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May 14, 2008

Top performers from the Cactus Classic

MORE: Cactus Classic: Recruiting news | Cactus Classic: Day one | Rivals.com Hoops Tour

With a star-studded field of 32 on the country's top travel teams, there was plenty of talent on had at the Arizona Cactus Classic to evaluate. Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer was on hand for all of the action.

These ten players stood out at the event.

Cactus Classic Top Performers
John Wall, PG, D-One Sports
Event Stats: 21.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.3 spg

Simply put, Wall was unstoppable over the weekend. He created bucket after bucket for his team with his speedy penetration into the lane. His assists per game was tops for the tournament and he was the fourth leading scorer as well.

Loving to take the ball to his left, often off a wicked right-to-left crossover, Wall also beat defenders to the right with his patented left-to-right behind-the-back dribble when defenders over played his left hand. Along with his acrobatic finishes at the basket, he also shot more than eight free throws per game, hitting 76 percent of them.

Avery Bradley, SG, Northwest Panthers
Event Stats: 24.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.9 spg

Perhaps no one helped his stock more over the weekend than Bradley. Not only was he the second leading scorer in the event, but was also the top perimeter defender.

With a highly advanced midrange game, Bradley scored time after time off the dribble. And when he got to the basket he finished with authority. Defensively, he was a terror as the event's leader in steals. But more important than his steals is Bradley's ability to lock down either the opposition's point guard or shooting guard.

John Henson, PF, Franchise All Stars
Event Stats: 14.0 ppg, 8 rpg, 3.4 bpg

The future is bright for the lengthy and skilled forward, and the present isn't too bad either. Henson was a handful on offense, but was equally impressive on defense with his shot-blocking ability.

A unique talent, Henson is comparable to the Golden State Warriors' Brandan Wright with his length and shot-blocking ability but is a more advanced offensive player than Wright. Equally good with his left hand, Henson can score with jump hooks to either shoulder and can attack the basket from either direction from the perimeter.

Jordan Hamilton, SF, Team Odom
Event Stats: 18.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 apg

It's nice to see as prodigious a long-range shooter as Hamilton focus on other areas of his game other than launching threes.

Hamilton was a steady rebounder for Team Odom, and his passing in the open court led to a number of scoring opportunities for his teammates. Blessed with impressive strength, Hamilton wears out defenders with his strong drives to the basket and physical play around the bucket.

Abdul Gaddy, PG, Northwest Panthers
Event Stats: 18.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 5.1 apg

Gaddy doesn't have the gaudy athleticism of his counterpart John Wall, but he still was able to produce impressive numbers at the point guard position while leading his team to the final four.

An overall intelligent player, Gaddy has a strong understanding of spacing and angles on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he finds the proper gap and utilizes his length to control the ball. Offensively, he is composed in traffic and has the ability to make difficult lay ups and midrange floaters.

Roberto Nelson, SG, Compton Magic
Event Stats: 25.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.3 spg

Nelson has always possessed the ability to score, but it was his efficiency as a scorer and his contribution in other areas of the game that stood out in Tucson.

Taking just over five three-pointers a game, Nelson lit it up at a 55 percent clip from the arc. And inside the arc, he was even better, going 43-63 and finishing with a total field goal percentage of 63 percent while leading the event in scoring. As if that were not enough, Nelson also found the time to make significant contributions as a rebounder and passer.

Tommy Mason-Griffin, PG, Houston Hoops
Event Stats: 14.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.0 apg

Sure, he looks more like a football player, but Mason-Griffin is skilled with the round ball and certainly knows how to win.

Galvanizing his Houston Hoops team to a championship without its four-star post player Keith Gallon, Mason-Griffin led the Hoops in scoring while also dishing out four assists per game. And the fact that his team won and he hit 50 percent of his three-point attempts while averaging over three makes per game attests to his efficiency as a scorer.

Joe Burton, C, Compton Magic
Event Stats: 18.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg

A big bodied, undersized low post player, Burton doesn't necessarily pass the airport test, but he certainly passes the production test.

Leading his team into the finals, Burton was one of the events top scorers along with being the top rebounder over the event. Blessed with great hands and a long reach, Burton has a great feel for sealing defenders off with his wide body. And once he gets the ball in his hands, it's typically a bucket as he hit 63 percent of his shots from the field.

Cory Jefferson, PF, Texas D-! Ambassadors
Event Stats: 13.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.5 bpg

Jefferson was one of the most pleasant revelations of the event. Known for being a potential player with length, Jefferson also showed a very skilled side to his game.

His alert aggressiveness on defense helped him averaged the highest number of blocks per game. Offensively, he was aggressive on the boards, but he didn't just score on put backs and dump off passes. Jefferson displayed an ability to score with his back to the basket and also confidently knocked down face up jumpers as he shot 60 percent for the event.

Solomon Hill, SF, California Supreme
Event Stats: 7.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.2 spg

Don't let the low scoring average fool you. Hill was the most valuable player on his team with his impressive versatile play.

Besides being a beast in the paint and leading his team in rebounding, Hill also a steady ball handler for his squad. Besides creating plays with his ball handling in the open court, Hill also displayed an intriguing ability to attack the basket with a quick first step and then find the open man on the perimeter with a kick-out pass.

MORE: Cactus Classic: Recruiting news | Cactus Classic: Day one | Rivals.com Hoops Tour

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