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May 4, 2006

Top 2008 prospects come to play

Often players are highly ranked based more on potential productivity than productivity in the present.

But in part two of this prospect breakdown, National Basketball Analyst Jerry Meyer turns his focus to the class of 2008 and looks at five prospects that got it done on the court in the month of April.

Tyreke Evans, SG, Aston (Pa.) American Christian School
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 185 pounds
Playing with the poise of a special player, Tyreke Evans has had a strong April as the leader of Team Final.

At a long 6-foot-5, Evans has spent most of his time at the point guard position both breaking down defenders and hitting pull up jumpers. His dribble game revolves around a lethal hesitation move off which he either slashes to the basket or pulls up with a jumper. On his jumper, he gets natural separation with a slight backward lean, and he has tremendous body control around the basket with a knack at drawing fouls. Evans does have room to refine his middle game, however.

Defensively, he has quite a presence with his length and instincts although he is not the quickest player laterally. His special gift is his ability to control the boards and ignite the break with the dribble or the long pass up the court.

Brandon Jennings, PG, Los Angeles Dominguez
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 170 pounds
As the top pure point guard in his class, Brandon Jennings has led the SoCal All Stars to a couple event championships, including the prestigious Kingwood Classic.

A cat quick lefty, Jennings has both an explosive burst to the basket and a solid pull up game in the mid-range. He shoots the traditional pull up off the dribble well and ha the body control and touch to have a very effective floater/runner. His shot from three is looking better, but he does have room for improvement on his catch and shoot from three and his ability to finish with his right hand around the basket. Even better than his scoring, though, is his feel for creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

With his exceptionally quick feet and hands, Jennings is a tremendous pressure defender in the backcourt. He does need to get stronger to keep bigger guards from overpowering him around the lane area.
Click here for video of Jennings in action

Luke Babbitt, PF, Reno (Nev.) Galena
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 215 pounds
Multifaceted left-handed forward Luke Babbitt averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds for the USA team in the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Germany and then came home to help the Las Vegas Prospects win the Double Pump Spring Classic.

An excellent post up player, Babbitt knows how to physically seal off his man, has exceptional footwork and can finish with touch to either shoulder. As a rebounder he hunts down the ball. He is also a threat facing the basket where he can both put it on the floor and shoot the three.

Defensively, Babbitt works hard to keep the ball out of his man's hands in the post, since he is not a huge shot blocking threat. On the perimeter, he is a capable defender, but he does have room to improve his lateral quickness.

Samardo Samuels, PF, Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's Prep
Height: 6-foot-9
Weight: 210 pounds
A bruiser with some athleticism also, Samardo Samuels is a vintage double/double type power forward.

Samuels is as physical as they come on the low blocks, yet he is still able to catch the tough pass and make a finesse play. His bread and butter is to power the ball to the basket, but Samuels is also capable of crossing over on the dribble and finishing with a finger roll. Not the highest jumper, but he does get off the floor and extend to the rim with quickness and power.

Samuels moves his feet well on defense for a player his size. He does an adequate job defending on the perimeter. And in the post, he has the strength to keep his man away from the basket and the length to trouble his shot. Best of all, Samuels plays with a motor that constantly runs at a high speed.

Chris Braswell, PF, Forestville (Md.) DeMatha
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 215 pounds
Chris Braswell's game is developing nicely since he first hit the national scene at the Nike Hoop Jamboree last summer.

He is growing into a power forward's body yet is maintaining his quickness and small forward skills. With his back to the basket, Braswell has a patented move where he goes to his left shoulder on the bounce and then spins back to his right shoulder. Not only does Braswell execute his moves with quickness but he also takes them towards the rim with enough physicality to draw fouls. He is also very effective in the short corner and the high post as a scorer and passer.

Quick of the floor, Braswell works hard on the defensive boards and will become an even better rebounder as he continues to get stronger. He also has the value of being able to match up with both small forwards and power forwards on the college level.

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