Day one of this year’s exciting Southwest Showcase Main Event actually began on Friday evening, but since there were only a couple of games taking place on the evening, we will call Saturday’s full day of action day one of this year’s event. Organized by Tournament Director Ron Coleman, this year’s Main Event has become the kick-off for the club season in the state of Arizona – filled with hundreds of teams for boys and girls at every age group.
This year’s event seems to be the best ever, as the excitement filled the air before and during the tournament by basketball enthusiasts in the state – looking to catch a glimpse of the state’s top club programs and players in competition with one another.
I was able to catch most of the boy's action on the day, as I spent more than 10 hours in the gym on Saturday – a very long day of basketball. First of all, the cat is out of the bag as it is widely now recognized that there are two club programs that have dominated the state in terms of size and number of talented basketball prospects. The Arizona Magic and Arizona Power club basketball programs have grown to become tremendous in their number of teams that make up their programs. On Saturday, almost every boys basketball game held on one of the four courts at Avondale Sports Complex included either a team or multiple teams from either the Magic or the Power organizations. Both programs have more than 20 total boys teams for their organizations - an immense number of teams for an Arizona club basketball program. This kind of dominance in the state reminds the select number of basketball enthusiasts in the state that have been in the game long enough of the former rivalry between the Arizona Stars and the Arizona Heat in the mid-1990's.
While the Stars and the Heat both began at similar times in the 90's, the length of time between the Magic and the Stars is much different. The Arizona Magic has been around now for almost 16 years, while the Arizona Power is now entering their second full season of club basketball in the state. There is a huge difference in the length of time of operation by both organizations, but that is not telling of the developing rivalry between the two programs. Both programs have done an excellent job of comprising opportunities for Arizona's youth and are doing their part in raising the level of basketball in the state - both now for boys and girls basketball.
With a rivalry now developing between the two colossal programs, the game of the day featured the Arizona Power's top 16U team and the Arizona Magic Pump N' Run 16U team - one of the Magic organization's top 16U teams. The two teams faced off with one another in the final game of the day in an enjoyable match-up for high school basketball fans in the state. With heightened intensity for the game and a lot riding on the game for the players and fans in attendance, the two programs turned in the top game of the tournament. The Arizona Magic 16U team would pull out a narrow victory in the game, led by the strong play of Brophy Prep 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Brock Brunkhorst, Pinnacle HS 6-foot-7 sophomore post A.J. Elliot, 6-foot-5 freshman guard/forward Justice Sueing of Westview HS and 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Jacob Nicolds (pictured). While Brunkhorst would convert numerous shots for the Magic down the stretch and would play his best game of his young high school career, Sueing and Elliot would come up big for their team - making big shots and showing excellent toughness.
Jacob Nicolds had a coming-out-party for himself in the game, as the tough and gritty forward prospect showed superior toughness and aggravated the Power players with his in-your-face defensive effort. Nicolds is a prospect that does not need the basketball and makes plays for himself and others through sheer effort and hard work. He is a winner as a result of his willingness to do the dirty work on the floor, and accept challenges. Nicolds is the younger brother of Gilbert HS talented senior prospect Spencer Nicolds, but this young man is quickly becoming one of the state's top young prospects in the 2016 class.
The talented 16U version of the Arizona Power was loaded with top-rated talent, as top-rated national middle school prospect Marvin Bagley Jr. led the Power attack in the game. Bagley is a dominant post prospect that is able to play either on the wing or inside the paint. His body has really developed over the past year, and he has also improved his soft shooting stroke with range. Bagley is an absolute freak athlete as a result of his tremendous length and athleticism, and he will be national superstar over the next four years of high school. The amazing fact is that he has not even played high school basketball yet.
Ironwood Ridge High School's 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot is a big-time talent and proved it on Saturday, as he showed very good athleticism and a nice skillset in the post. Lightfoot is a force among the state's top 2016 prospects, and already has several mid-major plus offers for himself. The power also received strong performances in the game from Gilbert Christian HS talented 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Cameron Satterwhite and Tucson 6-foot-4 sophomore guard/forward Jacob Inlan.
In other action on the day there were many more top performers, and I will feature them in more write ups after this year's event, but some of the top-rated prospects that I witnessed in action on Saturday included Central HS 6-foot-6 talented junior forward Fouman Miller, Corona Del Sol HS 6-foot-7 junior wing Dane Kuiper (University of New Mexico commit), Perry HS 5-foot-10 freshman guard Markus Howard, Tucson HS 6-foot-7 junior forward Nate Renfro, Chaparral HS 6-foot-4 junior guard Kenzo Nudo, Westwind Prep 6-foot-3 senior guard Lyrik Shreiner, Sunnyslope HS 6-foot-3 junior guard Sammy Thompkins, Westwview HS 6-foot-9 senior post Andre Adams, Grand Canyon HS 6-foot-6 senior forward Joey Bankston, Catalina Foothills HS 6-foot-4 junior guard Dakota Kordsiemon, Willow Canyon HS 6-foot-7 junior forward Nick Allen, Desert Mountain HS 6-foot-3 senior Will Goff, Cesar Chavez HS 6-foot-6 senior forward Pablo Rivas, Shadow Mountain HS 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Carlos Johnson, Gilbert HS 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Chris Bowling, Campo Verde HS 6-foot-6 sophomore Brandon Whitaker and Desert Ridge HS 6-foot-7 senior forward Cameron Chatwin.
Stay tuned for a breakdown of each of these top-rated Arizona prospects after this year's event.