Wednesday evening was a busy night around the state for boy's basketball as the state playoffs began for the 6A, 5A, 4A and 3A Divisions. While first round match-ups are often not the most competitive games, I decided to attend what I thought might be the most exciting match-up for the first round - Cesar Chavez hosting Chandler High School.
Cesar Chavez (23-4) has been excellent this season, once again, as they are absolutely loaded with athletic basketball talent and may be the most talented team in the state. No team has what Chavez has, as they literally have (5) different potential divison-I prospects in their starting lineup. While these young men are not each currently being recruited by division-I schools, each of them have the size, ability and/or skillset to either play at that level or develop into division-I prospects over time.
Chandler High School (13-15) has been a major enigma this high school season - playing up and down and dropping numerous games that had me baffled. While possessing one of the elite overall prospects in the state in 6-foot-6 junior wing Tevian Jones, the team failed to have a winning season and did not reach or meet their expectations on the season.
Both teams though would make for a very exciting and also intriguing match-up, as both teams are very athletic and play fast. On paper, this match-up would make for an exciting contest from start to finish, and it would not disappoint.
Both teams would go into the second half tied at 40 all, even though Cesar Chavez would jump out to a nice lead in the first half. Chandler though would come back late in the first half to tie the score. Tevian Jones would play very well in the first half and help his team keep pace with a much more talented and gifted Cesar Chavez team.
In the third period, the strong and steady backcourt of 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior guard Mike Rogers and 6-foot-1 senior guard Donald Carter would ignite the offense for Chavez, while 6-foot-4 senior wing Malik Porter (pictured) would explode on both ends othe floor to ignite the crowd with numerous breath-taking layups, finishes and defensive plays.
Chavez would open up their lead in the game's fourth period with 5:11 left to play in the game, after a nice driving layup from Mike Rogers would put Chavez ahead 66-57.
Tevian Jones would keep Chandler close with consecutive baskets - a step-back jumper from mid-range and a floater in the lane, but that would not be enough for Chandler to keep pace with Chavez. The trio combination of Porter, Rogers and Carter would close this one out in fine fashion, as Porter would throw down a monster two-handed dunk in traffic, then catch a nice alley-oop pass from Carter for another two-handed alley-oop dunk, which would bring the house down. Mike Rogers would then get into the act with a nice two-handed dunk on the break of his own, before another strong two-handed throw down from Porter.
Cesar Chavez would go on to end Chandler's season with a big 86-72 victory. Chavez will now advance to the second round on Saturday, when they will face a talented Pinnacle HS team that is led by superb freshman guard Nico Mannion.
Recruiting Notes: Malik Porter is one of the state's top available unsigned prospects. The state's most athletic individual talent, Porter has NBA athleticism and very quick lift off the floor, where he is able to finish high above the rim on a vertical jump and in traffic. He is able to catch passes from almost anywhere on the floor and finish high-wire act dunks over defenders. He possesses a long, lengthy frame which allows him to play much bigger than his size suggests, and is an excellent defender that blocks shots like that of NBA superstar Lebron James.
Porter is a very much unheralded prospect that has flown excessively well below the recruiting radar for some time, but that will soon change as the spring progresses. It is still unclear as to whether he will qualify academically, since he still needs to take the SAT/ACT college entrance exam. If he decides to go the juco route, this young man will become a hot commodity this spring for many junior college programs across America . . .
Junior guard Mike Rogers has advised me that he will focus on basketball for college. A two-sport stud that also is a big-time running back in football, Rogers is a big and wide point guard prospect that loves to have the basketball in his hands and is excellent making plays off the dribble for himself or others. He is very shifty and moves very quick for his size. A native of New York, Rogers is fundamentally sound and has excellent potential as a mid-major division-I college prospect. There is really not a better point guard in Arizona's 2018 Class currently, so Rogers could have a big spring and summer for himself with college coaches - especially if he can continue to trim down and become even quicker off the dribble.