Long Beach, Calif. — Memorial Day Weekend - what used to be a time (and still is in most cases) to pay respects to past and present servicemen and women - has turned into one of the best basketball weekends of the year for those consumed by the game.
Parents traded in their adult beverages and barbecues for freeways and gymnasiums. Players gave up the opportunity to reap the benefits of said barbecue, and instead, settled for crossovers, 3-pointers and, hopefully, a Compton Magic Memorial Day Tournament championship at Cabrillo high school.
The team that traveled furthest from home, the Utah Prospects, nearly completed a clean sweep of titles in each respective division that it had a team in. Only the 17U team was unable to make the championship run in the BattleZONE Division.
The most sought-after championship of the tournament, the 17U BattleZONE Division title, came down to a matchup of two Los Angeles-based clubs, Double Pump and L.A. Rockfish.
Tommy Groce, a 2016 guard from Dorsey high school in L.A., provided the game-winning driving, hanging layup with just over 30 seconds to play, to give Double Pump a 48-46 win over Rockfish.
Double Pump, led by recently-tabbed Harvard Westlake head coach David Rebibo, benefitted from the performances of 6-foot point guard Colin Slater (Fresno Immanuel HS), 6-1 guard Terrance McBride (Sierra Canyon, class of 2017), 6-7 forward Keith Fisher (Westchester HS, class of 2016) and talented 2016 power forward Trevor Stanback of Maranatha high school in Pasadena.
Rockfish had multiple standouts of its own, starting with relentless 2016, 6-2 point guard Wolfgang Novogratz (Harvard Westlake HS). Bolden “Bo” Brace, a 6-6 shooter out of Santa Barbara high school, knocked down at least five 3-pointers on the game. Redondo Union’s 2017 guard Ryse Williams was another Rockfish player who was stroking it from long-range. 6-foot-10 forward Henry Welsh, a Loyola High product, was as solid as ever, and 2018 Bishop Montgomery guard David Singleton made some good plays.
Despite losing in the quarterfinals without one of its best players, the Utah Prospects team had three of the best prospects in the gym on the weekend starting with the explosive, and one of the best guards in the country, 6-3 Frank Jackson (Lone Peak HS), beastly 6-8 post Yoeli Childs (Bingham HS) and crafty 6-9 forward Gavin Baxter (Timpview HS) - Baxter the one who was forced to sit out the quarterfinal loss to Prodigy due to an injury.
Pictured above from left to right: The Utah Prospects trio of Gavin Baxter, Frank Jackson and Yoeli Childs. Photo credit: Devin Ugland
More 17U Top Performers:
Compton Magic, the host club, was without two of its best players in 2017 point guard Jaylen Hands (Foothills Christian) and University of Arizona-bound forward T.J. Leaf (Foothills Chrisitan), but the Corona Centennial trio of Jalen Hill (6-9, class of 2017), UCLA-commit Ike Anigbogu (6-9, class of 2016) and 3-point rifleman Jordan Griffin (6-3, class of 2016) all had good moments on the weekend.
2016's Vance Jackson (St. John Bosco HS) and Brendan Bailey (American Fork, UT HS) are both considered two of the best shooters out west and lived up to that billing. Jackson did it from 3-point range and Bailey made a killing from 13-to-17 feet.
Gamepoint 17U featured a number of Division I caliber prospects. Six-foot-2 point guard Eric Monroe (San Diego St. Augustine HS) was a problem for opponents, as usual, with his high energy and IQ play. Six-foot-4 Morse guard Justin Davis, a class of 2016 prospect, shot the lights out and 6-foot-8 forward Tim Harrison (Francis Parker HS) had good moments on the pick-and-pop.
SCA Elite 2018 point guard Spencer Freedman did his usual routine, knocking down the three-ball and making good decisions with the ball in his hands.
The Oakland Rebels 17U squad advanced to the final four thanks to strong performances from 6-foot-4 guard Jeremi Hanks (Balboa City, class of 2016) and 6-foot-5 guard Sayeed Pridgett (El Cerrito, class of 2016). Six-foot-9 forward Dontay Bassett (Oldsmar Christian in Florida) turned in a stellar performance on Saturday night, but was sidelined the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.
Prodigy Elite’s Bryce Peters, a 6-foot-3 guard out of La Verne Damien high school, helped his team to a final four berth due in large part to his ability to knock down the perimeter jumper and finish at the rim.
San Diego All-Stars’ forward Richard Polanco (6-foot-7, Army-Navy, class of 2017), was scoring at-will, from deep and at the rim, in his games on the weekend. Polanco has great size and strength for a true wing player.
The 16U title game brought the extremely talented Utah Prospects 16’s team (all class of 2017) up against the gritty and tough MOC Magic team. MOC kept things close for awhile, but again, the savvy and execution by the young men of Utah proved too much as they coasted to a 64-45 win.
