The New Kids on the Block: San Diego's 2021 Class
San Diego's incoming freshman class has a lot of firepower - a lot.
From powerful posts to high-level playmakers, the incoming freshman continue a strong run of talent coming up the ranks.
And the talent is evenly spread across the region, from North County south to the international border.
Who are some of the players to watch in the 2021 class? Full-Time Hoops provides you with a glimpse at the class.
WHO'S ON TOP?
At the start of their high school careers, two players in the freshmen class stand out above the loaded field.
Chris Howell, a 6-5 point guard at San Marcos High School, draws comparisons to Golden State Warriors point guard (and former McDonald's All American) Shawn Livingston with his sinewy build and uncanny court vision. At 14 years old, he stands out as one of the decreasingly few "age appropriate" elite prospects.
Obinna Anyanwu, a 6-6 forward at Cathedral Catholic High School, is an athletic forward who is an assertive finisher around the basket and is rapidly improving his scoring from the wing.
Both players, if they continue to grow and improve, will have chances to be recruited at the highest levels of college basketball.
But they are not alone.
Six-foot-seven Balboa City Schools forward Fallou Cisse is a freakish athlete with a near 7-foot wingspan. While raw offensively, his rim-running, rebounding and rim-protection prowess make him perhaps the top defensive prospect in San Diego since Angelo Chol.
Six-foot-four Sweetwater forward Craig "CJ" McMillan (above) made a big statement at the 2017 Creme of the County. The power forward is a forceful finisher with a nice combination of ball skills, court vision and an improving perimeter shot.
Six-foot-three guard Thomas Notarainni is a slasher with an emerging jump shot and big-game experience under his belt with Cali Boost, where he teams with Anyanwu. He's also a rugged defender with a great motor.
And 6-foot-7 Cathedral Catholic forward Dillon Wilhite has the size, post skills and mid-range jump shot to develop into a top-tier post player on the West Coast.
Which schools have the top freshmen classes?
Cathedral Catholic High School ups the ante of Saint Augustine's powerful 2020 group last season with a trio of experienced freshman who cut their teeth on Cali Boost's 16u Team, which played in the top division of the Adidas Gauntlet: Anyanwu, Notarainni and point guard Alex Wade. Add Wilhite, and it's easy to see why the Dons have reason to be excited for the future.
For the second straight year, Mater Dei Catholic has amassed quite the collection of young prospects, led by 6-foot-4 Tijuana forward Mauricio Reyes, who burst onto the scene at the Creme of the County. Reyes is joined by 6-3 forward Bryan Orozco, 6-4 forwards Nico Meza and Melo Sanchez, and guards Jessie Campbell and Jacob Cannon.
Two schools with underrated freshman classes are Bonita Vista and Patrick Henry. The Barons have a guard-heavy group that includes twin brothers Damajae and Damascus Sanders, 5-10 shooter Rashaun Square and 5-3 dynamic point guard Morris "Momo" Stokes. Patrick Henry's class is deep: 6-0 shooter Clarence Martin, point guards Blake Munson, Jason Oliveira and Kailon King, 6-1 shooter Michael Burton and 6-3 wing Dexter Stratton, who has the most upside of the group.
Who are the most intriguing prospects?
The depth of the 2021 class means there are some lesser heralded prospects that still will have a chance to emerge as Division 1 prospects later down the line. Among the most intriguing of them is 6-foot-8 1/2 center Max Lonneker of Westview High School. A standout middle blocker, Lonneker has rapidly improved his game over the last 18 months. He has a solid jump hook over his left shoulder and can step out and shoot the 15-foot jumper with consistency.
6-foot-3 Helix wing forward Kai Jessie is also a prospect that is more upside than production at this point, but the upside is tantalizing. The long, athletic slasher runs the floor like a deer and has improved his ball handling. He still has work to do with his shot selection and court vision, but he could easily become the type of wing that Division 1 coaches will flock to see.
