A large contingent of local grassroots programs were on hand in Garden Grove, CA, last weekend for two of the larger live-period tune-ups in Southern California- Gerry Freitas' Hoop Review Spring Tip-Off, held at Next Level Sports Complex, and Dinos Trigonis' Pangos Spring Warm Up, held at the MAP and Westminster High School.
Both events saw most of the teams at or near full strength and competing against a number of the top programs of Southern California on the eve of the first Spring evaluation period.
Here are some of the local standouts (NOTE: FTH was unable to attend Saturday or Sunday games at the Spring Warm Up, thus some standouts from Compton Magic 17u Elite will not be mentioned in the report):
Brandon McCoy atop class with room to grow
Suiting up for three programs over the weekend, 2017 7-0 C Brandon McCoy had a lot of standout moments. He also showed that he has room to grow, which is a very scary thought.
McCoy was a force on the defensive end and the boards playing for Belmont Shore, Ground Up and Cal Supreme's 17u EYBL team. He is relentless on the offensive boards, and showed he can score through contact, or force contact and hit shots from the foul line. McCoy also displayed a budding perimeter skill set, facing up players at the top of the key and knocking down several threes throughout the weekend, though he is most effective around the low block.
McCoy still prefers to score over his left shoulder, and has to improve keeping the ball high and his base low, reading double teams and becoming a willing passer out of the post, but that should come through development.
Washington, Norris shine in 2018
At the top of the 2018 class, San Diego has three versatile and skilled forwards: 6-9 Miles Norris, 6-8 Taeshon Cherry and 6-10 Warren Washington. With Cherry playing his AAU ball for the Oakland Soldiers, the two remaining prospect had the stage to themselves this weekend, and neither disappointed.
Norris, as mentioned last week, is a gifted athlete with a ridiculously long frame and an expanding skillset that pushes out to the perimeter. What stood out in his games with Earl Watson Elite's 16u team was his passing, especially in high-low action with fellow sophomore big Riley Battin. Norris used his eyes to look off defenders and create open passing lanes to feed Battin in the post with little resistance. Conversely, he was showed soft hands catching Battin's passes on the block when the roles were reversed.
Washington, who plays on Gamepoint 17u Elite team and seems to grow with every viewing, showed an improving set of perimeter skills, including an assertive driving game to his dominant hand, and an improved jump shot that extends out to the college three-point line. He isn't the athlete that Norris is at the current stage, but he is making improvement in that category. Washington's willingness to battle for rebounds also stood out.
Samuels makes push for top PG outside of Hands
While not having his best weekend shooting from the perimeter, Taurus Samuels had some impressive performances against some of the top 17u teams in the region, including a loaded Cal Supreme EYBL team. In that game, Samuels took over the game for stretches with his penetration ability in the half court and ability to finish through contact, but what really stood out was his ability to attack and create for others. He made several good reads in drive-and-kick scenarios, and ran the pick-and-roll offense for several more assists.
In a game versus the Arizona Power 17u with his team trailing by three points, Samuels closed the game out scoring or assisting on the team's final seven points - two strong finishes at the rim, and the game-winning assist to Cade Shackleford.
With Eric Monroe and Justin Moore graduating, Samuels, who stands 6 feet tall in shoes, is making a strong case that he is the top point guard prospect in San Diego outside of Jaylen Hands.
JJ Overton provides spark
The San Diego All Stars 17u program went 3-1 over the weekend, including close win over a
tough Arizona Factory team and a loss to a good Team Eleate 17u team. The catalysts in both performances was the improved 6-4, 165 pound Overton, who, despite starting as his team's small forward, does a lot of the ball handling and projects at the next level to be a combination guard. Overton has an elite motor- he is a hawk on defense, makes help side plays to cover his teammates, flies back into the frame to cause deflections and blocks in transition and hits the ground after every loose ball. Offensively, he plays at a fast pace and attacks the rim with aggression, and can knock down jump shots off the catch and off the dribble. He needs to be more consistent with the balance on his jump shot to be a more consistent shooting threat, and he must learn how to effectively change pace to avoid turnovers. Overton's versatility and length should make him a coveted prospect at the mid-major level during the upcoming evaluation period.
