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January 6, 2006
Senior update: UK signee showing poise
The stock of many of the nation's top seniors is undergoing some dramatic changes as high school teams approach the midway point in their seasons. Holiday tournaments loaded with talent all across the country revealed who is or isn't improving.
We reveal the latest on five more seniors in Rivals.com's new senior update. Every week we highlight a handful of Rivals150 prospects from the class of 2006. Look for it on our basketball recruiting page.
Add another attribute to Gonzaga-signee Matt Bouldin: Toughness.
The four-star shooting guard from ThundeRridge High in Highlands Ranch, Colo., battled through an ankle sprain in recent weeks and played through the injury in a tournament in San Luis Obispo, Calif., which was filled with many of the top teams in California.
"We played a game before leaving for California and Matt should not have played," ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz said. "But it was a huge game and it was his choice to play. He was only at about 40-45 percent, but he scored the first 11 points and we won 45-34."
Bouldin, who was spectacular at times before the injury, scoring more than 30 points in three different games to start the season, is nearing 100 percent.
"Matt normally has about 15-20 dunks in a practice and yesterday he had about six so I would say he is getting closer to being fully healthy," Ortiz said.
TUBBY'S FUTURE POINT GUARD MAKING BIG STRIDES
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith must be pleased with the latest reports he has been getting on future Wildcat Derrick Jasper. The four-star combo guard from Paso Robles (Calif.) High has made immense improvements in his game management and decision making.
"Derrick has improved a great deal, particularly in his turnover-assist ratio," Paso Robles coach Scott Larsen said. "Last year it was probably 1.5-to-1 and now it's more than 4-to-1.
"I think he was forcing too many things before. He is much more poised now."
Jasper has also managed to fill a number of roles, averaging more than 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists a game. Those versatile numbers have led Paso Robles to a 9-2 start.
FUTURE LONGHORN GRABS SPOTLIGHT
Justin Mason is no longer playing in the shadow of Austin Johnson. The Texas-signee is taking games over for Palo Duro High in Amarillo, Tex., which is exactly what Johnson, a freshman at Oklahoma, did last season.
Mason is averaging 24.9 points and more than five rebounds, five assists and five steals a game. But, the most impressive stat may be that he is hitting 34 percent of his 3-point attempts. Never considered a great perimeter shooter, he has become a major threat from beyond the arc.
"Justin is such a complete player that there weren't a lot of areas that he could make vast improvements in," Palo Duro coach Jeff Evans said. "But he has developed into a better shooter. He has invested a lot of time on his shooting and now he can catch the ball off screens and consistently knock down 3-pointers."
Mason moved to point guard, Johnson's old position, and led Palo Duro to a 15-0 start and their winning streak didn't stop until the semifinals of the Caprock tournament. Palo Duro emerged from the event 16-2.
THE BEST PLAYER IN ALL OF MINNESOTA?
Michigan State-signee Isaiah Dahlman recently lost his first high school game in three years, but don't take that as a sign that the three-star shooting guard from perennial power Braham (Minn.) High isn't playing well.
Dahlman was averaging more than 30 points in Braham's first four games, before their 65-game winning streak came to a stop in the prestigious Bethel tournament.
"Isaiah continues to be the best player in the state in my mind," Braham coach Bob Vaughan said. "He has added about 10 pounds and being a senior captain he has been a great leader, taking big shots and calling out the defense."
GET WELL SOON
Illinois fans may want to send some get well cards to Brian Carlwell. The four-star power forward and Illini signee from Maywood, Ill, has been fighting a bad chest cold for nearly three weeks.
It was obvious at that Proviso West Christmas Tournament, where Carlwell didn't play like his usual self. His minutes and production both suffered.
"I've been sluggish, but I'm starting to get better and get my wind back," Carlwell said. "That's the main thing, getting my wind back. I use to be able to run all the time and by the middle of the season I should be back to that."
Carlwell said he is working on improving his offensive game and overall strength, but that his main goal is to lead Proviso East High to a state title.
Carlwell also got a chance to recently see Illinois commit Eric Gordon, who is Rivals.com's No. 5 prospect from the class of 2007, play at a tournament in Indiana.
"I just saw the same thing that everybody else sees," Carlwell said. "Eric looked and played well. He can make things happen."