Trey Kell of San Diego St. Augustine had a big week during the second of three July recruiting periods. This report from the July 17-21 viewing period includes SDA Pump N Run winning the 17U open at Best of Summer Tournament and California Basketball Club made up of mainly incoming ninth-graders capturing the AAU 14U national title.
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Gunning For That No. 1 Spot
Stanley Johnson, the state’s top recruit and the early front-runner for 2013-14 Mr. Basketball, led his team to the championship of the Nike Global challenge in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, who has led Mater Dei of Santa Ana to three consecutive state titles entering his senior year, had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead the USA West team to a 98-95 victory over the USA South team. He was named event co-MVP with D’Angelo Russell of defending FAB 50 mythical national champion Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). Forward Daniel Hamilton from St. John Bosco of Bellflower chipped in nine points and seven rebounds for the USA West team.
Although Johnson was unable help the Oakland Soldiers repeat as Nike Peach Jam champions, he impressed onlookers with his play at the prestigious grassroots event in North Augusta, S.C. July 11-14. The overall improvement in Johnson’s game is nothing new to West Coast-based scouts and media who regularly have the opportunity to watch him play. For other national scouts, Johnson is clearly moving into the top five of national recruiting lists for the Class of 2014.
According to McDonald’s All-American voters Brick Oettinger of the PrepStars.com Recruiter’s Handbook and Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com, Johnson’s game has improved enough to give him serious consideration as the top overall recruit in the national Class of 2014.
As far as Johnson’s recruitment goes, our knowledge of the situation would point to Arizona and Kentucky being the leaders for his services with USC and UCLA trying to play catch up because of coaching changes.
During the final of the three July NCAA viewing periods Wednesday through Sunday (July 24-28), Johnson will play with the Oakland Soldiers at the Las Vegas Classic and Hamilton will play for Belmont Shore at the Las Vegas FAB 48.
Viewing Period: Trey Kell Shines
Johnson and Hamilton were the only players among a California contingent of seven who stood out at the LeBron James Skill Academy in Las Vegas July 5-8 during a non-viewing period.
One of the California players who struggled a bit was 6-foot-3 shooting guard Trey Kell. The returning third team all-state choice who helped St. Augustine of San Diego win the CIF Division III state title last winter wasn’t hitting a high percentage of his shots and, at times, was out of his comfort zone.
“At LeBron and a camp setting like that, players tend to be more selfish,” Kell said. “I’m not really a camp player, so I didn’t really sweat my performance at LeBron camp too much. Going into the viewing period, I just focused on playing my game within a team setting.”
To say Kell bounced back from his sub-par performance during the subsequent July 17-21 NCAA viewing period would be an understatement and he now has the college scholarships offers to prove it.
He led his San Diego All-Stars Pump N Run travel team to a 9-0 record to capture the 17U open division title at the Double Pump Best of the Summer Tournament in Anaheim.
Kell pumped in 19 points during a 78-68 championship quarterfinal victory over QJZ Elite and highly-rated 2016 guard Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills. SDA also got an outstanding performance (23 points) from 2014 small forward Fritz Eibel from La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad.
In the semifinals, Kell nailed the go-ahead field goal on a driving lay-up with approximately eight seconds to go in an eventual 39-36 victory over Greg Monroe, a travel club based out of Louisiana. Kell’s excellent showing during the second viewing period was culminated by SDA’s 49-40 title game victory over Boise, Idaho-based Hoops Dreams.
Six-foot-3 2016 point guard Justin Moore of San Diego Mission Bay and 6-foot-5 2014 wing Israel Seales of Chula Vista Mater Dei also contributed heavily to SDA’s perfect mark, but Kell was the one who picked up offers from Boise State, ASU, Vanderbilt, LMU, Virginia and USC at the conclusion of the tournament.
“It’s always exciting to play in front of college coaches,” Kell said. “It’s also exciting to knowing you feel comfortable and like your teammates. That has helped me this spring and summer.”
AAU 14U Nationals Captured by Golden Staters
The Oakland Rebels followed up their 16U championship victory in the Double Pump Tip-Off by capturing the 16U title in the Double Pump Best of the Summer with a 66-52 win over Utah Pump-N-Run Red.
It would have been interesting to see if the Oakland Rebels, made up of a large group of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd players, would have won the double title had the California Supreme travel club, led by Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth point guard dynamo Devearl Ramsey, not opted to drop out of the Best of the Summer championship bracket on Sunday morning July 21.
A night earlier, Cal Supreme pulled out a dramatic triple overtime win over the Nebraska Bison that ended past 11 p.m. local time. Kahlil Simplis, a 2015 point guard from Campbell Hall of North Hollywood and a recent addition to the Cal Supreme program, hit a clutch 3-pointer in the second overtime to spark the victory.
