REDONDO BEACH, Calif -- Just a little to the south of LAX off of Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Union High School is playing host to the Battle at the Beach. It is the second of July's two live periods for college coaches to scout high school talent and the West was heavily represented as programs swarmed to look at some of the best talent the Left Coast has to offer. Derrick Bruce surfaced as a point guard option from the class of 2015 and several rising sophomores put themselves on the map.
Bruce coming on strong for 2015
His Inland team suffered a tough loss on a follow-up bucket at the buzzer, but point guard Derrick Bruce left it all on the floor. In doing so, he opened some eyes.
Through the early spring and summer, the number one complaint Rivals.com heard from coaches about the class of 2015 was the dearth of point guards. On Thursday, the 6-foot-1 floor general, that will play a prep year at Delray Beach (Fla.) Elev8, played like somebody that pretty good programs need to follow up on.
A creator off of the bounce with tremendous quickness, Bruce lulled defenders to sleep with a methodic side-to-side dribble. Once his opponent relaxes, Bruce hits openings in a flash to get into the lane and make plays.
He seems to be a bit more scorer than true playmaker for others, but Bruce is a good jump shooter who extends defenses and he has a lot of potential as an on the ball defender.
Originally a class of 2014 prospect who played in high school at Ontario (Calif.) Colony, Bruce told Rivals.com that California, Arizona State, Oregon State,Colorado and Arkansas -- all but Arkansas watched him Thursday -- had showed preliminary interest. More than likely, many more good programs will be looking soon and he should start picking up scholarship offers.
Don't call Guy a shooter
It could be worse. Class of 2016 shooting guard Kyle Guy could have the reputation of a non-shooter. Instead, the 6-foot-2 native of Indiana is known as one of the better shooters in the Midwest.
However, Guy has more game off the dribble than he's been given credit for to this point and he is capable of more than being a jump shooter.
"I've heard it since freshman year and I started to hate the term shooter," Guy told Rivals.com "I've expanded my game and I've really worked on all parts of being a guard."
Guy is correct. He handles the ball very well, is adept at reading ball screens and he has some toughness that belies his thin frame. When he sees a chance to attack, he does so and the fact that he can also shoot from deep only opens up his game off the dribble.
Guy was glad to show his versatility. However, he was happier that his Indiana Elite squad got a win as they prepare to hit Las Vegas next week for the Super 64.
"What we are out here for is to get ready for Vegas," said Guy. "We had a tough day on Wednesday but we got a good win today and I feel like we are getting on a roll for next week."
While there wasn't a huge contingent of ranked upperclassmen on hand at the Battle at the Beach, there were several rising sophomores that caught the eye of Rivals.com.
Perhaps at the head of the class was Jaylen Hands. A 6-foot point guard from Chula Vista (Calif.) Mater Dei, Hands was impressive for the Compton Magic's 16 and under squad. Understandably scrawny given his age, Hands has long arms, super quickness and a top notch feel for playmaking. Add that he can shoot and is already an alert defender and you have somebody that has to be one of the best point guard prospects out west in his class.
Hands wasn't the only impressive freshman that we caught from the Compton Magic program. 6-foot-7 power forward Jalen Hill from Corona (Calif.) Centennial played for a few of the Magic's teams and impressed. He runs extremely well, is very bouncy around the rim and finishes plays on both ends of the floor. Speedy guard Chris Williams may be more of a natural two guard than point at 6-foot, but he can really shoot the ball from deep. Williams put up huge numbers during his freshman season and his pure jumper should carry him places.
Finally from the Magic, Billy Preston, a 6-foot-8 combo forward from host Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union, could be as good a prospect as ran through the gym on Thursday. A rangy forward who can burn home mid range jumpers, Preston can already handle a bit, has good size and seems to have a lot of upward mobility with his game. West Coast high majors are already all over him.
Moving on, two other rising sophomores really showed flashes. Earnest Sears, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany, and Marcus Shaver, a 5-foot-11 point guard Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's, had good moments. Sears is all arms and legs and looks a bit clumsy until he catches the ball. Once the ball is in his hands, he is quite fluid and makes things happen as a rim to mid-range scorer and transition passer. Shaver is quick, has very good vision and plays with confidence. Shaver should continue to grow and fill out but the base skills to be a desirable operator of a college offense are all there.
More Thursday news and notes
The Colorado Hawks got in a bit late and pretty much had to hop out of their van and onto the floor. That didn't stop 2016 top 25 player De'Ron Davis from showing what he is about. A big and strong post player who has touch, Davis patiently spun and bullied his way to easy buckets. On the Hawks 16U team, rising junior wing Alpha Diallo merits more looks. An athletic and tough kid, he attacks off the dribbler and is dangerous in transition.
A solid player who will help some teams win is 6-foot-3 wing Chandler White. A strong and tough perimeter player, White will rebound, play some defense and he is a good enough offensive player between the rim and 17 feet to make defenses pay, especially if they sleep on him.
Nevada forward Nate Grimes picked up right where he left off when Rivals.com watched him at Reebok Breakout last week. The 6-foot-8 rising senior is tough, he rebounds and he is becoming dangerous as a jump shooter. He had a nice stretch early where he hit a three, drove to the rim, blocked a shot and then pulled up off two dribbles from 15 feet to swish a jumper.
One of the better finds of the day was 6-foot-10 center Bollo Gnohore of SCA. A native of France who has only been in the States for about 10 months, he is an aggressive rebounder and defender. He's out of this world skilled, but he does have some sense of how to play on the low block and will pass the ball out and re-post if he doesn't have anything. Coaches love bigs that attack rebounds at and above the rim with both hands and he does that. Pac 12 programs are starting to sniff around on the rising senior.
From the looks of it, Lucas Siewert will be one of the best 2016 options out west for programs looking for a stretch four man. Siewert can pop in jumpers from out to 22 feet and he's a pretty good rebounder. A member of Brazil's 18U national team, he has a frame that will carry more weight and has offers from places like Boston College, California, Colorado, Gonzaga, Texas Tech, Utah and San Francisco, according to his high school coach William Middlebrooks.
To round out Thursday's coverage, Team Eleate 16's wing Rodgerick Williams is intriguing. Technically, the 6-foot-5 small forward will be a senior at Los Angeles (Calif.) Price this season. But, he only turns 17 in October, making him young for his natural class and he is already planning a prep school year. He has good shoulders, doesn't get sped up, chases rebounds and has a nice offensive game.