Tyler on a Tear; Ball, Leaf & Jackson
are Terrific SoCal Junior Trio
(January 23, 2015)
High school basketball in Southern California has been in full swing since late November. Several November/December holiday tourneys (local and out-of-state) like the Pacific Shores, Tarkanian Classic, City of Palms Classic, Under Armour Holiday Prep Classic at Torrey Pines and Max Preps Classic at Palm Springs as well as recent top showcases like the Jordan Brand Take Flight Classic and Hoop Hall Classic have served as main stages for top prospects to have signature performances.
Several SoCal seniors have risen to the occasion this 2014-15 season. SoCal’s top senior 6’5” lead guard Tyler Dorsey (Maranatha/Pasadena CA) is one of those 2015 prospects that has started his final season of high school with a euphoric bang! Maranatha, being shorthanded due to the unavailability of 6’10” 2016 big man Trevor Stanback, has relied on Dorsey for the bulk of the team’s scoring and he has not disappointed – averaging a SoCal best 32.8 points per game (on 54% FG) as well as 10.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game (through 15 games this season). Dorsey was impressive at the loaded Tarkanian Classic (Las Vegas) in December, averaging 26.3 points per game at that event – tied for #3 in scoring there (with Lone Peak’s 6’3” junior Frank Jackson) and good enough for a spot on the all-tourney team. As good as Dorsey was at the Tarkanian Classic, he took it to another level at the Huntington Park tourney rattling off scoring binges of 40 points vs. Diamond Ranch, 40 points against Long Beach Millikan, 36 points vs. Cathedral and 44 points against Bell-Jeff. A
showdown with league favorite Village Christian was next and Dorsey showed no signs of slowing down as he poured 42 points en route to an upset win over the Crusaders and followed that up with a 43 point barrage versus Whittier Christian. Tyler has now reached the 40 point mark six times in the last 8 games. Dorsey, a 2015 McDonald’s All-American candidate, has still not decided on his college choice. Top programs like Kansas, Cal, Oregon and Colorado are still in the mix and defending national champ UConn is making a very strong last minute effort to get involved as well……..Speaking of the McDonald’s All-American Game, the 2015 edition will be held on Wednesday April 1st at the United Center in Chicago and its final list of 24 chosen boy participants will be announced live on ESPN on Wednesday January 28th. Dorsey, Campbell Hall’s 6’2” combo-guard Aaron Holiday and Temecula CA resident Justin Simon (an Arizona signee spending his senior season at Brewster Academy in NH) were the only SoCal players on the final ballot……………Other top
2015 SoCal players also having great senior seasons are 6’4” sharpshooter Stephen Thompson Jr. (Bishop Montgomery/Torrance CA), 6’2” point guard Sedrick Barefield(Centennial/Corona CA), 6’9” Bennie Boatwright (Village Christian/Sun Valley CA), 6’9” Chimezie Metu (Lawndale/CA), 6’5” bouncy swingman Rex Pfleuger (Mater Dei/Santa Ana CA), 6’3” combo-guard Jeremy Hemsley (Damien/La Verne CA), 6’3” Lorne Currie (Fairfax/Los Angeles CA), 5’11” playmaker Kendall Small (Mayfair/Lakewood CA) and 6’4” Lindsey Drew (Fairfax/Los Angeles CA). Thompson is a silky smooth scorer with emerging quickness and athleticism that has led his Bishop Montgomery squad to a 19-1 record (currently ranked #4 In SoCal by the Los Angeles Times and #21 nationally by GrassrootsHoops.net). Thompson had his senior signature moment when he scored 26 points in an impressive 71-58 win over Redondo at the Jordan Take Flight Challenge. Stephen signed with Oregon State where he father Stephen Sr. (former Syracuse star) is currently an assistant coach with the Beavers. Barefield is a dynamic playmaker that plays with