Reiter paces 16u players at Tip-Off
Zach Reiter finished the high school season with a bang, averaging 20 points over his final five games in the Open Division and State playoffs. The 6-2 190 pound guard continued his strong play this weekend for his club team, Gamepoint 16u Elite, which arguably boasts the top 16u team in San Diego. Reiter is a beast with broad shoulders and lots of bounce in his step. He attacks the basket with quick first step and overpowers smaller guards with his frame. Reiter has improved his handle against pressure, but still needs to continue to work on tightening it, especially to his left. The biggest leap in Reiter's game year over year has been his shooting: his shooting off the catch has gone from streaky to playable and now consistent over the course of a year. Coupled with a growth spurt that has pushed him closer to 6-3, Reiter is rounding into a sleeper wing prospect that Division 2 and lower D1 programs should monitor.
15u programs have solid showing
The San Diego All Stars have talent at every level of its program, but the team that shows the
most promise is its 15u Elite team, lead by Rejean "Boogie" Ellis. After a solid freshman campaign for Mission Bay, Ellis showed a much more mature game running the show for the SDA squad, picking his spots more judiciously than in previous viewings, and proving to be a willing and effective passer, especially in transition. He's also grown to bout 5-11, and his long, lanky frame suggests that he still has more growing left. At this stage, he is the top point guard prospect in he 2019 class.
But Ellis is not alone: SDA team has several other promising players and prospects. 6-6, 220 lb Ronnie Latting, who is built like a defensive end, proved to be a load on the boards, and showed improved acumen on the block. Raymond Lu, Ellis' his 5-9 back court counterpart, confidently knocked down shots and made similar plays with the pass. Jaren Nafarette, a 5-7 guard who is best known for knocking down the game winning free throws for Foothills Christian against Sacred Heart in the Hoophall Classic, showed a very similar blend of burst off the dribble, passing off the bounce, and shooting off the dribble and catch.
Jacob Jovien and Michael Barcia are also very intriguing prospects. The 6-4 Jovien has a great frame and expanding offensive game to go along with his stellar defense, and the 6-2 Barcia is an explosive athlete with very good physical tools. 6-0 Caden Gentry provides sharp shooting and plays hard.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect on the team is 14-year-old Derrick Carter-Hollinger, a 6-2 wing who has an impressive set of raw tools. He probably isn't close to finished growing, and with improved explosiveness athletically, he could become a sleeper prospect not only in Southern California, but on the West Coast.
Gamepoint's 15u team also had a strong showing, going 3-2 and losing a pair of close games to the Compton Magic 15u and Arizona Factory 16s.
Jordan Hilstock is the known commodity, and continued to prove why he is one of the top
guard prospects in his class out west. But the team has several other intriguing prospects, none more so than Christian Rose, a 6-5 1/2 wing forward who possesses the physical tools to be an elite wing. His perimeter skills are still unrefined, but his freakish length and ability to defend are both approaching elite levels early on in his career.
Jayson Taylor, a 6-foot-7 forward with a size 16 shoe, is dripping with upside, and has made steady improvements as a low-post defender and rebounder. He has a ways to go on the offensive end, but he might wind up being a very solid prospect in his own right.
5-11 1/2 twins Bryce and Michael Pope are deadly shooters whose games are evolving, as they have added some scoring off the dribble. 6-3 wings Seth Hayes and Carter Plousha are both long, athletic perimeter players with a ton of upside, and 6-4 1/2 forward Travis Snider is a long, willowy and skilled offensive player who can score from the post and perimeter. As his foot speed in transition and lateral quickness on defense improves, Snider has a chance to be a sleeper in the class.
Next Generation 15u has a couple of talented pieces, including 2019 6-0 G Christopher Glenon, who has improved dramatically from last year on the offensive end. Glenon was confident handling the ball and attacking off the dribble, though his handle still needs to get tighter (behind the back dribble gets away from him) and his off hand must get stronger. Rae Wright, a younger 2018 prospect, is a bigger-bodied guard who uses his strength to bully his way to the basket. Eric Jang, a 2019 guard from Torrey Pines, shot it well from the perimeter and has a nice dose of athleticism.