Boys of Summer: NorCal Tip-Off in SF

Tyler Brinkman, who will be a freshman during 2016-17 season at Richmond Salesian, grabs rebound for Splash City during NorCal TipOff Classic. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStarsMagazine.

Tyler Brinkman, who will be a freshman during the upcoming 2016-17 season at Salesian of Richmond, grabs rebound for Splash City during last weekend’s NorCal TipOff Classic. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStarsMagazine.

Some of the top boys basketball players from Northern California (plus many more from Oregon and Nevada) hit the hardwood at City College of San Francisco last weekend for another great event staged by NorCal hoops producer Gerry Freitas. We have highlights, players who broke through, watch lists and more. For many players, though, it’s just the first step in a month-long series of opportunities to show what they can do in front of college coaches.

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SAN FRANCISCO – The one and only Northern California certified event during the July NCAA viewing period where Division I college coaches can observe players live and in person came off like a charm at the NorCal Summer Tip-Off held last weekend July 9-10 at City College of San Francisco.

The 7th Annual event produced by Gerry Freitas showcased some of the top talent not just from Northern California but Oregon and Nevada as well.

The teams certainly play to win but there are no brackets or divisional winners and unlike other certified events coming up every team is guaranteed four games. The 17U teams mostly play each other as do the 16U and 15U teams but there is some crossover between the classes with some of the top underclass teams.

The Oakland Soldiers are always interesting to watch in every event they're in and one of their top players at the CCSF event was junior guard B.J. Shaw. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStarsMagazine.

The Oakland Soldiers are always interesting to watch in every event they’re in and one of their top players at the CCSF event was junior guard B.J. Shaw. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStarsMagazine.

The top teams certainly have winning on their minds but more importantly they are preparing for the remainder of the NCAA viewing period in events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas later this month where in order to get at least four games like the Summer Tip-Off Classic gives every team, winning is a key to advancing in tournaments that have divisional winners.

“Because Gerry’s event guarantees us four games it gives us a chance to get our feet back wet again after not playing for a month,” said Oakland Soldiers Elite Blue 17 head coach Raymond Thomas. “It’s about trying to figure out stuff and lineups, plus we hadn’t had Tavian Henderson and (Brian) B.J. Shaw with us since both were coming off injuries and didn’t play with us when we won Gerry’s Memorial Day event.”

In two Oakland Soldiers games observed, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, Henderson, a 6-4 wing from St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo, showed why he is one of the Bay Area and Northern California’s solid incoming senior prospects. He doesn’t have any offers but does have interest from Air Force and UC Davis plus a few others.

Thomas played Henderson sparingly in both games and tried to use him in several different lineups of the 11 players he used in each game. On Saturday, Henderson had 11 points and six rebounds with two assists in a 68-63 win over Chuck Hayes Basketball 17U comprised of players from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. On Sunday, he had 10 points (two 3-pointers), four rebounds, three assists and two steals against Team West Coast from Las Vegas. He showed a good inside/out game and is a tough match-up for most guards and some forwards.

“My goal in this first event was to get better heading into L.A. and Vegas,” Henderson said. “I feel like I was able to showcase some of my skills but I’m always working on improving.”

Shaw, a 6-foot-5 incoming senior forward from Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) and the son of former O’Dowd standout and NBA player and coach Brian Shaw, had two very solid outings himself and was very active on both ends of the court for just coming back after a month-plus off. He had 10 points (two 3-pointers) and four rebounds against Chuck Hayes Basketball 17U and eight points and three rebounds against Team West Coast. Shaw also has no offers but interest from San Francisco, UC Irvine and Sacramento State plus a few others, according to Thomas.

A player that could really light it up and was on a pre-tournament list of projected top performers provided by Freitas was Chuck Hayes Basketball incoming 6-foot-1 senior guard Darrian Grays of Modesto Christian of Modesto. Besides having a strong move to the basket he is an exceptional shooter. He had a game-high 18 points against the Oakland Soldiers that included four 3-pointers. An outstanding running back at defending CIF Small School Open Division champion Central Catholic (Modesto) that showed besides running with the pigskin he can burn up the hardwood with a high energy game was incoming 5-foot-11 senior guard Jared Rice. He had 11 points and three steals against the Oakland Soldiers.

