The 2013-2014 high school basketball season saw the emergence of numerous freshman prospects from the 2017 class that took center stage at the varsity high school basketball level. While there were many top performances from much older prospects this season, freshman prospects burst onto the recruiting scene after terrific seasons. Some performances by freshmen this season overshadowed the play of upperclassman prospects.
As a result of the many top-rated freshman prospects that emerged this season, the future in Arizona looks very bright. Here are some freshman prospects this season that emerged at the top of the 2017 class - a class which has quickly developed into a class of top-rated guard prospects for the high-major division-I level.
No other freshman prospect took center stage at the varsity level this season more than Perry High School's superb 5-foot-10, 155-pound freshman guard prospect Markus Howard. Howard joined forces this past season with his older brother, Jordan Howard (Central Arkansas signee) to make Perry one of the elite Division-I teams in the state this season. The combination of the Howard brothers combined to lead their Perry HS team to 26-6 overall record on the season, and a Division-I state semi-final playoff berth, as Markus Howard became one of the most difficult players to guard in the state this season. The highly skilled guard prospect led his team in scoring with a tremendous 23 points per/game scoring average, and pumped in numerous scoring outbursts throughout the season.
Howard has quickly developed into one of the state's most sought after high school prospects by college programs throughout the country, as such schools as Arizona, Arizona State and Grand Canyon are all in hot pursuit already, with loads of college programs soon to be on his trail. Howard is playing this spring and summer with a talented 17U team for the Arizona Power club program, and will look to become a household name in the state of Arizona over the next three years of high school competition. Howard was also selected as a First-Team All-State selection by the Arizona Republic newspaper this year.
The top scoring freshman prospect in the state this season was St. Mary's High School's 6-foot-1 freshman point guard Marcus Shaver, who just edged out Howard with 23.2 points per/game on the season. Both Howard and Shaver are unique talents and scoring machines from the guard position, although the St. Mary's Knights' team was not nearly as successful this season as Perry HS. The Knights finished with a 16-11 record on the season, while Shaver saw loads of defensive efforts designed to slow him down. No matter the defensive strategy, Shaver was a force on the basketball court and had his way with opposing teams - making him among the best young basketball prospects in the state after one season.
Shaver moved to the state of Arizona just a year ago from Hawaii, and exploded in his one season for head coach Ty Amundsen. Shaver did it all for his young group of Knights this season, also averaging 5.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals per/contest. The Knights will return numerous players next season from this year's roster, so this team should become a force to deal with quickly over the next three years. Currently, Shaver is playing very well on the spring and summer AAU/club circuit for his club program Team Bayless, a team sponsored by NBA player Jerryd Bayless. Shaver also recently played well in this year's Pangos All-American Camp.
Shaver is already receiving loads of college interest as well, including an offer already from UCLA, who looks to be in the early lead for the guard prospect
Another top-rated freshman prospect that is drawing loads of attention after his strong freshman campaign is three-time defending Division-I state champion, Corona Del Sol High School's 6-foot-1, 165-pound freshman point guard prospect Alex Barcello. The younger brother of Seton Catholic HS star post Julia Barcello, Alex was featured this high school season for an Aztecs team that took the state by storm this high school season - compiling a 34-1 overall record on the season. Corona's only loss on the season came at the hands of nationally ranked Findlay Prep HS (NV) - a game in which Barcello played extremely well against nationally rated upperclassman prospects.
While Barcello did not put up big scoring numbers this season like Howard and Shaver, since it was not possible on a much older and dominant team, he was an instrumental piece to the Aztecs' terrific championship season. As a result, Barcello will take over the Aztecs' attack next season and become a much more offensively productive performer for head coach Sam Duane Jr., as the team will lose a lot to graduation. Barcello will team up with 2015 stud Dane Kuiper and nationally acclaimed rising freshman prospect Marvin Bagley Jr. next season - looking to bring home another state title for the Corona basketball program.
Currently, Barcello and Shaver play together for the Team Bayless 16U group, and will compete together this summer.
There were also numerous other freshman prospects that emerged this high school season, as Desert Vista's gifted 6-foot-4 rising sophomore guard Caleb Simmons, Chaparral HS 5-foot-10 rising sophomore point guard Colten Kresl, Copper Canyon's Tre McCray, Queen Creek's Jaiyer Jinwright, Saguaro's Jake Lieppert and Gilbert Christian's Nate Graville round out our top group of 2017 prospects in the state.
These are the top prospects currently to look for in the state's 2017 class, with many more beginning to make a name for themselves this club season, in preparation for next high school season. The future looks very bright for this class of prospects and also for the state of Arizona's recruiting of these young prospects.