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What we learned: Lamont Smith Basketball Showcase recap

Year 2 of the Lamont Smith Basketball Academy Fall Showcase saw the two-day event "come downtown" to San Diego City College without skipping a beat.

Now expanded to 32 teams, Smith, the former USD head coach and longtime NCAA assistant, was able to corral several out of area teams to the mix - Weston Ranch of Stockton, Corona Del Mar of Newport Beach, Temecula Valley and Dougherty Valley - which gave the showcase a little more gravitas.

Still, we at Full-Time Hoops try to focus on the local squads, which served notice that San Diego basketball's season should be a fun one. Here is a recap of the standout teams and players.

Carlsbad the clear No. 1

If it wasn't clear that the Lancers were the preseason No. 1 team in San Diego before last weekend, it was apparent after Day 1 of the showcase.

Returning four of last year's five starters and adding 6-7 F Jael Martin, San Marcos transfer Deuce Sims and El Camino transfer and all-Palomar League standout Euan Davis, Carlsbad looked unstoppable at times in blowout wins over Santa Fe Christian and Dougherty Valley. What stood out about the team wasits unselfishness. Both Davis and Sims embraced reserve roles (behind incumbent starters Tristan Guzman and Jordan Garner) and entered the game bringing intensity on defense and improved scoring on offense. The scary part for San Diego competition? The Lancers didn't have another standout transfer, Will Cianfrini, a 6-4 forward who is making waves on the football field.

If they can continue to play unselfishly, the Lancers have a chance to romp through SD competition the way St. Augustine did the past 2 seasons.

Montgomery is a steady No. 2

The Aztecs sometimes got lost in the discussions at the LSBA Showcase, largely because they don't play a particularly flashy brand of basketball, save for the above the rim exploits of 6-5 junior Devin Hamilton and the exquisite no-look passes dropped on occasion by the Sanchez twins, Alek and JJ. But the defending Open Division runners up bring back every significant contributor and looked steady and unflappable in their 4-0 weekend with wins over La Costa Canyon, Corona Del Mar, Dougherty Valley and Santa Fe Christian. The last two wins were particularly impressive as JJ Sanchez - the Aztecs All CIF first team standout - did not play, yet the Aztecs were still able to manufacture enough offense to prevail.

Don't underestimate St. Augustine

It would be easy to dismiss the Saints' chances in the Open Division after graduating three starters and four of their top 7 contributors, taking into account what Montgomery and Carlsbad - their two chief contenders - bring back.

But two of those starters are All CIF guards Lolo Rudolph and Ian De La Rosa, and the third contributor is sophomore Jaden Bailes, a rising star in San Diego hoops.

That trio, combined with the improvement from such role players as juniors Johnny Stone and Manny Cortez and impressive freshmen Drew Parker and Anthony Etheridge (more on them later) will give Mike Haupt enough to work his magic once more.

The Saints split on their lone day, losing a nail biter against a Weston Ranch team that went undefeated on the weekend and hammering Dougherty Valley.

Death, Taxes and Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines has been the lone public school constant in San Diego's Open Division era, making the top division each of the first 10 years.

John Olive's crew benefits from a seemingly endless talent pool and an offense that maximizes the abilities of the team's role players. The 2023-24 Falcons group appears to be no different - but potentially deeper than the past two seasons.

The Falcons can go 10 deep with very little drop off, and players like 2025 G Cody Shen and 2024s Zach Jackson, Matin Madadkar, Dylan Kail and Max Zylicz are underrated next-level prospects who have taken big steps forward from year to year. Their sophomores, 6-2 G Zander Ovies and 6-4 W Tevaris Green, are poised for breakout seasons if not this year certainly in 24-25.

In a dominant win over San Diego, the Falcons improved perimeter shooting was on display as well as really good halfcourt defense that should make them formidable. In a league where all eyes will be on Carlsbad, the Falcons will relish the role of dark horse - for once.

Mission Bay's depth on display

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