The Traveling Hooper Catches A Game In Cali

California by far has the most diverse hoopers this country has to offer. If you need a three and D wing you got it. If you need a pass first point guard, you got it. Need a super athletic person at any position, you can have your fill at each and every position on the court. This is the home of NBA legends Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, and Bill Walton different players but Hall of Famers all the same. 390 current and former NBA players call California home and that number continues to grow. The Golden State produces everything from Hall of fame talent to elite bench warmer.

California’s large pool of basketball players is star studded and yet no players is like another. Gary Payton, from Oakland, California was a trash talking dominant defender worthy of the nickname The Glove. The closest player to that profile is Kawhi Leonard who in temperament and build are nothing like Payton. Russell Westbrook’s insane athleticism has no connection to how Aaron Gordon uses his athleticism except for their incredible dunks, but even their flair is different. Even players who are related have a different take on the game for instance the Robin Lopez is defensive minded where Brooke Lopez will spend all of his energy on offense. California’s NBA talent might be the first state we’ve covered where no player has truly patterned their game after another local hooper.

Best Current Pro Hoopers: James Harden, Russel Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard

Hall of Fame Hoopers: Ray Allen, Don Barksdale, Gail Goodrich, Alex Hannum, Dennis Johnson, Jason Kidd, Vern Mikkelsen, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Jim Pollard, Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, George Yardley

Allen Pettigrew Jr. ~ Twitter: @killingdreams_


Unlike many of the states you’ll see think pieces and articles written about in Traveling Hoopers, California does not necessarily have a typical style of basketball that comes from there. You can get wildly athletic players from California like the now San Antonio Spur DeMar DeRozan, or you can get the not nearly as athletic player like Paul Pierce. That right there is what you get from every state, both sides of the spectrum. What tends to be different about basketball players from California though is that a majority of the time you can say no matter what the natural athletic ability of the individual is, California hoopers tend to hit the ceiling of their athletic potential.

You can say this might be the case for a couple reasons. One of the reasons may be that people in many different fields tend to go to California to make a name for themselves in their chosen field. Acting, singing, artistry, ect. Sports training and conditioning can be lumped into the same category. It is a career like any other and just like those other careers that I mentioned, if you get big and successful in the field of sports conditioning and training, you can be known throughout the world. California happens to have a reputation as one of the states that can help push you to the top. Another reason is the terrain they have in California. There are hills so big they look like mountains, beaches, and flat leveled ground. Just the beach itself for example can bring out the best in any athlete and with beaches so close around, many tend to take advantage whether it be in high school, college or even younger.

Phillip Dixon ~ Twitter: @PG_Anecdotes


Player Profiles

Kyree Walker

Kyree Walker played in Hayward California where it all started. Class personified as a great scorer with high class handles and a powerful dribble-drive game which he is constantly working on in his training videos. Walker excels at getting into the lane and finishing at the rim. He’s got the strength to absorb contact and is very creative with his shot, allowing him to score over length. He can play bully-ball against most perimeter defenders and is a lot to handle when he gets a full head of steam like a Russell Westbrook. He’s has good open court speed and does a good job of pushing the pace constantly putting pressure on the defense.

He can play more than just the two with the way he plays walkers sees the court well and is a natural playmaker who does a good job of collapsing the defense and setting his teammates up for open shots. Has a versatile offensive game and can operate at the point or play off the ball. He can be a lock down defender when he puts his mind to it and has all the physical abilities to excel on the defensive end. Walker is a very tough-minded kid


He tends to rely on his athleticism and speed but needs to slow down at times, so he can make the right plays at the right time. He can be too ball dominant and needs to do a better job of moving the ball and operating within the flow of the offense. Looking at his high school film sometimes against high competition school tends to get a little overwhelmed but the older he gets he will figure it out. He needs to work on his outside shot for the last touch of his game

Players Comparison: Dwayne Wade


Lamelo Ball

I love this kid has the potential to be best ball out of his 2 brothers which with him being the youngest has more time to develop but what the chino hill product can do is Effortless lights out shooter who has NBA range, and then some, Great form gets a high arch on the ball but has the with his deep range has great handles can pass the like no other. He plays with great pace and keeps the defense on its heels with how he always looking to push the ball up the court.

Lamelo is a high class ballhandler who has inherited a strong left and the ability to take it into the lane with either hand. He is fast and crafty with the dribble and has a quick crossover and a lot of shake n bake moves to get past his man. He can handle against pressure and has a quick change of direction to shake free in double teams and any situation. He does a nice job of drawing the defense and dropping it off to a teammate in the paint or kicking it out for a three.

His shooting ability is what separates apart from other prospects and makes him a legit NBA prospect more than his brothers. He can shoot from anywhere on the court but prefers to shoot in the corner. He pulls up for deep threes before the defense can step out to guard him and he can hit on a variety of runners and floaters all moves that make him an offense juggernaut at this level.


His weakness starts with his athleticism. Well his explosiveness and quickness are not top level like it should be. He also lacks size and strength which will come with his development and in the weight room. On the defensive side he doesn’t show any type effort which may decline his rankings but hopefully he figures that part of the game before it hurts his potential but once hasn’t shown that he can hold his position consistently especially when he was playing pro he had problem with bigger and quicker guards.

Overall, Lamelo has great upside and has shown he can be box office if he gets drafted. L has an all rounded game and like I said the best ball brother in the family.


Jaylen Mallard, SF

Height: 6’1

Offers: South Alabama, Southeast Missouri State, CSU-Bakersfield, Missouri State, University of Memphis

Rating: 3.5 stars

So, a little over a month ago, I tagged along with my little sister’s basketball team to a basketball camp. While there, I got to see some talented players. My plan is to do profiles on some of them as long as I can find some video of them.

That camp was the first time I’ve seen future D1 players in person. Ms. Mallard, is thus, the first player I’ve watched for all of two minutes and gone “that’s a D1 player”. It was my opinion, during my initial impression, that she was the best player there. I’m not so sure about that now, but she was the best player that day.

Jaylen Mallard’s game is predicated on her strength, she sets hard screens, has no trouble establishing position in the post, boxes out hard, and can power through contact. She has a nose for the ball and always seems to put herself in position to get a rebound.

Offensively she’s somewhat limited. She’s most dangerous out of the pick and roll, being able to finish with little difficulty. She seems to be bothered by length though, struggling to finish over taller defenders. Her move set in the post, while effective, is fairly basic. Her court vision is solid. Mallard may well have range to the three, but she basically never takes a shot outside of the post. She also almost never puts the ball on the floor. She is a talented offensive rebounder, this coupled with her abilities to establish position and force her way to the rim means it’s difficult to keep her from scoring. This All that said, it’s worth noting that her best offensive performance that I’ve seen was also the only one where she was a focal point of the offense.

Mallard does an excellent job of knowing where to be on defense, regularly putting herself in position to contest shot. Her footwork is solid, and she does a good job of staying in front of the offensive player. She is, however, a little slow on the close out, often she gets to the shooter just late enough to not have affected the shot. In fairness though, the need for her to close on a wide-open shooter is typically a result of the defensive collapse of teammates, and she usually has to come from under the basket to even try to contest the shots.

It’s my humble opinion that if she were to improve her shot and/or start incorporating it into her game more (whichever applies), offensively the game opens for her. I think she has the chance to be really good.


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