Changing of the Guard: Introducing the 2022 Class
San Diego, this is your class of 2022.
It's early, and there are a lot of players we haven't seen yet, but we're hoping to give readers a quick scan of the incoming freshman class and some of the players that should become household names sooner than later.
Early on, it appears that this group is very guard heavy. And at the very top, there are some guards who have a chance to be the best to come out of the region in several years.
Who's On Top?
There are a number of players in this class that enter into their high school careers with a lot of accolades from middle school camps and tournaments.
Of that group, three have seamlessly made the transition to high school and appear to be on a high-major trajectory.
Dimitrius "DJ" Dudley, a 6-3 guard at San Ysidro High School, has electrifying athleticism and a frame that elicits comparisons to a number of elite guards, like Jaylen Hands. His game, however, is geared towards slashing and scoring, not so much yet as a playmaker for others. He is arguably one of the best scoring guards in the state, notching early scholarship offers from USD and Eastern Washington.
Also making big waves early is Devon Arlington, a 6-2 combo guard at San Marcos High. You would think that an incoming freshman guard might have trouble finding playing time on an already guard-heavy Knights roster. But Arlington, a crafty, strong playmaker, has had no trouble emerging as a potential starter for a team that regularly competes for Open Division playoff berths. He can score it off the bounce and has a very strong mid-range pull-up jump shot, and does a good job setting the table for others.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the fall was the emergence of Alexis Marmolejos at the 3P Creme of the County. A 6-1 combo guard who recently relocated to San Diego from the Dominican Republic, Marmolejos is blessed with blinding speed and scores it at a prolific clip. This should not come as a surprise to international hoops followers: Marmolejos led the Dominican Republic's under-16 team in scoring this summer. He has immediately vaulted into the conversation of best prospect in the 2022 class.
Who's right there?
Beneath the talented guard trio are several prospects who will also have strong debuts and likely will be in the conversation for top prospects in the 2022 class.
La Jolla Country Day will likely start twin brothers John and James Hapgood from day one. The brothers, 6-1, have nonstop motors on the floor and make things happen on both ends. John is a little more polished offensively than James, but both are still very talented.
Mission Bay freshman wings Anthony Scott and Elijah Black probably won't see big minutes on the Bucs' senior heavy roster, but both have chances to be among the top recdruits in the class. Scott, the "little" brother of Bucs senior Andre Scott, is every bit of 6-4 and has the length, skill and upside to be a top wing in the 2022 class. At 6-2, Black has explosive athleticism and length and a nose for the basket. He's more of a wing than a guard, so we'll monitor how his skillset evolves.
Francis Parker has a talented freshman guard in 6-1 Camden McCormick. The athletic, sharp shooting combo guard has a solid frame, good playmaking instincts and has a high basketball IQ.
Mater Dei freshman Cameron Marshall figures to be part of the Crusaders rotation. At 6-1, Marshall doesn't necessarily pass the eye test, but he is a very polished scorer and passer with great feel. His fellow Crusader Kenny Gonzalez is another guard to keep an eye on over the next few years. Gonzalez has explosive speed and can score it from all three levels at 5-9.
Who are the sleepers?
A number of players don't have the same profile entering high school, but could very well end up being better than many of the players with better name recognition. Here are a few names to remember.
6-foot-7 Aidan Parsons is a skilled lefty post player with nice length and touch out to 15 feet. He doesn't appear to be done growing either. He could wind up being one of the best bigs on the West Coast.
Another big who rapidly improved over the last half of his eighth grade year was 6-6 Michael Rayner, who is attending Patrick Henry. Rayner has excellent hands and developing touch around the basket, and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
There are also a couple of wings/shooting guards with intriguing frames and skill sets that also look to fit the late bloomer tag. Tate Smith, a 6-0 La Jolla Country Day guard, has a 6-3 wingspan and is an excellent shooter off the catch. He looks like he's not yet done growing either. Vincent Berlucchi of Santa Fe Christian is another versatile wing at 6-3 with nice length and a diverse offensive game and a great motor.
Mission Hills has a 6-3 wing named Justin White who has rapidly come along with his ball skills, and is very young for his class (just turned 14). He has a chance to be an excellent prospect.
