After spending a week on the other side of the country last week, I spent this week driving all over Southern California between two big-time July exposure events – the Double Pump Best of Summer and the Fullcourt Press Cream of the Crop tournaments. With both events taking place at the same time, and with a large number of teams participating in both events, I had my work cut out for me covering the Arizona club programs in participation.
After spending a lot of gas and time running back and forth from gym to gym and getting very little rest, I was able to catch a glimpse of many of Arizona’s prospects in both events.
The Fullcourt Press tournament was also a nice event, hosted at two different venues – Cabrillo High School and also the MAP Sports Complex in Southern California. Much of the younger teams played at the MAP facility, while the elite teams competed at Cabrillo HS. There were many exciting performances throughout the weekend and a large number of college coaches in attendance, as the Arizona Magic Elite coached by Kenny Mullins advanced to the Elite 8 of the event's 17U Elite Division, while the Arizona Ambassadors won this year's 15U Division Championship.
Here are the top individual performers that I was able to watch from last week and the weekend’s action at the Fullcourt Press Cream of the Crop tournament …
Jaron Hopkins 6-5 SR SG Dobson HS (2013)
- Dobson High School 6-foot-5 rising senior transfer Jaron Hopkins is coming off an excellent showing at the previous week’s Adidas Invitational in Indiana. At last week's Cream of the Crop event, Hopkins again ranked among the top individual scorers in the event and showcased his superb athleticism and versatility. Hopkins continues to show his guard skill-sets, as he plays on the perimeter and thrives in the open floor. Hopkins team was defeated on Saturday late evening, but he was the best prospect and player on the floor in the loss. Already possessing numerous scholarship offers on the table for himself, Hopkins was tracked in the event by college coaches from such schools as Arizona, UCLA, USC, Colorado and Oregon. He advised me that he plans to sign in the fall.
Paul Watson 6-6 SR SF Paradise Valley HS (2013)
- After a very lackluster performance in the spring, Watson returned to have his best performance of the off-season in last week's event. Watson showed his athleticism and versatility as a player, and also showed a much better motor while leading his Compton Magic program to a strong finish in the event. Was among the best individual talents in this weekend's event. Showed a good overall skill level and an ability to make plays off th dribble. Receiving serious interest from college programs all over the board - from mid-major to high-major. Watson will need to continue his strong play to raise his recruiting stock back to the level it was heading into the spring.
Gary Williams 6-5 Unsigned Prep PG/SF Westwind Prep International - (2012)
- Still an unsigned prospect since he has not qualified academically yet, Williams advised me that he could be cleared as early as this week by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Williams put on a show in this weekend's event, similar to the And-1 Mixtape, as he handled the basketball with perfection and made no look passes to open players on the floor. Got to the basket almost at will and was tough to defend with the basketball in his hands. Also shot the basketball very well from the perimeter - a nice thing for him this weekend, which made him very tough to stop off the dribble. Rebounded hard and left it all on the floor at the end. Has an excellent body with very good size and is able to play multiple positions on the floor. A very good defender. Good athlete that attacks the basket with vigor. Among the best sleeper prospects still available this late. Received serious interest this weekend from Texas-San Antonio, New Mexico, Idaho State and Portland State. If he does not qualify academically, juco power Indian Hills JC will look to be the school of choice.
John Azzinaro 5-10 SR PG Brennan HS (TX) - (2013)
- This was my first glimpse of Azzinaro since last summer and he has taken his game to an entirely new level. The talented point guard prospect led his Arizona Magic Elite team to an Elite 8 finish this weekend and was terrific in his ability to handle the basketball, makes plays for himself and others, make shots with defenders draped all over him and get into the lane and finish. While small in stature, Azzinaro makes up for his lack of size with quickness and a high basketball IQ. He is a joy to watch play and has a great smile. Azzinaro already holds offers from such programs as Rice, Bucknell and UC-Davis, but after this weekend's performance, Azzinaro is worthy of much more college recruitment. Had a big-time showing in this weekend's event and is among the best smaller point guard prospects in the West.
