Busting Out: San Diego's breakout players
It's a cycle as old as high school basketball itself: one class leaves, another group of players emerge to fill the void.
With the Class of 2021 leaving an indelible mark on San Diego hoops record books - four CIF Regional Championships and an undefeated regular season CIF title run for Torrey Pines - the classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024 have big shoes to fill.
Which players are poised to break out during the 2021-22 season? Here are some players who fit the bill
1. Mission Bay's dynamic duo: Angelo Gil, 6-1 2023 G and Rami Anglo, 6-2 2022 G, Mission Bay
With the transfer of the Gonzalez brothers, KJ and Kristian, back to Mater Dei, the Bucs' outlook appeared downgraded. But throughout the fall, Mission Bay has shown that there's enough talent to weather the departure. A big reason has been the dominant play of Gil, who has emerged as a Top 5 player in San Diego, regardless of class, and Anglo, who is showing an expanded offensive repertoire in his larger role.
2. Little Big Red: Christian Brown, 6-5 2023 W, La Costa Canyon
Torrey Pines' Otto Landrum no longer has the monopoly on redhead basketball stars in SD. La Costa Canyon's emergence as potential Open Division team is squarely due to the emergence of Brown as one of the county's top players. A throwback player with a nonstop motor and an absolute clip from three, Brown has put up multiple 30-point games this fall - including a scintillating performance against Landrum and Torrey Pines - and looks to do the same during the season.
3. No longer a role guy: Jaden Matingou, 6-2 2023 G, St. Augustine
The preseason No. 1 team in San Diego has weapons to spare, and one of the Saints biggest weapons is a player who took a major leap in the offseason. Matingou was a defensive specialist for St. Augustine this year, but a summer where he blossomed as a scorer and playmaker gives Mike Haupt yet another potent piece. Matingou isn't the only player on the team who has improved - Haupt says that the team's "big four" are all playing on a different level than last season - but his improvement has been the most dramatic. He's primed for a big year.
4. The last Dons: Jaden Lebel, 6-4 2022 G, and Shea Fitzgerald, 6-2 2023 G, Cathedral Catholic
Gone is the 2021 quartet that led the Dons to two straight Open Division championship appearances. But the cupboard isn't bare. Lebel, an athletic wing, looks to emerge as one of the top scorers in the Western Division. The last image we had of Fitzgerald was him coolly hitting three free throws to tie the Open Division championship game, which set up the legendary finish for Torrey Pines. But that moment gave us a flash of Fitzgerald's steely game. This year, he will show a lot more than a flash.
5. The Grizzly Guards: Caleb Hofmeister, 5-8 2023 G and Jack Jillson, 5-10 2024 G, Mission Hills
Mission Hills head coach Curtis Hofmeister said better guard play would be the key to the Grizzlies building on last year's surprise Open Division appearance. It appears they're going to get it from Hofmeister and Jillson, two vastly improved players from last season. The younger Hofmeister emerged over the summer with his club team Coastal Elite as much more than a sharpshooter, but an improved playmaker and spirited defender. Jillson has been on a tear in the fall, scoring from three levels and complementing Hofmeister in the back court. While the White Brothers-led frontcourt remains the strength of this team, the guard play is looking pretty good too.
6. The Law Office of Harris, Noble and Marte: Miles Harris, 5-11 2023 G, Baron Noble, 5-9 2023 G and Noah Marte, 6-0 2023 G, San Diego
No AJ Burgin? No Jacob Bannarbie? No problem. The Cavers look to be a potential Top-10 team, and it's the emergence of Harris, Marte and Noble as an explosive back court pair. Harris, a starter in the Cavers D2 championship game as a freshman, is a steadying force and one of the section's top defenders. Marte came on strong for the Cavers during their late-season surge and has the smooth stroke and emerging confidence to be an All Western League talent. And then there's Noble, who has an electric quality to his game, capable of huge scoring outbursts with a flair that few can match. And his confidence is sky high.
7. That Boy Drew: Drew Bickley, 5-11 2023 G, Santa Fe Christian
Bickley's rise started during the state playoffs when he hit seven 3s against Heritage Christian. Then, he grew six inches over the past year. Bickley's potent three point shooting gives the Eagles a bona fide weapon that should keep them in the mix of the Coastal League title after the departure of its talented senior quartet.
