With three McDonald’s All Americans in two years (and a fourth who spent his first two years in high school here), San Diego is establishing itself as one of the up-and-coming recruiting grounds for boys hoops.
But will the 2018 class continue the trend?
If the region is to continue its “Burger Boy” streak, the next five calendar months will be critical.
Grassroots season is here.
Storylines abound as we begin the period of the year most commonly referred to as “AAU basketball.”
Two San Diego players - Miles Norris and Taeshon Cherry - are considered five-star prospects, which puts them both in the realm of All-American status.
One of the region’s top grassroots programs is now a member of the elite division of one of the top “sneaker circuits.”
Beneath the region’s premier programs, a number of new clubs have emerged, providing kids with more team options than ever, while also further diluting the region’s talent pool.
Who are the players in the Class of 2018 with the most to gain or lose during the spring and summer viewing periods? Where will the top players be showcasing their talents? Which of the neophyte programs will emerge as a legitimate mainstay in San Diego hoops?
These and more questions will be answered in the Full-Time Hoops Grassroots Primer.
1. Can Norris and Cherry rise to McDonald’s All-American status?
No players have more at stake in San Diego over these next five months than 6-8 Taeshon Cherry (St. Augustine) and 6-9 Miles Norris (Helix), childhood best friends who have established themselves as the very top prospects in the San Diego 2018 Class. With Cherry recently being elevated to five-star status by Scout.com recruiting service, the region again has two of the country’s premier recruits.
But will it be enough to get them to the McDonald’s All American game? That remains to be seen, but both with have their opportunities to prove themselves against the top prospects and their biggest competition for those 24 precious berths.
Norris is the centerpiece of the Earl Watson Elite 17u team that runs on the Under Armour Association Circuit, while Cherry is the top returner on the Oakland Soldiers 17u team, which plays on the Nike EYBL Circuit.
The blueprint for making the big game runs through the respective circuits and major camps, including the NBA Players Association Top 100, the Pangos All American Camp, and respective shoe-circuit camps. If they perform at the top of those camps, a McDonald's’ All American Game berth is attainable.
Cherry comes into the AAU season with a ton of tailwind, after outplaying the top junior prospect in the country, Marvin Bagley, in a head-to-head state playoff matchup in which Cherry's Saints stunned Bagley's Sierra Canyon team. Combined with a CIF Player of the Year selection, he's rapidly risen into the conversation.
2. Gamepoint, Cali Boost, go for the (Adidas) Gold, San Diego All-Stars keeps Adidas affiliation
Three San Diego teams will represent the region on the Adidas Gauntlet.
Gamepoint has moved onto Adidas’ top division, the Gold Division, as part of a collaboration with Los Angeles-based Double Pump. The Gamepoint Pump and Run team is composed of several players from last season’s Gamepoint 17u and 16u - 6-0 point guard Taurus Samuels (Vista), 6-11 power forward Warren Washington (Mission Hills) and 6-6 wing Kyle Colvin (Mission Prep) - and several of the Pump program’s top players, including 6-8 Santa Margarita PF Jordan Guest, 6-11 Alemany C Fred Odhiambo and 6-3 Compton Dominguez SG Wayne Arnold.
Gamepoint’s 16u Elite will also be represented on the Gold Division, spearheaded by guards Ryan Langborg (6-4 SG, La Jolla Country Day), Jordan Hilstock (6-3 CG, Vista), Graham Cook (6-3 CG, La Costa Canyon) and Max Guinn (6-5 W, La Jolla Country Day).
Cali Boost, formerly San Diego Select, will also participate on the Adidas 16u Gold Division. The team primarily composed of 2020 and 2021 standouts joined forces with Orange County-based Open Gym Premier to open up access to the OC market to fill out its roster. Among the standouts are 6-3 2020 Mater Dei Catholic G Beon Riley (FTH Freshman of the Year), 6-7 2021 F Obinna Anyanwu, 6-5 2021 F Jack Pugh and 6-3 2021 W Thomas Notarainni.
San Diego All Stars 17u and 16u teams will play in the Adidas Silver Division, and includes a mix of juniors and unsigned seniors, including 2017 Army Navy F Richard Polanco, San Ysidro W Aaron Williams, Cathedral Catholic F Dallas Cunningham and under-the-radar guards Nashom Carter (5-11 2018 PG, Christian), Jaylen Hinson (6-2 2018 CG, Helix) and Phillip Willis (6-3 2018 G, Maranatha Christian)
SDA also has a strong 16u team led by 6-1 2019 Mission Bay PG Rejean “Boogie” Ellis and his Mission Bay teammate, 6-7 F Ronnie Latting and improving 6-5 Christian F Jackson Larsen.