passion and is a dangerous scorer anywhere within 23 feet. The SMU-bound PG is averaging 20.9 points and 4.6 assists per game and exploded for 34 points versus Corona Santiago earlier this week. Sed is the undisputed leader of a Corona Centennial squad that I expect to be a top contender for 2015 CIF-SS Open Division and State titles. Boatwright is a scorer-deluxe with great length and legit NBA 3-point range. Benny is averaging 25.1 points per game this season with a high-output of 50 points versus Saugus. After playing in the shadows of Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman on a front-court heavy Oakland Soldiers squad that strugged in the 2014 Nike EYBL (lost surprisingly 9 games last year on that circuit), Metu has displayed this year why he might be the most underrated Pac-12 recruit in this 2015 class and an absolute steal for Andy Enfield’s USC Trojans. Ultra-quick off his feet and very skilled for an athletic PF, Metu runs the floor like a gazelle and is a terrific shotblocker and rim protector! With the departure of McDonald’s All-American and projected 2015 NBA
lotto pick Stanley Johnson (now at Arizona), Pfleuger has picked up the slack and kept Mater Dei atop the Trinity League so far this year. The 2015 Pangos All-American Camp Top 25 pick and Notre Dame signee is bouncy as hell and is an underrated defensive playmaker. The San Diego State-bound Hemsley has asserted himself as one of America’s most versatile guards this season and his arrival in Diego next Fall gives Steve Fisher yet again another quality lead guard with long-term NBA upside. Jeremy just had a 33 point/8 rebound/6 assist performance in Damien’s recent 94-78 win over Chino Hills. Currie has been one of the major revelations of this 2015 HS season and perhaps national 6th man of the year – leading Fairfax to an Under Armour Holiday Prep Classic title (named tourney MVP) and #5 national ranking by USA Today. Very athletic combo-guard scores off the bounce with the best in this class. Like Dorsey, Small has very little offensive support from his Mayfair teammates but the Oregon-bound scoring PG has put up tons of points (21.5 ppg) including a 39 point outburst at the Tarkanian Classic vs. Desert Pines (named all-tourney there). Finally Drew (youngest son of former NBA guard and current Cleveland Cavalier assistant coach Larry Drew Sr.) has blossomed into an Elfrid Payton-type point guard with the sound decision-making instincts and length to be a factor at next level. Drew just recently committed to Arizona State where he will attend in 2016-17 after a year of prep school next season……Other SoCal seniors worth noting include 6’2” Aaron Holiday (Campbell Hall/North Hollywood CA/UCLA signee), 6’10” Chance Comanche (Beverly Hills/CA/Arizona signee), 5’10” KJ Feagin (Poly/Long Beach CA), 6’6” Roderick Williams (Price/Los Angeles CA), 6’4” Rodney “Rocket” Henderson (St. John Bosco/Bellflower CA) and 6’5” Clifton Powell (Village Christian/Sun Valley CA), 5’9” Marquis Mosley (Renaissance/La Canada CA), 5’11” Myles Franklin (Hart/Newhall CA), 6’4” Marcus Berkley (Orangewood Academy/Garden Grove CA), 6’2” Ryan Beddeo (West Ranch/Valencia CA) and 6’0” Khalil Simplis Christian/Sun Valley CA) ………………..SoCal seniors have not been the only class of players that have been cooking this season. Based upon the early results, three juniors stand above the rest at this point: 6’6” Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills/CA), 6’9” TJ Leaf (Foothills Christian/El Cajon CA) and 6’8” Vance Jackson (St. John Bosco/Bellflower CA). Ball is one of SoCal’s most versatile and multi-dimensional players in recent memory and his ability to impact the game in all major categories (scoring, passing and rebounding) makes him a problem for Chino Hills’ opponents. Lonzo (a UCLA commit) was all-tourney at the Tarkanian Classic where his pin-point passing skills drew rave reviews from national scouts like Jerry Meyer (247Sports.com) and Eric Bossi (Rivals.com). Ball was a legit “triple-double” threat at the recent Bass Pro tourney in Springfield MO – having 22 points/12 rebounds/13 assists versus Oak Hill Academy, 29 points/13 boards/4 dimes against Parkview/Springfield MO and 17 points/15 boards/12 assists versus Bentonville/AR). Leaf also was the talk of the Tarkanian Classic where he led the tourney in scoring (33.8 ppg) and put