Posted On: 12/30/17 11:11 AM
San Diego took center stage on Tuesday, the eve of the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, as six of the top-ranked local teams participated in a pre-tournament showcase.
The night was full of surprises, as La Jolla Country Day topped No. 3 Mission Bay and St. Augustine handed undefeated Torrey Pines its first loss.
So, what did we learn from the Holiday Classic Prelude? We’ll cover them in a few bullet points:
The 6-4 junior guard is known for his knockdown shooting, but Langborg showed the entire repertoire in the Torreys win over Mission Bay. He scored off of aggressive drives to the rim, mid-range pull-ups and off the catch, despite being guarded by one of San Diego’s top on-ball defenders. He hit a mid-post turnaround jumper during the Torreys fourth-quarter run that was very impressive. Langborg doesn’t force the issue; he scores in the flow of the offense and capably facilitates for teammates.
A high-academic 6-2 senior combo guard, Cho had the job of face guarding Boogie Ellis in the Torreys box-and-1 defense. And Cho responded with a brilliant effort on both ends. On defense, he denied Ellis catches and contained him off the dribble when he did allow a catch. Offensively, Cho knocked down shots from three and attacked the rim for layups and drew fouls. Cho could played at the Division 2 level, but with MIT and Caltech among the schools courting him, he’s probably going the high-academic route.
This week will likely be the turning point in the 6-2 Mission Bay scoring guard’s recruitment, after uncorking massive games against Bishop O’Dowd and Foothills Christian. But in the showcase, as referenced above, La Jolla Country Day did as good of a job as anyone has done on Ellis in recent memory. Torrey defenders took turns face-guarding Ellis, while the other four defenders zoned up the Bucs supporting cast. Other teams chose not to guard Ellis this way, and he made them pay. Just ask the Dragons, who boast a Division 1 back court in Elijah Hardy and Naseem Gaskin – Ellis scored 42 points against them. High major interest will follow in earnest.
It becomes more and more apparent with each game that 6-4 Torrey Pines G Finn Sullivan is worthy of Division 1 recruitment. Sullivan is the quintessential late-bloomer prospect, as evidenced by his 6-inch growth spurt between his sophomore and senior year. Against St. Augustine, he had stretches where he took advantage of the Saints defensive plan to switch ball screens by blowing by the switch and scoring at the rim with ease. When the Saints made the adjustment and had a defender waiting for him in the block, Sullivan knocked down mid-range shots or found the open man with the pass. But what stood out most about Sullivan’s performance are his intangibles: he leads vocally on the floor and on the bench, and his teammates take heed. UCSD, which recently announced a jump to Division 1, has been recruiting him the hardest. Other Big West programs should follow their lead.
Let’s make one thing clear: Pope, a 6-2 2019 shooting guard from Torrey Pines, has nothing physically in common with Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson. But you won’t find a more efficient scorer in San Diego – or any place – than Pope. He scored 35 points against St. Augustine in a losing effort, and might have done it on fewer than 10 dribbles. He’s the perfect fit for John Olive’s swing offense, which employs pin downs, curl screens and other screen action to generate efficient scoring looks for its players. Pope is a smooth shooter from the outside, but his work around the basket makes him one of the region’s toughest covers.
San Diego basketball fans got a glimpse into the future Tuesday night, and his name is Chibuzo Agbo. The 6-7ish Saints forward put on an impressive scoring performance in the Saints upset win over Torrey Pines. He scored from all three levels, displaying newfound confidence in his perimeter shooting. His transition pull-up three was one of the evening’s highlights. Additionally, Agbo is a strong rebounder and a willing defender who can guard multiple positions at the high school level. If he continues to shore up his non-dominant hand and his ball handling, Agbo has Top-50 potential in the 2020 class – nationally.
After transferring from Point Loma, Gharram, a 6-2 point guard, has wasted little time putting his stamp on Foothills offense. Gharram’s passing IQ is well documented, but his ability to score from all three levels adds a different dimension to the Knights offense. His pass-score decision making has improved since last year, as has his effort on defense. He needs to tighten his shooting mechanics (floats on pull-ups), but he’s arguably the top point guard prospect in the 2020 class in San Diego.
The Crusaders have a nice blend of youth and experience, led by 6-7 unsigned senior swingman Trey Anderson. Anderson had a quiet 25 points in the loss to Foothills Christian, but shot the ball well from the perimeter and competed on the boards. Beon Riley, a 6-5 sophomore guard, is a beast attacking the basket. Quietly, 6-2 senior Josh Tawhiao is having a great season for the Crusaders, and is becoming an ex-factor regionally. His ability to knock down shots from three and off the pull-up is very impressive. Division 2 or NAIA schools need to take note.
The Crusaders will be relevant for a while because of their youth. The team boasts a quintet of talented freshmen, starting with frosh starting forward Melo Sanchez. Sanchez, a 6-3 wing, has the passing IQ and unselfishness that makes him a hand-in-glove fit. 6-0 PG Jessie Campbell has the most upside of the class. His athleticism and speed is eye-popping, as is his motor and defense.
Expect the Crusaders to be an Open Division contender come February.