I am also high on the long-term prospects of 6-2 guard Nick Clotfelter. A rangy wing with long arms and high hips, Clotflelter, who attends Bishop's, is very skilled and has a lot of upside.
Of the guards in this class, watch out for 5-9 guard Chris Eugene at Mater Dei Catholic. He comes into his career with much less fanfare than some of his classmates, but is a quick floor general and an unselfish playmaker. Also watch out for Max McCall, who attends San Marcos. He's 6-0 with a 6-3 wingspan and a tenacious on-ball defender. If his perimeter game catches up with the other aspects of his skill set, he will be rise rapidly. His teammate, 5-9 Josiah Novelozo, is another one to watch with slick ball skills and an accurate shot from deep.
Which schools have the best freshmen classes?
In previous years, private schools have dominated the freshman class conversation. This year, however, there are several public schools who boast quality building blocks for their future.
San Marcos leads the way.
Benefiting from a strong feeder program at San Elijo Middle School, the Knights boast no fewer than six freshman who will have a big impact on the program's future: Arlington, McCall, Novelozo, 6-5 C Jacob Baba, 6-3 F Daelin Brooks, 5-7 PG Evan Record headline the freshman class there.
Mission Bay also has a very strong freshman group with Scott, Black, guards David Mathews and Jaysten Ramos (recently moved from New York) and sleepers Milkiah Churchill and Noah Dehrab.
Carlsbad's trio of freshmen are unheralded, but talented as well: 6-2 scorer Braden Kirkwood, 6-1 wing Mason Bowers and 5-8 guard Toby Harris, who is one of the more intriguing guard prospects in his own right.
La Jolla Country Day and Mater Dei's freshman classes are likely the strongest among the private school contingent, with the Hapgood twins, Smith, Marc Begin and shooter Jake Bluestein looking strong for the Torreys and Marshall, Eugene and Gonzalez among the better freshman at the Chula Vista school.
2022 names to know
Beau Rabe - Heady, savvy point guard is quicker than he appears, and can knock down shots from deep. He's at La Costa Canyon
Benji Hilstock - The younger brother of Vista standout Jordan Hilstock is coming into his own as a prospect at 5-10 and loads of upside. Defensive minded lead guard.
Damion Monge - The Hilltop point guard has excellent feel and should pair well with 2021 G Marcos Thomas to create the Lancers' back court of the future.
David Mathews - Slick ball handling scoring point guard has deep range and plays with excellent pace. Mathews attends Mission Bay.
Evan Record - Quick and assertive, the San Marcos lead guard makes plays getting into the paint with his shiftiness and can score and facilitate with equal aplomb.
Jayden Barnett - The 5-10 lefty speedster from El Camino has a blinding first step and is a lockdown defender.
Jaysten Ramos - A New York transplant, Ramos brings a distinctively East Coast grit to Mission Bay.
Lamont Wilkerson - The Scripps Ranch floor general is tough off the dribble and gets into the paint at will.
Marc Begin - The crafty string bean of a point guard is all arms and legs at 5-8, but looks like he's got quite a bit of growing to do. Will be a factor in coming years at Country Day.
Nico Cervantes - The Otay Ranch lead guard has a stocky frame, but has crafty handles and savvy.
Omarion Casher - Pint-sized playmaker is quick as a thought and can score and facilitate. He's at Vista.
Owen Isachsen - Long and crafty, Isachsen (San Dieguito Academy) possesses nice feel and upside as a true point.
Preston Ochoa- La Costa Canyon point guard is a tough customer, and plays with a great motor and court vision.
Quinton Pino - Helix lead guard is long, crafty and quick.
Vinny Signorelli - Sweet-shooting lead guard has a high IQ and solid feel. Gives a solid effort on the defensive end. Attends Christian High.
Andrew Garcia - Can really shoot it from deep. Attends Mater Dei Catholic.
Angelo Rodriguez-Gil - The Olympian freshman has a strapping frame and is tough to contain going downhill.
Demari Lee - Physically imposing Scripps Ranch wing loves to get down hill and finish through contact.
Donovan Saunders - Cathedral Catholic guard has length, good size and can score it from three levels.
Garrett Poelman - Santa Fe Christian shooter has nice size and a rangy frame.
Grant Gayhart - The 6-2 Coronado sharpshooter possesses ideal metrics and looks primed for an immediate impact at the varsity level.
