Posted On: 07/17/18 2:44 AM
The Under Armour Challenge took place this past weekend in Atlanta, Georgia at the beautiful Lake Pointe Sports Community. While teams from all over America were in attendance, the state of Arizona had two representatives in Alvin Gentry Elite and Powerhouse Hoops, who had three of their elite teams ranging from 15U-17U.
Alvin Gentry Elite finished the weekend going 4-1. Powerhouse, as a program, finished off 8-5. Their 15U Elite team (Compton) finished 3-1 by going undefeated in their pool before losing in the Elite 8 to one of the top 15U teams in America in the Illinois Wolves. Powerhouse’s 16U Elite squad (Ortega) went 3-1 as well, suffering a narrow loss to one of the top teams on the UAA circuit in the G3 , before finishing off the event with a very impressive 20-point win over a talented and athletic Team Rio that already has multiple prospects with D1 offers. The 17U UAA team had it’s ups and downs over the week and finished 2-3. With a solid win against and a very impressive win against , they dropped the other three games by giving up some big runs in the second half.
I was proud to say I was representing Arizona while sitting in the coaches section and watching some of our state’s top talent go to work in front of over 100 college coaches from all across the country. Here were some of the prospects that really stood out.
Alvin Gentry Elite
6-foot-8 2019 power forward Shaun Wahlstrom (Estrella Foothills) was tough all weekend long and more than held his own against some teams with a lot of Division-I level size on their roster. Wahlstrom is one of my favorite players to watch on an Arizona hardwood. He plays so hard and already has college-ready body to go with his length. He is not going to wow you with his hops but he has the ability to put it down with some authority. He knocks down the 3 on a consistent basis and plays the game the way it is taught to be played. He is starting to cause some buzz amongst some low and mid major D1 programs.
6-foot-2 2019 shooting guard Carter Murphy (Arcadia) shot the leather off the ball, as per the usual with him, all weekend long. He is making a strong case as being considered the top shooter in the state. I have still yet to see a ball come off of his hand that does not look good. No question, down two with a shot to win the game, I’m giving it to Murphy to let it fly. I have seen him on a limited basis, but I become a little more of a fan each and every time I watch him gun them deep balls. Plays with such a high basketball IQ as well. He had many D1 coaches sitting courtside saying they wouldn’t mind having a Carter Murphy on their roster.
6-foot-8 2019 forward Ethan Spry (Scottsdale Christian) turned a few heads out in Atlanta with his combination of size and versatility. His ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and still finish inside with the big boys had some people chirping. While he is not a freak athlete, he is much more athletic than the eye test would give him credit for. I really like his ability to pull a big man out of his comfort zone on this team. He rounds out a trio of them that can make guys bigger than them have that deer in the headlights look when they pull out extended past the 3-point line.
6-foot-1 2019 point guard Reed Myers (Scottsdale Christian) is not going to blow you away with ankle-breaking crossovers or get-up-out-of-your-seat no-look passes. He is not going to attempt a dunk no matter how many times you watch him. But Myers might end up being the one player that you don’t quite know what to do with on the floor. Common basketball sense told most teams this past weekend to try to pressure him. That did not work as I don’t remember seeing him commit one turnover when I got my eyes on their court. So you sag off and see if he can knock down the shot. And he can. He makes the right pass and when he gets the ball to his shooters on the wing, that pass usually ends up right in their shooting pocket. He is as steady and solid at that position as you can ask for on a team that embodies that ID of taking care of the ball and getting quality possessions.
Powerhouse 15U Elite
One of the top prospects in the 2022 class, 6-foot-10 power forward Dylan Anderson (Perry), was so good throughout this event. Most of the time he looked like the best player and prospect on the floor. His shot from the mid-range and 3-point level was falling to go with his usual inside game that is as advanced as I have seen personally for his age. He also was a load on the defensive end, blocking and disrupting shots in the paint.
6-foot-8 2021 forward DaRon Holmes (Millennium) was in usual form, thriving in transition, penetrating to the rim and dropping dimes from the small forward position. His passing ability is vastly becoming his most impressive offensive skill. His length and court vision, mixed with a very unselfish nature, allows him to often times be the best playmaker on the floor. He finished top 10 in rebounds per game.
Holmes Millennium High teammate, 5-foot-11 2021 point guard Justus Jackson brought it for the majority of the event. His most impressive game was , where he dropped 16 points, . When his shot is falling he is tough to deal with from the perimeter given the fact that he is plays with so much confidence and belief in his ability. When he finds that next gear on penetration, he is going to be a real problem.
6-foot-4 2021 wing Max Majerle (Arcadia) just flat out brings it every time his sneakers hit the hardwood. He looks like he is getting a little bouncier by the day and his motor is unmatched by any underclassmen in the state that I have seen thus far. He still struggles to knock down the perimeter shot and learning how to take some sauce off the ball when penetrating so aggressively, but those things will come. It’s the energy on defense and when crashing the glass that you fall in love with. That was the story once again this past week.
6-foot-10 2021 center Matur Dhal (Paradise Honors) is coming leaps and bounds every time I see him. He is still so raw but is starting to understand the game and how to move on the court so fast. When I look at him I see a kid that in 6 or 7 years is going to lead a conference in blocked shots and be at the top in rebounds. How much he figures out on the offensive end and how fast will determine what conference that will be, but you see the make-up of it early.
