The Arizona Magic Elite 17U club team are having some serious success as of late, after a solid spring performance. After winning last weekend's Summer Sizzle 17U Tournament Championship at Mesquite High School, this depleted group of 7-Magic players have continued their strong play during the first NCAA evaluation period of the summer - advancing to the tournament final for second week in a row, but this time in the Pangos Summer Sweet 16 event in Los Angeles, CA.
The Magic reached the finals on Sunday @ 3PM (Sunday), after going undefeated in the event and overcoming several slow starts to win ball games, including two 1-point wins and a nice come-from-behind victory on Saturday evening over the Compton Magic Red in front of a nice crowd of college coaches.
The team has received some strong performances from each of their prospects in the event, but the team was led again in the tournament by the play of surging 6-foot-6 rising senior wing Elijah Thomas. Thomas was my recipient of the Surprise Player of the Spring, after he emerged during the spring evaluation period as a serious college prospect. Saturday evening was the true coming-out-party for Thomas, as many college coaches and media marveled at his abilities to handle the basketball and make the right plays for his team.
Thomas looks to now become one of the hottest sleeper prospects in the West, as Chris Karpman (Rivals) and Josh Gershon (Scout Hoops) both attended his game last evening.
6-foot-6 rising senior wing Chris Bowling is playing his best basketball of his young career right now, and also looks primed to gain some serious recruiting attention this July. While Bowling is very thin, he gets a lot done and is very skilled. Over time Bowling could be the steal of the class once he develops physically. Bowling showed excellent athleticism and also competed hard for rebounds and loose balls. Bowling is on a mission this July and a win on Sunday in the event could really benefit him the remainder of the summer.
No player or prospect has helped themselves more in this event this weekend than Apollo HS 5-foot-11 rising junior guard Holland "Boo-Boo" Woods. Woods is a big time ball handler and floor general that is beginning to look like a serious contender for the best pure point guard prospect in the 2017 class. Woods plays with superior confidence and enjoys getting into the lane and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. His superior handle allows him to get anywhere he wants to on the floor, and college coaches on Saturday were very impressed with his ability to handle the defensive intensity of opposing guards at the 17U level. Look for Woods to become one of the top returning guards in the West next year.
Woods' performance on Saturday was worthy of several scholarship offers, and I will not be surprised if that happens sooner than later after this event.
Dysart High School's 6-foot-10 rising senior post Malik Ondigo has really improved quickly, but he is playing on serious tendinitis in his knees in this event. As a result, Ondigo has struggled offensively at times, but his work ethic, defensive intensity and strong play on the glass has really benefited his team. While he still has a long way to go physically, he is getting very good and will only get better over time with physical maturity.
6-foot-7 wing Brandon Whitaker has tremendous upside as a player and would do great with a prep year, but he is a sure-fire young talent that impresses with his length and athleticism. He still has a lot of maturity ahead as well, but he is definitely making nice strides. Whitaker has played very well for this team and caught the attention Saturday of Texas-San Antonio and also Idaho State. I look for Whitaker to really benefit nicely from his performance this summer - picking up some serious recruiting interest.
The team also received strong play from Copper Canyon HS rising senior guard Terry Gates and Mesa Mountain View HS 6-foot-5 Zane Juwaiszas. Both players gave excellent depth and teamwork on both ends of the floor. Juwaiszas played strong on the glass and defensively, while Gates was excellent on the defensive end, and offensively in transition.
This Magic team will try to win their second event of the summer on Sunday, as they prepare for their next event - the Great American Shootout (GASO) in Texas next week. Winning this event would be huge for this group and also the state of Arizona, as the July evaluation period continues.
Notes: The Arizona Magic Elite 16U team finished strong in this event as well - losing in the semi-finals on Saturday, after going undefeated in the event and defeating another nationally ranked 16U squad on Saturday morning, the MOB Magic. The team would win the consolation championship this weekend with nice victory on Sunday. This Magic group has also had tremendous success this spring club season - winning both Pangos tournament championships in the spring.
This group plays hard and is led by rising junior post Nigel Shadd and Apollo HS 5-foot-11 rising junior guard Dre Marin. Marin has been on fire as of late, and scored 25 points in a team win on Saturday. The play of Marin and Shadd, who is one of the elite prospects in Arizona's 2017 class, has made this team very good and among the best 16U teams in the West.
This team has a very balanced attack, and received top performances this weekend from Mountain View HS 6-foot-8 rising junior forward Curtis Hodges, another nice talent for the future. Desert Vista HS 6-foot-9 rising sophomore post Steele Bennett is a member of the 2018 class, and this young prospect has the potential to develop into another prospect like that of former Sunnyslope HS superstar post Michael Humphrey. A very long and rangy post prospect, Bennett is still very young but exudes potential and size for the future.
The Magic also received strong performances from a very well-balanced attack on both ends of the floor Apollo HS 6-foot-2 rising junior Jeff Perez Jr., Apollo HS 6-foot-3 rising junior guard Elloheim Clark and Desert Vista 6-foot-4 rising sophomore wing Jaden Rollins.
Copper Canyon HS 6-foot rising junior guard Treyvon McCray, had an excellent event for himself and scored the basketball at a high rate off the dribble, while also displaying nice body control on strong drives to the basket. McCray is a very shifty guard prospect with a nice handle and feel for the game.
In the spring, after winning the Pangos Spring Spectacular event in Vegas, and also winning their second-consecutive 16U tournament title at the Pangos Sweet 16, this group received a #6 regional ranking in the West by Indihoops.com.