The Gamepoint and SDA Adidas teams will be playing in Dallas, TX and Atlanta GA during the April live periods. Gamepoint's Select teams will play in the SoCal Hoop Review April 21-23 in Garden Grove and the Double Pump Spring Hoopfest April 28-30 in Anaheim. SDA's Black and Blue level teams will playin the Hoop Review.
Other top programs in San Diego include Coastal Elite, which will be participating in the So-Cal Hoop Review and TBA during the two April live periods. Coastal’s 17u made a statement at the Pangos Spring Spectacular by defeating Belmont Shore 71-69 in a game which the SD program led by 20 points.
Top players include 6-4 Rancho Bernardo SG Knox Winkler, 5-9 Orange Glen PG Damien Miller, 6-3 San Marcos SG Kody Clouet, 6-5 Santa Fe Christian W TJ Askew and unsigned seniors Ed Fenzi (6-1 PG, Mission Hills) and Blake Seits (6-4 SG, Ramona). During the summer, the team will be buoyed by 6-10 forwards Nathan and Joel Mensah, who will play with the New York Lightning and Cal Supreme during the spring live periods, respectively.
The California Bearcats will be playing in the SoCal Hoop Review and Double Pump Spring Hoopfest during the April live periods. The 17u team is spearheaded by an “All-Torrey Pines’ backcourt, 6-3 2018 G Finn Sullivan and 6-2 2019 G Bryce Pope and 6-5 2018 Kearny F Jaylan Galloway. It’s 16u team includes San Dieguito Academy sophomore guards Ron and Yarin Arbib and Connor Miller, and 6-3 O’Farrell Charter W Lawrence Gray. Their 15u team is featured in our next subtopic.
3. Which new teams will emerge as mainstays in San Diego?
This year, more than in recent years, a number of new programs have emerged on the scene in San Diego. From the San Diego Soldiers, which is affiliated with the Nike-sponsored Oakland Soldiers program, to San Diego Elite, a number of clubs are hitting the circuit for the first time.
Here is a quick synopsis of some of the new groups:
San Diego Soldiers-
Formerly Team Relentless, the Carlsbad-based organization spearheaded by Sage Creek HS coach Brandon Dowdy gained an affiliation in the late spring with the Oakland Soldiers. The 17u team includes 6-7 Castle Park F Adrian Lee, 6-3 Horizon G Thomas Marcus, 6-5 Patrick Henry W Christian Choice and unsigned guards DJ Wilson (Horizon) and Quincy Ferebee (Serra). The 16u includes 6-1 Foothills Christian G Dorian Blue, 6-4 St. Augustine W Seth Hayes, 6-0 2020 Point Loma PG Dakarai Allen and 5-9 2020 Sage Creek PG Jailen Nelson.
The team’s schedule can be found on the website.
San Diego Elite-
Started by Miramar College Assistant Coach Tyler Walsh, the team includes a number of standout players from the Rancho Benardo, Poway and “56 Corridor” area. The program has 14u-16u teams. Standouts from the 16u level include 6-8 F Drew Cisse (2019 Rancho Bernardo), 6-0 G Hudson Soffer (2019 Poway), 6-2 G Sam Rex (2019 Poway) and 5-9 PG Jared Brown (2019 Rancho Bernardo) and from the 15u level include 6-0 G Anthony Loza (2020 Rancho Bernardo), 6-1 Mikela Bresenden (2020 Westview), 5-8 Domenic Moore (2020 Rancho Bernardo) and 6-0 Ian Linn (2020 Westview)
The team will be participating in the Pangos Sweet 16 in Las Vegas April 21-23.
A 17u team composed of several players from North Coastal San Diego and Carmel Valley, started by entrepreneurial Santa Fe Christian G Brook Gray. The team will participate in the SoCal Hoop Review during the April live periods. The team’s standouts include 6-4 2018 SFC F Matt Stevenson, 6-2 2018 Canyon Crest SG Tyler Elsom, 5-10 2018 CCA G Sam Crespy and 6-4 2018 SFC F Chase Whitton.
A merger at the high-school levels of the San Diego Bulldogs and California Bearcats Select, specifically with the 15u team that will be coached by Chris Dudley and DJ Gay. The 15u team standouts include 6-8 2020 Poway F Deshaun Cooper, 6-4 La Costa Canyon W Charlie Schmitz, 6-0 2020 Santa Fe Christian G Sam Dudley and 5-10 2020 Poway PG Adam Sevier.
San Diego Sabers-
While the Sabers aren’t new to San Diego hoops followers, this season marks the club’s first foray into NCAA-certified events with the entry of its 15u Lockup team. One of the top youth teams over the past five years, the 15u team features several standouts from Lutheran HS in Chula Vista, including 6-3 2020 F Xavier Otis, 5-11 2020 G Steve Stinson and 5-9 2020 PG Jalen Wilson, as well as 6-1 Poway twins Logan and Lucas Shepherd.
