May 24, 2006

Stock up at the Cactus Classic

We've broken down the top overall performers from both the 2007 and 2008 class at the first annual Cactus Classic held at the University of Arizona. Now we turn our attention to several prospects who were able to raise their stock with impressive performances.

National Basketball Analyst Jerry Meyer focuses on five prospects who helped themselves with their play in the tournament.

Here are the stock raising performers Meyer scouted and with a breakdown of each.

Darrington Hobson, Calvary Baptist Christian (Calif.)
Position: Small forward
Height: 6-foot-7
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (6 games): 13 pts, 6.8 reb, 1 ast
Not known for always giving a consistent effort, multi-dimensional wing player Darrington Hobson was SoCal All Stars' best performer for much of the weekend in the absence of Kevin Love.

With Brandon Jennings, one of the top point guards in the 2008 class, playing below his ability during the event, Hobson handled the ball a great deal and matched up defensively on the opposition's top player. Against the Houston Hoops, he guarded point guard Jai Lucas with Jennings in foul trouble, and in other games he guarded both wing players and post players.

Offensively, Hobson made shots from all three levels and created scoring opportunities with his penetration and court vision.

By becoming a more focused and aggressive player over the summer, Hobson should be able to regain his four-star status.

Kenton Walker, San Diego Scripps Ranch
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-foot-8
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (8 games): 11.8 pts, 6.4 reb, 1.1 blk
Controlling the paint for Pump N Run Elite, Kenton Walker was integral to their championship run through the Cactus Classic.

With four perimeter players around him, Walker defended the opposing big man well. Seeming to always be in the right position, he made his opponent score over him and kept people on his back when rebounding.

Offensively, he effectively rolled to the basket and finished after setting ball screens for his talented teammates. He was also an opportunistic scorer, picking up points by beating his man down the court and coming up with offensive rebounds.

A very intriguing prospect, Walker can raise his stock even more by improving his shooting range.

Malcolm White, Millersburg (Ky.) Prep
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-foot-8
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (6 games): 6.3 pts, 3.5 reb, 1.5 stl
It is always fun to watch an aggressive big man like Malcolm White who has a good motor.

The athletic 6-foot-9, 2008 power forward prospect is hungry for the ball and uses an aggressive style to get to the ball. In fact, White plays with as good a motor as any big man on the circuit. He runs the floor hard and plays from baseline to baseline hunting out the ball.

Besides rebounding, he also defends and blocks shot. His offense skills are limited at this point and his hands need to improve, but he does a good job of sticking to what he can do. When he is around the basket he attacks the rim and dunks or draws fouls. When he doesn't have a bead on the rim, he kicks it out.

Still raw and work in progress, if White works as hard on his game as he plays in competition, expect his game to take off.

Keion Bell, Gardena Serra
Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-foot-3
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (4 games): 18.5 pts, 4.3 reb, 1.8 ast, 2.3 stl
2008 prospect Keion Bell has an eye opening unorthodox, raw and athletic game that gets results.

Defensively, Bell has the athleticism and hunger to come up with steals and rebounds and is fully capable of being a very good one on one defender on the perimeter.

Offensively, his handle is not very polished but it is funky enough along with his athleticism to get him where he needs to get on the court. As with his handle, his shot isn't pretty, but he has the bravado to take shots and a knack for getting them into the basket.

Certainly a tad wild for some coaches' taste, Bell does have the tools to be a high-major player if he polishes up his game and harnesses his energy.

Venoy Overton, Seattle Franklin
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot-0
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (6 games): 17 pts, 3 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.9 stl
Scoring point guard Venoy Overton played strong overall basketball in leading Seattle Rotary into the quarterfinals of the Cactus Classic.

A springy lefthander, Overton can shoot the ball from deep, but he looked his best when attacking the rim. He has an extra burst to get to the rim and can convert the difficult finish. While also able to hit the tough mid-range shots, Overton did a nice job of finding the open man off his penetration.

Overton was also an active presence on the defensive side of the ball. He guarded the ball well and also came up with rebounds and loose balls.

Certainly look for Overton to crack the Rivals150 in August.

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