The Classic: Bossi's takeaways, UCLA and USC commits shine
LA VERNE, Calif. -- Now in it's third year, The Classic at Damien has emerged as a priority West Coast event. With many of SoCal's top teams and players in attendance, top 15 junior Ziaire Williams lived up to the hype while UCLA bound Jake Kyman and USC bound Drake London were among those that stood out on opening day.
ZIAIRE WILLIAMS IS THE REAL DEAL
When you rank a kid highly based on potential that has started to meet production, you are always anxious to see him play after a few months layoff. Watching Williams, I was very impressed by the steps he has taken since a strong summer with BTI Select.
Pushing 6-foot-8 or so, Williams is a big and skilled wing who can really shoot from deep. He dazzled with 32 points on an array of tough jumpers and gliding drives and is starting to remind me a lot of what Duke freshman Cameron Reddish looked like early in his junior year. Ideally, some more mixing in of low post game to take advantage of the mismatches his size creates would be ideal but he backed up all the hype that comes with a top 15 national ranking.
UCLA BOUND KYMAN DELIVERS
The event organizers didn't exactly give Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita a break with an opening matchup of a young and deep Etiwanda (Calif.) High team (more on them below). Additionally, they were without USC bound four-star wing Max Agbonkpolo. But, they had UCLA bound Jake Kyman and he proved to be a major difference maker on Wednesday.
A big wing with skill and feel for the game, Kyman used his size, shooting ability and instincts on both ends of the floor to make a difference. The other thing that I liked was the chip on his shoulder that he played with and how he wanted to compete. Winning clearly mattered to him and watching UCLA so far this season, a little more fire is something that the Bruins need going down the road.
In a rough and tumble game where points weren't easy to come by, Kyman led all scorers with 28 and helped secure a 50-48 win.
LONDON SIMPLY TOO MUCH
Sometimes, it's hard not to just sit back and laugh a little. That was the situation watching USC football and basketball commit Drake London. A physical beast, London looked like a full grown man playing against middle schoolers while having his way against South Pasadena.
There was no lack of effort from South Pasadena (particularly from the much smaller player attempting to face guard London all game long) but at 6-foot-5 and probably bigger than his listed 205 with athleticism and a mean streak, London was far too much.
He drove at will, he rebounded anything he wanted and he was far from selfish in the way he played. The last time I looked he was up to 34 points early in the fourth quarter and I think he could have scored as many as needed. Obviously, not every matchup is going to be as favorable as the one London had on Wednesday night, but that football attitude and toughness are quite evident when he's on the floor and that toughness will come in handy when he makes his way to the Pac 12.
MORE WEDNESDAY NOTES FROM THE CLASSIC
.... I've had plenty of chance to see Temecula (Calif.) Rancho Christian's dominant big man brother duo of 2019 five-star Isaiah Mobley and 2020 No. 2 ranked player Evan Mobley, but on Wednesday their third big gun, top 50 junior Dominick Harris became eligible. Committed to Gonzaga, Harris had been sitting out for transfer rules. Overall, his performance was a bit up and down but that's to be expected as he works his way into the fold. What stands out, though, is his potential to be a big time two-way player at Gonzaga.
.... Exactly what level they will all translate to and how they will get recruited will be determined over the next year or two, but Etiwanda (Calif.) High has a crew of at least four or five juniors and sophomores with legitimate Division One potential before it is all said and done. Junior wing Tyree Campbell has length, good size and showed good signs with the jumper. Junior guards Camren Pierce, Darryl Jackson and Brantly Stevenson (love his size and versatile game) can all do some things and play with toughness. Then sophomore wing Jahmai Mashack has tremendous energy and loads of potential as well. This is the nucleus of what's going to be a very tough team by the end of the season.
.... I'll be looking forward to getting a longer look at 2020 point guard Lamont Butler. The three-star looks to be taking a big step with his athleticism and strength and does some nice things as a scorer and facilitator. The West Coast is a little thin on point guards in 2020 and he's getting evaluated heavily at the Pac 12 level.