This article was reprinted with permission from Hoopville.com
Guest reporter Jed Tai of Hoopville.com covered the seventh annual Les Schwab Tournament in Portland, Oregon. Here are his player reports on athletes from the host state....
This year's LSI once again showed off some of the top high school talent in the country. The tournament MVP, Westbury Christian forward Ndudi Ebi, lived up to all of the hype as one of the best players in the country, and Jefferson senior guard Thomas Gardner (right) showed why many consider him one of the elite shooting guards of the senior class. But as talented as seniors such as Ebi and Gardner are, the strength of this year's LSI was in the number of talented underclassmen that played in the tournament. A good number of them are Division I prospects who will be highly recruited in years to come. Here is a look at the top players from Oregon and how they performed (stats are for tournament games only):
Thomas Gardner, Jefferson, 6-4, Guard, Senior
Stats: 23.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, .413 fg, .355 3pt, .682 ft
Gardner might not have the best performance that he's capable of in the LSI, but he more than showed why many feel he is the top player in all of Oregon. An unstoppable offensive machine, especially when he's on, Gardner not only lit it up from three-point range, but also took the ball to the hole strong to finish plays amongst the trees. His reputation is first and foremost as a shooter, and there was no doubt he could do that in the tournament. With deep range and a lightning-quick release, Gardner more than hit his share of threes during the week. But it's his ability to put the ball on the floor and create off the dribble that makes him a force. Using a power dribble, Gardner can drive to his right or his left and perform jump-stop or spin moves to free himself for a layup or soft floater in the lane. The fact he's a fantastic leaper and has a mature body certainly adds to his ability to finish at the cup. But with all his scoring ability, Gardner did not play selfishly, as he often found teammates open underneath off of drives, even in situations late in the ballgame when the team put the ball in his hands, counting on him to lead them to victory. He did show a propensity to take some bad shots at times and while he certainly is an emotional player, his outbursts and bravado at times got him into trouble. But there's no questioning his ability to score and Missouri certainly thinks he can contribute, as they have signed him to play in Columbia next season. He could be a sleeper pick for the McDonald's All-American game in the spring.
Maarty Leunen, Redmond, 6-9, Forward, Junior
Stats: 24.0 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.3 bpg, .667 fg, .657 ft
With the big numbers Leunen put up in the tournament from the field and on the boards, you'd think that he was an brute in the paint. But the truth is while Leunen was tough to handle inside, he was as comfortable facing the basket as he was posting up. While the majority of the points he scored were off hoops in the lane, they mostly came from some great movement off the ball by him to get open underneath so that passers could find him. And, for the most part, when he got the ball inside, he was able to convert. Leunen showed the ability to run the floor, shoot from the perimeter with range, and handle the ball like a small forward at times. But because of his height and his willingness to play where the team needs him to play, he operates mostly down low. Leunen will need to build some strength, as he couldn't finish some plays inside because he lacked the muscle to power his way in. But his combination of size and versatility will make him attractive as a sleeper recruit for some major programs, and currently Oregon State, California, and Gonzaga have shown early interest and Utah has shown medium interest. And based on his performance in the LSI, more schools will likely start calling. Leunen was an LSI All-Tournament pick.
Josh Tarver, Jesuit, 6-2, Guard, Sophomore
Stats: 12.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, .447 fg, .360 3pt, .692 ft
The middle of the Tarver brothers plays the point for Jesuit and is probably the best shooter of all the siblings. He displayed a soft shot out to the three-point line with the ability to shoot off the dribble as well as simply launching after receiving the pass. While he wasn't particularly creative with the basketball, Tarver played a solid floor game at the point and kept good care of the ball (with the exception of the game against Jefferson), keeping his teammates involved. Tarver will need to continue to get stronger and will need to play with more aggression, but that should come with experience. He should be recruited by many West Coast schools by the time he's through. He also bears a facial resemblance to NBA player Kevin Ollie.
Seth Tarver, Jesuit, 6-4, Guard, Freshman
Stats: 11.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, .450 fg, 0-7 3pt, .750 ft
The youngest Tarver brother is considered by many to be potentially the most talented of the trio. His combination of height and skills have some people believing he could eventually be a tall point guard. Currently, however, with brother Josh at the point, Seth is playing on the wing. He picked his spots on offense during the tournament, shooting mainly from mid-range on pull up jumpers or off of screens, utilizing his lightning fast release. Like brother Josh, he could stand to be more aggressive on offense and defense, but that likely will come as he has years to go in his high school career. West Coast schools will be all over him during his career, but he's likely to be the brother that garners the most national interest if he continues to develop.
Zach Tarver, Jesuit, 6-4, Forward, Junior
Stats: 9.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg, .457 fg, .333 ft
The oldest of the Tarver brothers (all younger siblings of former UCLA swingman Shon Tarver) - Zach is an athletic player who spent most of his time operating either on the baseline or underneath. While it's clear he can rebound and defend against taller players, he will need to continue working on his perimeter skills if he is to become a serious Division I prospect. Just about all of Tarver's baskets were layups underneath - and even those weren't gimmes - and his range did not extend past a few feet. He was also, to put it nicely, an adventure from the free throw line. But the athletic ability is there for this dual-sport athlete who is also a tight end on the football team.
Josh Akwenuke, Westview, 6-4, Guard/Forward, Senior
Stats: 15.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg
This lithe swingman showed some athleticism and a pretty nice touch from the outside. He is being recruited by some small colleges but may show up on the radar of a small D-I program if he has a big year.
Isaiah Allen, Jefferson, 6-2, Guard, Senior
Stats: 10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Allen transferred from rival Benson Tech and is still learning the system, but showed the ability to explode on offense on occasion. Very athletic, he made a living driving to the basket. He may need to go the JUCO route, but he could eventually find himself playing D-I ball someday.
James Loe, Hillsboro, 5-11, Guard
Stats: 16.3 ppg, 5.3 apg
Despite the fact he's probably really only about 5-8, Loe showed off incredible quickness and the ability to create shots for himself or his teammates at any time. A tremendous ball-handler, if he can continue to stay under control, he could garner some D-I interest from a mid-major school by his senior year.
Jay Mayernik, Thurston, 6-5, Forward
Stats: 17.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg
Mayernik's a very strong kid and was able to muscle his way in the paint for points and rebounds throughout the tournament. While he lacks D-I athleticism and height for his position, there may be a program out there that would consider him as a walk-on.
Jerae Nelson, Jefferson, 6-4, Forward
Stats: 7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Nelson shot a high percentage mainly off of inside buckets and mid-range baseline jumpers, and helped out consistently on the glass. This undersized forward with a football player's frame could be a sleeper for a smaller school. Jed Tai is a Senior Writer with Hoopville.com