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July 20, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- It may seem incongruous, but halfway through the July evaluation period, two of the most underrated prospects in the West's 2014 class are teammates at one of the most prominent Los Angeles-area high schools.
Tavrion Dawson, a 6-foot-7 power forward, and Ron Freeman, a 6-foot-5 small forward, helped to propel Gardena Serra to its second consecutive CIF-SS regional championship this year but somehow remained inconspicuous to college recruiters.
During Dawson's Earl Watson Pangos Elite team's comfortable Friday night win over Salt Lake Metro Black at the Double Pump Best of Summer, one Pac-12 head coach was overheard asking, "Who is No. 30?"
Dawson had offers from only Loyola Marymount and Montana State entering July, but he has built upon that list with Cal-Davis, Cal Poly and Rhode Island following suit and more are certain to come. Probably a lot more.
"I think I picked it up a lot from the spring," said Dawson, who scored on driving dunks, midrange pull-up jumpers and catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. He also rebounded and defended with aplomb. "My handle is better, I'm getting to the rack, making some plays, doing a good job and making a name for myself.
"Everybody I talk to, they say that it's crazy I haven't been getting more attention. But it's starting to happen. It's been a long process. I've been working hard, so it feels like it's paying off now."
Freeman, too, is seeing his stock soar in the July pressure cooker. He went on a tear in the first evaluation period playing for Superior Prospects, and he played a major role in the team's win over an ultra-athletic Louisiana Future on Friday.
Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona and Utah State extended scholarship offers before the first evaluation period ended. Numerous others, including Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, New Mexico, Oregon State and San Diego State, are taking a serious look.
"Pretty much my shooting has improved," said Freeman, who is young for his class, having turned 17 last month. "I've been shooting it pretty good, on a high confidence level. That's really helped my overall game, and now I'm just trying to keep it going."
Hemsley turns it up
Jeremy Hemsley would tense up. Or his shot would be off. Or his legs wouldn't bounce like they usually do. Or the 6-foot-3, 165-pound shooting guard just wouldn't play well.
Whatever the case, when the lights turned on, Hemsley felt like he turned down.
But last weekend, at the Double Pump Summer Tip-Off, the Superior Athletes guard went off. He scored, he dunked, he dashed and he passed. And he did it all in front of college coaches and media members.
"I think I just showed the doubters that I'm a kid who can play," Hemsley said. "I think the coaches noticed that, so I think that's why I got more offers last week."
This weekend, at another Pumps event -- the Double Pump Best of Summer -- Hemsley was back at it. While his outside shot wasn't falling as much as he would have liked, he showed high-level athleticism, exceptional quickness, bounce around the rim and a good feel for the game.
This time, he did it front of head coaches as well. UNM's Craig "Noodles" Neal was there for most of it, while Colorado's Tad Boyle was there, too. Assistants from SDSU, Boston College and others were watching intently, too, clearly making Hemsley a priority.
"I just think I haven't taken advantage of when I have the opportunity to show people that I can play," Hemsley said. "I haven't really shown my talent, but last week and this week I think I did a good job of showing people that I can play."
Simon no longer lost in crowd
Justin Simon wants to make it clear there should be enough room for at least one more.
Simon, a 6-foot-4 utility guard, has been enormously impressive the last two days while playing for Gamepoint Red 16, including in a 40-point win Friday in which he had three dunks that followed steals in a single half.
"I've kind of got a chip on my shoulder," Simon said. "I'm not really an attention guy, but I've got to keep stepping up and playing like this every day. The word is getting out, and I'm going to get everybody's best game."
Irvine, San Jose State, San Diego and Santa Clara comprised Simon's offer sheet before the July period, and New Mexico offered after watching him last week.
Simon, who transferred to Temecula Valley after playing two seasons at Corona Roosevelt, is a plus athlete with a terrific basketball body and extremely long arms. He can defend four positions and play at any perimeter spot on offense, and he can even run a team.
Magee making his case
Louisiana Future's AAU squad drew a big-time crowd of SEC schools Friday, and one of the biggest reasons was 6-foot-4 PG Dominic McGee.
The big point guard showed serious vision, as well as outstanding athleticism, and he helped hold down Hemsley as much as possible in their first meeting of the day. Later in the afternoon, Magee had another great outing, proving the crowd of SEC schools gathering to watch him was no fluke.
Magee said he's nowhere close to picking a program he'll play for next year -- mostly because his offer sheet is growing by the day.
"I couldn't tell you right now, to be honest," Magee said when asked about favorites.
He'll make his first official visit next month, although he doesn't know where yet. He said he's not sure when a college decision will come.
Stanback's 2015 point guard teammate Michael Oguine flashed athleticism that could land him on the Pac-12 radar. For now, the 6-foot-1 PG is mostly hearing from Brown, Harvard, Northern Arizona, Pennsylvania and Santa Clara.
Louisiana Future 6-foot-8 power forward James Thompson benefited from a trip west to play in the Double Pump Best of the Best Tournament in the form of a scholarship offer from one of the region's most prominent programs, Arizona, on Friday. The three-star 2014 prospect is trending well, with Kansas State, LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M having extended offers.
Roman Davis, a 6-foot-6 hybrid forward at Los Angeles Winward and the No. 63 prospect in the 2015 class, picked up his first high-major offer from Arizona State this week.
Aubrey Dawkins, the son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, is planning to reclassify to 2014 with a postgraduate year at New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire after graduating from Palo Alto High. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Dawkins is plenty athletic to generate a lot of interest after somehow flying under the radar in the last year despite suggesting he was a full qualifier.