It was an electric night on the campus of AZ Compass Prep Wednesday evening, as the top-rated Hillcrest Prep National Team faced AZ Compass Prep in front of a standing-room only crowd that was filled with fans, college coaches, scouts and media. In a contest that featured numerous top-rated prospects for both teams, Hillcrest Prep turned in a strong effort to defeat AZ Compass on their home floor, 104-95, in what was a very exciting affair.
The gym was filled with a who's who group of fans, which included numerous college coaches - UCLA assistant coach David Grace, University of Illinois assistant Ron Coleman, University of Utah Associate Head Coach Tommy Connor, University of New Mexico assistant Brandon Mason and Bucknell assistant coach Joe Meehan were all in attendance. The gymnasium also included top-rated national scout Jerry Mullen (Mullen Sports), Etop Udo-Ema (Compton Magic / Adidas Grassroots Rep), Gregg Rosenberg (Arizona Varsity), Michael Clark (AZ's Finest Mixtape) and Justin Vargas and Derek James (Arizona Preps), just to name a few.
The game was filled with anticipation and excitement as the two teams matched up for the first time this season. Hillcrest Prep has been the state's premier prep program since the program's origination, while AZ Compass is in their first season with a national team, and is coming off a big win over a talented Bella Vista Prep team.
After a close game early, Hillcrest Prep would build a nice 31-19 lead with 7 minutes left to play in the first half, behind strong play from star 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Kyree Walker (Arizona State commit), 6-foot-10 senior post KJ Hymes (University of Nevada signee) and 6-foot-3 unsigned senior guard Demarius Jacobs. The talented trio would then help Hillcrest Prep go on a 5-0 run in the next minute to build their lead to 36-19, before taking a nice 57-39 lead into halftime.
After a cold-shooting first half, AZ Compass Prep would fight back in the game's second half behind terrific shooting and play from 6-foot-3 unsigned senior guard Dwayne Walker. Walker would convert (3) consecutive three-pointers early in the second half to pull AZ Compass to within 10 points, 65-55.
With 11:55 left to play in the game, Walker would knock down another three-pointer to make the game very exciting and close, 70-65, still in Hillcrest's favor. After a three-pointer from 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Jalin Anderson, AZ Compass would pull to within 4-points of Hillcrest, 85-81.
But Hillcrest would then get a nice three-pointer from 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Jeron Artest to take back the game's momentum. Kyree Walker would take over the game down the stretch for Hillcrest, and lead Hillcrest Prep to the nice 104-95 road win.
Kyree Walker would finish with a game-high 31 points in the win, while Demarius Jacobs would pour in 29 points of his own.
Recruiting Notes: Hillcrest Prep 6-foot-3 unsigned senior guard Demarius Jacobs is one of the top unsigned guard prospects in the West. A native of Chicago, Jacobs advised me that he currently has offers from Illinois, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and Saint Louis. He told me that, while he does not have a clear leader in his college recruitment currently, he is nearing a college decision. He told me that the University of Illinois is currently recruiting him the hardest. University of Illinois assistant coach Ron Coleman made the trip to Arizona for the game and was in attendance . . .
AZ Compass Prep 6-foot-6 unsigned senior guard Both Gach is the state's top unsigned 2018 prospect, and is beginning to see his college recruitment heat up. University of Utah looks to be the clear leader in his college recruitment, and Associate Head Coach Tommy Connor was in attendance for the game to follow Gach. Many college programs have expressed interest as of late in Gach . . .
Hillcrest Prep 6-foot-10 senior post KJ Hymes (University of Nevada signee) looked very impressive in Wednesday's game, and has really improved this high school season. Hymes scored inside and out in the contest, and played very strong in the paint on the evening - showing improved strength and low-post footwork and post moves. Hymes will look to make an immediate impact next season in the college ranks for a strong Nevada program . . .
AZ Compass 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Jalin Anderson is a gifted young prospect in Arizona's talented 2020 class. Anderson has had a very strong season for his program, and has come up very big in every game I have seen him perform this season. While he does not possess an offer at this early point in his college recruitment, many schools are expressing interest. One college coach expressed to me that he felt Anderson was the best player on the floor in the game Wednesday evening. Look for many high-major programs to begin positioning themselves for Anderson over time . . .
Hillcrest Prep recently received a nice addition to their team when 6-foot-11 sophomore post Damion Bradford transferred to the program. Bradford is a very large post prospect with excellent size that takes up a lot of space inside the paint. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended Christian Brothers College High School, Bradford is an immediate high-major prospect in Arizona's already loaded 2020 class of prospects.