Powerhouse 16U Elite
6-foot-4 2020 guard Kiimani Holt (Rancho Solano Prep) received his first offer on Saturday afternoon after finishing up the event by dropping 26 points on Team Rio. He finished Top 10 in scoring for the 16U Division, averaging . Everyone knows Holt for his freakish athleticism and bounce, but his shooting touch looks like it is finally starting to find its mark. He shot it well from the perimeter and some with defenders draped all over him, as it became known very fast that he was the certified bucket that the state knows him to be.
6-foot-1 2020 point guard Tay Boothman (Buckeye) turned some heads this past week that had never seen him play before. Despite his slim frame, the kid plays with so much passion, intensity and heart and is the heart beat of a very talented 16U squad. When he gets hot from the outside, the fire marshal always needs to be set on speed dial. The most impressive stat of his in this event though was in the assist category, where he finished in assists amongst the 16U field. Also brought it on the defensive end.
6-foot-3 2020 point guard Evan Nelson (Salpointe Catholic) just goes on stretches where he looks unstoppable. His ability to shift directions with the ball so fast and quick is uncanny. He is such a good finisher off of penetration and with absorbing contact. Also showed off his ability to drop a dime into the fountain with his ability to drive and draw the double team near the rim.
This would not be a proper review if you didn’t talk about 6-foot-2 2020 sharp shooting guard Brycen Long (Gilbert) and the performance he put on. After hitting 7 3-pointers in their final game against Team Rio, college coaches are starting to ask “who is Brycen Long?” He also defends so much better than what the eye test may tell you and has a knack for being in position to get steals and get his team out into the open floor, where this team in particular thrives. He might have been the biggest breakout performers of any of the Arizona players over the week.
6-foot-9 2020 power forward Hunter Ruck (Rancho Solano Prep) started a little on the slow side and had his ups and downs over the first couple of games while nursing a mild achillis injury while taking part in the Stanford Elite Camp prior to flying out to Atlanta. In the last game, against some big men with multiple D1 offers, Ruck shined. He showed off a little bit of everything in that game. He rebounded and played tough down low on both ends, unpeeled a little bit of that powerful athleticism that he possesses and had some big time post moves over legit post defenders. A right-handed hook he pulled off in that game looked like a text book play from the Kevin McHale days.
Powerhouse 17U UAA
6-foot-6 2019 wing Jordan Mains (Pinnacle) had himself some shooting performances most in the stands won’t forget for a little while. It wasn’t so much the volume of shots he was putting up, but that everything he did put up either looked good or was good. Even with just inches of space, he was cashing in from behind the 3-point line and deep into the perimeter. That shooting earned him an offer from Air Force and gained some very serious and heavy interest out of multiple schools.
6-foot-7 2020 forward Andre Harris (Bella Vista Prep) has reached another level of his game on a national level. He is so dominant at times and I have yet to see him have a game where he didn’t look that way on the offensive end. He has also been very solid on the defensive end and great on the boards. He can clear out space in the lane in a hurry and surprises you with his handle and ability to get his own shot off, especially on the perimeter. His bounce that comes with his 6-7, 240-pound frame is the thing that makes most college coaches drool. Phones will probably be blowing up this week on him from college coaches.
6-foot-4 2019 guard/wing Jackson Ruai (Amphitheater) is a different animal on the defensive end. There are not many I have seen come out of the state of Arizona that can handcuff a perimeter scorer like he can. His wingspan is absolutely ridiculous and how laterally quick he is, as he seems to always be on his toes and ready to cut off a drive. His leaping ability makes him a legitimate threat to pin one on the backboard on every drive that he trails and the pride he takes on that end makes any college coach smile. His pure athleticism gave him most of his buckets over the weekend as his obvious need of improvement is his touch from the perimeter.
5-foot-11 2019 point guard Zach Paloma (Sunnyslope) was so solid in every game he played. For a team that struggles at times with full-court pressure, Paloma was mostly a saving grace. The kid is fearless and has no issue with driving the ball down the gut of a defense. Showcased his court vision and ability to make difficult passes to get the ball to open shooters and finished some impressive off-the-glass finishes over 6-5+ defenders. He gets so low on the defensive end that it looks like a pit bull winding up for the attack on a stranger stepping in his backyard.
6-foot-5 2019 guard/wing Otis Frazier III (Buckeye) had a few ups and down of his own over the week but still came out of most games looking intriguing to multiple college coaches. The great thing to see out of him was that when the offense wasn’t clicking for him, he channeled his energy and attention to the defensive side of the ball and played big on the boards for an undersized but athletic team. He finished off some difficult buckets in transition and got to the line as much as anyone. Known as a streaky shooter, he did not shoot the ball all that well from the outside, but it wasn’t hard to see the tools he has in the box.
***Note: Six offers were dished out in the last 72 hours to Arizona players that took part in this event including Carter Murphy (Army), Kiimani Holt (Northern Arizona and Portland State), Hunter Ruck (Northern Arizona), Jordan Mains (Air Force) and Tay Boothman (Denver). Many more on the way…