Dorian Pickens 6-5 JR SG/SF Pinnacle HS - (2014)
- Pickens looked terrific this weekend in leading his Arizona Stars team to several big wins in the event, before falling to the Arizona Magic Elite on Saturday evening in what was referred to by tournament director Dinos Trigonis as the "civil war" - featuring the state of Arizona's top two club programs over the past 15 years. Pickens plays very smooth and is able to get off against any competition, while making his teammates much better than they are. Pickens is a high-level talent that makes shots with ease and with excellent range. Showed off a variety of floaters in traffic and is as fundamentally sound a prospect as there is in the 2014 class nationally. Not overly athletic, Pickens is able to compete on the ground rather than in the air and does it nicely. Loads of college coaches were in attendance to watch Pickens perform throughout the weekend, including Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State, among many others.
Andre Adams 6-8 JR SF/PF Westview HS (2014)
- This weekend, Adams took his game to another level. While playing on a bad ankle, Adams returned to action and looked as if he had no injury at all. He ran the floor consistently without stopping, in what seemed like the entire game – blocking loads of shots, rebounding outside of his area and scoring effectively around the floor. Adams showed superior length and athleticism and looked every bit like an elite high-major prospect – developing as much as any other player in the state since the end to the high school season. Adams has the best individual motor that I have seen for a player in the past 10 years in the state, and it showed on Friday in front of several college coaches in attendance. Oregon State assistant coach David Grace and UNLV assistant coach Justin Hudson were both in attendance for Adams’ performance on Friday, and now both programs are in hot pursuit of the talented 2014 prospect. An almost unknown prospect before the beginning of the 2012 aau/club season, Adams has now emerged as one of the elite young prospects in the West, and definitely within the state’s loaded 2014 class. Adams has blossomed quickly and has a tremendous upside for the future.
TK Edogi 6-7 Prep PF Westwind Prep International (2013)
- Still developing as a player, Edogi is a high-energy athletic talent that competes hard and attacks the rim with vigor. He has explosive athleticism for his size and plays well above the rim – an excellent finisher. Also a very effective rebounder on both ends of the floor, Edogi rebounds the basketball at it’s apex in the air and rebounds outside of his area very well. Very active. Still raw somewhat offensively. Likes to score around the basket with a variety of floaters and jump hooks. Also a solid mid-range shooter. He will need to improve his range on his shot, but can be very effective, depending on the level he lands at collegiately. He runs the floor very well and with great energy. A very good looking sleeper prospect for any mid-major division-I program after a year of prep school.
Joe Boyd 6-7 SR PF Chaparral HS (2013)
- After a strong performance in the previous week's Reebok Breakout Camp, Chaparral HS 6-foot-7 rising senior post Joe Boyd was not as good in this weekend's event, but he still showed good toughness and possesses a nice body and overall skill-set. A solid overall prospect. Receiving his best interest currently from New Mexico State and Drake University.
Richaud Gittens 6-4 SR SF Marcos De Niza HS (2013)
- Gittens has developed into one of the better prospects in the state of Arizona this off-season and he started off last week's event with a bang, as his Arizona Stars team was rolling through the competition. Gittens disappeared a bit in his team's loss in the tournament, but he is a very nice athletic talent for a mid-major college program. A left-handed athletic talent, Gittens thrives in the open floor and finishes well above the rim and over defenders when he is at his best. Still developing his perimeter shot, Gittens is a very good slasher and open court player. Currently has numerous division-I offers for himself, while Weber State looks to be showing the most interest.
Chris Miller 6-3 SR PG/SG Greenway HS (2013)
- Miller is coming off a big junior season where he put up big numbers. His spring performance were up and down, but his overall skill level and ability to play the game serves him nicely. Had a strong weekend for himself, although his team struggled in the event. An athletic guard prospect that can create for himself or others off the dribble. Solid shooter. Generating serious interest from several division-I programs, including Cal State Northridge and UC-Davis.
AJ Hess 6-6 Unsigned SR Phoenix Country Day HS (2012)
- It was reported that Hess verbally committed to Colorado College in the spring, but he has re-opened his college recruitment, and as a result, is now hearing from several division-I programs. Hess is an athletic and skilled wing prospect that makes shots. A good overall talent. Hearing from numerous division-I programs at many different levels, including Utah and Idaho State.