While Jessie and Lonneker might be all upside at this point, 6-foot-1 El Capitan "basketball player" Dre'Onta Raymond is the opposite. The undersized forward is a freak athlete who is unstoppable in transition and in the paint, where he imposes his will on smaller defenders, and blows by bigger, slower players. If he can refine his jump shot and handle, he will make a nice transition to a "power guard" that could rapidly rise up the ranks.
Other prospects that fall into this category: 6-6 Poway C Cole Stephens, 6-3 Foothills Christian W Derrien Carter-Hollinger, 6-2 High Tech High San Diego G Shawn Jackson-Acura, 6-2 Vista G Nikko Taylor and 6-1 Mater Dei Catholic G Jacob Cannon.
Who are the sleepers?
Bonita Vista point guard Damajae Sanders (right) epitomizes the term "sleeper." The 5-9 guard is blessed with freakish length and upper-tier quickness, and is a dogged on-ball defender, possibly the best one in the freshman class. Sanders shows glimpses of high-level court vision as well. If he can continue to refine his perimeter shooting off the catch, he could surpass many guards with higher profiles than he currently has.
Tashae Hardy (left), a 6-0 guard from Crawford, also has hovered below the radar, but has a chance to be a contributor right away for the Colts. Hardy has a great frame and is a strong slasher and straight-line driver.
Brendan Perry, a 6-2 guard from La Costa Canyon, is another player that will open eyes over his four year career. A long, athletic wing blessed with fluid jump shot and evolving game off the dribble, Perry is coming to his own at the right time. If he grows a few more inches, he has a chance to be a very coveted shooting guard from the same vein as Ryan Langborg of La Jolla Country Day.
Other sleepers include: 5-11 Point Loma SG Brennan Entwhistle, 6-2 Orange Glen F Adam Nieves, 5-6 Torrey Pines PG Cormac O'Brien and 6-5 LaRoi "LJ" Glover.
Top Point Guards
Trent Bell- Tough score-first point guard will be asked to contribute for Point Loma right away.
Myles Bennett - The lefty Mission Bay point guard has very good quickness and is a blur in transition.
Jessie Campbell- Athletic, heady lead guard has strong Mater Dei Catholic bloodlines: he's the younger brother of former All-CIF guard Iman Chatman-Dixon.
Mickey Chew - Crafty point guard will be a factor early for Valley Center.
Zach Fugmann - Diminutive Santa Fe Christian guard has a ton of tricks up his sleeve.
Hayden Gray - Dazzling pass-first Santa Fe Christian point guard can facilitate and shoot it from deep.
Wayne Hampton - Undersized guard has long arms, a deadly perimeter shot and a good chance to contribute to an improved Hoover team.
Chris Howell - Elite size and vision is a game changer for San Marcos, where his older brother Mikey Howell was a standout.
Kailon King - Seasoned point guard is among a trio of good ones at Patrick Henry.
Jimmy Mattox- Speedy point guard is the next Mattox to star for Sweetwater: brother Spencer is the school's all-time leading scorer.
Blake Munson - High-IQ pass-first point guard will be a name to watch at Patrick Henry.
Cormac O'Brien - Chiseled, albeit undersized Torrey Pines point guard is as crafty as they come.
Jason Oliveira- One of three undersized point guards at Patrick Henry, Oliveira is the most athletic and quickest.
Tyson Robinson - A beastly build and a load off the dribble, Robinson will be a varsity contributor early for El Camino.
Damajae Sanders - Explosive athletic Bonita Vista guard is a force on the defensive side.
Austin Schultz - No-nonsense pass-first point guard out of Mission Hills penetrates the defense with the best of them and has solid court vision.
Kobe Sladavic - Flashy San Dieguito Academy guard will be a nice understudy to Connor Miller and the Arbib twins.
Daryl Sledge - A pure shooter and explosive athlete, Sledge could be next up at Francis Parker.
Diego Solis - A tough, natural leader, Solis excels on defense and has a smooth lefty stroke. La Jolla's point guard of the future.
Xzaveon Stephens - Cat quick and athletic scorer off the dribble, Stephens will be asked to play a big role for Morse as a freshman.
Momo Stokes - Pint-sized Bonita Vista plays with great pace and feel.
