As another great summer evaluation period comes to a close, here are my top 10 performers that I personally saw compete and perform at the highest level, regardless of class:
2015 6’7 SF Dane Kuiper: Corona Del (Tempe) Sol High: AAU Team: Arizona Power U17 Black
Since transferring from Wasilla (Alaska) High after his sophomore year, Kuiper has quickly asserted himself as one of the most dominant players in the state of Arizona. An early University of New Mexico commit, Kuiper is one, if not the best athlete, in the state in transition. He runs the floor great, fills the lanes, and finishes at, and above the rim at a great success rate - due to his long, athletic frame and spring off of the floor. I have also seen great improvement in the success rate of Kuiper’s jump-shot. He seems to find open spaces on the floor much better now, and uses his great elevation on his jumper to rise over the defenders before they get there - even if the shot is contested. Kuiper has a soft touch around the basket as well and uses his great, long frame to shield off defenders and convert at a high clip.
Kuiper is a great looking prospect and is next in line of outstanding players who have played for Coach Sam Duane Jr. at Corona Del (Tempe) Sol. After Corona, I feel Kuiper will transition very well to the University of New Mexico in the Fall of 2015, and will be a solid 4-year player for the Lobos and head coach Craig Neal.
2015 6’3 CG Sammy Barnes-Thompkins: Sunnyslope (Phoenix) High: AAU Team: Arizona Magic Elite U17
Sammy Barnes-Thompkins arguably had the most productive summer out of any Arizona prospect, regardless of class, and proved himself to be one of the best scorers in the 2015 class as well. Barnes-Thompkins was the leader for his U17 Arizona Magic Elite team that just finished ranked #4 on the West Coast by Indihoops.com, and he did whatever his team needed him to do to get the win. After coming in 2nd at the Pangos All-American Camp in scoring, having many 30 + point performances, one 48-point outburst during the month of June and having a solid showing at the Reebok Breakout Classic Camp in Philadelphia, Barnes-Thompkins continued his scoring dominance during the month of July.
He scored the ball at all (3 ) levels consistently all summer long. Barnes-Thompkins can use his college-ready frame to get into the lane and finish at the rim strong. He can get by his defenders with a quick crossover and hit the pull-up jumper from 15-feet and in with ease, or he can use his vastly improved 3-point shot, which extends out a little past the college 3-point line. Barnes-Thompkins is also a strong defender and uses good lateral footwork and quick hands to cause havoc and cause turnovers for ball handlers. He is also a capable passer and finds the open man, but is much more of an offensive threat when the ball is in his hands and he is looking to score. Sammy will have the ball in his hands from day 1 of his senior year at Sunnyslope ( Phoenix) High, and will have to carry the scoring load once again for the Vikings, as he hopes to lead them to another deep run into the state playoffs.
Sammy’s current leaders are Rice and St. Mary’s, but he holds offers from UC Davis, Cal Poly, Sam Houston State. and San Jose State. He has interest from Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Tulsa, West Virginia, Wichita State and many other high major programs.
2017 5’9 PG Markus Howard: Perry (Chandler) High: AAU Team: Arizona Power Black U16/U17
Howard is the next in line of the great point guards from the state of Arizona who have come before him, like Ryan Walcott, Mike Bibby, Jerryd Bayless, Jahii Carson and Casey Benson. Already one of the top 2017 point guards on the West Coast, Howard is truly a special talent when it comes to scoring the basketball. He can blow by defenders with an advanced handle and keep them on his hip where he can then finish at the basket - through or around defenders due to his solid frame, deceptive shifts, and solid floater in the lane. Howard also possesses a smooth jumper which truly extends out to 25 feet, which he knocks down at a high rate with a hand in his face or not.
He is also a very capable passer in transition, and he finds open cutters or players flashing to the basket when they are open. His defensive abilities are also above his age level, as he moves his feet quickly and uses his frame again to keep players from going where they want on the court. Howard is truly a special talent, and I am excited to see how his game develops as he gets older. He holds offers from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona, and is receiving interest from Oregon State, Oregon, Florida, DePaul, Texas, USC and UCLA.
2017 6’1 PG Alex Barcello: Corona Del (Tempe) High: AAU Team: Compton Magic (Team Bayless) U16
Barcello is another one of the elite 2017 guards that Arizona has to offer. Barcello displayed a solid lift and a quick release on his jumper, which he can hit with regularity out to the college 3-point line, regardless if a hand is in his face or not. He is also a very heady driver of the basketball from 15-feet and in. He has a variety of smart spins and shifty moves to get around his defenders and score the ball or draw a foul, in which he converts at a high rate from the free throw line. Barcello is also a very active defender. He moves his feet quick laterally, uses his hands well, and bothers guards all game long - causing multiple turnovers on many possessions.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Barcello’s game is his confidence and his ability to score the basketball and lead his team in clutch settings. He always seems to consistently knock down big jumpers, and drives when his team needs him to do so. I was overall very impressed with Barcello, and I am very excited to track his progress for the rest of his high school career at Corona (Tempe) Del Sol High School.
Alex currently holds an offer from Grand Canyon University, and has interest from such schools as Arizona State, West Virginia, University of California-Berkley, Saint Mary’s Colleg and others tracking him.
2015 6’6 SF Nate Renfro: Sahuaro (Tucson) High: AAU Team: Arizona Power U17 Black
One of the better forwards and players in Arizona’s 2015 class. Renfro really got a large majority of his points around the basket due to how versatile he is. He also has a never-ending-motor. Renfro can run the floor well for someone his size, and is always in the right place at the right time - getting points around the basket off of a put back or his point guard finding him in transition. When Renfro has the ball in a half-court set, he scores by using his long strides to initially beat his defender and finish well over or around them - once he is in the paint. His jumper is solid and can extend out to just beyond the 3-point line, where he can hit at a good rate if he is left open. He is also a capable rebounder and shot-blocker, altering many shots that come his way - due to his length on the defensive end.