Jadon Green - The San Diego Caver has the length, feel and scoring ability to be a top prospect, excels on the gridiron too.
Jake Bluestein - La Jolla Country Day shooter can fill it up from NBA range.
Jayden White - Upside abounds with the 6-0 Mission Hills guard blessed with length and budding athleticism. Twin brother of Justin White.
Josh Macagapal - Aggressive lefty scoring guard will shoot you out of some games, but will keep you in more. He's at Helix.
Josiah Novelozo - Sharpshooting San Marcos guard has some shifty handles and good feel.
Kanta Thomas - Uber quick and athletic wing is a lockdown defender. San Diego HS
Max McCall - Long, aggressive defender with improving ball skills, McCall (San Marcos) has great long-term upside.
Luke Chisolm - Coronado guard has good feel and shoots it.
Markees Williams - Dual-sport athlete has nice length and is a solid scorer. He's at Helix.
Mekhi Sutton - Crafty scoring guard with a nice frame and upside is at Cathedral Catholic.
Rashaun Johnson - Point Loma frosh was listed as a "top playmaker" at the EBC All American Camp.
Takoma Kunz-Rosario - RBV freshman has one of the best motors in the class.
Tajon Evans - Gets lost in the shuffle because he is a standout football player, but the 6-1 Mira Mesa guard has great size, big-time athleticism and scores it in flurries.
Toby Harris - Don't let the surfer look fool you. The compact Harris (Carlsbad) has speed to spare, and can score and make plays for others.
Tino Mededovic - Crafty shooting point guard has a very good basketball IQ. He's at Rancho Bernardo.
Vinny Ferrari - The younger brother of Parker's Kimo Ferrari is a stocky combo guard with a solid first step and a deadly jumpshot.
Zyun McGee - Long, wiry guard prospect has a solid midrange game.
Aidan Collins - Torrey Pines freshman has a big body and solid inside-out skills.
Aidan Montanez - The 6-2 Tri-City Christian frosh has a nose for the ball and rebounds it well.
Amari Seales - At 6-2, he's a pogo stick and has a ton of upside.
Braden Kirkwood - Burly Carlsbad forward is an assertive scorer and plays bigger than his listed height (6-2).
Cohen Wilson - Steele Canyon forward is transitioning from a post to a face-up four, has solid skills.
Courtland Camper - Chula Vista swingman is young for his class, but has a nice slashing game.
Ethan Davis - Big, strong wing player primarily does his work on the interior and midrange. He's at El Camino.
Jaden LeBel - Long, rangy wing type is an excellent rebounder and has a terrific motor. As his perimeter skillset evolves, he will be among the top prospects in the class.
Jesse Snider - Crafty and skilled, albeit slow-footed forward can score it from deep and off the bounce.
Julian Beltran - Hailing from Calexico, the Imperial County forward has a big body, but versatile inside out game. An underrated shooter.
Lucas Gordon - Wiry shooter (Maranatha Christian) has nice length and scores it well off the wing.
Mason Bowers - Strong Carlsbad wing has made dramatic changes to his body, strong off the bounce going to his dominant hand.
Nick Payne - A bruiser on the wing, Payne also can catch and shoot in streaks. Escondido frosh.
Milkiah Churchill - The 6-2 wing has a lot of upside for Marshawn Cherry at Mission Bay.
Max Raulston - Long, strapping wing type provides all of the intangibles: rebounds, defends, runs the floor hard and scores efficiently. Stud water polo player as well.
Oliver Buckley - Sleeper forward from San Diego High has nice size at 6-3 and could emerge as a late bloomer.
Aidan Parsons - 6-7 post has solid hands and a nice lefty repertoire. Attends Poway.
Bear Cherry - The 6-6 brother of Taeshon Cherry has nice hands and a budding skillset. He is at Steele Canyon.
Christian Richardson - The 6-6 Mount Carmel post is a tough rebounder and alters shots.
Daelin Brooks - At 6-3, he's undersized by rebounds like a beast and can defend players much bigger than his listed height.
Jacob Baba - The 6-5 big is an excellent rim protector and defender. Raw offensively, but his skills are on the come.
Michael Rayner - Patrick Henry's 6-6 post can finish with either hand, and is an improved defensive presence.