GARDEN GROVE, Ca. – Many of the better “club” boys’ basketball programs from California were on display this past weekend during the SoCal Spring Tip-Off and Pangos Spring Spectaculars held in a few Orange County communities.
Several of them had head-up showdowns on Sunday.
Among them, at the SoCal Tip-Off at the Next Level:
*Two of the better programs on the Nike/EYBL (Cal Supreme) and Under Armour (Earl Watson Elite) met in the “17s” (top) division Sunday evening.
And Cal Supreme, with its balance of skilled big frontcourt players and two of the best Southern California guards from the Class of 2018, knocked of Earl Watson Elite, 76-54.
Two of those attend Santa Ana Mater Dei (which lost to Torrance Bishop Montgomery in both the CIF Southern Section and State Southern Region Open finals last month).
And 7-foot-2 Bol Bol (22 points – including four 3s – to go with seven rebounds and six blocked shots) and 6-foot Spencer Freedman (five points and eight assists and just one turnover) were key elements during a victory in which Cal Supreme burst out to a 29-10 advantage before Gamepoint/Pump N Run answered Cal Supreme’s 15-0 run with a 16-0 spurt of its own.
But Cal Supreme stretched its advantage back to nine points at intermission and was in control of things over the final 16 minutes to cruise to a 76-54 victory.
Also playing well for Cal Supreme (which opens EYBL’s Spring League during the April 21-23 weekend in Hampton, VA) were 6-9 Shareef O’Neal of Santa Monica Crossroads (13 points and five rebounds), 6-5 Devonaire Doutrive of Lake Balboa Birmingham (12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and 6-9 Nathan Mensah of Napa Valley Prolific Prep (12 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots).
Earl Watson Elite (which opens Under Armour spring action on that same April 21-23 weekend in Atlanta) likewise has a strong roster that includes the likes of Riley Battin and Wes Slajchert (Oak Park), Cassius Stanley (Studio City Harvard-Westlake), Miles Norris (La Mesa Helix) and Cameron Shelton and Elijah McCullough (La Verne Damien).
But, where each of those fellows – especially the 6-8 Battin – showed off well during the team’s first three games over the weekend, only Battin (12 points and six rebounds) impressed against Cal Supreme as Morris and Stanley were a combined five of 24 from the field.
*Gamepoint/Pump N Run – a team assembled via the merger of the San Diego-based Gamepoint and San Fernando Valley-based PNR programs – fell to Earl Watson Elite, 69-56, Sunday morning but won its other three games.
The most consistently impressive player over the weekend for that squad was 6-1 Taurus Samuels (Vista), clearly one of the very best point guards in the western Class of 2018.
*Dream Vision’s 17s squad swept its four games and it’s a shame it didn’t get a pop at Cal Supreme or Earl Watson Elite.
Clayton Williams’ Dream Vision programs (and his 16s and 15s are quite deep and gifted, as well) are part of the adidas circuit (which opens April 21-23 in Dallas; I’ll be there) so will not hook up with their Under Armour or Nike EYBL peers.
But Gamepoint/Pump N Run is on the adidas circuit so they will meet at some point this spring and/or summer.
The top Dream Vision team was led by the likes of 2019 point guard Ethan Anderson (All-L.A. City this past season at Fairfax), 6-9 J’raan Brooks (currently a junior at Seattle Garfield), Las Vegas Trinity’s 6-6 sophomore (from Panama by way of Las Vegas Trinity) Jonathan Salazar and a Las Vegas senior-to-be in 6-11 Bryan Penn-Johnson (formerly of Earl Watson; he was ineligible this past season at Coronado).
Also playing over the weekend for Dream Vision was one of SoCal’s best in the class of 2017, Matt Mitchell, who helped lead Eastvale Roosevelt to a State Division I championship last month.
The 6-6 Mitchell signed a national letter of intent with Cal State Fullerton last November but apparently plans to attend a prep school in the fall with the idea of selecting another college program to attend during the 2018-19 season.
Among the other programs that I watched over the two days at Next Level were:
*Prodigy Elite, led by juniors Kessler Edwards (6-6, Etiwanda) and Daryl Polk (5-9, Long Beach Poly);
*Team ELEATE, which got four impressive performances out of 6-4 Matt Bradley (San Bernardino) who was un-guardable over the weekend regardless of the competition, which included Dream Vision and Big Ballers;
*Big Ballers (led by, of course, 6-3 junior-to-be Melo Ball of Chino Hills);
*Tyler Johnson Elite (San Jose area-based team, now sponsored by the Miami Heat guard and featuring Tyler’s senior-to-be guard Logan Johnson, who says he will transfer from Mountain View St. Francis to a Miami-area high school for his senior season);
*Earl Watson Elite 16s (led by standout Arizona propsects in 6-2 freshman Nico Mannion of Scottsdale Pinnacle and 6-5 sophomore Josh Green of Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix);
*Dream Vision 16s (which includes 6-7 sophomore Jake Kyman of Santa Margarita, who played just one game because of back spasms)
*California United 15s (a Fresno-based squad led by two of the best freshmen in the west in 6-5 Jalen Green of San Joaquin Memorial and 6-5 Julian Strawther of Henderson, NV, Liberty);
*Dream Vision 15s (all of kinds of quality “bigs” as well as 6-3 Santa Ana Mater Dei freshman Aiden Prukop) and
*San Diego All-Stars 16s (with the best 2019 point guard in San Diego in 6-1 Boogie Ellis of Mission Bay).
The Pangos Premier Spring Spectacular was held at the MAP Sports Complex in Garden Grove on Friday night then switched to several other SoCal sites on Saturday and Sunday, with the bulk of the games at Westminster High.
Among the standouts I watched on Friday night were:
*Two of the better scorers in the western class of 2018 in David Singleton (Torrance Bishop Montgomery) and Bryce Hamilton (Pasadena) of Belmont Shore;
*Six-five junior Jules Bernard (L.A. Windward) and 6-8 sophomores Onyeka Okongwu (Chino Hills) and Isaiah Mobley (Temecula Rancho Christian), three key members of the adidas-fronted Compton Magic 17s squad;
*Freshmen Johnny Juzang (Studio City Harvard-Westlake) and Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian) of the Compton Magic 16s;
*Six-six sophomore Jaime Jaquez (Camarillo) of the Nike/EYBL “The Truth” (aka “Paul Pierce) program (that beat the Compton Magic 16s on Sunday) and
*Six-eight junior Mehkel Harvey (Huntington Beach Ocean View) of Branch West Academy, who was superb during his team’s loss to Belmont Shore.
I didn’t see any of the event’s Saturday and Sunday games but additional standouts included:
*Six-ten junior Joel Mensah (San Juan Capistrano JSerra) of Coastal Elite and quality Las Vegas juniors in 6-6 Jamal Bey (Bishop Gorman) and 6-4 Trey Woodbury (Clark).