WEST COAST ELITE SUMMER CLASSIC AZ STAND-OUTS
The West Coast Elite Summer Classic took place at Pomona College this past week from Wednesday thru Friday with each team playing in a four-game showcase format. Numerous teams from the state of Arizona were in attendance. Some struggled and some had success. Some were consistent throughout and some had their ups and downs. But every one of them came out and competed.
Some of the following were prospects that stood out over the three days with their play.
Nico Mannion (West Coast Elite UAA)- There is not much left to say about a kid that looks more and more like a potential future NBA lottery pick. All-in-all, the kid is just flat out amazing. At this point, I am more intrigued with the humbleness and how good of a kid and person he is than I am with what he does on the court. Which is saying something, given the fact that there is not much he can't do on the court. He is making that leap over to becoming a certified pure point guard that is just as capable of setting teammates up for easy buckets as he is of going out and filling it up on his own. The sky is the limit for a kid that lives in a space shuttle.
Jalen Graham (Team Why Not)- I am not sure if there is another player in the state of Arizona right now that is more in their bag than Jalen Graham. The 6-foot-9 super athletic big man is getting attention from places the T-Mobile network can't cover. He picked up offers from Nevada, Kansas State and Fresno State on Saturday all within hours of each other after spending three days looking like Team Why Not's go-to guy with Jovan Blacksher Jr. and Cassius Stanley resting. Two things are scary with him, one is how far he has come in such a short amount of time and two is the fact that he is just scratching the surface.
Osasere Ighodaro (Powerhouse 16U Johnson)- The 6-foot-9 2020 wing showcased his swiss army knife type of ability he has by guarding every position on the floor and serving as a little bit of everything for his squad. Ighodaro has a great feel for the game and the college coaches are gaining notice of him in a hurry. He was offered by Northern Arizona University and Head Coach Jack Murphy on Friday afternoon, and then San Jose State on Saturday night after his play in this event.
Trey Donaldson (Powerhouse 16U Johnson)- The 6-foot-2 2020 guard was absolutely incredible in the one game that I was in the gym for. His ability to score with multiple skillsets is impressive. He has a nice clip from the outside and has the handle and enough burst to penetrate and finish in the lane. A deceptive athlete and really gets after it on the defensive end where he made a lot of hustle plays that led to turnovers. The talented guard is starting to put his name into conversations of Division-I college coaches.
Jalen Williams (Blue Chip Nation)- The 6-foot-4 2019 guard played on an undermanned squad that was depleted with a lot of their usual talent unavailable this weekend for them. He often times faced a lot of pressure and double teams, especially when people figured out he has a big time shot from the outside. His wingspan and length is what stands out and makes his shot from the outside so hard to disturb. When he gets hot, the ball rarely touches the rim. The fact that he can get that off from multiple facets is what has some west coast programs all over him. Coaching staffs from multiple college programs were at every single game of his. Williams added an offer from Pacific Head Coach Damon Stoudemire on Saturday evening to his list of West Coast offers.
Kaleb Brown (Blue Chip Nation)- The 5-foot-10 2019 guard provided Williams with a little help in their games. His mid-range pull-up jumper is impressive and even more so when you consider how he gets it off against bigger defenders. He is pretty quick but nothing that leaves you with whiplash that some guards his size. The thing is how crafty he is and good at getting to his spot in order to get it off. Once it is in the air it is often money more times than not.
Trent Brown (Arizona Monsoon)- The 6-foot-2 2019 point guard is one of the smarter basketball players in the state at the high school level. He plays like he will probably end up coaching after his playing career is done. When you combine the basketball IQ with the fact that he is a threat to drag a defense out of the building from the 3-point line, you have a great looking start to any team. He makes other players around him better, always seems to shoot in rhythm and is a better defender than most give him credit for. His assist-to-turnover ratio has to be impressive.
Stephan Gabriel (Arizona Monsoon)- Gabriel's physique stands out at first sight of the 6-foot-8 2019 forward. He has a comfortable enough handle to bring the ball up the floor. He still has a tendency of forcing the action too often and dribbling into sea's of defenders. However, when he gets inside he is a problem due to the fact that he is so much more physically imposing than most players on the floor. A powerful and bouncy athlete who, if he figures the game out on the cerebral part, will open up so many doors for his basketball career.
Fallou Diagne (Arizona Monsoon)- The 6-foot-11 2020 big man prospect looked good while playing up in age divisions. He is really good on the defensive end and is a very capable 3-point shooter at his position. He is still very raw inside when it comes to finishing around the rim and through contact, but that should come with strength and maturity. He was very good for their team in their games that I saw.
Majok Deng (Powerhouse UAA)- The 6-foot-5 2019 guard/wing had some shooting performances that told the narrative as to why so many high-major colleges are on him. Some of them programs were in attendance for every game. While Deng's ability to light it up from the outside was showcased, it was his motor and willingness to play hard, even through sizable deficits as the team struggled as a whole. The intangibles that come with him are off the charts. After playing with Mannion in the West Coast Elite 100 camp, he earned his spot on the Top 20 All-Star roster to play in front of all the high major schools that are recruiting him.
Zach Paloma (Powerhouse UAA)- The 5-foot-11 2019 point guard was PHH's most consistent performer over their four games. While he does not look the part like most of the guys on this team, the kid is a bulldog and just gets stuff done! His ability to stay so low and beat defensive pressure off the dribble serves a much needed purpose for this team who can struggle to advance the ball up the floor. He also may be the most athletic kid on the floor at any given time, despite his smaller stature. He has a rock solid build and the ability to finish over the trees when he gets into the lane.
