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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Under Armour Holiday Classic recap

By Joel Francisco

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- After a down year in 2012 in terms of talent, the 2013 Under Armour Holiday Classic featured a tournament loaded with individual talent and quality teams.

Savvy veterans like North Carolina-bound Theo Pinson (High Point, N.C./Wesleyan Christian Academy) and Arizona-bound Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) had their way with the competition, while up-and-comers Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills) and Bryce Aiken (Elizabeth, N.J./The Patrick School) exhibited glimpses of what the future beholds.

Best All-Around
Theo Pinson (High Point, NC/Wesleyn Christian Academy)
2014, SF, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds
Status: Signed with North Carolina

With his athleticism, length and improved perimeter skill set, Pinson pretty much did whatever he wanted against the competition. He was electrifying in the open court, made sound decisions (played point guard at times) and was disruptive on the defensive end due to his long arms and active hands.

Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball's overall game resembles a young Michael Carter-Williams.
Best Playmaker
Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills)
2016, PG, 6-foot-5,180 pounds
Status: The Pac-12 has taken notice.

Ball is one of the more unique prospects to come out of the West in quite some time. The rangy point guard is the best passer in the West, and his overall game resembles a young Michael Carter-Williams (Philadelphia 76ers). His shot is unorthodox, but his range is limitless. He needs to handle physical play more efficiently and his defense needs to improve, but his overall talent is immense.

Centers of attention
Georgios Papagiannis (Westtown, Penn./Westtown School)
2015,C, 7-foot, 270 pounds
Status: Doesn't have a list, but many schools are intrigued.

Papagiannis came into this event with a considerable amount of hype. He has an enormous frame, a solid first jump, a soft paint touch, and his jump hook is a weapon. However, he is ponderous in transition, doesn't rebound out of his area (slow reactions) and is not a rim protector.

Thomas Welsh (Los Angeles/Loyola)
2014, C, 6-foot-11, 255 pounds
Status: Signed with UCLA

There isn't a big man out West who has improved at the rate of Welsh. He has arguably the best combination of skill and fundamentals among centers in the Class of 2014. He will start from the moment he arrives in Westwood.

Point of interest
Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles/Loyola)
2014, PG, 5-foot-8, 140 pounds
Status: Signed with Arizona

Jackson-Cartwright put on a clinic on how a true point guard should run a team. In transition, he keeps his handle low and tight as he dissects the defense. His passing abilities and savvy for the game are off the charts.

Biggest surprises
Jamie Orme (Seattle, Wash./O'Dea)
2014, WF, 6-foot-5, 180 pounds
Status: Washington State, Portland State, Montana, UC Irvine have shown interest.

Orme is a jack-of-all-trades-type. His ball skills in transition are solid, and he can nail the pull-up at the elbow as well. He needs to improve his range on his shot, but he is a Division 1 prospect.

Jaylen Hands (Chula Vista, Calif./Mater Dei)
2017, PG, 6-foot-1, 150 pounds

Add another name to an impressive freshman class in Southern California. The wiry Hands has a terrific frame, sneaky bounce and a terrific feel for the game. He can drain jumpers from deep or advance the ball in transition.

Most Improved
Max Hazzard (Los Angeles/Loyola)
2015, PG, 5-foot-11, 155 pounds
Status: Claims offers from Loyola Marymount, UC Irvine, Cal Poly, San Jose State, and Brown

Hazzard has become considerably stronger since the summer, and his jump shot is now a major weapon. As an on-ball defender, he is tenacious and always plays with maximum effort. His point-guard skills are still raw, but his overall progress has been steady. As the MVP of the this event, he should continue to build his résumé with college coaches.

Freshman beast
Cody Riley (Chatsworth, Calif./Sierra Canyon)
2017, PF, 6-foot-7, 210 pounds

Riley is a left-handed physical specimen with face-up skills. He has a soft touch out to 20-feet and possesses the ball skills to attack his defender off the dribble and finish through contact. He needs to impose his will more in the paint area, but he's a talent.

Mister clutch
Sedrick Barefield (Corona, Calif./Centennial)
2015, PG, 6-foot-1, 170 pounds
Status: Claims offers from UConn, Boston College, Creighton, Fresno State, Kansas State, Memphis, and SMU

Barefield plays the game with ice in his veins. He isn't afraid to take the big shot and he possesses a nice combination of strength and skill. He has a tendency to pound the ball too much and he needs to improve his game management skills down the stretch in tight games, but overall his progress has been solid.

Underclassmen guards on the rise
Bryce Aiken (Elizabeth, NJ/The Patrick School)
2016, PG, 5-foot-8, 150 pounds
Status: Claims offers from Auburn and Delaware

Aiken is a clever point guard prospect with a great burst in transition. His head is always up looking for the best possible shot for his teammates, and his pull-up game is elite. He can stop on a dime and nail the 3-point shot or utilize his hesitation dribble for the blow-by bucket.

Kendall Small (Lakewood, Calif./Mayfair)
2015, PG, 6-foot, 170 pounds
Status: Claims offers from Gonzaga, Pepperdine, San Francisco, Portland, UTEP, and much of the Pac-12 is showing interest.

Small is a scoring lead guard with an improved jump shot. He is a tremendous competitor, a bulldog defender, and he can slash his way to the rim at will due to his strength. Game management and facilitating are the next steps in his evolution.

Devearl Ramsey (Chatsworth, Calif./Sierra Canyon)
2016, PG, 5-foot-9, 160 pounds
Status: Pac-12, WCC, and Mountain West are showing interest.

Ramsey plays as if he's shot out of a cannon. He gets into the teeth of the defense, utilizing his speed, tight handle and strength. However, he needs to learn how to change speeds, as his style can translate into turnovers.

Best Shooter
Trey Kell (San Diego, Calif./St. Augustine)
2014, SG, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds
Status: Signed with San Diego State

Kell doesn't possess great foot speed, but the clever scorer has a feathery jump shot out to 23-feet, and he's an impeccable facilitator in the half-court set.

Blue-collar madness
Donovan Gilmore (High Point, NC/Wesleyan Christian Academy)
2014, PF, 6-foot-7, 215 pounds
Status: Signed with Charleston

Gilmore is a chiseled blue-collar rebounding 4-man. Quick off the floor and a high motor are some of his best attributes.

Best competitor
Deontae North (Corona, Calif./Centennial)
2014, WF, 6-foot-5, 190 pounds
Status: Signed with Long Beach State

North affects the game with his assertiveness, and he has an innate ability to score from all three levels. His perimeter skills need polishing, but he can knock in the 3-point shot, and his defensive prowess is impressive.