GARDEN GROVE, CA. – The two-day, 110-team, 11th Southern California Hoop Review proved to be a nice preview, of sorts, for the 2014 California Supreme program that is part of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League field.
It may be the deepest – if not the best, per se – squad put together by director Gary Franklin and coach Miles Simon.
A more vivid indication of how good this version of the California Supreme squad is will be not be available until opening weekend – April 25-27, in Sacramento – of the 2014 EYBL season.
But, if the way it played while rolling in four games against reasonably good competition over the weekend at the Next Level Sports Complex is any indication, this Cal Supreme team seems capable of landing a quality seed – and contending for a Peach Jam title in July – after the four weekends of the EYBL spring schedule.
It’s a team stockpiled with some of the best preps in Southern California from the classes of 2015, ’16 and ’17.
Among those are a couple of starters from Santa Ana Mater Dei’s 35-0, California State and (mythical) national championship squad in post Michael Cage Jr. and guard La’Vette Parker, as well as forward Travis Fuller from San Diego Division I champion Carlsbad La Costa Canyon and forward Bennie Boatwright (who is currently enrolled at Sun Valley Christian but – strong speculation has it – could join Cage and Parker as a Mater Dei teammate in the fall).
But the trio of players who especially stood out Sunday night against the toughest competition California Supreme faced at the event – Earl Watson Elite 17 Silver – were guards Aaron Holiday (Class of 2015/North Hollywood Campbell Hall) and Devearl Ramsey (2016/Chatsworth Sierra Canyon) and a powerful high school teammate of Ramsey’s, 6-foot-7 freshman Cody Riley.
The left-handed Riley dominated the contest both in and around the lane, a well as from the perimeter while showing off his more-than-serviceable jump shot.
Jrue Holiday’s youngest brother is the most willful penetrator and scorer in the Cali Class of 2015 and he and Ramsey – a capable scorer himself but the team’s best effective distributor as well – also applied constant defensive pressure on opposing ball handlers throughout the weekend.
Two other backcourt defensive standouts, Jeffrey McClendon (Quartz Hill/2015) and Leland Green (Redondo Beach Redondo Union/2016), never stopped competing for the Earl Watson squad. But they, too, couldn’t do anything to slow down Ramsey, Holiday and Riley when California Supreme – after leading by just seven points at intermission – started their steamrolling act in the second half.
Earlier Sunday that same Earl Watson squad knocked off the most talented San Diego-based travel squad, Gamepoint Red (led by Justin Simon of Temecula Valley and Khalil Simplis, a high school teammate of Aaron Holiday).
As dominant as Riley was throughout the event, he wasn’t even the No. 1 prospect from the Class of 2017 on display.
No. 1 – and not just regionally or state-wide, either; he could very well be the nation’s best in the class – should, for the time being, being attached to De’Andre Ayton, a 6-10 15-year-old who didn’t play “high school basketball” this past season while attending classes at Balboa City prep school in San Diego.
Ayton, who is from the Bahamas, is the anchor for an Ollie Goulston-coached Supreme Court 16 squad that was 4-0 over the weekend (each team played four games; there were no “playoffs” and no “championship”, determined).
He got the best of a head-to-head matchup Saturday with one of California’s top “big” prospects in the Class of 2016, Trevor Stanback (West Hills Chaminade), who plays for the Double Pump 16s squad.
Those who attended the 2013 Pangos All-American Camp last June in Long Beach will recall the sight of Ayton – then just 14 – more than holding up well against some very gifted posts three and four years older than he.
Another freshman who had a strong weekend of performances was 6-1 Jemarl Baker (Eastvale Roosevelt) of the Inland Empire Basketball Program (IEBP) Blue team.
Baker, a superb jump shooter, teamed with one of the better 2016 point guard prospects in Southern California in Garrett Carter (Etiwanda).
Etiwanda may be losing USC-bound guard Jordan McLaughlin to graduation in June but there isn’t going to be much in the way of slippage for the Dave Kleckner-front program next season.
That was evident not only by the play of Garrett Carter but by the performances of 6-9 Jordan Naughton and 6-6 Kameron Edwards for the Cameron and Tracy Murray-coached Prodigy Elite 17 team.
That squad edged the Utah Basketball Club Elite 17 team (from the program formerly known as Utah Pump-N-Run) in a tight and entertaining game Sunday afternoon.
That game featured two of the best of the “undersized power forward-types” (for want of a better way of describing them) from the western Class of 2015 in Edwards and 6-6 Noah Togiai (West Valley City, UT, Hunter). Togiai is already committed to the University of Utah.
UBCE also has one of the better “underrated” (he supposedly has just one Division I scholarship “offer” so far) point guard prospects from the Class of 2015 in Jake Lindsey (Salt Lake City Olympus).
The 6-5 Lindsey is the son of Dennis Lindsey, the general manager of the Utah Jazz.
Other impressive teams included, but weren’t limited to (I don’t have the time to mention everyone, folks!):
*Double Pump Elite 17s, coached by Christian Aurand and led by 2015 prospects Nick Anderson (a guard from Anaheim Canyon), Jimbo Lull (a 6-11 mass of humanity, soft hands and an even softer shooting touch) and Josh Conley (a 6-6 forward from Inglewood);
*Cal Supreme 17s Red, which won three of its four games despite playing “up”. Sophomores Jonah Mathews (Santa Monica), Ian Carter (Gardena Serra) and Ian Miller (Sacramento Sheldon), as well as freshman Jordan Schakel (Torrance Bishop Montomery) all played very well;
*Earl Watson Elite 16s Silver, which was led by sophomores Drew Buggs (Long Beach Poly), Austen Awosika (Chino Hills Ayala) and Kesean Davis (L.A. Price); and
*Double Pump Elite 2016, which was led by one of the most underrated 2016 prospects in California in Los Alamitos guard Eyassu Worku, a very good jump shooter and evolving point guard.