on display his wide-variety of offensive tools. The Arizona-bound 2016 prospect is currently averaging 26.4 points and 13.8 boards per game. Jackson followed up an outstanding July with an impressive start to the HS regular season. Vance is averaging 20.8 points per game so far and is a dangerous 3-point shooter (44%). “Vanimal” has hit the 30 point mark four times this season with notable efforts of 31 points versus Bishop Montgomery and 25 points at the Iolani Classic (HI) against nationally ranked Oak Hill Academy. Jackson has been offered by major college programs like Arizona, UCLA, UConn, USC, Cal, Oregon, Utah, Arizona State, Gonzaga, San Diego State, UNLV and Washington ……….The next tier of talented 2016 SoCal prospects include 6’10” MJ Cage (Mater Dei/Santa Ana CA), 5’10” DeVearl Ramsey (Sierra Canyon/Chatsworth CA), Tarkanian Classic tourney co-MVP 6’2” Leland Green (Redondo Union/Redondo Beach CA), 6’9” Ike Anigbogu(Centennial/Corona CA), 6’10” Trevor Stanback (Maranatha/Pasadena CA), 6’8” Daron Henson (Alemany/Mission Hills CA), Compton’s 6’6” athletic swingmen Raysean Scott and Javonntie Jackson, 6’2” Jonah Matthews (Santa Monica/CA), 6’6” Ian Carter (Serra/Gardena CA), 6’8” Tim Harrison (Parker/San Diego CA), 6’0” Dykembe Martin (North/Riverside CA), 6’3” Jacob Davidson (Cantwell/Montebello CA/4.0 GPA) and 6’3” Justin Moore (Mission Bay/San Diego CA)…………The Spalding Hoop Hall Classic did not have SoCal representation for the first time in quite some time but Sin City was front and center at the Springfield MA event held over MLK weekend each year. Gorman may have fell short to 2015 #1 prospect Ben Simmons and Montverde Academy (FL) but the Gaels’ 6’5” 2017 Charles O’Bannon Jr. had a national “coming-out” party in front of a capacity Springfield College crowd and a national live ESPNU audience. O’Bannon went for a team-high 22 points and showed off his terrific 3-point stroke! Chuck’s impressive Hoop Hall performance did not go unnoticed by college coaches as Arizona, USC and Washington quickly offered one of 2017’s fastest rising prospects ...........O’Bannon’s Gorman teammate 6’5” 2016 Nick Blair (Gorman/Las Vegas NV) is one of the most underrated unsigned seniors in the West and is having a solid HS season which includes making the all-tourney team at the Tarkanian Classic. Minnesota, Cal and Colorado are among the growing list of schools showing interest in this very athletic swingman with improving skills………Plenty of change has happened on the national grassroots scene over the past 9 months. Nick Blatchford was appointed to direct the Under Armour circuit, essentially taking over the decision-making control from Chris Hightower. Nike decided to part ways with its controversial grassroots chief Merle Cole who was forced out on the eve of last July’s LeBron James Camp in Las Vegas and replaced by his assistant, Chicago native Carlton Dubose (previously a director with the Mean Streets program in the Windy City). Adidas was not immune to the urge to re-organize as Jeff Robbins was told he was no longer needed at the 3 stripes brand and it appears that well-respected Chris Rivers is once again putting his mark on adidas’ grassroots operation.
** photos courtesy of Nick Koza (SportsAmp.com)
***A note about the author of this column: Dinos Trigonis has been the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the Fullcourt Press web site and scouting service as well as an event operator, basketball coach and skills instructor since 1994. Dinos played varsity basketball at Long Beach Wilson High School and is a graduate of Long Beach State (BA - Political Science) and Temple Law School (Juris Doctorate). While at Temple Law School in Philadelphia, Trigonis founded and was the editor-in-chief of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. As head coach of the Belmont Shore Basketball Club (based in Long Beach CA), Dinos has coached 145-plus players that have received NCAA Division I scholarships,15 players that were chosen as McDonald’s All-Americans as well as 27 players that have reached the NBA.