Several other Oakland Soldiers played well. Incoming senior guard Bryant “BJ” Stanley Jr. from St. Patrick-St. Vincent, who has interest from UC Davis as well as some D2 schools, had six points and four assists against Chuck Hayes Basketball and five points and five assists against Team West Coast.

Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco incoming 6-foot-7 senior forward Ramzi Carter Jr. played very well on both ends of the floor in the Team West Coast game and finished with a team-high 11 points and six rebounds. Incoming Vanden-Fairfield senior 6-foot-2 guard Phoenix Shackelford had a team-high 15 points (two 3-pointers) and four rebounds in the Chuck Hayes game, and against Team West Coast of his eight points two came on treys including one from NBA range. Rodriguez-Fairfield incoming senior 6-foot-5 forward Zavier Lucero had nine points and 10 points in the two games, respectively. St. Patrick-St. Vincent incoming senior 6-6 wing Romeo Mays had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists against Chuck Hayes Basketball.

Another player for Chuck Hayes Basketball that made a favorable impression was incoming 6-foot-4 junior guard Wesley Williams-Burse from Enochs-Modesto.

The Oakland Soldiers Elite Blue 17 had a couple of days off and on Wednesday of this week they begin competition in the Double Pump Best of the Summer tournament at the American Sports Center in Anaheim. The following Wednesday they play in their third and final event of the July NCAA certified event viewing period when they travel to Las Vegas for the Big Foot Hoops Las Vegas Classic.


In a bit of an upset on Saturday, the Bay Area Warriors – Gold, coached by San Francisco University head coach Randy Bessolo, and consisting of all incoming seniors, jumped all over the NorCal Renegades and its CIF defending Division III state champion Manteca incoming 6-foot-7 senior forward Tydus Verhoeven in a 62-47 victory.

Darne Dockett was a standout for Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame last season when it won CIF D5 state title and shined for Bay Area Warriors. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStarsMagazine.

Darne Duckett was a standout for Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame last season when it won CIF D5 state title and shined for Bay Area Warriors. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStarsMagazine.

Even with 2016 grad and 6-10 Anand Hundal playing to try and get a scholarship, the boys from the CIFSJS area could not overcome the quickness of the Bay Area Warriors backcourt, and in particular Darne Duckett, a 6-1 guard from defending CIF Division V state champion St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda.

Whether he was going to the bucket, hitting the mid-range jumper or playing solid defense, Duckett, who does not have an offer, was outstanding and finished with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“Duckett is playing his butt off in this game. The guy is all over the place,” Freitas remarked, and added one of the UC Irvine coaches liked his game.

Another player to look for in the future is Tony Covington, a lightning-like quick guard that can get to the rack or pull up and shoot the three. He missed last season after transferring to Hayward Mt. Eden from De La Salle of Concord. He had 13 points with three 3-pointers against the NorCal Renegades.

On Sunday, the Bay Area Warriors – Gold were simply overmatched in an 89-50 loss to a Fly Select – Williams team with players from the Portland area. Even in defeat Duckett had a solid game and finished with 14 points (two 3-pointers), three assists and three steals. Tyler Hillman, a 6-4 wing from Sacred Heart Cathedral, had a team-high 18 points including two 3-pointers. Covington’s only score came on a trey but he had four steals and two assists.


Due to other commitments, the McClanahan twins from Richmond Salesian, incoming sophomore guards Jaden and Jovon, did not play for Splash City 15, but another incoming sophomore, 6-3 Will Chavarin of Bishop O’Dowd and some incoming freshmen did play and looked very good in two games observed on Sunday, including a 67-52 victory over Salt Lake Metro 2018 from Utah.

