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An encore performance? The FTH Sophomore update

Class of 2026 - now comes the hard part.

After a season in which last year’s freshman class burst onto the scene and comprised the most productive freshman group in memory, the question becomes can they sustain it?

Several factors will play a significant role: how will the freshmen who were productive in lower to middle levels of CIF competition “level up” as they move up a division, which productive JV players will make the leap to standouts on their varsity teams and which varsity players will thrive in expanded roles?

Let’s look at what you need to know about the 2026 Class in Year 2.

New beginnings - who's on the move?

A number of players in the 2026 class changed addresses over the summer, starting with co-freshman of the year Ty Ingram, who checked into Cathedral Catholic from San Ysidro.

Ingram’s role will be very different from when he flanked a pair of highly rated prospects for the Cougars: he will be the primary scoring option on a team looking to climb back to the top of the Western League.

For arguably the class’ most productive freshman, 6-4 W Juju Lebel, he’ll have the same directive at his new home – El Cajon Christian – as he did at his previous address, Foothills Christian: put up major numbers. Lebel, who recently returned from a broken leg, averaged 24 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game for the Knights as a freshman.

The comings and goings also include a player who wasn’t in San Diego last year, but will likely emerge as one of the best players - and prospects - in the region, regardless of class. 6-5 G Caleb Newton recently checked into Mission Bay after spending his first year at Lake Balboa Birmingham, where he was an all-league first team performer in the perennially tough West Valley League.

Other sophomores on the move include:

6-2 G Chris Crowell, from Orange Glen to San Marcos

6-3 G Jordan Barnhart, from San Marcos to Sage Creek

6-1 G Coen Sponsel, from Santa Fe Christian to Cathedral Catholic

6-6 F Daniel Mariduena, from Cathedral Catholic to Poway

6-3 F Runnar “RJ” Miller, from Madison to Scripps Ranch

6-3 G Ethan Abeles, from Torrey Pines to San Diego Jewish Academy

6-2 W Tristan Newton, from Temecula Chaparral to Madison

6-2 G Brody Chapman, from Classical Academy to Poway

6-1 G Ben Cordova, from La Jolla Country Day to Victory Christian

5-11 guard Brayden and Elijah Anthony, from Francis Parker to San Dieguito Academy

Players set to emerge

For much of last year, the conversation of “top freshman” revolved around the quintet of Ingram, Lebel, Victory Christian’s Jayden Gray, Steele Canyon's Alex Williams and Rancho Buena Vista’s CJ Aldrich. Meanwhile, 6-2 St. Augustine G Jaden Bailes, who entered high school with credentials rivaling – and exceeding - most of his peers, waited his turn behind the Saints senior class en route to a second straight Open Division crown.

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