The 2012 ACCAC Junior College Jamboree took place on Saturday at Phoenix College and was hosted, once again, by Phoenix College head coach Matt Gordon, his basketball staff and his players. Once again, the event was very exciting as fans were able to catch a glimpse into each of the teams in the conference for the up-and-coming 2012-2013 season.
The Jamboree is always a highly anticipated event each year for the players and coaches of each of the teams in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC), as players compete at a high level in front of fans and, of course, college coaches. This year's event saw much less college coaches in attendance, since most college programs were busy with their own college teams and were unable to attend the event. Each year the event is held in the beginning of the month, and so this year's selection of a mid-month event caused for many college coaches to miss the event. Either way, the event was exciting and well organized by Gordon and his team.
This year's group of players in the conference was filled with many new faces, as each of the elite prospects from last season have moved on to four-year programs. The top returning sophomore prospect in the conference, Lestor Medford from Arizona Western JC, has decided to not play this season - instead deciding to attend classes at Pima JC and sit out the season in an attempt to improve his academic situation. Medford was in attendance for the event wearing a Pima JC t-shirt and supporting the Aztecs - a nice sight.
Without the addition of Medford this season, who would have been a definite high-major division-I recruit, the league is down in terms of high-major division-I prospects this season, but is absolutely loaded with low to mid-major division-I recruits and division-II and NAIA prospects. I will be featuring the top prospects from the ACCAC Juco Jamboree for the up-and-coming season in the next few days.
This season will be very well-balanced amongst the teams in the division, as there is no clear-cut favorite this season. While Arizona Western and Cochise College have both won the division more than any other program over the last 10 years, neither team looks to have a cake-walk this season. The league is highly competitive as almost every team in the division has improved from last season.
One team that has really improved from last season is Phoenix College. Head coach Matt Gordon and his staff does an excellent job each year of building their group for the next two seasons, as they have a loaded group of players for the current season and also players on the waiting list for the next year. This year's group at Phoenix College is loaded from top to bottom, and they look to be the favorite this season to win the Division-II title in the conference, after finishing runner-up last season. Phoenix College has been in contention for the title each year under Gordon's leadership and this year will be no different.
Another team that will be much improved this season will be Glendale JC. Led by new first-year head coach Damin Lopez, a local native and also a former division-I assistant coach from Pepperdine University, has organized a group of talented prospects this season that will be very athletic and defensive-minded and will push the basketball on every possession. Houston Baptist division-I transfer, 6-foot-5 sophomore wing Ronald March, could be the best prospect in the conference this season and should lead the conference in scoring this season. The silky-smooth wing prospect can get his shot whenever he wants to and is able to score at a very high rate and easy. Look for the Gauchos to compete at a high level this season.
Both Phoenix College and Glendale JC won both of their games on Saturday.
Among division-I programs in the conference this season, Arizona Western, Central Arizona, Cochise, Mesa and Eastern Arizona will each fight it out for the right to win the 2013 Conference Championship. Arizona Western and Central Arizona look to be my pre-season favorites to win the conference championship, as both teams looked to be loaded with talented prospects. But you can't count out Cochise JC and head coach Jerry Carillo. Cochise won both of their games on Saturday and will compete hard on both ends as always under the leadership of Carrillo. Carrillo will keep his team in every game this season, and do not be surprised if this year's group, while less talented from last year, comes up big by season's end.
Arizona Western is loaded with talent at every position again this year, and while head coach Charles Harral lost the services of Medford for the season, his team is still absolutely loaded and will be led by the strong play of superb 5-foot-10 sophomore point guard Marvin Whitt. 5-foot-11 sophomore combo-guard Aaseem Dixon will also be big for the Matadors this season - giving AWC the best backcourt in the conference. If the Matadors can get consistent production from their frontcourt this season and from their bench, look for Arizona Western to win it all.
Head coach Jordan Dreiling has Central Arizona back and loaded again with talented and athletic prospects at every position. CAC is very gifted at every position, although their bench is not particularly deep. A pair of freshman frontcourt prospects, 6-foot-7, 230-pound freshman Herve Aholode and 6-foot-6, 215-pound freshman Caleb Carter are the best low post duo in the conference and will be tough to match-up with this season. CAC is the most athletic group in the conference.
Mesa and Eastern Arizona are both very talented teams as well and both teams could win it all as well. Mesa JC 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Christian Griggs-Williams is the best returning prospect in the conference this season and will put up big numbers this season for a very well coached Mesa group, while Eastern has a nice group of talented prospects that will need to play consistent and with intensity for 40 minutes to be successful this season.
Three other teams that will be very improved this season include Scottsdale, Pima and Tonoho O'odham JC. Scottsdale has it's best chance to win since the arrival of head coach Will Worosylla. Pima will be in every game and will compete every night, led by the play of talented 6-foot-2 freshman guard Ravonte Kight. Tonoho is much improved and now will have the supporting cast to compete in the conference. Each team looks to have regrouped nicely from a year ago and will be very competitive this season.
South Mountain JC will be down from last year's conference championship, but will be tough again and will also have one of the conference's best backcourts, led by the play of four guards - 5-foot-10 sophomore Johnell Thompson, high-scoring 6-foot freshman guard Jalen Broom, crafty 6-foot-2 freshman Grant Ellender and 6-foot-2 sharp-shooting sophomore guard Josh Eaves.
Chandler-Gilbert will round out the conference's team for this season, but will have to compete at their highest level to compete with the conference's top teams this season.
Stay tuned for my selections for this weekend's top performers from the 2012 ACCAC Juco Jamboree.