Andre Harris (Powerhouse UAA) The 6-foot-7 2020 Bella Vista forward actually had a week where he looked somewhat human. Nevertheless, he still had most colleges drooling over his combination of size, strength and athleticism to go with those huge but soft hands and great footwork. More than a couple times I heard a mid-major say something in the direction of "I really like him, but he may be above us." Where Harris will end up to start his freshman year of college is as big of a mystery as Big Foot, but watching his journey there will be fun. There is some things he does on the basketball court that just leaves you shaking your head at times.
Emad Elniel (Arizona Hype)- The 6-foot-5 2019 guard/wing is still an unknown to most but man does he have some things that is easy to love. His length and wingspan on the wing stand out a whole lot. When he start shooting from deep he really starts to look a little intriguing. A lot of low-major Division-I schools and D2's were asking who the long 6-5 kid with the stroke from the AZ Hype was? At times it can be hard to see it if you are not zeroing in on him. He's a very unselfish player that plays within a system and does not get seen much on a big stage. However, it is time to start taking notice of this kid and his abilities to play at the next level. He is one of the state's biggest sleepers in my book.
DaRon Holmes (Powerhouse 15U Elite-Compton)- The 6-foot-8 2021 wing/forward is starting to get to the point where it is pointless to go into depth on round-up articles like this one. He is starting to blow up on a national level where high-major college coaching staffs from the east coast are bringing his name up under their breaths amongst each other. He is starting to turn the corner from "he's going to be very good one day" to "that kid is special." There is not much he can't do at a high level and the resume is starting to look very impressive. Holmes blew up on a national level from numerous high-majors that were intrigued and impressed with him. When you factor in how coachable he is, how hard he works and his character as a kid, he instantly becomes one of the most recruit-able prospects on the West Coast. He took part in the West Coast Elite 100 and absolutely killed it as he earned honors into the Top 20 game that featured a bag full of four and five star prospects. Holmes was very solid in that game as well. He was one of only two players in the 2021 class that was invited to play in that game.
Brett Hardt Jr. (Powerhouse 15U Elite-Compton)- The 6-foot 2021 point guard is starting to look like a serious player at the level that this team plays at. Widely known as one of the more talented 15U teams on the West Coast, Hardt is a calming influence on that team with the ball in his hands where his basketball IQ and his low turnover rate make it hard on smaller, quicker and peskier defenses. The lefty is starting to really be able to knock down some shots from the perimeter and his newly found hesitation moves and floater game is taking his stock to the next notch. He also took part in the West Coast Elite 100 Camp and earned a spot in the 2021 All-Star game and was one of the better looking guards in that game.
Matur Dhal (Powerhouse 15U Elite-Compton)- The 6-foot-10 2021 center has the look of a kid that might lead a conference in blocked shots for a year or two at the next level. His length and radius around the rim is a big topic of conversation. His feet are starting to move a little better and quicker so he can put himself in better position to disrupt and block shots. You can see his next step being him having the ability to step out and stay with guards and wings on the perimeter on defensive switches. He is still very raw offensively, but that may never be his calling card. Being an elite level defender and rebounder is very much so.
Jeron Artest (Las Vegas Prospects)- The 6-foot-3 2020 sharp shooting guard from Hillcrest Prep looked great in the few games of action I saw him in. They were without two of their guys but still performed at a high level with some quality performances from Artest. He looks the part and can really shoot it from the perimeter. He is a two-way player that gets into it defensively and plays the game the way that transfers to the next level.
Zach Hobbs (Powerhouse 17U Contreras)- The 6-foot-4 2019 sharp shooting guard has cemented himself as one of the top 3-point shooters in the state. With a good frame and his basketball IQ, he is putting himself into that low-major Division-I prospect category with outside shooting becoming so much of a premium in college basketball today. Though he is often times the best shooter on the floor, you don't ever really see him take a bad shot or anything ill-advised. His handle is decent but could use some work and he is a capable defender but could use some more quickness in his feet when getting around screens. I am personally a big fan of Zach Hobbs.
Josh Ursery (Powerhouse 17U Contreras)- The 6-foot-1 2019 scoring guard had his spurts during their four games where he looked like the walking bucket that he is. With the ability to score from every level on the court and his freakish athleticism, schools that have a need for that type of player come away very impressed. His basketball IQ will eventually come with his skillset and athleticism, but for now he is still raw. When he develops into a college level guard from the cerebral standpoint and putting on the weight that comes with hitting a college training program, the possibilities will be endless for him.
Khalid Price (Powerhouse 17U Contreras)- The 5-foot-10 2019 point guard is just a different animal on the defensive side of the floor. He literally is a 94-foot defender on just about every possession. Even when he gets beat off the dribble, he has a way of making defensive plays to keep his man from scoring or making a play with the ball. His effort, pride and dedication to that end of the floor is a factor. He did not have his best shooting performance in the week's games, but it is still evident that he is very much a capable shooter and a willing and good passer. He is the dog that every coach loves to have at the point guard position.
For the record, no I did not forget about the Powerhouse 16U Elite (Ortega) team. A squad that went 4-0 with a couple very impressive victories will be covered in their own separate article for their performance in not only this event, but in the Under Armour Challenge in Atlanta. They have proven to be one of the better, most talented and recruit-able teams in the state and have turned many college coaches and national scouts' heads leading into the last live period event of the summer.