Jonathan Wilson 6-7 SR SF/PF Independence HS (2013)
- Wilson is still a work in progress but has developed a great deal over the past year, and is a very intriguing prospect that most college coaches still do not know much about, but should garner very good attention this summer. Wilson is coming off a very good performance for himself in the spring, where he showcased his superior athleticism in club competition. Wilson’s best physical attribute as a college prospect is his athleticism and excellent length, allowing him to finish plays around the basket and play much bigger than his size suggests. Had one of the best dunks in this weekend's event over Florence HS post Jeremy Verhagen. He is still raw offensively though, and is still developing his ability to score consistently away from the basket. His best asset as a player is his ability to defend and block shots, which he does very well. Wilson is currently receiving serious interest from Weber State, Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Idaho State.
Keegan Hansen 6-2 SR PG/SG Shadow Mountain HS (2013)
- Hansen is a lesser known name among basketball enthusiasts in the state, but he has proven himself, while soaring under the recruiting radar, as one of the top guard prospects in the class. A native of Nebraska, where Hansen competed regularly on the club circuit, he impressed me a great deal with his ability to shoot the basketball and with excellent range on his shot again last week and weekend - carrying his team to the semi-finals of the Silver Division in the tournament. He also showed excellent toughness as a player and a serious competitive spirit that sets him apart from the competition. Hansen is capable of playing both guard spots on the floor, and is a very good handler and sees the floor very well - looking for the open teammate. Currently hearing from several schools in the IVY League, including Colgate and Yale.
Ryan Berg 6-2 SR SG Saguaro HS (2013)
- Berg was among the top individual scorers in last week's event. Put up 31 and 27 points in back-to-back games for his team in the tournament. While he isn't attractive physically, Berg gets a lot done since he is among the best pure shooters of the basketball in the West. An excellent shooter with unlimited range. Solid team defender although not very athletic. Will have a big senior season. Still receiving some interest from Northern Arizona and a number of smaller college programs.
Jalen Jenkins 6-4 SOPH SG/SF Mesa HS (2015)
- The state's top prospect in Arizona's 2015 class. Jenkins led his club program, the Arizona Ambassadors, to the championship of last week's 15U Division. Jenkins is a high energy, athletic talent that competes at a high level and makes plays. A left hander, Jenkins is tough to defend as a result of his tremendous motor. An excellent slasher and open court player. An active rebounder and shotblocker. Has a bright future ahead of him.
Marquez Jackson 6-6 Unsigned SR PF Fairfax HS (2012)
- Jackson is the state's most athletic talent, regardless of class, although he is still very raw offensively. Plays well above the rim and has an excellent motor. Needs a lot of work on his ability to make plays for himself, but his activity around the glass allows him to score without the basketball in his hands. A very good offensive rebounder. Thrives as a slasher and open court player. Arizona Stars head coach Robert Arvisu advised me that Eastern New Mexico and Central Connecticut State are both showing serious interest as of late in Jackson.
Aaren Edmead 5-9 JR PG Deer Park HS (NY) – (2014)
- Edmead played his best basketball this weekend, in leading his Arizona Magic Elite 16U squad in the event. Showed a strong handle of the basketball, an excellent ability to penetrate and finish and also make shots from almost anywhere on the floor. Put his team on his back in the late stages of a narrow loss to the Arizona Rebels Elite 17U. Excellent passer and floor general. Tough defender with excellent lateral quickness. Among the top guard prospects in Long Island, New York, while his family also has a home in Arizona.
Kyle Pitman 6-3 SR SG Desert Vista HS (2013)
- Pitman has proved that he is among the state’s top guard prospects in Arizona’s 2013 class this off-season, and this weekend was his best performance as he knocked down numerous three-point bombs, and with consistency. Helped lead his team to a strong finish in the event. Pitman is an athletic guard prospect that is at his best shooting the basketball from the standstill position. He is an excellent shooter with range and has deceiving athleticism for his size. He is also a good ball handler and passer, allowing him to play both guard positions, but the shooting guard is his natural position as a player. Pitman is receiving loads of interest from smaller college programs currently.