Another youth program dipping into the HS ranks for the first time, the San Marcos-based program will have its 15u team in the SoCal Hoop Review and the Double Pump Spring Hoopfest in April. Among the standouts are 5-9 2020 San Marcos PG Brady Williams, 2020 Mission Hills guards Robgert Ligayon (6-0) and Noah Schloss (6-1) and 6-4 F Jacob Collins.
4. Other San Diego programs:
San Diego Cougars
Live event tournaments: Double Pump Spring Hoopfest
Top prospects: 2018 F Teric Webster, 2018 WF Torrance Farr, 2020 G Reggie Everett, 2020 G Marquise Patmon
Breakdown: Jeff-Harper Harris leads his top Lincoln players into the Double Pump Spring Hoopfest. Watch out for rising sophomores Everett and Patmon, two under-the-radar prosepcts.
San Diego Prospects
Live event tournaments: Double Pump Spring Hoopfest
Top Prospects: 2017 Kearny F Robby Robinson, 2017 Kearny SG Joseph Davis, 2017 Granite Hills G Cameron Spitzer, 2017 Kearny W Emmanuel Azor
Breakdown: The Kearny Mesa-based program has a heavy Kearny HS lean, with Davis, Azor and Robinson all playing major roles for the Komets program. Spitzer is an underrated all-league performer from East County.
Supreme Court AAU
Top prospects: 6-9 C Ismaila “Izzo” Kane, 6-6 1/2 2017 W Jose Serrano; 16u: 6-0 2019 PG Malcolm Little, 6-3 2019 G Mojus Mojus, 6-4 2019 F Christian Wilson, 2019 G Houston Aguirre
Live event tournaments: Double Pump Spring Hoop Fest
Outlook: Supreme Court and Balboa Prep underwent a major transition this year, relocating to Escondido. But the team has quality prospects, and some really good ones in the 2019 class in Little, Wilson and Mojus.
Top prospects: 2018 6-0 El Camino G Antonio Hale III, 2018 6-3 RBV F Jamaul Bell, 2018 5-10 Guajome Park PG Cristian Garrett
Live event tournaments: SoCal Hoop Review
Outlook: The smallest of the North County programs has several underrated prospects.
San Diego Matrix
Top prospects: 2019 Mater Dei Catholic G Christian Buenviaje, 2019 Morse F Elijah Seales
Live event tournaments: SoCal Hoop Review, Double Pump Spring Hoop Fest
San Diego Sharks
Top prospects: 2020 Point Loma F Tyler Morris, 2020 Mt Carmel G Blake Dean, 2021 Melo Sanchez, Nico Meza
Live event tournaments: SoCal Hoop Review, Double Pump Hoop Fest
Outlook: Watch out for Dean and Morris, which sound like a law firm, but are two underrated 2020 prospects.
Top prospects: All St. Augustine players: 2020 F Trevor King, 2020 PG Kimo Ferrari, 2020 Adrian Gonzalez
Live event tournaments: SoCal Hoop Review, Double Pump Hoop Fest
Outlook: The St. Augustine feeder program competes with some of the best programs during the spring and summer
5. Top players on non-SD programs
A number of the region's elite players are playing with teams not based in San Diego. Here is a list of where you can see many of those players compete:
Earl Watson Elite: 2018 F Miles Norris, 2018 F Trey Anderson, 2018 La Jolla F Charlie Gal, 2019 F Matt Bender*, 2020 F Nakial Cross, 2020 F Maurice Holmes, 2020 G Jalai O’Keith and 2020 G Grant Mahler.
Compton Magic: 2019 Foothills Christian W Derrick Carter Hollinger; 2018 Heritage Christian G Jordan Starr, 2020 Heritage Christian G Caden Starr, 2020 Foothills Christian F Kaleb Lowery
Oakland Soldiers: 2018 F Taeshon Cherry, 2020 St. Augustine F Chibuzo Agbo
Cali Rebels: 20917 Foothills Christian F Kale Baldado, 2020 San Ysidro G Philix Kilbourne, 2020 San Ysidro G Kailen Rains, 2020 G Alton Dubois
Orange County Magic: 2017 Lincoln G Alex Dumas, 2018 Bonita Vista G Anthony Mendoza
Splash City AAU: 2020 Point Loma PG Yassine Gharram
6. Top AAU Teams per grade Group
Gamepoint Pump and Run- The lone 17u team playing in the elite division of a shoe circuit.
Coastal Elite 17u Elite- Underrated group with shooters galore. Special when Mensahs play.
