While we always talk about the top talents in Arizona basketball, one of the things that I enjoy most is discovering prospects in the state that have the potential to become serious players for the college level.
Arizona's 2013 class is definitely not a loaded class, like that of the 2014 class. Instead the class is filled with many good prospects for smaller college programs, which is the case for much of the state of Arizona's basketball prospects.
Another player in the class that has shown good promise for the collegiate level is new Desert Vista High School transfer, 6-foot-3, 175-pound rising senior combo-guard Avery Brunson. An unheralded talent among the state's rising senior class, Brunson is coming off his best high school season to date, and raised some eyebrows with his play this past high school season, although his team struggled to win games consistently.
His former high school, Marcos De Niza, finished with a dismal 5-19 overall record during the 2011-2012 high school basketball season - an enigmatic performance by a team that was very talented at the guard positions. Brunson definitely did his part last season in helping the team be very competitive each night - averaging a team-high 15.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per/game last season. Brunson shot 47% from the field last season and also 42% from three-point distance - nice percentages for himself.
Brunson was a nice bright spot for head coach David Stark last season, and should only continue to improve over time - setting himself up for an even bigger season next year for himself. But it won't be at Marcos De Niza next season, as Brunson has recently transferred schools and now will attend Desert Vista HS for his senior season, where he will lace up his shoes for head coach Dave Williams.
Brunson is a gifted talent with nice potential for the future as a college prospect. What makes him so intriguing is his ability to play both guard spots on the floor, while being able to shoot the basketball effectively and with range on his shot. I have seen Brunson make a series of shots from beyond the arc in succession and with a defender draped all over him. He can get, sometimes, too comfortable in shooting three-pointers rather than scoring off the dribble and getting himself into the lane, which he is able to do quite well.
Brunson has the potential to become a much better, well-rounded guard prospect over time, since he has the skillsets and the talent to do so. He is also a good defender that is capable of becoming a lock-down defender with more focus in this area of his game. If he can develop into a lock-down defender, and develop his mid-range game, this young man could have college programs taking a very hard look at him. His potential is there, he just needs to take the next step.
Last season, Brunson team up alongside talented guard prospects, 6-foot-4 senior Richaud Gittens and 6-foot-3 senior Devin White. Both Gittens and White have turned in strong performances on the spring club circuit, with Gittens reeling in several scholarship offers for himself after breakout performances this spring. These three guards would have made up the best trio of guards in the state next season, but with the transfer of Brunson and possibly Gittens next season will look much different for Marcos De Niza.
At Desert Vista, Brunson will now team up with fellow guard teammates, 6-foot-2 senior Kyle Pitman and 5-foot-8 senior point guard Greg Carter. Brunson will be back next season and look to capitalize on his strong junior season.
Currently, Brunson has played well on the club circuit at times and not at others, while traveling with his club program, the Arizona Magic Elite - coached by basketball gym rat Kenny Mullins. Brunson has come up very big in the games this off-season, and sometimes has disappeared. He simply needs to become more consistent to maximize his college recruitment this summer, his biggest summer of his young career.
Brunson will be a good prospect for a smaller college program now, but with a year of post-graduate work after high school, he could definitely take advantage of another year of development as a player. Whatever he decides to do in his college recruitment in the future, I love this young man's potential as a player. He just needs to run through the door and realize just how good he can be as a player.
I will continue to follow Brunson the remainder of this summer and, of course, next high school season. He is a very intriguing talent.