What Mikey Williams return means for San Diego Hoops: 5 takeaways
San Diego's prep basketball offseason got a huge jolt in April when former San Ysidro star guard Mikey Williams announced via social media that he would be returning to the school where he started his high school career for his senior season.
Williams, a 6-2 combo guard, is among the top prospects in the 2023 class and in an era where social media clout has currency, he is one of the sport's most popular athletes, regardless of level.
He averaged 30 points per game during his freshman year at San Ysidro - including a record-breaking 77-point performance against Kearny in 2018 - and led the Cougars to their first ever CIF basketball championship.
Williams averaged 23 points per game for Vertical Academy in North Carolina this past season.
What does Williams return to San Diego do to the hoops landscape? What dominoes are expected to fall, what questions remain unanswered and how special of a year could we be in store for in 22-23?
Here's a quick primer:
1. San Ysidro remains an Open Division contender
The Border Boyz are coming off a season where they were within two possessions of an Open Division title, but with a lineup consisting of 5 senior standouts, the Cougars were expected to dip a bit in the standings. Now with Williams, the expectations have never been higher. He joins returning 6-8 2024 C Andrei Tovar, 6-4 2023 F Princeton Williams and 6-0 2023 G Alfredo de la Mora, and several transfers that will be discussed later.
Expect them to be ranked no lower than No. 2 to start the season, with the defending Open Division champs Saints returning almost its entire contributing core.
2. San Diego's 2023 class regains some luster
The 2023 class was the buzz of last year's Creme of the County. But the class has had several high profile defections, including former Torrey Pines/ San Diego forward Jacob Bannarbie and former Calvin Christian F Martin Gumwel.
Williams gives San Diego, along with St. Augustine G Jurian Dixon, four 2023 prospects with a D1 offer - Mater Dei Catholic's Kristian Gonzalez and Vista's Cyprian Hyde are the others. A year removed from the region only producing two Division 1 prospects, this is a move in the positive direction.
3. The Mikey effect impacts other programs
We're already seeing "The Mikey Effect" on some of the region's programs. Mission Bay's starting point guard Angelo Gil has already transferred to the South Bay school, and highly touted eighth grade prospect Ty Ingram opted to stay in San Diego against potentially attending Rancho Christian in Temecula. Gil and Ingram both participated in the EBO Big Showdown with the group this month. Expect Mikey, and the allure of playing a national schedule, to attract other players inside and outside of the region.
4. The Elephant in the room: Jurian Dixon
Naturally, when Williams announced his return, all eyes were on his former teammate, Dixon, and speculation has swirled almost nonstop that he could reunite with Williams back at San Ysidro for one last run together. Dixon, of course, is coming off a season where he was named the Section Player of the Year and led the Saints to the Open Division title. So far, that hasn't happened, but it's definitely something that would dramatically shake up the Section - and statewide - outlook.
And if it doesn't happen, the potential of a "Mikey vs Jurian" Open Division championship would be the most anticipated finals matchup in recent memory.
5. San Diego hoops will have the spotlight
One thing is guaranteed with Williams homecoming: there will be a spotlight on San Diego hoops like there hasn't been since he left, save for Torrey Pines near undefeated run during the 2021 pandemic season. San Ysidro Head Coach Terry Tucker's team will be playing in some of the nation's biggest tournaments, starting next month at the Section 7 Team Camp in Arizona, the Hoop Hall Classic in Massachusetts and its companion tournament, Hoop Hall West, in Arizona, as well as a nonleague season opener against Corona Centennial, expected to be one of the top teams in the nation next season. That matchup will pit Williams against Duke-bound guard Jared McCain.