Posted On: 08/2/18 2:12 PM

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. This report will discuss the top playmakers in Vegas. 

Las Vegas live periods: Best San Diego Playmakers

2021 Gamepoint PG Hayden Gray possesses exceptional court vision and feel

Hayden Gray, 5-11 PG, Gamepoint 15u Elite

The crafty lead guard makes players around him better with his high IQ and court vision. He changes the cadence of his dribble effectively to keep defenses off balance and set up plays out of the pick-and-roll. Gray uses his eyes to misdirect defenses and create passing lanes for teammates in drive-and-kick or dump offs to cutters and post players. Perhaps the most promising area of Gray’s game has been his physical growth: he’s grown 5 inches in a year. This bodes well for him moving forward. 

Gio Martinez, 5-7 PG, WCE 16u San Diego 

Diminutive in stature, Martinez is a blur on the court. But the playmaking point guard has learned to harness his speed and play with different speeds. In the game against All-Utah Basketball, Martinez hit big shots and made big plays for his teammates down the stretch. A slick passer off of dribble penetration, Martinez had several dazzling assists in the game. Compactly built, Martinez is a feisty on-ball defender who gives maximum effort. 

RJ Banks, 2019 PG, Gamepoint 17u Elite 

Banks’ approach to the point guard position reminds me of a poor man’s Andre Miller. The lanky lead guard plays at his own pace, which I can best describe as methodical. He lulls the defense to sleep and uses a subtle change in speed to get into the paint, where he finishes plays through contact. Banks is a solid passer out of the pick-and-roll, and doesn’t get the credit he deserves creating scoring opportunities for his teammates on the perimeter and in the paint. 

Albert Pichardo, 2020 6-3 WF, San Diego All-Stars 

The big-bodied “point forward” serves as one of SDA’s primary ball handlers, and creates for others off his penetration. He drives assertively and in straight lines, and locates shooters on the wing when the help side defense commits. He did this time and time again over the weekend. Pichardo also rebounds the ball well, which allows him to spark the transition offense, where he can score himself or make plays for his teammates. 

Makiah Morris, 6-2 G, Gamepoint 17u Select

The “jack of all trades’ combo guard fills the stat sheet with his ability to score, rebound and create plays for teammates. He gets most of his assists on drive and kicks to open shooters, but has shown growth playing in the pick and roll.