As if his senior season had not already been good enough, the 2011-2012 season just got much better for Phoenix Country Day High School's 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior forward AJ Hess.
After leading his high school program to an impressive 31-5 record this season and also to the Division-IV State Championship, after a blowout, 49-29 championship victory over Arizona Lutheran, Hess would reel in a great honor at the end of the high school season. Last week, Hess was selected to the Arizona Republic All-Arizona Team - a prestigious honor for Arizona high school basketball players in the state for many years.
Joining Hess on the team were four other division-I talents - Kenny Martin (Arizona State signee), Calaen Robinson (Arizona State signee), Tim Derksen (University of San Francisco signee) and Dewayne Russell (a former commit to USC). While each of the other four selections for the team are headed to the division-I level, with Russell yet to make his decision on a school, Hess now also looks to be headed that route as well.
After averaging 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals per/game this season, Hess showcased his ability to play at a high level amidst defenses all season long designed to slow him down.
Hess, like many other unsigned Arizona senior prospects in the state, did not compete for a high-profile club program in the off-season, and because he plays in the state's smallest division among high school programs, Hess was not a household name - until recently when his name and picture were blasted in the Arizona Republic newspaper throughout the state.
As of late, college coaches have began to take serious notice at Hess as well, as many low to mid-major diviion-I schools are now expressing interest in the talented wing prospect. Such schools as UC-Riverside, Cal-State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, UC-Davis and many others are now looking to get involved.
Hess developed a lot this off-season while playing for his club program - Team Metro, where he learned a lot from former professional basketball player Eric Gray.
Gray advised me last summer that he felt that Hess could play with anybody and was an big-time underrated prospect. Gray was definitely correct.
It will be very interesting to see just where Hess will land this spring, as he is a nice talent with some upside. While he played in the state's smaller division this season, he proved last spring and summer that he has no problems competing against the state's best.
Hess is also an excellent student and is a full academic qualifier already.
Arizona Preps will continue to follow the recruitment of Hess this spring and bring you any updates as they develop.
Arizona Hoop Review Scouting Report: Hess is among the state's best sleeper prospects. Since he has played his high school basketball in a smaller division, very few college coahces have had an opportunity to see him play. A nice athletic wing prospect, Hess will definitely see his time at the wing position in college, although he excelled in high school as a 3/4. Hess has very good athleticism for his size and is capable of making plays for himself or others. He is a very good finisher in the open floor and also can slash. He has a nice shooting stroke from the perimeter with range and has a good overall handle of the basketball. Does not shy away from competition and likes to make the big play for his team. A versatile prospect, Hess can score inside as well and has good footwork around the basket, where he is very crafty and has a variety of low post moves, which make him an effective scorer around the basket. Will need to continue to improve his ball handling to excell on the wing at the next level. A good rebounder now, Hess will need to bulk up physically to handle the rigors of division-I basketball, but his frame can handle it. A solid defender, but he will also need to improve his footspeed laterally to stay with quicker players. Plays the passing lanes. A good team defender now. Good passer that sees the floor. Has some upside. Very good work ethic and a great attitude on and off the floor.