Last weekend many of Arizona’s top prospects in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 classes traveled to the state of California to take part in the 2012 Double Pump Best Buy Challenge Hoop Fest. The event took place at four different locations with the headquarters of the event being hosted by Cal-State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA.
I was in attendance for Saturday and Sunday’s action at this weekend’s event and caught much of the action, including the final day’s championship games.
Here are the top individual sophomore performers from the state of Arizona from last weekend’s event.
2012 Double Pump Best Buy Challenge Hoop Fest Top Sophomore Performers
Casey Benson 6-2 SOPH PG Corona Del Sol HS
- Benson was the Tournament's Most Valuable Player from the 16U Division, as he led his Arizona Magic Pump N Run-2014 squad to the championship of this year's event. Benson was terrific in this year's event, as he flat out came of age - leading his team to several big wins in the event, including a nice 14-point win over the top-rated Oakland Soldiers. Benson has come into his own a great deal over the past year, and he grew up right before our eyes in this year's event. Benson made every big shot down the stretch, but also also provided unique leadership and veteran handle of the basketball in the event - making his teammates better and providing a refuse-to-lose attitude in the event. Has become one of the state's elite-level talents and will see his share of college recruitment at the highest level. Earned another scholarship offer for himself from the University of Colorado after the event, and already has offers from Arizona State and Boise State.
Zylan Cheatham 6-7 SOPH SF South Mountain HS
I have regarded Cheatham as a future big-time prospect, but in this year's event he put it all together much quicker than expected showcasing his superb athleticism, defensive ability and willingness to make sacrifices for his team to win. Cheatham is a high-energy, ultra-talented prospect with amazing upside as a player, and terrific work ethic. He will only continue to improve as a player a great deal over time, but his value as a lengthy wing prospect is a nice attribute that will have college coaches beating down his door over time. Very few wing prospects can control the game defensively as Cheatham can, and as he continues to improve as a player offensively, watch out. Another elite-high major division-I prospect in an already absolutely loaded 2014 class for Arizona. Earned an offer from Arizona State after this year's event, and serious interest from Cal, Boise State, Utah State and UC-Santa Barbara.
Connor MacDougall 6-9 SOPH PF/C Desert Vista HS
MacDougall had his coming-out-party, as did many of Arizona's top 2014 prospects, in last weekend's event. Considered a developing low-post prospect, MacDougall looked like that of a finished product in last weekend's event. A very good athlete for his size, MacDougall finished very strong around the basket and above the rim consistently against stiff competition. Outplayed each of the post prospects he was matched up against inside in the paint. He has developed his low post footwork and jump hook a great deal over the past year - now a threat to score each time he gets the basketball around the basket area. Runs the floor very well and has good hands. A good shotblocker. Still growing a great deal and should develop into a high-major division-I prospect over the next year. Receiving serious interest from Utah State and UC-Santa Barbara.
Tate De Laveaga 6-2 SOPH PG/SG Horizon HS
- De Laveaga is as tough as they come as a player his size and age. Does not back down from any match-up, De Laveaga's 18 first-half points were huge in his team's victory over the Oakland Soldiers in the event. A tenacious penetrator, Tate drives the basketball hard to the basket and is an excellent finisher for his size. Also a very good shooter with range on his shot. Has a nice mid-range game, which sets up his drives to the basket and scoring opportunities for his teammates. An aggressive defender that forces turnovers. A solid passer, but trys to make the big play sometimes when not needed. More focus on making players around him better will allow for him to continue to develop as a point guard. A very good ball handler that can get to anywhere he wants on the floor. Receiving serious mid-major division-I interest already since the event from Colgate, UC-Santa Barbara and Utah State.
Sam Jones 6-7 SOPH SG/SF Gilbert Christian HS
- Jones is among the best pure shooters of the basketball in the state - regardless of class. His size and length make him much more attractive than most shooters, since he is able to get his shot off easily over smaller defenders and moves very well with or without the basketball in his hands. Knocked down big shots in last weekend's event and proved that he has ice-water in his veigns, as he is a clutch shooter. Handles the basketball very well for his size and is a fundamentally sound prospect that has a very good feel for the game. As he continues to get stronger physically he will really see his game progress off the dribble, but he is a good finisher now that finishes well over bigger defenders. Active rebounder. Good team defender that needs to continue to focus more defensively to reach his full potential. Hearing from such division-I schools as Cal and St. Mary's.
Roberto Reyes 6-4 SOPH SG Gilbert Christian HS
- Reyes had himself a very good event, as he did everything to help his team win in the event. Whatever as needed of him, he provided it to make his team successful. A very good athlete, Reyes rebounded hard and showed excellent toughness as a player - playing much bigger than his size suggests. Finished strong at and around the basket. Has a very good mid-range game. Although he is not a big-time shooter, he shot a high percentage and made the shots he needed to last weekend to help his team win. A very good slasher and open court player. Excellent defender. A good ball handler and passer. A lesser known prospect that will continue to raise eyebrows with his play and become a solid mid-major division-I prospect.
Jordan Howard 5-10 SOPH PG Perry HS
- Howard proved his worth in this year's event as a strong, pure-point guard prospect that sees the floor very well and has an exceptional handle of the baskletball. Has a willingness to get others involved in the game and enjoys making players around him better, which he is able to do through looking for the open man on the floor at all times. When needed, Howard can score with the best of them as well - possessing a very good jump shot with range and a nice ability to score off the dribble. Made some big shots down the stretch last week, in helping his team win the tournament championship. An excellent defender with very good lateral quickness, forces turnovers and has quick hands. A nice point guard prospect with a great attitude and very good work ethic on and off the floor.