T7. Orion is Stellar: Orion Samikoglu, 6-1 2022 G, Francis Parker
Francis Parker has been a force this fall, and a big reason for their strong outlook coming into this year is Samikoglu, the brawny sharpshooting "basketball player" who creates mismatches for other team's opposing bigs. The Lancers are undersized, so Samikoglu must play center by default, but his ability to stretch the floor, stout defense and rebounding and fiery demeanor give Parker a huge boost. Don't be surprised if he's all-league performer this year.
8. South Bay sleepers: Xavier Rubio, 6-2 2022 G, Eastlake; and Tedrous Teshome, 6-2 2022 G, Montgomery
Much of the discussion down south revolves around San Ysidro's talented squad, Mater Dei Catholic's Gonzalez brothers and Montgomery's freshmen class. But two names who should be household names by midseason are Rubio and Teshome, a pair of confident scoring guards coming off of big seasons - but because their teams were below their radar, their performances weren't appreciated outside of their circles. Teshome has a strong body, a nose for the hoop, while Rubio is a wiry bucket getter who can score it from three levels.
9. 56 Corridor Flamethrowers: Miguel Yniguez, 6-7 2022 F, Canyon Crest Academy and Jaden Matusalem, 5-11 2022 G, Mt. Carmel
Yniguez emerged as a reliable "Robin" to Jon Pearson's "Batman" last sason, scoring from midrange and from deep at a solid clip for the team's tallest player. He appears poised to ascend to that next level, where he becomes the team's alpha. Matusalem is arguably the most underappreciated guard in San Diego. But with his team poised to have more success than at any point of his career, more people will know about this crafty playmaker with a sweet shooting stroke.
10. Benji(e), the Hunter: Benjie Nudo, 5-11 2022 G, Del Norte
There are few player who can capture lightning in a bottle the way Nudo can. A dynamic and flashy scorer and playmaker who has a white-hot motor, when he's dialed in, he's got All-CIF potential. The only thing holding him back is consistency. If he masters that this year, Del Norte should be a dark horse for an Open Division bid.
11. V For Vindication - Vishal Jayanthi, 6-5 2022 SG, Sage Creek
Jayanthi, a long, wiry athletic guard whose shooting borders on elite, had a strong season last year, but hovered under everyone's radar until he was hoisting the Division 3 title. He's back, made major strides in the offseason to add to his offensive and defensive package and looks to shed the sleeper tag and become a bonafide star in CIF. I think he will.
Other breakout players
Markees Williams, Helix - Athletic true PG could be East County's best player.
Anthony Garibay, Orange Glen - Diminutive point guard will be a pest in the Coastal League
Jesse Snider, Rancho Buena Vista - undeniable offensive talent playing with a lot of confidence
Ali Johnson, Point Loma - hyper athletic combo guard rounding into a complete player
JT Harris, Point Loma - Putting it altogether, Harris has the size, scoring acumen and athleticism to be a star
Logan Huston, Torrey Pines - Next in line in the long line of Falcons breakout seniors.
Marley Gonzalez, Escondido Charter - Underrated big man could lead the White Tigers to the promised land.
Mikey Murray, St. Joseph's Academy - Put up huge numbers last year, now has a chance to lead the Crusaders to a title
Derek Edmond, Granite Hills - Remember the name. Big time scoring guard is going to be a household name in East County
Daniel Valenzuela, St. Joseph's Academy - Rapidly improving scoring guard.
Mason Bowers, Carlsbad - Confident sharpshooter will light teams up all season
Benji Hilstock, Vista - A growth spurt and athletic growth make Hilstock primed for a big senior year
Euan Davis, El Camino - The next great Wildcat guard
Spencer Hall and Jack Hudson, Mira Mesa - Veteran tandem could lead Marauders to Eastern League title
Josue Amaya, Valhalla - Crafty, long guard a three-year varsity contributor
Amanuel Tesfahunegn, Hoover - The best sophomore in SD you haven't heard of
James Kerzic, Madison - Capable of huge scoring outbursts
Mateus Behrend, Maranatha Christian- With no Aidan Parsons, the four-year varsity player takes his star turn
Alex Jenkins, Steele Canyon - Long, springing lefty set for a big year for Aaron Douglas