Team Harden Is On A Wave
It is hard to find a way to talk about the Arizona AAU scene right now and not mention what Team Harden and their 16U Arizona program is doing. They are currently the 13th ranked 16U team in the nation right now, according to PrepHoops.com, after starting 7-1 in the first two sessions of the live period on the Adidas Gold Gauntlet, with their only loss coming to the #6 ranked 16U program, the Compton Magic. Since they first started their tournament trail they have only loss two games total for all of 2018. The other being to the Las Vegas Prospects, the 3rd ranked team in America.
To start off the tournament trail they played up into the 17U division in the Southwest Showcase Main Event in Avondale, AZ and won the whole thing. They then moved on to LA in Gerry Frietas’ Spring Tip-Off Event, where they finished an impressive 3-1. After that it was time to hit the Adidas circuit, where they again went 3-1 in LA Regionals. This past weekend their hot play would continue in Atlanta, going 4-0 and sweeping the field. That has to give you an idea of the talent this team possesses.
That talent starts with a trio of talented guards who are all playing at an extremely high level. 6-foot-2 2021 prospect TyTy Washington (Cesar Chavez) is starting to gain some national attention with how easy he is lighting up the circuit in the points column. This past weekend he would drop a smooth 30-points on Hoop City Elite on Saturday morning. He would finish off the weekend averaging just over 21 points per game. The boy is simply a walking bucket. His skillset with the ball in his hands is stuff local legends are made of. TyTy is already a local gym name people have being hearing for years. Now all of America is starting to find out about the kid from the Southside of Phoenix. His handle and ability to get his own shot with ease mixed with a pull-up game that usually leaves defenders shaking their heads while trying to figure out how to defend him. He is a dog who is not afraid to bark or bite. On the defensive end is another area where he impresses. Especially when he is engaged and into the competition on the other end. He has an advanced basketball mind that gets him to spots defensively quicker than most would.
Another guard on this team that has that same attribute is his AAU and high school teammate, 5-foot-11 2021 prospect Ricardo Sarmiento. Sarmiento is a bulldog on the defensive side of the ball. An undersized guard that will be a pest of a nemesis for however many minutes is on that game clock. On the offensive end he also possesses a deadly pull-up. Add that to the high basketball IQ he possesses and he is just as dangerous on the offensive side of the ball. He is not quite the deadly scorer Washington is, but he always seems to make the right pass and seems just as happy with one of his teammates nailing a shot as he is with knocking one down himself. He and Washington always make it fun to watch on the hardwood together.
Rounding out their trio of backcourt ballers is 6-foot-4 2020 prospect Xavier DuSell (Chaparral). DuSell is the longer and more versatile of the three with an ability to guard multiple positions at this level. He also could be the best 3-point shooter of the three but can be somewhat streaky. When things are really clicking for him, he is penetrating through traffic and finishing with that length of his with either hand. When he is on and sets his feet from the outside, it’s usually just time to start walking back the other way. You can attribute that to the fact that he is an absolute gym rat, as are Washington and Sarmiento. They put in so much time in the gym and the results show.
Their big man, 6-foot-7 2020 power forward DeAndre Henry (Mountain Pointe) just recently has decided to give up football to focus solely on basketball. Henry moves around the paint on the hardwood like he might have put a few of the top defensive ends in the state into the grass on the gridiron. He is strong as an ox and fearless inside. Never afraid to mix it up or challenge a shot, even when It is a much bouncier kid driving it in on him. He is probably this team’s biggest X-Factor because it is his hard play inside that allows Team Harden’s guards to do their thing on the perimeter. Henry has a knack for getting them second chance scoring opportunities by either bear-hugging a rebound or tipping the ball out to the perimeter to one of them deadly shooters. Now that Henry is putting all his time into Hoop, I would not be surprised if his skillset transforms, especially on the offensive end.
While the team flourishes with their guard-play, it is some of their role players that make the engine run. 5-foot-9 2020 guard Dominique “Bear” Newsom (Central) brings instant energy and another great ball-handler. He is a streaky shooter from the outside but he can get hot in a hurry. Defensively is where he really makes his mark on this team. Like Sarmiento, he is an up-in-you-jersey type of defender and has some of the quickest feet and hands you will see. Another role player that really helps this team go is 6-foot-4 2020 wing Nyjeir Andrews (Cesar Chavez). He is as tough as they come. He scraps, he dives on the ground for loose balls, hits the boards, locks up defensively and brings it every minute he is in the game. A glue guy that sets the tone as far as toughness goes for this team.
Team Harden will be back on the court next for the NY2LA tournament in Milwaukee from May 18-21 before they get back to the Adidas Gauntlet Series for Regionals in Los Angeles on May 25-27, as they look to keep their hot hand going.