SW Showcase Main Event Recap
This past weekend saw more basketball than you will see at one time in this facility, as the Southwest Showcase Main Event kicked off on Friday, March 23rd. The Valley-Wide tournament ran in several locations with nearly 200 teams taking part in the action from several age divisions. The following is a little food-for-thought from what I pulled out of the event in the games I was able to catch. It was a great start to the AAU season and a great preview as to what some of these teams will look like moving forward as most get ready to hit the road.
Team Harden’s 16U Elite team is loaded with some of the state’s top underclassmen guards. The Cesar Chavez freshman backcourt is a big part of that with 5-foot-10 Ricardo Sermiento and 6-foot-2 TyTy Washington. While Washington played very well in the team’s pool games, he suffered a concussion on Saturday and was not able to make it to the gym on Sunday. However, they were held together by Sermiento and their crafty 6-foot-4 guard Xavier Dusell, from Chaparral High School. Dusell had to be considered one of the top players in the whole tournament, regardless of class by leading Team Harden to a championship in the 17U Platinum Division after hitting a game-winning and-one bucket in their championship win over The Factory. Their lone true big man is Mountain Pointe’s 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Deandre Henry. He is still raw offensively but he is built like the big-time football prospect that he is and can clear out space with ease in the paint. I was in attendance for their first game of the tournament against the Arizona Venom, as they led by double digits for much of the first half. They will be as good as anyone at the 16U division with scoring off the perimeter and off the dribble.
The Jamal Murray 16U Elite team is as talented as they come in this state at that age group, led by Higley’s 6-foot-10 high-major prospect, Shon Robinson. Robinson was arguably the best-looking prospect in the event, leading his team to a 16U Gold Division Championship. His ability to shoot it from the outside with his size is big time, and it looks as if he is finally starting to figure out a few things in the toughness department inside the paint. The team was without arguably their second-best player, 6-foot-3 guard Jalen Anderson from Compass Prep. However, in his absence, they got a great tournament out of their 5-foot-11 point guard Trent Hudgens from Moon Valley. Hudgens was one of the more impressive floor generals I saw over the weekend. He also contributed with a great shooting performance from deep over the weekend. Their 6-foot-10 big man prospect from Tri-City Prep, Fallou Diagne, forms one of the better 1-2 punches in the frontcourt that you will see on the 16U circuit. He is still a bit raw but he has spurts where he makes his presence known down low and becomes a rebounding and shot-altering machine.
The Factory had their two-headed monster out in full swing over the weekend with Westview’s 6-foot-4 junior guard D’Maurian Williams looking every bit the high-major talent that he is, pairing with Apollo’s 6-foot-7 junior wing Emmanuel Taban. Both of them carried the bulk of the load for the Factory through their wins. Williams spent most of the weekend getting to the rack at will and had one play where he took the defender baseline, crossed thru the other side of the lane and finished by flushing it down with a one-handed reverse dunk. Taban was his usual silky-smooth self that showcased his shooting ability from mid-range and from deep, while locking some guys down on the other end. The x-factor all weekend long was the hard-nosed, backyard-bully play of Westview’s 6-foot-4 forward Cedric Bridges. That kid plays as hard and tough as anyone in this state. If you were to tell me that you have someone that is tougher, I might have to take that bet! And he is more than just a bruiser. He does not possess much skill on the perimeter, but he takes the ball to the rack with reckless abandon and he rebounds and defends at a very high level. He also plays much bigger than what he is and finishes thru contact as well as anyone you will see. I was impressed at how much better and more effective he looks in the club ball scene than what he did on the three occasions I saw him in school ball.
The Powerhouse 16U Elite team is loaded with talent and athleticism. Their 6-foot-6 forward, Jerry Iliya, is an absolute freak. He plays the game at a frantic pace and plays north and south the entire game. He still has a lot to be desired. His handle needs to tighten up and he needs to work on his shot selection at times. His perimeter jumper still needs a lot of work but he plays the game so hard and has intangibles that you can not teach. 6-foot-1 point guard Tay Boothman from Buckeye did not have his best showing over the weekend from deep, where he usually flourishes. However, he is starting to show signs of developing into more of a point guard and floor general. He defends at a high level but could tighten up his handle a little bit so he can get to the room more directly without having to dance so much. However, he is one of the more easier players to recruit in the state with his upside and the fact that he is a high academic student. 6-foot-8 forward Anthony Garza from Shadow Ridge is about as active as you will find at this level. The kid plays so hard and with max-level intensity. The skill-set hasn’t caught up to the effort just yet but he has a motor. 6-foot-4 guard Kimani Holt is a known high flyer as well that can be physical and makes some things happen in the paint. A great rebounder for his height that can also defend at a high level when he is engaged. 6-foot-9 Rancho Solano Prep big man Hunter Ruck was a monster down low on the defensive end and had multiple defensive possessions where he blocked multiple shots in the lone possessions. He missed some easy scoring opportunities on the offensive end that he needs to cash in on, but he had a solid performance overall over the weekend.
The Alpha Male’s 6-foot-2 guard Josh Baker had an impressive showing over the weekend as well. His handle is really getting tightened up and he finished through some contact over the weekend, which has improved since I seen him in the early months of the year when he was playing at McClintock. His shot is still butter from the outside, so adding that element to his game will make him much more dynamic. Their 6-foot-9 super-athletic big man, Jalen Graham (Mountain Pointe) was missing in action due to an injury that will have him sideline for a week to 2 weeks. Baker and Graham should be a pretty good 2-headed monster for them but their success moving forward as a team will be dependent on their x-factors and role players. 6-foot-5 junior wing Jalen Johnson from Bella Vista could be that x-factor. He has some length and is active enough to make a dent on every game he plays. He will need to be a scoring option on the perimeter for them.
6-foot-4 sharp-shooting guard Zach Hobbs from Mesa High impressed over the weekend for Powerhouse Contreras. Hobbs is unquestionably one of the tope shooters in the state and can get it up in a flash without losing the flow of his shot. He shoots it like a real natural. 6-foot-8 unsigned senior Nikc Jackson had a solid tournament as well. A stretch 4 with all the offensive tools that can score on all 3 levels. Needs to be tougher inside with rebounding and shot blocking, but offensively he has some tools that will translate nicely to the next level.
The AZ Battle had Millenium’s 2021 combo of 5-foot-11 point guard Justus Jackson and 6-foot-9 forward Daron Holmes. Holmes upside is ridiculous. His length and ability to knock it down from the perimeter is putting him on the radar to being a true high-major prospect. Jackson is a pure point with a silky smooth outside jumper. He is so consistent with his outside shooting ability that you don’t often see the games where he struggles to hit from the outside. Plays with great balance and pace and has a high basketball IQ. Both travel on the circuit with the Powerhouse 15U Elite team.
Powerhouse Schumaker had two of the top unsigned senior suited up with them in Brophy’s 6-foot-5 guard Ian Burke and Mountain Pointe’s 6-foot-4 wing Amarion Cash. Both performed at a high level. Cash brought his usual silky-smooth game and some tenacity on defense and knocked down his fair share of outside jumpers. Burke displayed his high IQ that he is known for by anyone who has seen him play. He did a great job setting up teammates and cashing out from deep when he was open. He is undoubtedly one of the smartest basketball minds in the state.
Apollo’s 6-foot-2 2021 guard Paris Woods took the court for his Arizona Future program and was his usually steady self, hitting 3’s and using his shiftiness and craftiness to get to the rack. He went thru a couple spurts where he lived at the line and knocked down free-throws at a high clip. His upside is the most intriguing part with him and it’s scary to know that his outside shot will just get better