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December 31, 2012

Five-stars proving worth at Torrey Pines


MORE: Allen not swayed by Pac-12

SAN DIEGO -- One of the biggest West Coast tournaments of the year came to a close Saturday night, but not without four full days of big-time basketball. Rivals.com saw dozens of Division I recruits at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, and learned plenty from the weekend.

Five-stars prove worth

The three highest-rated players in the field came from three classes this week, and none of them disappointed.

The oldest of the trio, Cal-bound 2013 guard Jabari Bird, didn't have his best week of basketball statistically, but he was by far the most Division I-ready player in the tournament.

A noticeably more bulked up 6-feet, 175 pounds, Bird scored from every level, showcased some incredible athleticism at both ends of the floor, and was the best player on the court in every game.

The second five-star in the tournament to shine was 2014 F Justise Winslow. Playing on a team that, without him, belonged nowhere near the National Division bracket, Winslow was asked to do so many things he wasn't comfortable with, yet he still came away with a weekend highlight reel that could last five minutes.

He had the dunk of the tournament, rising up from near the free throw line to slam on a Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln defender. He also had one of the highest scoring nights of the tournament, throwing up 35 points, and he boasted the biggest offer sheet of any recruit in San Diego, claiming more than 30 scholarship offers.

Finally, the last of the five-stars was perhaps the most impressive, given his age and grade: 2015 center Ivan Rabb. For such a young prospect, he already has multiple back-to-the-basket, go-to moves that couldn't be stopped this weekend. He also displayed a passing knack that hadn't showed up nearly as well in the summer. Rabb even got the better of Winsow when the two squared off in the opening night of the tournament, signing autographs from fans after the huge win.

Seven-footers galore

If a program was looking for some 7-footers, San Diego was the place to be this weekend. Three big men were on display, and all of them showed off some unique abilities that made them more than just tall prospects.

The first was a high-major big man from San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills: three-star Kameron Rooks. He struggles with athleticism, lift and conditioning, but the SoCal 7-footer has extremely soft hands and nice touch around the basket. If he can improve his body and get his conditioning up at the next level, he could become a good one.

The final two were players with not nearly the same upside, but still talented nonetheless. Oregon State-bound senior Cheikh N'diaye doesn't have the best hands nor a polished offensive game, but he's a shot blocker and a rim protector. Lastly, 2014 Mesa (Ariz.) prospect Isaac Allen got the better of Rooks on the final day of the tournament in the head-to-head matchup, but he's raw both offensively and defensively, and needs to get stronger before bigger schools start taking a look.

California guards put on a show

Coming into the weekend, the 2016 guard most recruitniks knew about was Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon superstar Derryck Thornton.

Leaving the weekend, however, scouts and coaches added three more 2016 guards to their mental boards: Lonzo Ball, Andrew Cross and Brandon Cyrus.

Ball, a Chino Hills (Calif.) product, has a long 6-foot-3 frame that only looks like it's going to get bigger and taller, but he's a point guard. He possesses a good jump shot and no fear in passing the basketball, and was the only freshman guard who rivaled Thornton's potential this weekend.

Cyrus and Cross, who hail from San Diego (Calif.) Torrey Pines and Francis Parker respectively, also showed some skills that should be enough to get some early college looks. Cyrus, a 6-foot-3 two guard, has a great feel for the game, played solid defense and showed off big hands and feet that suggest he's still growing. Cross, the rawest of the four 2016 SoCal guards, earned some interest from San Diego State over the weekend and could evolve into a recruitable guard in the future as well.



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