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June 14, 2006Perhaps no other high school basketball player gets more recruiting attention in the Silver State than Luke Babbitt, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound phenom from Reno (Nev.) Galena high school. With a strong frame and numerous offensive skills, the 2008 prospect "The Weekly Spin" first dubbed as "Cool Hand Luke" after seeing him two years ago at the Cal camp, has exploded on the national scene. While he's still cool, "The Weekly Spin" says he's a Skywalker now.
"He's got that great touch," said one Pac-10 assistant coach after seeing Babbitt play in Las Vegas during the Double Pump High School Boys' Spring Classic.
"I've seen him for three years now and nearly every game, he's quicker and stronger than anybody in the post," said a WAC assistant, recalling watching Babbitt play before his freshman year at Galena high. "He's like another Fazekas. Great hands."
"He attacks the glass," said a Pac-10 head coach. "That's what you like about him. He's on that offensive glass, getting put-backs. Then he does it defensively. He blocks shots and he doesn't get out of position. He's phenomenal."
Sounds like a basketball Jedi, huh?
It goes without saying that the former Midwestern has become one of the west coast's top prospects to watch no matter the size or location of the game. From the Adidas Superstar Camp to the upcoming San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty-Bellarmine Prep Father's Day summer tournament this weekend, Babbitt is a must see prospect for fans - and a must recruit stud for college coaches.
Luke might have that quiet, unassuming, straight-haired look from his profile. And yes, he's originally from the Midwest. But honestly, think "Skywalker" folks. Of course, not in the Hassan Adams "I-can-fly-all-day" type. Just a guy who beats his opponents on a continual basis with a no-nonsense approach. Luke can certainly flush the ball. He also can rebound, hit the fadeaway or jump-hook, play position defense, nimble on the sideline, move with or without the ball, and drill the three. In fact, Babbitt is a big man with a rim-rocking style who can take opponents outside or inside. He's very unselfish. The more contact, the better - he's an "And-1" machine. Babbitt also uses his left hand near the rim as well as any power forward in the country and his ability to hit shots with foes right in his face makes him a nightmare for small forwards.
What's the Reno star, who just happens to have a 3.9 GPA, doing now that school is over?
"I'm working out," Babbitt said politely, a trait that's never changed in the talented Northern Nevada prospect despite being a world-traveling, nationally recruited baller now. "It's the summer and I have a pretty full plate, but I'm lifting at night and looking forward to all the camps this summer. I'll be at Mitty this weekend for that tournament. As you know, I already played in the Schweitzer games in Germany but I'll also attend the Superstar Camp in Georgia, plus the NBA Camp in Virginia later this month. I'll be playing in the Super 64 in Vegas and the Arizona Elite Camp in July."
"Around here, I get to play some pick up games with the UNR (Nevada) guys," Babbitt added. "I know Nick Fazekas said he's coming back so that's pretty cool. I don't really know him or anything but I've played against him a few times. There's a couple of guys here in the area I can match-up with, including a young guy from Reno high who plays with us on the Las Vegas Prospects."
The Schweitzer games were one of the highlights of Babbitt's prep career. He started nearly every game in the two week, six-game European Tournament. The USA team went 3-3 overall and Babbitt's individual numbers were rock solid. He averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and hit 43% (25-for-57) of his shots from the floor. Luke also shot 46% (6-for-13) from three. His best game came against Spain as the USA won 81-73, scoring 17 points and 11 rebounds. After playing in Germany, Babbitt returned to the AAU scene with the Las Vegas Prospects and quickly pushed Anthony Brown's squad to the top of the Double Pump Spring touney, winning their hometown tournament over some big-time teams, including 2007 prospect Drew Viney and the SoCal Razorbacks in the final. In middle May, Babbitt and the LV Prospects made it to the semifinals of the Rivals hosted Cactus Classic in Tucson.
Babbitt's impressive showing in national events is no surprise to the folks in Northern California and Northern Nevada - where he plays often. He was a first-team all-State performer after averaging 25.2 points per game for the Grizzlies. He was also named the Northern 4A Region's Co-Player of the Year along with Hug junior Armon Johnson, a talented combo guard who will likely play in the Bay Area's Oakland Athletic League (OAL) this winter.
"The NBA Camp is something I'm really excited about," Babbitt added. "I have heard nothing but great things about that event. Unfortunately, the Cal camp fell on the same dates so I'm really disappointed about that. I've played there the past two years, and I like the atmosphere there at Cal. The coaches at Cal are really cool. In fact, I just spoke with them recently."
Obviously, recruiting fans from around the country want to know what Luke feels about recruiting. Already holding offers from the Big East (Syracuse), Pac-10 (Washington), Big 10 (Michigan), Mountain West (UNLV), and his hometown (WAC) school, the Nevada Wolf Pack, Babbitt also has received significant interest from Cal, Arizona, Duke, and Iowa State, just to name a few. While there's no stated number, he'll likely draw over 30 scholarship offers.
"I'm really still wide open," Babbitt says, answering another recruiting question. "Honestly, this whole process is flattering. I have met people that I didn't think I'd ever meet. There are so many, you know, just like Coach Braun - it's been great to speak with him and different coaches and get to know them a bit. I'm considering everyone still and that's not something that will change until next summer probably."
"The Weekly Spin" will continue to keep tabs on Babbitt.