At 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, Cal Supreme won a quarterfinal contest, in overtime, and then decided not to play in the 10:10 a.m. semifinal game after Simplis and two other players suffered injuries.
The 5-foot-8 Ramsey, who made last season’s all-state freshman team, was the spark plug for Cal Supreme throughout the second viewing period. He’s one of the quickest lead guards in the state and knows how to create space off the dribble for a step back jumper or to reset and drive to the basket again. Ramsey also got our vote for the top performer at the one-day, 17-game Battle At The Beach showcase event July 18 at Redondo Union High School. Ramsey’s jumper was on point at that event and Cal Supreme also got strong play inside from 2015 forward Roy Hemsley of L.A. Windward.
Even with 2016 point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. transferring from Sierra Canyon to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), Sierra Canyon should still be a contender in the tough Alpha League. Ramsey is going to have help from a group of incoming freshmen who helped the California Basketball Club capture the AAU 14-Under National Championship in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. earlier this month.
The team’s star over the last three years has been 6-foot-7 forward Cody Riley, but the MVP of the 14U nationals according to Clark Francis of HoopScoopOnline.com was 6-foot-2 Adam Sieko, yet another incoming freshman for Sierra Canyon. Sieko scored 17 points in a tough 50-48 semifinal victory over the Indy Hoosiers and another 17 in a 65-38 romp of Team Thad in the championship game.
Others standouts for CBC scheduled to play for Sierra Canyon’s varsity this upcoming season include athletic 6-foot-2 Terrance McBride, 6-foot-7 four-man Ira Lee and 5-foot-9 Remy Martin, a excellent shooter from the point guard position.
Martin was one of the top players at Francis’ Hoop Scoop All-American Camp last summer, an event for middle schoolers in which Riley was the MVP. This summer, however, Riley has been passed as a prospect in the eyes of many respected evaluators by 6-foot-10 incoming freshman DeAndre Ayton of Balboa Prep in San Diego.
It will not only be interesting to see how Riley progresses as a high school player after dominating the middle school ranks the past three years, but if CBC’s excellent group of 2017 players stick together for high school.
Over the past 30 years, great groups of freshmen with visions of dominating at the same California high school tend to break up. One group that immediately comes to mind is a group led by current Grand Canyon University forward Demetrius Walker, who began his high school career at Fontana, in the early 2000s.
Team Cal, which also won a AAU age group national title, was the subject of the critically acclaimed book “Play Their Hearts Out” by Sports Illustrated writer George Dohrmann.
Isaac Hamilton Staying Home?
As has been speculated in Southern California basketball circles for the past month, Isaac Hamilton, a second team Student Sports All-American last season and a two-time all-state pick, had asked out of his letter of intent to UTEP.
According to numerous published sources, Tim Floyd won’t release Hamilton from his LOI. Floyd feels USC has tampered with UTEP’s most prized recruit since John Staggers of L.A. Crenshaw signed with the Miners in November of 1987 back when Floyd was an assistant to legendary coach Don Haskins. Now it looks like history will repeat itself and Hamilton, like Staggers, will never play a game for UTEP.
If Hamilton isn’t released from his NLI and loses his appeal to the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee (not to be confused with the NCAA, which doesn’t handle LOI cases), Hamilton can still attend a Southern California college. His family would have to pay his way next season or he could attend a local junior college. His other option would be to attend the college of his choice on scholarship, but sit out the 2013-2014 season.
As told to Cal-Hi Sports at the McDonald’s All-American Game in March, the Hamilton family wrestled with Isaac’s college choice throughout the whole process. Gregory Hamilton, Isaac’s father, told ESPN.com that the reason for opting out of UTEP is so the ailing mother of his wife, Karen, would be able to easily watch him play at a local college.
One of the main reasons for Isaac signing with UTEP is the relationship Floyd has had with the family for 30 years. Floyd is especially close to Gregory’s mother and she reportedly had a strong voice in wanting Isaac to play for Floyd regardless of what college that turned out to be.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, considering Isaac’s younger brother, Daniel, gave a verbal commitment to attend the University of Connecticut in May. The earliest Daniel can sign a LOI is this upcoming November.
Storrs is much further away than even El Paso is from the Hamilton’s home base of Los Angeles.
UConn is coached by former L.A. Crenshaw standout Kevin Ollie. Under Ollie, UConn is aggressively recruiting prospects in Southern California. The Huskies have an interest in 2016 6-foot-7 wing Vance Jackson from La Salle of Pasadena and are hoping to make a late run at Stanley Johnson.