San Diego All Stars 17u Elite- Richard Polanco’s last stand started with a strong performance at the Tip-Off Classic.
Gamepoint 17u Select- Underrated second team has SD standouts Isaiah Morris (5-11 PG Vista), Zach Reiter (6-3 G/F, Poway) and Alex Cho (6-2 G, La Jolla Country Day) and 6-7 Atascadero F Kyler Warren.
San Diego Soldiers- Nice collection of unsigned seniors and underrated SD talent. Watch out for Thomas Marcus and Adrien Lee.
California Bearcats 17u- Shooters and solid guard play from Finn Sullivan and Bryce Pope. 6-8 Torrey Pines F Noah Viera a sleeper in 2019.
Cali Boost- Young in grade only, an experienced group spearheaded by San Diego frosh of the Year Beon Riley, 2021 F Obinna Anyanwu.
Gamepoint Pump and Run- Shooters and stiff halfcourt defense spearheaded by co-SD sophomores of the year Jordan Hilstock and Ryan Langborg.
San Diego All Stars- Co-sophomore of the Year Boogie Ellis spearheads a team that plays fast and can score it with the best of them.
Coastal Elite - Unheralded group of sophomores includes Westview W Rico Hopping.
San Diego Soldiers- 2019 Foothills Christian G Dorian Blue, Point Loma frosh Dakarai Allen and Sage Creek frosh give the local Soldiers a solid back court.
California Bearcats - San Dieguito Academy guard Connor Miller and Ron and Yarin Arbib lead a hard-playing group.
Not ranked: Coastal Elite, San Diego All Stars, Gamepoint, California Bearcats, SD Sabers, San Diego Elite, And 1 Academy, San Diego Soldiers
7. Where they will play:
A list of the top prospects in each class and who they will be running with during the spring live period:
Richard Polanco- SDA 17u Elite
Robby Robinson- San Diego Prospects/ Cali Rebels
Kale Baldado- Cali Rebels
Dallas Cunningham- SDA 17u Elite
DJ Wilson- SD Soldiers 17u
Blake Seits- Coastal Elite 17u Elite
Darnell Johnson- SD Soldiers 17u
Quincy Ferebee- SD Soldiers 17u
Jaylen Arnold- Supreme Court 17u
Josh Clarke- SDA 17u Elite
Ed Fenzi- Coastal Elite 17u Elite
Aaron Williams- SDA 17u Elite
Trevor McFeely- Gamepoint 17u Select
Alex Dumas- OC Magic
Taeshon Cherry- Oakland Soldiers
Miles Norris- Earl Watson Elite
Warren Washington- Gamepoint
Taurus Samuels- Gamepoint
Trey Anderson- Earl Watson Elite
Christian Choice- injured for first live period
Jalen Flanagan- N/A
Thomas Marcus- San Diego Soldiers
TJ Lowery- N/A injured for April live periods
Phillip Willis- San Diego All-Stars
Knox Winkler- Coastal Elite
Isaiah Morris- Gamepoint
Zach Reiter- Gamepoint
Alex Cho- Gamepoint
Nashom Carter- San Diego All-Stars
Damien Miller- Coastal Elite
Finn Sullivan- California Bearcats Select
Ryan Langborg- Gamepoint
Rejean Ellis- San Diego All Stars
Jordan Hilstock- Gamepoint
Graham Cook- Gamepoint
Matt Bender- Earl Watson Elite, injured for April live periods
Max Guinn- Gamepoint
Jayson Taylor- Gamepoint
Jackson Larsen- San Diego All Stars
Kyle Paranada- San Diego All Stars
Caden Gentry- San Diego All Stars
Raymond Lu- San Diego All Stars
Derrick Carter-Hollinger- Compton Magic
Christian Rose- Gamepoint
Bryce Pope- California Bearcats Select
Andrea Scott- Gamepoint
Ronnie Latting- San Diego All-Stars
Seth Hayes - San Diego Soldiers
Jacob Jovien- You Ball Training
Dorian Blue- San Diego Soldiers
Seth Hayes- San Diego Soldiers
Cade Twyman- Coastal Elite
Chibuzo Agbo- Oakland Soldiers
Beon Riley- Cali Boost
Kimo Ferrari- College Bound
Elijah Randall- Coastal Elite
Logan Cremonesi- Gamepoint
Nakial Cross- Earl Watson Elite
Yassine Gharram- Splash City
Gio Martinez- San Diego All-Stars
Dakarai Allen- San Diego Soldiers
Savaughn Davis- San Diego All-Stars
Jailen Nelson- San Diego Soldiers
Adam Sevier- California Bearcats
Kaleb Lowery- Compton Magic
Tyson McWilliams- Gamepoint