Arizona Preps recently announced our NEW partnership with Zipps Sports Grill in Arizona. The local growing chain of Sports Restaurants has partnered with Arizona Preps to provide awards and scholarship opportunities for Arizona's top boys and girls student-athletes throughout the state each month.
Zipps Sports Grill is one of the state's premier and most popular sports grills, and combines homemade food, friendly service and drinks, with top-notch entertainment in your neighborhood. The chain has (14) different locations in the valley, and we encourage the entire Arizona basketball community to visit their locations today!
Zipps is supporting the Arizona High School basketball community a great deal, as they are working with Arizona Preps to create Player of the Month and Player of the Year awards for boys and girls high school basketball players in the state. The awards are decided by the Arizona Preps' staff, and are mailed each month to the recipients of the award. The awards will include food at the Zipps' locations.
Zipps was also a major sponsor for last year's 22nd Annual Arizona Preps Fall Showcase, which was loaded with many of the state's top high school varsity and prep programs.
Our next selections for the award and final selections from the COVID-19-stricken 2021 high school basketball season include our selections for Players of the Year (boys and girls) for the 2021 season. Our selections for this exciting annual award include our Player of the Year for Prep or National High School programs, and also our selection for AIA and CAA High School programs - two different awards.
Our staff's selection for the Player of the Year among National and Prep programs in the state was a very easy one to make, as our recipient for this year's annual award is AZ Compass Prep's superstar 6-foot-4 senior guard Ty Ty Washington. Washington would have been the Player of the Year for any classification in Arizona this year, and even could be the Player of the Year in America this high school season. No student-athlete in America did more for their program this high school/prep season than Washington, and no other prospect in the state's history has seen such a dramatic rise in their national player ranking in one high school season ever. Washington went from an almost unranked prospect before he entered AZ Compass Prep early in his junior season (2019), and and is leaving as the #12 overall ranked prospect in America's 2021 Class by ESPN! This is an unheard of occurrence, especially for prospects in the West and, especially Arizona - a state that rarely has Top 20 nationally ranked prospects.
Washington was absolutely unstoppable all season long and had one of the very best individual seasons in Arizona history - leading AZ Compass to a #1 national ranking during the season, and a National Championship on The Grind Session. Washington led AZ Compass to the GEICO Nationals on ESPN, where he showcased his talents on national television, and came up just short of leading AZ Compass Prep to a National Championship.
Washington is hottest unsigned prospect in America currently, after he recently decided to de-commit from Creighton University and re-open his college recruitment. Currently, Washington had loads of Division-I offers for himself and is considering (6) different college programs among his final list of schools - Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Arizona, LSU and Oregon.
Washington is a superb talent with excellent size as a combo-guard. He is very skilled off the dribble and can create a shot for himself, almost at will. He gets to the basket very easily and can create shots for himself or his teammates, when he decides to make things happen off the dribble - making it very difficult for opposing defenders to stop him or even slow him down. He is also a pure shooter of the basketball with amazing range on his shot. An excellent ball handler and passer, Washington is a pure point guard and floor general that sees plays before they happen. He is a rare find among today's guards. Washington is a winner and makes players around him better. He makes the game look easy and is a unique find among today's guards, as he is very unassuming but is an absolute killer on the basketball court. He loves the game and enjoys making players around him better - a lost art today.
It will be very interesting now to see where Washington ultimately lands for college. Washington, who was snubbed by the McDonald's All-American committee for the 2021 McDonald's All-American Team, still has proven his value as a Top 20 National Prospect and a future pro. This young man is a true legendary talent and gave me and our staff something to absolutely cheer for this high school season. Thank you Ty Ty for all you have done for Arizona basketball, and I personally wish him the very best in his future, as I am a tremendous fan of his - as a player and as a person.
Our staff's selection for the Player of the Year among Arizona high school programs in the state (AIA and CAA) is Sunnyslope High School's ultra-athletic 5-foot-11 junior guard Oakland Fort. Fort is coming off a terrific junior season where he led his Sunnyslope High School program to this year's big 6A State Championship, after Sunnyslope moved up to 6A this season, after being in the 5A Division last season. A very unheralded prospect as a sophomore in the state, Fort took his game and his team to another level as a junior, becoming almost unguardable for opposing teams and defenders in Arizona.
Fort averaged strong numbers as a junior prospect with 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per/contest, while leading Sunnyslope to an almost perfect season with a 21-1 overall record. Fort was a match-up nightmare for opposing teams and coaches this high school season. Fort's strong performance also led Sunnyslope to hand 4A State Champion St. Mary's High School (21-1) their only loss of the high school season.
While I felt Fort was one of the best sleeper prospects in Arizona's 2022 Class last spring and summer (2020), he is no longer a sleeper prospect, as his performance on national television on ESPN in a big win over Mater Dei High School (CA), showcased his superior NBA athleticism and advanced overall skillset. Fort is as quick and explosive a guard prospect as there is in the West, regardless of class. He has significant bounce and lift off the floor, and plays at a high speed on both ends of the floor - glaring attributes for him as a college prospect.
Currently, Fort still only has one offer to his credit from Northern Arizona, but many schools are now in pursuit and evaluating him closely. He has really suffered in his current college recruitment due to the COVID restrictions, as many people have not yet seen him up close in competition, but I expect his college recruitment to really soar this summer, as Division-I coaches get back on the road.
Fort is a pass-first point guard prospect, that enjoys getting his teammates the basketball and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. He is also a proven scorer as well, as evidenced by his outburst against Mater Dei, but it is not his focus. He is a good shooter with excellent range on his shot, but he needs to continue to look for his shot much more to maximize his scoring ability. He is an ultra-quick ball handler and passer, that pushes the ball up the court as much as possible. He enjoys playing in an up-and-down, fast tempo-paced game, where he is very difficult to defend and slow down. Fort is also an excellent on-the-ball defender, capable of becoming a lock-down defender at the collegiate level. He also plays passing lanes effectively, and applies excellent pressure on opposing guards.
Fort is one prospect that should blow up this summer in his college recruitment, and land some big offers for himself, as he is now playing with the Compton Magic (CA) for the spring and summer. Fort had a terrific junior season, and will be back next year for an even better senior season.
Congratulations to both of these two young men on their terrific seasons and performances in 2021, and for being our selections for Player(s) of the Year from our Arizona Preps' staff.