Renfro is a solid prospect and looks to have his best basketball in front of him at the collegiate level. Renfro is currently committed to Grand Canyon University and head coach Dan Majerle, along with fellow U17 Arizona Power Black standout, Kenzo Nudo.
6’10 Devin Kirby: Basha (Chandler) High: AAU Team: Arizona Magic Elite U16
Kirby is one of the most dominant and skilled big men in Arizona’s 2016 high school class. Only 15 years old, Devin seems to grow on a game-to-game basis on everything from his athleticism to his defensive reads around the basket. What stands out about Kirby is how active and rangy he is around the basket on the offensive end. Kirby gets his hand on almost every missed shot that comes his way and will either dunk it right back with his quick twitch off the floor, or secure the rebound and score it, or draw a foul. He has a good success rate from the free-throw line. While Kirby does need to put on weight, his long frame and arms help him hold his own on the defensive end, as he deflects or alters many shots that come his way. A capable shooter with solid mechanics from 20-feet and in, Kirby keeps the defense honest and makes them step out on him, when he then can get to the basket with his long strides and convert at, or around the rim.
Kirby improved in great strides this summer, and I am eager to see how he looks this upcoming season for Basha High in Chandler. Kirby currently holds offers from Grand Canyon University, Brown University, Dartmouth, Georgia Southern, and is currently receiving interest from the University of Cincinnati, Wake Forest, USC and other high major schools.
2016 6’8 PF Mitch Lightfoot: Gilbert Christian High School: AAU Team: Arizona Power Black U16
Lightfoot has had a big name in the Arizona basketball community since he stormed onto the scene his freshman year at Ironwood (Tucson) Ridge High School, and has gotten better and better as the years have gone on. Now entering his junior year at Gilbert Christian High School, he is one of the best big men the state of Arizona has to offer - regardless of class. Lightfoot runs the floor great for a big his size and usually finishes above or around the rim in transition. He also possesses a combination of good footwork, up-fakes, and solid touch when he is down on the block posting up smaller defenders or battling with a bigger defender. One intriguing aspect to me about Lightfoot’s game is that he can trail in a fast break situation, and pop out to the elbow or even 3-point line, where he displays a solid release on the ball and hits shots at a solid rate.
On the defensive end, he alters or blocks many of the shots around the rim and in transition due to his motor, long arms, and great reads. Lightfoot is also a capable rebounder of the basketball on both the offensive and defensive ends. Lightfoot is one of the most versatile big men in the state and I expect him to have a stand-out season for the Knights of Gilbert Christian. Mitch currently has offers from Arizona State, Utah, UNLV, New Mexico, Creighton, Portland, Grand Canyon University and Northern Arizona University.
2015 6’9 PF Andre Adams: IMG (Florida) Academy: AAU Team: Arizona Magic Elite U17
Adams looked like a completely different player from the Andre Adams that I saw last summer. He has physically and mentally matured on and off the court, and, as a result, his level of play looks to be the highest that it has ever been. Like Lightfoot, Adams runs very well in transition and finishes most of his plays above the rim with hard dunks in the middle, and left of the lane off the feed from a guard. He has also displayed an improved shooting touch from the elbows and mid-range area, which he knocked down with regularity when left open. His post moves are solid as he usually likes to score the ball over his left shoulder off a drop step or pivot around his defender. The best part of Adams’ game is on the defensive end of the ball. One of the best shot blockers I saw all summer long - he alters or blocks almost every shot that comes his way with authority - scaring off defenders that attempt to come his way. He also sucks down a majority of the rebounds that come his way with his strong body and long wingspan.
Adams has decided to attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for a post-grad year to further himself as a student and a basketball player. Adams holds offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, UNLV, USC and many others. He is also receiving strong interest from the University of Arizona, University of Miami, and other high major programs.
2015 6’3 CG Lyrik Shreiner: Fishburne (Virginia) Military School: AAU Team: Arizona Magic Elite U17
Shreiner had one of the best high school scoring seasons in all of Arizona last year, and that translated over to the summer evaluation period. One of the most explosive guards in Arizona, Lyrik used his strength and solid in/out dribble to get by defenders and score the ball above or at the rim with ease all summer. He also had solid vision all summer, as he looked ahead to the open man on fast break situations. He also found cutters flashing in and out of the lane. While Shreiner’s jump shot needs major mechanical work, he shot the ball with high success and little effort all summer when left open. When there was a big basket to be made, the ball was going to him, or fellow elite CG Sammy Barnes-Thompkins.
He is also a defensive-minded guard, as he could sit down and lock up the player he was guarding, due to his active hands and long strides to cut off players attempting to go around him. For now, Lyrik looks to be attending Fishburne Military School in Virginia to get more exposure for himself as a player. After a year at Fishburne, I feel Lyrik’s recruitment will take off and many high major Division-I schools wil begin to take notice.
Players I did not get the chance to personally see/ only saw once but had major summers:
2017 6’0 PG Marcus Shaver: Saint (Phoenix) Mary’s High School: AAU Team: Compton Magic(Team Bayless)
2016 6’4 SF J.J. Rhymes: Shadow (Phoenix) Mountain High School: AAU Team: Team Bibby
2018 6’10 PF Marvin Bagley: Corona Del (Tempe) Sol High School: AAU Team: We All Can Go (WACG)