Chavarin had three 3-pointers en route to 10 points with six rebounds, but the kid that really turned some heads was Dublin incoming freshman Robbie Beasley. He only connected on one 3-pointer against the Utah boys but his high energy game helped the 6-foot-3 guard to finish with 15 points, five steals, five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

“Beasley will be one of the top incoming freshmen in Northern California,” said California Preps Sports analyst Brandon Tatera.

In a 68-63 loss to 1Team 1Dream from Modesto, Beasley had 14 points, including three 3-pointers.

“I want to try and show I can make the right basketball plays, and not just for me but by moving the ball around to create for my teammates,” Beasley said.

Another Splash City 2020 that impressed the scouts and coaches, and Rivals analyst Tatera also really liked was Salesian incoming 6-foot-7 freshman Tyler Brinkman. He had no fear against older boys in the paint.

“Look at his length and basketball instincts for a 2020. Salesian just keeps getting these top quality kids,” remarked Tatera.

“My goal in this tournament was to prove I can’t just be pushed around, and to show what I can do not what I can’t do,” Brinkman said.

One Splash City player did double duty and was very impressive in several games observed was 6-foot-3 incoming sophomore wing Dathan Satchell of Modesto Christian. He also played on 1Team 1Dream.


Speaking of the 1Team 1Dream team, the all underclass Modesto Christian (Modesto) group did very well and head coach and Modesto Christian head coach Richard Midgley is starting to like what he sees. In the game observed, they were a 68-63 winner over Splash City.

“This group has come a long way since April when they struggled. Now we’re starting to put it together,” said Midgley, who many consider one of the finest young coaches in California.

Besides Satchell, two other players made solid impressions, incoming 6-foot-8 junior post Gabe Murphy and his little brother 6-foot-3 incoming sophomore wing George Murphy.

Gabe showed shot-blocking abilities and has a nifty hook shot.

“We’re working on his footwork but Gabe lost a lot of weight and has come a long way,” Midgely said.

Current edition of SportStars Magazine

Current edition of SportStars Magazine


Besides some of the players already mentioned it would be unfair to not mention at least one of the top players from outside California that were observed over the weekend.

One of the best players at the event was Keishon Dawkins of Fly Select – Williams. The 6-foot-6 rock-solid West Linn (Tigard, OR) incoming junior was like a man among boys despite being underclass himself. He’s a lefty with moves, can hit the three-pointer and goes hard to the rack. On one play it looked like it might be a held ball but from his waist he went up and scored through the block attempt ala Wilt Chamberlain for a layup. That’s strength.


Many of the players not considered top or cream of the crop players have also already gotten mentions but here are a few more to add but only from games where they were actually observed.

Daniel Bessolo, Castro Valley, 6-4, 2017
Greg Milton III, Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove), 6-1, 2018
Terry Moody, Vista Del Lago (Folsom), 6-7, 2017
Torian Parmalee, California (San Ramon) 5-11, 2017
Aaron Paschini, Ripon, 6-0, 2017
Luke Spiller, California (San Ramon) 6-8, 2017
Cole Stevens, Ripon, 6-2, 2017
Jake Tulchinsky, University (San Francisco), 6-4, 2017
Tyler Williams, Modesto Christian, 6-3, 2018

We never got a chance to see Knights Basketball Academy play in San Francisco but in the parking lot we ran into Moreau Catholic (Hayward) head coach Frank Knight and he wanted to be sure and get a name out on the watch list that he believes will turn some heads, and that’s his Moreau incoming 6-foot-4 freshman point guard Kyree Walker, a supposed big-time dunking specialist whose family recently moved to Alameda County from Atlanta.


An interesting twist to the NorCal Summer Tip-Off was the participating boys had the best refs in Northern California – and they weren’t all men.

With 1995 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year and local official and officiating assigner Rene Robinson coordinating the efforts, the NorCal Summer Tip-Off was used as training of men’s and women’s college officials from the Pac-12, West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference.

All the women that officiated and participated in the training and teaching sessions are officials in one of the three conferences while a few of the men were high school officials looking to be evaluated for a move up to the college level.

In several of the games between top teams the three-official crews consisted of two women and one man, or a woman and two men, or they switched around at halftime – and the quality was excellent.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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