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May 24, 2006

Top class of 2008 performers at Cactus Classic

The first annual Cactus Classic held at the University of Arizona was loaded with top talent from the West Coast and many of them turned in impressive performances.

National Basketball Analyst Jerry Meyer was on hand for the action and ranks the top five performers in the 2008 class from the tournament.

Here are the top five 2008 performers Meyer scouted with a breakdown of each.

5. Jerime Anderson, Canyon Country (Calif.) Canyon
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot-2
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (4 games): 10.8 pts, 2.8 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl
Teaming up with top 2008 performer Jrue Holiday in the backcourt, Jerime Anderson did an outstanding job running the point for Double Pump.

Anderson is a slippery guard who shoots the ball nicely off the ball screen. In fact, he was shooting it so well, that at times he came off the screen too flat looking for his jumper instead of turning the corner harder and creating more openings for his teammates. He is capable of slashing either direction to the basket and finished well with his left hand.

Not a physical defender, Anderson does have a good sense of timing and very quick hands. He was a pesky defender and came up with some steals with his quick hands.

Already a nice high-major prospect, Anderson's stock will continue to rise as he gets stronger and refines his point guard skills.

4. Clarence Trent, Gig Harbor
Position: Small forward
Height: 6-foot-7
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (4 games): 12.3 pts, 6.9 reb, 1.3 stl
As tough a player as Clarence Trent is right now, he is even a better prospect with his high upside.

A physical and athletic combo forward, Trent is a three level scorer. He punishes defenders around the basket and has a soft touch. He is also an excellent mid-post player with a lethal turnaround jumper off a variety of pivot moves. He also scores the ball from behind the arc and is a definite scoring threat in transition.

Defensively, Trent has the quickness and explosion to be a tough defender both inside and on the perimeter. He also has the ability to corral down a tough rebound in a crowd.

Key for Trent is learning to maintain focus throughout the game and improve his passing skills.

3. Luke Babbitt, Reno (Nev.) Galena
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-foot-8
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (7 games): 16 pts, 6.8 reb, 1 stl
It will be difficult to find a more polished combo forward in the 2008 class than Luke Babbitt.

An efficient player, Babbitt has a great feel for the game as a combo forward. He knows how to move without the ball and is a patented scorer in a couple ways. He scores with his back to the basket with quality footwork and a tough lefty jump hook. Then he can step out well beyond the arc and stroke the three-pointer. As a good offensive rebounder, he also comes up with a lot of put backs.

A good position defender, Babbitt does need to improve his lateral quickness in guarding the perimeter. As a rebounder, Babbitt is not an explosive leaper, but he maintains great position and has extremely sure hands.

2. Larry Drew, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (8 games): 9.3 pts, 2.4 reb, 5.5 ast
Larry Drew did a magnificent job directing the championship attack of the Pump N Run Elite squad.

A master at executing the high ball screen, Drew set up teammate after teammate with quality shots with a variety of speeds, a quick delivery of the pass and overall deceptiveness. When he wasn't passing, Drew was hitting a floater in the mid-range area. And when the defense respected his penetration too much, Drew knocked down three-pointers with confidence.

As good as Drew was on the offensive side of the ball, he does have quite a bit of room for improvement as a defender. His intensity level can improve, and he gave up penetration at times instead of physically cutting off his man.

With a true point guard mentality, Drew has all the tools to be a great point guard. The key to his development will be building his body and becoming a more physical and intense defender.

1. Jrue Holiday, North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot-4
College choice: Undecided
Cactus Classic stats (4 games): 21.3 pts, 4 reb, 2.8 ast, 1.5 stl
Combo guard Jrue Holiday was simply fantastic for Double Pump with his solid all around play.

A physical player with and without the ball, Holiday hunted down quality shots by moving without the ball. When he wasn't knocking down three-pointers, he efficiently got the ball into the lane where he finished with either hand and also found open teammates. Very effective offensively without dominating the ball, Holiday also is plenty capable of initiating the offense and navigating the high ball screen.

A very good rebounder on both ends of the court, Holiday also has the mentality and physical gifts to be a dominant defensive player. He can both hawk the ball 94-feet and also defend with strength around the lane.

Along with 2007 prospect James Harden, Holiday displayed the most complete and mature game at the event.

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