News & Notes from West Coast Elite Memorial Day Classic
There were six Arizona teams taking part in the 16U and 17U divisions in the 2018 West Coast Elite Memorial Day Classic in Las Vegas this past weekend. Some faired better than others. Some were impressive and some fell short of expectations. But overall, it was a good showing for AZ in Sin City.
Two Arizona 5-star recruits were also in action at Bishop Gorman high school as superstar guards Nico Mannion and Josh Green were creating a buzz and had the cameras on them all weekend. Both were playing on another level than anybody else and had some show-stopping plays, per the usual for both future pros. In the one close game West Coast Elite had against Simply Fundamental, Mannion had the game winning And-1 lay-up that dodged what would have been their only loss of the weekend, winning by one.
Powerhouse 16U Elite had the best showing in Vegas out of all Arizona teams over the weekend. This team is just impressive and check all the boxes you want from an elite team at this level. They have shooting, players who can penetrate and get buckets, size, interior presence on both ends. They defend and they rebound. The one knock on them is that they struggle from the free-throw line, where a team like this almost lives. That will be the one thing they need to figure out moving into July. They went an impressive 4-1 while playing in the top 17U National bracket and played against some pretty good competition.
6-foot-4 2020 guard Kiimani Holt and 6-foot-1 2020 point guard Tay Boothman have started to form quite the 1-2 punch for this squad. They are great compliments of each other. Where Boothman is the sniper from deep, Holt is the walking bucket at anything within 12 feet and an athletic freak. Both shined over the weekend.
Their other guard that normally comes off the bench, 5-foot-10 2020 point guard Robby Kinnard Jr., made it hard for Head Coach John Ortega to take him off the floor. Thus, he played often with both Boothman and Holt on the floor. He really took his performance to another level over the weekend, hitting runners and crafty lay-up, while knocking down some deep balls as well.
Their two starting big men, 6-foot-8 2020 forward Anthony Garza and 6-foot-9 Hunter Ruck are proving themselves to be some real factors on the AAU trail and are making some people in high places learn their names. Both have been so impressive as of late. Garza is so active on both ends of the floor and such a good finisher on the move around the basket. Ruck has the combination of size and athleticism that college coaches love and has great footwork inside and can clean some things up in the paint in a hurry. Both are playing at a very high level.
Jamal Murray Elite 16U had a rough start to the weekend with a loss but turned it around in their next 3 games over the weekend and won all three. They played exceptionally well in a win against one of the premier 15U teams on the West Coast against Powerhouse 15U Elite in a match-up that squared up two future high-major bigs in JME's 6-foot-10 2020 Shon Robinson and 6-foot-10 2022 Dylan Anderson. Both made it very obvious why they are so highly regarded as premier prospects in the nation.
Robinson was impressive all weekend, nailing 3-balls and finishing off plays with dunks and crafty buckets that his length and skillset allow him to pull off. When he starts seeing older and a higher level of competition, he will need to get tougher around the basket and up his motor on the defensive end. With that said, he is SO skilled on the offensive end.
6-foot-3 2020 point guard Jalin Anderson spent the fair share of his weekend slicing up whatever guard was in front of him and abusing him. His ability to make plays for others and still go and get his buckets is impressive. He scores from all three levels and is a very good defender when he is engaged.
6-foot-1 2020 guard Eric Blackwell hit some nice looking shots on the offensive end in 3 of the 4 games over the weekend. He has a quick trigger and when he is feeling it, that thing can snap some nets.
The Powerhouse 17U UAA went thru some struggles over the weekend. Not only were they short-handed while dealing with some injuries and absences, but some of the guys they depend on for their success struggled over the weekend. Nevertheless, they still finished the event with a 3-2 record.
Their biggest bright spot was in the form of 6-foot-7 2020 forward Dre Harris, as he cemented himself as a certified match-up nightmare with his ability to beast up down low, put it on the deck and boogie to the rack or hit the open outside J. He is a problem on the boards and plays so aggressively. His sneaky bounce will make some poster victims at times.
Powerhouse 17U Schumaker played very well over the weekend as well, winning some games that most thought they would fall well short on. That team really plays a good brand of team basketball with some deadly shooters and tough and aggressive play.
The addition of 6-foot-7 2019 forward Phoenix Katz has made a big difference on that team. His mix of toughness and athleticism has made a world of difference. He finished with some nice dunks in transition and brought some really good energy on defense and on the offensive glass.
6-foot-9 2019 big man Miles Houston was rock solid and consistent all weekend inside for them. Polished up the glass and finished with some impressive buckets in the paint, including a couple dunks that got his squad going early on over the weekend.
Playing shorthanded as well in this event, Powerhouse 15U Elite struggled a little bit as well, finishing 2-3 while playing up against mostly 16 and 17U competition, with two of them losses against Jamal Murray Elite 16U and Team Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 17U. They struggled with some turnovers with the quicker pace of the game but still made some things happen that made it evident why they are regarded as one of the top teams on the West Coast for their age group.
6-foot-10 2022 power forward Dylan Anderson was big time and was creating massive buzz at Bishop Gorman High School over the weekend. The kid is amazing and has just began to scratch the surface when it comes to the things he is going to be able to do on the hardwood in the near future.
Both of the other 2 big man that talented team possesses shined as well. 6-foot-9 2021 Carter Van Hammond was exceptional over the weekend and kicked his game up another notch. Finished with a few dunks, including a couple that made your turn your head in surprise. He also savaged up on the boards and made it difficult to get buckets up in the pain on the defensive end. However, he really needs to look to be more aggressive and putting up his own shot when he is dominating the offensive glass instead of instantly looking to kick it back out to the perimeter.
6-foot-10 2021 center Matur Dhal had all the makings of being a shot-blocking machine. His length and foot mobility is impressive. In the next few years, he could end up being one of the premier interior deniers in the nation. His game travels leaps and bounds every time I see him play. He is also surprisingly agile and nimble and contorts his body just enough to finish in transition. Decently crafty inside with some good footwork and uses the glass well.