as one of the tougher, better players.  Pushes the ball, moves well in the open court and in traffic.  A smart, heady player.

Carl McCullough, 6-0 Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino-- Ok, we confess, we have not seen McCullough play this summer, have no idea what camps he attended (was he at Rim Rattler? but we suspect that it was a Nike-sponsored team that we just didn't get to see on that circuit. He was, however, consistently one of the leading scorers and a solid playmaker for El Camino last season, helping to lead them to the San Diego CIF Section's Division I title game.

Jason McKinney, 5-9 Inglewood (Calif.) High-- Jason didn't play much (at all) last season at Westchester (either injury or eligibility, take your pick), and his rankings at PWH and SCH last season largely existed based on his reputation from the prior two summers.  But then at the beginning of the summer, Jason joined up with the Paladins, a team coached by Eric Hardin which featured mostly Inglewood players and a few guys from Pasadena like Doug Thomas, and he also made the decision to transfer to Inglewood, leaving Ashanti Cook to run the Westchester Comets' offense.  Jason was not the starting PG for the Paladins, and at times it seemed as though he barely hit the floor, backing up rising soph Derrick Clark from Leuzinger who started virtually every game and dominated most of the minutes with solid and steady play.    Jason had a tendency to turn the ball over a lot, but we still think he's got a ton of pure potential, with a very quick handle, excellent speed and a quick first step (sometimes too quick), but he has been hampered by not having much of a shot and often too much creativity on the floor for his own good.  Don't get us wrong because we really love Jason and think he's a great player with awesome upside (and how many guys are best friends with Baron Davis?), and perhaps he'll show us all this season that he can really lead the Inglewood team and put the show and flash aside in favor of results.  If he can do that, he has a chance to be a really spectacular player.

Carlos Rivers, 5-10 Long Beach (Calif.) Poly--Carlos is a solid, smooth point, who makes excellent passes, can shoot the ball and has a very quick first step which enables him to blow by most defenders.  Coach Palmer has told us several times that he views him as the next heir apparent in the long line of solid and highly talented point guards who have passed through Jackrabbit heaven, the last being Wesley Stokes.  He reminds us a lot though not of Stokes, who had at times a fiery offensive streak yet often a laid back (almost at times seeming lazy) approach to defense, but more of a Mike McDonald-type of player.  Carlos just seems to go at the same speed and intensity the whole game.  No highs or lows.  Just solid, workmanlike stuff.  Skilled and strong, the next two seasons should be his to make his mark at Poly and with the college coaches.

Fernando Sampson 6'1" Fairfax (Los Angeles CA)--Poor Fernando.  A solid player, really an off-guard with very good skills and a nice feel for the game, who will likely watch 5'-9" rising soph Kevin Bell, Jr. run the Fairfax team for the better part of next season, just as he did this summer. Not that there's a thing wrong with that, but it will likely mean that Fernando won't really get to develop his point guard skills very much, and candidly, we think PWH would be better off listing him as a two than a one.  Fernando has good size, nice quickness and good hands, but from what we saw of him in about a dozen games this summer, candidly, he's an off-guard.   Now if he can only develop his outside shot to near perfection,  he'll be that missing link that the Lions need for a run at a State title next season, and a fine complement to Bell, Evan Burns and Craig Smith.

Will Sheslow 6'1" Chaminade (West Hills CA)--Will probably thinks he's a point guard, and maybe he is, but in all the years we've seen him play now, both with Rockfish and with the LA and Orange County Maccabi teams, he's been alternately an off-guard or a pure shooter. Unquestionably a talented player, Will transferred at the end of last season from Montclair Prep to Chaminade and should develop into an integral part of the Eagles offensive scheme.  He runs well, has a very tight and controlled dribble, and if he can stay away from the no-look passes and stick with the simple, fundamental bounce pass or easy layup, things will go much more smoothly for him, especially in an offense that we suspect will be designed around getting the ball to Chaminade's big man, rising senior 6'-8" Scott Borchart.  Will started with the Rockfish as an 8th grader, and then had a brief stint this past fall and spring with the Paladins, but came back into the fold late in May for the EBO Mats' Madness tournament, then traveled with Rockfish to Vegas and the Best of Summer.  Along with several others, he helped lead the LA Maccabi team to a 4th consecutive gold medal last week in Richmond, VA.

Jason Taylor, 5-11 Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon -- Another guy we know absolutely nothing about.  Really.  We've written about a lot of guys named "Taylor" over the last year (Brian, Kenny, Kyle, Andrew, Benjy, Howard. . . etc, ad infinitum) but we've never written about, much less seen (to our knowledge) Jason Taylor from Anaheim Canyon.  We know we're going to take a lot of heat on this one, particularly since both PWH and FCP have him ranked, but honestly, we can't add anything to what they've got on this young man.

Dino Wilburn 6'1" Pasadena (Pasadena CA)-- Is he a point or a two guard?  PWH has him listed in their group of PG's and in their SG's which were released tonight.  Dinos at FCP lists him as a "combo" but that may be a bit on the generous side. We at SoCalHoops have known Dino for many years, and he's never, to our knowledge played the point, either in ARC (where he played with Matt Llewellyn, David Gale, Craig Weinstein, Charlie Kranzdorf, Chris Tillman, Dwan Clifton, etc),  nor at Pasadena, nor on any other club teams.   He showed up for a brief stint at RSL about two years ago as a rising freshman, and may have been spotted bringing the ball up once or twice, but he's not a point guard, that's for sure.  Maybe a really small small forward, or a kind of compact two guard (actually he's about 6'-2") who can finish inside and shoot from outside too. . . but not a point.  Not particularly swift (he seems at times heavy-footed) that's pretty deceptive and he's a crafty player, smart with a great feel for the game.  A solid player. But not a point.

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