That team is absolutely loaded with talent, beginning with cunning 6-foot-5 point guard Jaxon Brenchley of Mountain Crest high school. Brenchley received plenty of help by way of the always ardent Ben Rigby (Davis HS), a 6-6 forward who mixes it up in the paint, staunch 6-foot-3 defensive guard Marcus Draney (Lehi HS), who can also score the ball in multiple ways, sharpshooting 6-5 wing Trevin Knell (Woods Cross HS), steady 6-foot guard Dason Youngblood (Bingham HS), and smooth-scoring 6-foot-5 G/F Samuta Avea.
Pictured above: Utah Prospects 16's point guard Jaxon Brenchley. Photo credit: Devin Ugland
More 16U top performers:
The Las Vegas Knicks 2017 duo of 6-foot-4 Trevon Abdullah (Desert Pines HS) and 6-foot-7 Greg Floyd, Jr. (Desert Pines HS) both turned in good performances on the weekend. Abdullah was at his best when getting into the paint, drawing contact and fouls. Floyd has a fantastic looking jump shot and was connecting from deep on a consistent basis.
DreamVision’s Myles Franklin, a 6-foot-3 point guard out of Villa Park high school, is definitely a talent to keep a close eye on moving forward. He’s a stellar playmaker with a great handle and vision. DV 16’s also has a highly-touted sophomore-to-be in Taeshon Cherry (San Diego St. Augustine) who showed flashes of potential. Santa Ana Mater Dei 2018, 6-8 forward Michael Wang was doing what he does best - knocking down the perimeter shot. 2017 guard Kaden Rasheed (Santa Margarita HS) has always been a great 3-point shooter since his days as a freshman at Mission Viejo high school, but he's added some off-the-dribble floaters and pull-ups that are welcome additions.
Compton Magic 16’s Jules Bernard, a 6-foot-5, class of 2018 point-forward, was very good all weekend. His outside shooting is much improved since the end of his freshman high school campaign, couple that with his playmaking ability, and you have one very intriguing Division I prospect. He was flanked by 2017 Orange Lutheran guard Chris Williams, who caught fire during one game and nailed seven 3-pointers.
Double Pump 16’s Cassius Stanley (class of 2019) had a standout weekend. Most who know Stanley are aware of his unbelievable athleticism at 6-foot-5, but it was a pleasure to see him run point all weekend to diversify his game and get him ready for the high school level.
A pair of Arizona Aces 16's players, 2017 Jalen Gibson-Starks (Chandler, Ariz. HS) and 2018 Timmy Allen (Mesa, Ariz. Desert Ridge HS), each put in strong efforts. Gibson-Starks is a steady 5-foot-9 lead-guard who controls pace, penetrates and can either finish or dish to teammates. At 6-foot-4, Allen is of the point-forward mold. He can blow by bigger defenders and finish in traffic, post up smaller defenders, and can knock down the outside jumper.
In the 15U championship game, the Utah Prospect’s 15U team defeated Gamepoint 15’s, 58-48, behind heady class of 2018 point guard Jared Bagley (Logan HS), 6-5 forward, and product of North Dakota, DeSean Allen, 6-1 guard Hunter Erickson (Timpview HS), and 6-4 G/F Dallin Spencer (Lehi HS).
But the 5-11 Bagley got all that he could handle, and more, from Gamepoint counterpart Taurus Samuels. Samuels, the class of 2018, 6-foot point guard out of Vista high school in San Diego, put together one of the more impressive performances of the tournament in a losing effort. Gamepoint guard Zach Reiter (Poway HS, class of 2018) also played well for the all-around talented San Diego-based club before having to leave the game early due to injury.
More 15U top performers:
Jonathan Daniels, a 2019, 5-foot-10 point guard who will be attending Village Chrisitan in Sun Valley this year, was playing up a division with SCA 2019’s coached by super-trainer Julius von Hanzlik. Daniels gave the Utah Prospects 15’s team some trouble in a semifinal game with his ability to get to the rim and a deadly two-dribble pull-up jumper.
The Utah Prospects 14U team (all players in the class of 2019), led by savvy 5-foot-11 point guard Rylan Jones (Sky View HS and son of Utah State assistant coach Chris Jones), took the 14U crown in commanding fashion. There was no stopping Jones and his teammates - 6-2 G Brig Willard (Bountiful HS), 6-3 G/F Brendon Redford (Davis HS), 7-foot-1 Matt Van Komen (Lehi HS), and 6-1 Luc Krystkowiak (Brighton HS and son of Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak) - as their superior execution, skill, and basketball IQ’s resulted in blowout wins in just about every game they played.
More 14U Top Performers:
2019 guard Jordan Hilstock is about to make some major noise down in San Diego. The 6-foot Gamepoint guard has a great frame and feel for the game that is hard to come by in a true eighth grader. His teammate, 2019 Seth Hayes, a 6-foot-2 guard/forward, has an equally impressive frame, and is a crafty left-hander with an already-potent turnaround 15-foot jumper.