Alex Wade - Seasoned point guard has excellent court vision and feel; will start right away at Cathedral Catholic.
Marvin Washington - Flashy point guard is a solid shooter off the catch. Should contribute for Lincoln early in his career.
Miles Wingfield - Arguably the fastest guard in the class with the ball in his hand. Poway's next big prospect.
Top Combo Guards
Ashton Avestro- Smooth shooting West Hills guard is a crafty playmaker off the dribble.
Isaiah Brickner - Athletic St. Augustine combo guard has great bloodlines.
AJ Burgin - Arguably one of the top shooters in the class, the underrated playmaker is San Diego HS's top freshman in quite some time. Will start right away.
Carson Burton - Long, wiry Santana guard can shoot it, lots of upside here.
Shaan Burke - Long, Pacific Ridge guard can shoot it and is sneaky off the dribble.
Jacob Cannon - Big, athletic combo guard is a force defensively, off the dribble for Mater Dei Catholic.
Carson Cook - Wiry, score-first lead guard has unlimited range, scoring IQ. The younger brother of La Costa Canyon G Graham Cook.
Joevi Cuyugan - The Mira Mesa guard's IQ is off the charts, making up for his pedestrian athleticism.
Steven Deutsch - A sharpshooter in every sense of the word, will space the floor at Olympian.
Mark Dixon - Burly "basketball player" is a potent scorer and plays hard all the time for St. Augustine.
Jalen Dower - The Steele Canyon guard is fast with the ball and a pest on defense.
Brennan Entwhistle - Great Point Loma shooter off the catch is improving off the dribble
Carson Frincke - Long, lanky sharpshooter will be a factor at Carlsbad in coming years.
Tashae Hardy - Athletic slasher could be a varsity contributor right away for Crawford.
Gabriel Harrison - Strapping, physical combo guard can man both guard positions and can score off the dribble at will. Should be a varsity contributor right away at Christian.
Henry Hartwell - Crafty and long scoring-minded guard is next up at Carlsbad.
DJ Jackson - A physical presence at the two, the Canyon Crest guard has a nice mid-range game and plays hard on defense.
Lucian Jones - High-motor Helix combo guard gets after it on defense.
Cedric Jung - Scrappy, quick combo guard gets after it on both ends. Sage Creek product.
Keavie Love - An elite on-ball defender, Love is an improved shooter off the catch and scorer off the bounce for El Camino. Will start as a freshman.
Matthew Lumaban - Burly but crafty combo guard will get looks early at Morse.
Clarence Martin - Smooth Patrick Henry shooter is a solid scorer and a varsity lock.
Trevan Martin - 6-1 athletic combo guard is a solid passer, scorer and improving as a shooter. Has seen varsity minutes in fall for Santa Fe Christian.
Justin Mitchell - An athletic presence on the defensive end, Mitchell is one of the top prospects to ever attend Tri-City Christian.
Caleb Nelson - Dual sport athlete is a solid shooter and jack-of-all-trades for Carlsbad.
Brendan Perry - At 6-2, a nice blend of athleticism and smooth shooting. The second La Costa Canyon freshman on the list.
Jake Sanderlin - Nice IQ and a potent jumper mark the top freshman to attend Del Norte since Austin Clyde.
Keatten Smith - The pure shooter and crafty scorer will grow and become a force at Santa Fe Christian. Cousin of 6-10 former LCC standout Travis Fuller.
Nikko Taylor - The 6-2 Vista lefty is a crafty playmaker (excellent vision) off the bounce and a streaky shooter.
Top Wings/Forwards Michael Burton - Smooth shooting forward plays at a methodical pace, but gets it done. He's at Patrick Henry.
Berry Buxton - Athletic combo forward excels on the football field as well for Olympian.
Owen Hill - High IQ Scripps Ranch forward is a nice face-up four with a solid set shot from deep.
Derrien Carter-Hollinger - The younger brother of fellow Foothills Christian F Derrick Carter-Hollinger is an intriguing "point forward" type who can score off the dribble and facilitate too.
