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Posted On: 07/30/18 11:46 AM
LAS VEGAS – With literally hundreds of basketball teams converging on the Mecca of summer basketball, Las Vegas lived up to the hype.
My colleagues Frank Burlison and Joel Francisco were flanked across the region, capturing as much of the action as humanly possible, from Dinos Trigonis’ Las Vegas Fab 48 (perhaps the strongest field in the even’t history), Bigfoot Hoops’ Las Vegas Classic, the West Coast Elite UA Finals and Rising Stars Invitational and the Rebound Hoops Las Vegas Finals.
For my part, I’ll be breaking down the showing of the large San Diego contingent in a series of reports, starting with the 2019 standouts, with the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes to follow.
The 6-2 combo guard didn’t figure much into the scoring of the Soldiers win over the Broward County Cougars. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have an impact. His tough – and improved – on ball defense was key to slowing down the Cougars’ hot shooting guards. Ellis’ rebounding sprung many of the Soldiers’ second-half fast breaks. In the halfcourt, Ellis did a solid job feeding the ball into the team’s post players (a lost art in today’s game) and in transition, Ellis delivered crisp outlet passes and some highlight-variety lobs to his athletic teammates. With USC, San Diego State, Arizona and others on hand, Ellis did exactly what those coaches wanted to see – he played the right way.
It was my first time seeing Carter-Hollinger with his Oakland Soldiers team (he was very good with Foothills Christian in June). While his role is different, his impact on the game is just as strong. Carter-Hollinger is asked to be the “energy guy” off the bench, and he did just that. The 6-6 forward crashed the glass frequently and assertively, pursuing boards in and out of the paint, giving his team multiple extra possessions. Carter-Hollinger kept the ball high on offensive rebounds, allowing him to avoid the smaller guards digging at the ball. He also made several high-level reads out of the high-post area, and knocked down one or two 15-foot shots. A host of schools are recruiting Carter-Hollinger – none probably harder than Montana – and his play has certainly elevated his stock.
Langborg’s final AAU game was not the result he was looking for – a 30-point defeat at the hands of arguably the country’s top team, the Compton Magic. But Langborg more than acquitted himself, showing improved grit on the defensive end and scoring from all three levels. Langborg is a threat to score as soon as he crosses half court – his mechanics, balance and release are flawless. And he creates space by moving without the ball off of pin-down screens, curl action and flares. He also handles the ball well enough to create his shot off the dribble while being hounded by the opposing team’s top defender. Pepperdine, Rice, Santa Clara, Yale, Princeton and others were on hand at most of his games, and at least one coach raved about his performance against the Magic – “he was damn good.”
Pope has slowly but surely become the best offensive option on the California Select team. Evolving from just a spot-up shooter, Pope can handle the point guard duties well enough to initiate an offense. Once within the offensive set, he a good job of moving without the ball to score it efficiently. Against the athletic New York Gauchos, Pope freed himself for four threes and some midrange attempts. Throughout the weekend, Pope did an excellent job scoring off of one or two dribbles, using his strength to create space on mid-range pull-ups. Pope needs to work on tightening his handle against pressure. UC San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene and several other programs followed Pope throughout the weekend, and he is certainly worthy of that interest – and perhaps more.
Pope didn’t have a great start to his final game against the Compton Magic. But finished the game with a flourish with 10 or so points in the game’s final five minutes. He took the one-on-one matchup against Magic PG Kadar Waller to heart, and scored from three, the midrange and off the bounce. Pope’s scoring ability has been well documented throughout the summer, and his defense – once a liability – has improved to the point where he can keep quicker guards in front of him in the halfcourt. Pope’s ability to score against length will determine his level, but his recruitment already includes several Patriot League and Ivy League schools, which would be a solid landing spot.
The 6-3 combo guard had a streaky scoring game against the Compton Magic – indicative of his play on that end throughout the summer. But there is no more versatile of a defensive prospect in San Diego in that class. Blessed with impressive length, lateral quickness and strength, Hilstock is one of the few players who can defend 6-9 Isaiah Mobley, 6-6 Johnny Juzang and 6-2 Isaiah Hill in the same possession. On the block, he uses leverage against bigger opponents to keep them off balance. He uses his perimeter defensive instincts to make it difficult for player to get open looks or score on drives. Hilstock knocked down a few threes and slashed to the basket to get to the foul line. But he must shoot at a more consistent clip to keep defenses honest.
Wired to score the ball in bunches, Mojus did just that in the NY Gaunchos game. He hit 5 threes, including a couple off the dribble, but he was at his best from mid-range. Mojus does a great job creating separation off the bounce to set up his potent mid-range pull-up and step-back shots. He also has the length and quickness to be an exceptional on-ball defender, showing flashes of it during the game. But the next step is to give a consistent effort the entire defensive possession (needs to improve helpside defense). Offensively, as well, his passing in the halfcourt and handle against pressure are areas of needed improvement. With that said, I consider Mojus one of Southern California’s most underrated rising senior scoring guard prospects.