On Friday night at Copper Canyon HS in Glendale, AZ the Super 80 event hosted by Area Codes Basketball took place. It was a chance to check out some of the top prospects in the State of Arizona, with the 2013 and 2014 classes taking center stage. Recent Arizona State verbal Kodi Justice (2014) (Dobson HS, Mesa) took part in the Future Stars Freshman/Sophomore Showcase, and he showed flashes of the talent that landed him the offer from the Sun Devils. Justice was able to get things done on the wing, knocking down perimeter shots in addition to getting to the basket.
But in a game that featured players primarily from the 2014 and 2015 classes, his size advantage was quite apparent. He's got plenty of time to improve on both ends of the floor, and increased levels of competition will help his development as well. Also standing out was 2014 guard/forward Kwenton Scott (St. Mary's HS, Phoenix), who was a very active defender while also doing some of the necessary little things on the offensive end of the floor. And in the Best of the Rest Game 2012 guard Robert Ramirez (Glendale HS, Glendale) got hot in the second half, knocking down a number of perimeter shots in leading his team to the comeback win. But the shot selection has to get better if the 5'9" guard is to garner more looks as a point guard.
The best game of the night was the 2013 Junior Showcase Game, with the state boasting some very talented players in that class. The two who stood out were guard Jaron Hopkins (Basha HS, Chandler) and wing Paul Watson (Paradise Valley HS, Paradise Valley). Hopkins, who received an offer from Penn State (subscription required) on Monday, is an explosive athlete with good handle who can get to the rim and finish. In addition to Penn State, Hopkins has offers from Colorado, Boise State, Pennsylvania and San Francisco. And interested schools include Harvard, Stanford and Washington State.
As for Watson, he does his work from the wing and can finish above the rim as well. He currently holds offers from Colorado, Fresno State and Boise State with interest from Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Penn State and UNLV (all interested schools have watched him work out in the fall). Both Hopkins and Watson remain wide open in their recruitment, with both stating that they likely won't narrow things down until the end of their junior season (Watson) or summer (Hopkins).
Also in that 2013 game (and on the same team as Hopkins and Watson) were Basha teammates Torren Jones and Maurice Kirby. Jones is a 6'8" forward who has the athletic ability to play in an up-tempo system and run the floor, and when the effort's there he's a tough player to keep in check. The schools that have shown the most interest are Colorado and San Jose State (offers), Arizona State, Auburn, Penn, Oregon State and Washington. But the five schools he'd like to receive offers from are Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC.
As for the 6'9" Kirby, he could be a solid big man for a high-level non-BCS team by the time he graduates from high school. Formally an Arizona State verbal, Kirby is sound fundamentally and has no problem with working out of the high post or down low. Boise State, Saint Mary's, Utah, Oklahoma and Texas have all shown varying levels of interest while Stanford and Washington State have been by the gym to watch him work out. He hopes to narrow things down by the end of the summer.
Other performers of note
- C Joe Boyd (2013): The 6'10" big man was one of the better performers in the 2013 showcase game, playing on the team that took on the squad featuring the Basha trio. Boyd showed off solid offensive skills inside while also working well on the glass at both ends.
- C Jeremiah April (2013): April first came to the attention of many on the west coast back in the spring, with his defensive ability being the primary reason why. But he's still raw offensively, something that was quite apparent in the showcase. If he can improve that aspect of his game during the high school season, April should be better equipped to get even more done in the spring/summer.
- G/F Tyler Roberts (2013): Due to a shortage of players in the 2012 showcase the Henderson, NV (Foothill) product was able to play in both games. At 6'5", Roberts was able to get to the basket off the dribble in addition to knocking down some mid-range shots.
- G Gio Guzman (2012): Guzman runs the point for the powerhouse that is Bishop Gorman, and Friday's showcase gave him the opportunity to step out from underneath the shadow of players such as Shabazz Muhammad, Rosco Allen and Demetris Morant. What stood out with Guzman, who has offers from NAIA schools at this point, was his court vision. His head is up surveying the floor at all times, and he was able to set up teammates for quality looks. Guzman stated after the game that he hopes to earn some Division I offers by the end of the season, and he's definitely looking forward to the January 21st matchup with Findlay Prep.
- G Dewayne Russell (2012): The Peoria (AZ) HS product was solid at the point, displaying good quickness with the ball and the ability to get himself good looks.
- G Lawrence Pierce (2012): The 6'3" two-guard knocked down some perimeter shots while also getting to the rim off the dribble. Playing with Russell at Peoria High will help out with regards to getting those same opportunities in hopes of earning some scholarship offers.