Christian Gamboa- Intriguing 6-2 wing is an assertive, right-hand dominant slasher and an improving perimeter shooter. Will be one to track at La Jolla.
Andrew Glenn - Skilled forward will be a player to monitor at Poway.
Shawn Jackson-Acura- Assertive lefty scoring wing has made a big leap in his game. Perhaps High Tech High's best prospect ever?
Kai Jessie - Helix wing has all of the physical tools to be a D1 prospect.
Kasparas Kazrade - Forceful face-up four could be in the mix for minutes as a freshman at Sage Creek.
CJ McMillan - Unique prospect has the size, ball skills and scoring IQ to be the top prospect in recent memory at Sweetwater.
Nico Meza - Wired to score, Meza - part of Mater Dei's deep freshman class - would be a surefire varsity contributor for most schools.
Adam Nieves - Scrappy, defensive minded forward is undersized, but has a great motor and battles on the boards on both ends. Could see nice minutes at Orange GLen.
Thomas Notarainni - Hard-nosed wing type is an effective slasher and emerging shooter off the catch for Cathedral Catholic.
Raheem Nowlin - Athletic 6-3 San Ysidro forward has good feet, nice hands and has improved on both ends.
Conan O'Brien - Twin brother of Cormac is bigger at 6-2, positionless basketball player who can impact the game at both ends. Torrey Pines freshman.
Bryan Orozco - One of the most improved prospects is an assertive scorer and plays hard at all times. Could be a sleeper on a deep Mater Dei team.
Dre'Onta Raymond - El Capitan player is built like a linebacker, but can score and create at will. Could bring the Vaqueros back to relevancy.
Mauricio Reyes - Recent Tijuana transplant has a great motor and is a strong slasher to his right. The best of Mater Dei's frosh quintet right now.
Devyn Sanchez - The long, crafty utility wing has emerging ball skills and lots of upside. Attends Charter.
Melo Sanchez - Bigger bodied Mater Dei Catholic wing/ face-up four has a very high hoops IQ and crafty ball skills.
Justin Settles - Undersized Parker wing type is a great athlete with a nose for the basket.
Dexter Stratton - Willowy Patrick Henry 6-3 four has improved ball skills and nice footwork in the paint.
Carson Tamoepeau - Two-sport Mt Carmel stud has an impressive frame and is a solid perimeter defender.
Justin Yates - Growing, physical Sage Creek forward can rebound and plays hard on defense.
Obinna Anyanwu - Impressive Cathedral Catholic athletic forward's perimeter skill set is evolving. Scary thought.
James Behmer - Wiry four/ five man has a nice dose of athleticism and is just scratching the surface of his upside. Cathedral Catholic frosh.
Fallou Cisse- Perhaps the best athlete in the class, the 6-foot-7 Balboa City forward is a menace on defense and the boards.
Matias Clotfleter - The 6-4 Torrey Pines forward is a standout soccer player.
Ty Cox - Mission Vista's top freshman prospect is a solid finisher down low.
Diego Czarnowski - The willowy Mission Hills big man has soft hands, nice footwork and a ton of upside.
Sebastian Fayer - At 6-5 with an emerging perimeter game, Fayer could be a top "stretch four" when his Torrey Pines career is said and done.
LJ Glover - The athletic son of former Chargers' standout LaRoi Glover has as much upside as any player in the class. He attends Cathedral Catholic.
Max Lonneker - Willowy Westview five man is a solid rebounder and has nice basketball instincts.
Trent Nielsen - Burly center is an assertive scorer in the paint and plays hard. Also a standout baseball player for Christian High.
Deven Murguia - Another bigger-bodied, albeit undersized post product who has made a living overpowering players in the paint. He's also at Cathedral Catholic.
Dubem Okafor - The "man of mystery" at La Jolla Country Day has elite size at 6-9 and good defensive instincts, but is far from a finished product.
Cole Stephens - A wiry defensive presence, the Poway forward protects the rim with the best of them.
Dillon Wilhite - The skilled 6-7 forward is a threat in the paint and out to 18 feet. Upside to spare.