Posted On: 12/14/17 1:45 PM
From the first game of the eight-hour Coast News Classic finale to the championship game, one thing was evident: The class of 2019 was well represented.
Here were some of the players who caught our attention last weekend in that junior class.
Ryan Langborg, 6-4 G, La Jolla Country Day
Torrey Pines made a concerted effort to deny Langborg the ball on the wing during the championship game, a testament to his importance to the Torreys offense. Langborg freed himself in the fourth, scoring 9 of his 16 points in the final quarter to cut the Falcons lead to 7. He has unlimited range on his jump shot and has a solid pull-up from midrange. Langborg, who holds several Division I offers, needs to make a greater effort to attack the basket, which will make him an ever more potent offensive threat.
Bryce Pope, 6-2 G, Torrey Pines
Pope didn’t have a great shooting performance, but the sharpshooter hit timely baskets from three and the midpost. In John Olive’s system, the guards get a lot of post touches, and Pope used his size and skill on the block to repeatedly score over some of Country Day’s smaller defenders. His improved strength and lateral quickness translate to the defensive end, where he’s improved at keeping smaller guards in front of him. Pope is establishing himself as one of the region’s top scoring guards in the 2019 class.
Nate Jacobsen 6-1 G, Temecula Valley
If there was one player who really helped themselves at this event, it was Jacobsen. The junior combo guard has a nose for the ball, on both ends. He seemingly had his hand on every rebound and loose ball, and was made something happen on every touch on offense. And he scored in a variety of ways to boot, hitting shots from 3 (fluid release), midrange, off of drives and at the foul line. His stat line proves it: 19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals in the loss to El Camino. Jacobsen was easily the breakout prospect of the event.
Adam Chang, 6-5 W, Westview
Chang was one of the revelations of the event. A high-level volleyball player, change showed some savvy off the bounce and the ability to knock down the the open three, hitting four in the first half. He’s a bouncy athlete and a solid on-ball defender. He needs to make more contributions on the boards, where he doesn’t have the impact that you would expect given his athleticism.
Noah Viera, 6-7 PF, Torrey Pines
Viera was another player who had a coming-out party on the final day of the Coast News Classic. Viera outplayed his Country Day counterpart Jayson Taylor in the head-to-head of underrated junior post prospects, but did it from mid-range and from distance. Viera has a fluid shot and solid face-up skills from those areas, and was able to take advantage of Taylor patrolling the paint to step out and hit shots. He isn’t a great rebounder for his size and isn’t particularly long, but his offensive instincts translate well to being a face-up four on some level. As he continues to improve his interior play on both ends, what level will become evident.
Brogan Pietrocini, 6-5 PF, Carlsbad
Pietrocini is a nice blend of the “throwback” power forward and today’s face-up four. He’s very skilled and has great footwork on the block, but he can also take slower defenders off the dribble and knock down the corner three. Pietrocini is also a willing passer, evidenced by his team-high five assists, and works hard on the offensive and defensive glass. With improved conditioning and consistency from the perimeter, Pietrocini will emerge as a top 2019 prospect in San Diego entering into his senior year.
Carter Plousha, 6-5 W, Carlsbad
Plousha struggled from the field, but he quietly showed why he is becoming one of the region’s most versatile prospects. The long, lanky forward manned the point for Carlsbad for long stretches, scored off the wing, defended all five positions and rebounded and protected the rim from the weak side. He’ll need to continue to work on his jumpshot (flat, inconsistent rotation) and tighten his handle. But his defensive and offensive versatility make him a prospect to watch.
Jayson Taylor, 6-10 C, La Jolla Country Day
Taylor didn’t get a ton of touches in the championship game against Torrey Pines, but made the most of them, going 3-5 from the field, and even showed an improved hook shot over the left shoulder. But he showed big improvement on the defensive end, wiping away shots and rebounding in his area (10 boards). Taylor is getting better rebounding out of the area, but continued improvement in his lateral quickness will only help him in that category. He also needs to play with a lower center of gravity in the post, which will help him establish better position.
JL Skinner, 6-4 WF, Point Loma
Skinner is an intriguing prospect due to his improved ball skills (plays some point forward for Point Loma) and his jack-of-all-trades skill set. He made solid passes in the halfcourt and transition, he defended multiple positions on the perimeter and post and has an excellent motor. Skinner needs to continue to become a more confident ball handler and shooter to become more viable as a prospect, but there’s something here.
Michael Pope, 6-2 G, Torrey Pines
Michael Pope did a strong job on the boards for Torrey Pines, and hit timely threes during the game. While not as polished of a scorer from other levels as his twin brother, Michael is proving to be one of the region’s most accurate three point shooters.