Arizona's 2022 Class of prospects is on another level, as the class is absolutely loaded with numerous prospects for college programs to take a hard look at. While we have already written about many of these talented performers in the group, Sunnyslope High School's strong and athletic 6-foot-7 rising junior forward Elijah Saunders is another elite prospect in the class. After transferring programs last season and having to sit out many of the season's early games, Saunders will return as a junior and look to go to another level.
As a freshman, Saunders attended Rancho Solano Prep in North Scottsdale, and, after emerging as one of the state's top young prospects, he decided to change locations and moved to a new destination. As a sophomore last season for a loaded Sunnyslope Vikings program, one of the elite programs in the state, Saunders looked to git into a team that was also young and very talented.
Last season, after missing numerous games due to the AIA Transfer Rules, Saunders would help lead the program to a 23-6 overall record in a tough 5A Division, that included Millennium High School and eventual 5A State Champion Ironwood HS. Saunders would average a mere 6 points and 3.8 rebounds per/game on the season with a very talented and deep group - numbers that I surely expect him to compound on a great deal as a full-time junior starter for Head Coach Ray Portela.
Saunders is one of the elite overall prospects in the class, even though his numbers last season do not show that. He is a big-time athletic talent with excellent size and physical strength, and has the body and potential to take his game to a complete new level over the next two seasons of high school basketball. Had there been an NCAA Evaluation Period this spring and summer (still not determined), Saunders would have been one prospect that would have raised many eyebrows with his size, athleticism and overall offensive skillset. He already possesses a college-ready body frame, and has bounce for his size that allows him to finish plays strong and high above the rim. A sure-fire stretch 4-man prospect that should develop into a mid-major plus Division-I prospect over the next (2) years of action.
Currently, Saunders has one offer to his credit from South Dakota, but over the next year, look for him to garner much more recruiting interest and round into one of top recruited prospects in the class - remember I said that. This is a prospect that is unlike many other prospects at his position in the West, as a result of his body, skill-set and pop off the floor.
Saunders will round out an amazing front-line next season for Sunnyslope, if there is a season due to the COVID pandemic. Saunders will team up with 6-foot-10 senior post Carson Basham (Pepperdine commit) and 6-foot-8 junior forward Grady Lewis when the 2020-2021 high school basketball season commences - giving Sunnyslope the most talented and imposing front-line in the state.
I will continue to follow Saunders closely over the next season, and look to bring you recruiting updates on him as they develop.