PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Post-Christmas holiday events are huge in high school basketball. This year, Rivals.com has taken a swing out to the West Coast. Thursday's stop was the Maxpreps Holiday Classic. Held at locations all around the Palm Springs area, the event is a massive one featuring nearly 100 teams spread across eight gym sites. Thursday, Michigan commits Kameron Chatman and D.J. Wilson, along with Stanford -bound Michael Humphrey and unsigned senior point guard Devin Watson, were among the standouts in the four gyms Rivals.com visited.
Michigan-bound forwards look good
Later in the day on Thursday, a pair of Michigan commitments took to the floor of Rancho Mirage at the same time. While high-end four-star Kameron Chatman was playing with his Portland (Ore.) Columbia Christian squad on the main floor, Rivals150 member D.J. Wilson and Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian were in the back gym doing their thing.
We'll start with Chatman, who is ranked No. 29 overall in the class of 2014. One of the most cerebral players in the country, he showed off all of his high-end hoops IQ and skill level while scoring 28 points in a hard-fought, low-scoring affair. By the way, he was responsible for two game-winning plays in the process.
A dangerous player in the mid range. Chatman is money with the turnaround 15-footers and pull-up jumpers, and his passing 12 to 17 feet from the hoop is exquisite. That passing was evident at the end of regulation with his team trailing by one; he could have forced a contested 18-footer but instead zipped a pass through traffic to an open teammate under the hoop. His teammate couldn't convert the bunny but did get fouled with 0.7 seconds left and made one of two to send the game to overtime. In OT, Chatman calmly sank a 22-footer from the right wing with less than two seconds to go to give his team the win.
Players make plays, that's a given. But what was so impressive about Chatman's two game-winning plays was the level of maturity he showed and how he was patient enough to make the right plays in critical situations. Not a lot of high schoolers have that, and it should help ease the transition to college ball. He isn't a mega athlete, but his smarts, skill and a body to work with in the weight room should allow him to be an impact player in Ann Arbor.
Rivals.com didn't focus as much on Wilson, even though the plan originally called for watching much more of his game. A 6-foot-8 combo forward who ranks No. 135 nationally, Wilson is finally completely healthy and is showing a level of athleticism to which he has never come close in the past. He sprinted the floor for dunks and was blocking shots and grabbing rebounds above the rim.
Unfortunately (from an evaluation standpoint), he and his Capital Christian teammates blew out their opponents, so it was tough to judge just how much more athletic he really is. Wilson already has a very good jump shot and versatility on the offensive end. If he can be as athletic and active as he looked on Thursday against better competition, he is a threat to make a move in the rankings.
Humphrey has considerable long term upside
Currently, Michael Humphrey is ranked as the second-best prospect in Stanford's outstanding 2014 recruiting class. However, when it is all said and done, the 6-foot-10 power forward from Phoenix (Ariz.) Sunnslope may ultimately posses more potential than the more celebrated/decorated Reid Travis.
That is no knock against Travis, who ranks No. 40 nationally. Instead, it is a nod to just how good Humphrey could be four or five years from now.
Currently ranked No. 74 nationally, Humphrey's ranking is fair based on where he has come from (totally off the radar a year ago) to where he is now and the level of his production. But even in a relatively quiet game Thursday -- mostly due to his teammates' ineffectiveness in involving him -- it is easy to see that Humphrey could take a huge leap or two with his game.
He is a swift big man who is quite nimble at 6-foot-10. He flies up and down the court like a smaller player, has outstanding agility, and is quick off his feet around the rim. Humphrey can also shoot to the 3-point line with accuracy and is a good rebounder. Still skinny, Humphrey has to next become much more physically assertive and more of a factor as a shot blocker. Much of the thinking on him as a prospect has to do with his physical tools and long term thinking, but if it all comes together Johnny Dawkins and his staff could have one of the biggest steals in 2014.
Watson a top remaining option
It has been done for a few months, but for the first time on the record with Rivals.com, three-star point guard Devin Watson confirmed that he is done with Oregon State and totally open in the recruiting process. Go ahead and mark the 5-foot-10 floor general from Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino down as one of the top remaining point guard options in the class of 2014.
During his first game at the Holiday Classic Watson wasn't tested much. But he was still pretty impressive while racking up 23 points and eight assists without really breaking a sweat in a lopsided win.
A true speedster with the ball, Watson thrives in the open floor and can get into the lane with regularity despite his slight build. Maybe because he is so slight and it would be tough for him to have a game based on finishing at the rim, Watson is also an outstanding one- and two-dribble pull-up jump shooter. He can hit from deep, but those 12-17 footers are his bread and butter.
According to Watson he has had some level of contact with St. Mary's, UNLV, UCLA and San Diego State, but he's really just starting to get into contact with schools.
"I could say some of the teams that were on me before I committed but I don't know if those offers are still good," Watson told Rivals.com. "I'm just starting over and letting people know that I'm available."
With the point guard ranks thin, Watson will no doubt have his choice of high mid-major to high major suitors throughout the winter. He is pretty open to playing style and conference, but proximity to home could ultimately be a factor.
"Location is big because I want to be close to home," said Watson. "That's a big part of it. That and mainly being a pretty high level of program and somewhere that plays fast."
Final Thursday notes
Jordan Dallas first caught our eye last week at the Tarkanian Classic, but another look at the 6-foot-9 junior power forward from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly really has us intrigued. Dallas lacks strength and has to get more physical, but he overcomes that with good hands, good touch and the ability to move pretty well for a big kid. Thinking long term, he's a guy that you have to watch on at least the West Coast Confererence/Mountain West-type level. As he adds physicality and gains confidence, he could boost his stock rapidly.
The theme of the day seemed to be blowouts wherever we stopped. Too bad that was the case when we checked in on Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic. Loaded with young players, Moreau features a roster made up entirely of 2016 and 2017 players. The top dog is four-star sophomore Oscar Frayer who currently ranks No. 23 in the class of 2016. A long, lanky and athletic 6-foot-5 wing, Frayer has all of the physical markers and is an explosive leaper and finisher around the rim. However, in a game such as Thursday's where he could finish at will around the rim, there was no chance to see if he has the skill to be a long-term two guard or if he needs to stretch out a bit into the frame of an elite small forward. He's for sure a legit high-major prospect, though.
The other Moreau Catholic player who really piqued our interest was freshman point guard Damari Milstead. A solid six-footer who we got to see some during the summer, he plays with an attack mentality. Milstead got into the lane whenever he wanted and did a good job of mixing his finishing with dropping the ball off to teammates for easy buckets. How good is he? Time will tell, and Thursday's opponent didn't offer much resistance; but we've seen enough to know that he's a guy who needs to be monitored out on the West Coast.
Northwestern recently scored a commitment from San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) Serra point guard Johnnie Vassar. The three-star floor general is a big-time athlete and has plenty of confidence, His biggest qualities are his quickness and aggressiveness, but those same things get him into trouble. Athltically he is ready for the Big Ten, but Vassar is almost too eager to make plays and has to let things slow down for him a bit as he gets ready to hit high-major basketball.