Yesterday was a whirlwind tour of six different Phoenix area high school campuses. I accompanied old friend David Grace of Oregon State University along with Area Code’s Chad Groth went to a series of athletic periods and open gyms to catch some of Arizona’s top underclassmen. It was also a great opportunity to shake hands and build relationships with high school coaches as well. It wasn’t quite as bad as driving across Houston but Phoenix is no picnic as I clocked 40 miles one way from Chandler Basha HS to my condo in Paradise Valley.
Oregon State’s David Grace and Max Ivany of D1 Nation observed some of Phoenix’ top talent
Joy Christian High School. Stop #1 on the northwest side of town in Glendale was to see intriguing 2013 P 6’11” Jeremiah April. April, originally from Chicago has settled in to the Valley of the Sun at a great environment at Joy Christian, and a terriffic opportunity for the long, lean prospect as he’s coached by former NAIA All American Bob Henige who came within a whisker of the League and went on to play overseas. As a 6’9″ big, Coach Henige is a great mentor for April. In addition to the obvious of being 6’11”, April has advanced footwork, soft hands and a nice face up touch out to 12 feet. I was impressed by the conscientious way he went about his workout and was very coachable. Comparisons were drawn to a young Channing Frye.
2013 P Jeremiah April (left) and Joy Christian Head Coach Bob Henige
2013 W Paul Watson of Paradise Valley is high major.
Pinnacle High School. Ten years had passed since I’d seen Coach Charlie Wilde. My son, Chip who went on to play at South Alabama played the first semester of his freshman year at Pinnacle before we moved back home to Texas. In the meantime, Pinnacle has built a high quality program and had two underclassmen that have a chance to be really good. 2013 Combo 6’4″ Drew Bender is skilled, showed a superior ability to shoot the ball, solid handles and a high basketball I.Q. Looks like the kind of player who could flourish in a conference like the West Coast.
Coach Wilde’s player with perhaps the biggest upside is 2014 WG 6’4″ Dorian Pickens. Already showing enough promise to be offered early by Arizona State he’s long and skilled. Just a baby faced kid at the moment, with the sky as the limit.
Brophy Prep. It was back down to Central Phoenix and a visit to Brophy Prep. Prior to walking in to the gym I did not realize that former Pepperdine and Stanford Coach Tony Fuller was now coaching in the high school ranks. While at Stanford he signed one of our players from the D1 Ambassadors (Will Paul of Corpus Christi Calallen) and had heavily recruited another (Bryan Beasley who recently graduated from Rice). Coach Fuller still owes me a lunch from his visit to Austin, TX. 🙂
Brophy looked like the consummate team, where the sum is greater than the parts but it was hard to overlook 2013 P 6’9″ Tim Kempton. A wide body who is not afraid to bang Kempton is in the mold of the old school, back to the basket player who’ll be an effective D1 player. He’s the son of former Notre Dame and NBA player Tim Kempton Sr.
Mesa High School. I had dropped by Mesa High School two weeks ago to meet Coach Shane Burcar and had watched his team in an athletic period. They are young but talented. Everyone wants to win NOW, but their best days are ahead of them as he’s got a slew of young guys including 2014 6’10” Isaac Allen a post man who runs the floor well and already has a great basketball body. Although we all covet big men, guards win ball games at the high school level. Enter what is likely Arizona’s top freshman player, 2015 G 6’3″ Jaylen Jenkins. He’s got a 3.9 GPA to go along with his advanced game. The Oregon transplant is athletic, aggressive and not afraid to flick it from deep.
2015 G Jaylen Jenkins of Mesa High
The man in the middle is 6’9″ Maurice Kirby. Originally verballed to Arizona State he made a decision to reopen his recruiting to play in a more wide open offense. I’d seen Kirby in the spring and he looks to have trimmed 15 pounds of baby fat and is running the floor at a much higher level. He’s got nice touch and is developing a bit of a mean streak between the lines too.
2013 F 6’8″ Torren Jones is a difference maker. He’s tough around the goal but handles the ball extremely well in transition. He’s going to slash to the goal and get more than his share of points and second effort boards and put backs.
2013 G 6’4″ Jaron Hopkins has tight handles, can get into the lane just about any time he wants and if you aren’t careful to close out will finish by dunking it every time. Oddly enough Penn State called me about him ealrier in the day. I hadn’t seen him until last night. Nittany Lions better get on this kid fast. The long line forms here!
Chandler Basha High School. The last stop in a long but fruitful day was at Basha High. I don’t know how it will all shake out for this coming year’s State Championship but they certainly pass the eye test. Coach Brad Pinter has three high major players in the Class of 2013 to anchor his squad and some other nice complimenting pieces as well.Paradise Valley High School. Stop #2 was during Coach Mark McGowan’s athletic period and a chance to see 2013 WG 6’6″ Paul Watson. Watson is an athletic slasher with nice rise who moves effortlessly up and down the court. He’s particularly effective in transition.