Garden Grove, CA - The opening NCAA evaluation period of April is typically a stressful one for Full-Time Hoops, as Southern California typically hosts three so-called "live period" events that weekend, making for a lot of driving.
This weekend, however, with Dinos Trigonis taking his Pangos Sweet 16 to Las Vegas and Double Pump not holding its Tip-Off, Gerry Freitas and Ryan Silver's Southern California Hoop Review got the lone billing, and grew exponentially in the process.
Almost all of San Diego's non-circuit programs were represented at the Map and Next Level facilities, which made for a lot of standout performances.
Full-Time Hoops has some of those standouts in the first of two reports:
Isaiah Morris, 2018 5-11 165 PG, Gamepoint 17u Select- Morris had an excellent weekend for the Gamepoint team, leading them to an undefeated record. He is a true point guard with a knack for creating for his teammates off the dribble, but with the strength to finish through contact on drives to the basket in the halfcourt and in transition. But where he stood out the most was on defense, where he overwhelmed opponents with his timing, footwork and physicality guarding the ball. Division 2 programs were monitoring Morris all weekend, for good reason. He could be a very productive player at that level.
Ethan Esposito, 2018 6-6 190 F, Coastal Elite 17u Elite- No unsigned senior helped his cause more than Esposito, who was a beast on the boards for the Coastal Elite team all weekend, and showed the ability to knock down shots from mid-range and the college three with regularity. His handle still needs to get stronger, as he is more comfortable scoring with his back to the basket than facing up and driving, but the pieces are there for a Division 2 four man, or, with some time at prep, a lower Division 1 wing.
Elijah Randall, 2020 6-4 190 G/F, Coastal Elite 15u Elite- Randall unveiled a much more fit physique than we have seen, which allowed him to be more productive and play more minutes. His skill level has always been off the charts, but he is much quicker off the dribble and as a result, a much more complete offensive threat. Randall also is a great rebounder, which allows him to initiate fast breaks as a point forward type. His vision and feel are very good for a player as young as he is.
Zach Reiter, 2018 6-3 200 G/F Gamepoint 17u Select- If Morris was the top player on the Gamepoint Select team this weekend, Zach Reiter was 1A. He put together a very impressive offensive weekend, showing a much improved perimeter attack and knocking down shots from all three levels. Reiter also showed more restraint on the offensive end, changing speeds and direction rather than driving through players. Reiter's rebounding on the offensive glass was also very impressive.
Thomas Marcus - 2018 6-4 170 G, San Diego Soldiers - The lefty combo guard is quickly rising the lists of top junior prospects in San Diego, and displayed many of the reasons why albeit not against top competition, though through no fault of his own. Marcus has the length and explosiveness that will translate to the next level, and can knock down shots from three and off the pull-up dribble from midrange. He needs to improve his off hand and pay attention to detail with his handle, but we like the trajectory that Marcus is headed on.
Chris Howell- 2021 6-4 150 PG, Coastal Elite - Howell is a high-level point guard prospect who has uncanny vision and feel for a player his age. He changes speeds well attacking with either hand, and can make all of the passes a point guard should make. As a scorer, Howell uses his craftiness to attack the basket and score around the rim, and has shown a much improved mid-range game, but needs to continue to improve his three-point shooting to complement his other gifts. At this stage, there might not be a better long-term prospect in the 2021 class in San Diego.
Nakial Cross - 2020 6-7 180 PF, Earl Watson Elite - The bouncy face-up four continues to improve his ball skills and his offensive repertoire, showing the ability to hit shots from midrange and from three, though his shot is still streaky. His athleticism and length are impressive, but he needs to be much more assertive on the offensive end to unlock his natural gifts, as well as clean up his handle.
Chibuzo Agbo - 2020 6-6 200 PF, College Bound - Playing with his high school mates on the 17u level, Agbo showed off an improved handle and feel in a "point forward" role. What stood out more than anything was his passing, as he made a couple of really impressive feeds off the drive and pick and no-look passes to unsuspecting teammates. He also continues to show the ability to knock down the college three with an improved level of consistency. These developments show that Agbo could at some point in his high school career make the transition to a full-time wing.
Darnell Johnson - 2017 6-5 180 W, San Diego Soldiers - The athletic wing can attack the basket and finish through contact with the best of them. His decision making and shooting need to come around for him to realize his full potential. A stint at junior college could make him a coveted prospect.
Kyle Johnson - 2018 6-5 175 W, Gamepoint Select - Johnson has a similar build to his high school teammate, Darnell Johnson, and is a solid shooter when his feet are set. But his feel and handle are both very raw and for a player with his impressive metrics and athleticism, he struggles on the defensive end. As it stands, Johnson is a late-bloomer that should be on NAIA radars.
Deshaun Cooper - 2019 6-7 190 PF/C, California Bearcats 15u - The young sophomore (turns 16 in October) has some impressive physical attributes (tremendous bounce, good length) and his upside is quite high, but his feel is still very raw (struggles rebounding against physical defenders, gets lost in help defense, raw handle). But there might not be many players in San Diego's 2019 class with his ceiling. Could be a very intriguing rim-running defensive prospect along the lines of a Larry Sanders-type if he continues to improve at the impressive clip that he is.
Maurice Holmes - 2020 6-5 190 F, Earl Watson Elite Silver - Holmes showed flashes of the potential that he possesses, knocking down mid-range and three-point shots with a very fluid looking stroke, and attacking the glass and playing with a great motor on defense. He needs to be more assertive on the offensive end and improve his handle facing up defenders, and improve his scoring with his back to the basket (raw post game).
Finn Sullivan - 2018 6-3 170 PG, California Bearcats 17u - Another young prospect for his grade (turns 17 in September), Sullivan has excellent feel and passing vision. He is not a burner, but changes speeds and lulls defenders to sleep with his methodical pace. Sullivan has also improved his consistency as a shooter off the catch, knocking down shots from mid-range and the perimeter. Much like his older brother, Marek Sullivan, Finn has grown several inches late in his career and could finish out as a 6-4 to 6-5 point guard. He needs to improve his foot speed to be able to guard quicker point guards and to get by quicker defenders off the dribble.