The boy's basketball landscape in Arizona has completely changed over the past (10) years, as prep schools have developed and taken over, in some respects. The initial development and tremendous success of Hillcrest Prep, has spurred the development of numerous other prep programs in the state. As a result, the game has now changed for high school basketball prospects in the state, who are flocking to different Arizona prep programs, in an attempt to gain maximum recruitment and exposure for themselves. While top-rated local prospects are drifting to the prep ranks, local Arizona prep programs also continue to bring in top-rated national talent consistently - growing the state's national basketball presence in the process.
In Part I of this story, we focused on Hillcrest Prep, Bella Vista Prep and Dream City Christian, but numerous other prep schools have now also emerged in the state, as well. Throughout this process, one program that has taken center stage and quickly emerged as one of the nation's consistently top prep programs is AZ Compass Prep. Located in Chandler, Arizona, AZ Compass developed from a local charter school, similar to Bella Vista Prep, into a national prep program that now competes on the very competitive and nationally evaluated Grind Session. AZ Compass' leadership committed their program to becoming a nationally recognized program more than (5) years ago, and has been highly successful doing just that, as the program has produced numerous Division-I prospects, since making the decision to go national.
AZ Compass Prep has also been a pioneer in Arizona prep basketball. While Hillcrest Prep was the first prep program to develop in the state and engineered prep basketball in Arizona, AZ Compass proved that other prep programs could also develop in the state, and make a significant impact in Arizona's basketball culture. The AZ Compass leadership's decision to invest significantly into their program, has also spurred the development of other programs in the state, and has helped many basketball prospects in the process.
Last season was AZ Compass' true breakout season, as the program had numerous Division-I prospects sign with strong Division-I programs, but the previous development of such national prospects as Both Gach (University of Minnesota transfer via University of Utah) and Chol Marial were almost epic.
Both Gach ventured to AZ Compass Prep as a senior from the state of Minnesota. While still an almost unknown prospect nationally and struggling academically, the AZ Compass Prep coaching staff and school's administration were able to develop Gach on the court and, most importantly, off the court academically. While it had been believed by many college coaches that it would be difficult for Gach to meet NCAA academic requirements, through the program's commitment to his future, Gach would raise his academic performance substantially in one academic year - qualifying academically and eventually becoming one of the top available 2019 prospects in the country. Gach would go on to sign with the University of Utah, and had an excellent freshman season in the PAC-12, before recently deciding to transfer to the University of Minnesota.
Chol Marial was once regarded as one of the nation's elite overall prospects and talents, but, as a result of numerous injuries, Marial almost fell off. After a junior season at Florida's IMG Academy, Marial decided to transfer to AZ Compass, as a result of his tremendous relationship with the program's Assistant Athletic Director, Pete Kaffey. Kaffey and the program's leadership would fully commit themselves to Marial's resurgence on the court, and also his development in the classroom. While no one believed that the well-traveled Marial could get it done academically, this young man would return to action during the season, but, more importantly, would qualify academically - meeting NCAA academic standards. Marial would eventually sign with the University of Maryland in the ACC. Marial is now prepared to enter his sophomore season at Maryland, and has a chance now at a better future for himself.
This season (2020-2021) AZ Compass Prep has grown a great deal, and will now have (2) different National Teams, and also a high school team that will compete in the Canyon Athletic Association's (CAA) Open Division. The program, behind the school's leadership and coaching staff of Head Coach Ed Gipson and Pete Kaffey, have and continue to reach new heights - making a way for desired student-athletes to have a future in the sport. AZ Compass is now regarded as one of the nation's top prep programs, and recently received a Top 20 Preseason prep program ranking by The Season Ticket.
This year's AZ Compass Prep team will be led by the talent of gifted 6-foot-4 senior guard Ty Ty Washington. Washington (pictured) is among the nation's top guard talents, although the lack of a Spring and Summer NCAA Evaluation Period hurt his chances of receiving a Top 100 national ranking. Either way, he is worthy of such a ranking, and has proven consistently that he is a prospect that can get it done at a high level against any player or team that he is matched up with. Washington has a long list of scholarship offers for himself, and will be another high-major Division-I prospect for the Compass Prep program.
We will continue Part III of this amazing story on Arizona Preps, so stay tuned.