Posted On: 08/10/18 2:19 PM

The 3A classification will be more competitive than usual this upcoming season with plenty of teams returning depth and talent from last year. Further, Paradise Honors will feature one of the top teams in the state regardless of classification. This should be a fun year to follow 3A as there are multiple prospects whom college coaches should have on their radars.

1. Paradise Honors

There is no doubt about who the front runner is to win the state championship for 3A: Paradise Honors. They could compete in the higher classifications due to the amount of length and talent that they possess. This team has potential to be one of the top teams in 3A history.

The group brings back Josh HawkinsJohn Jackson, and Jalen Scott. As if this trio was not enough, they were blessed with some huge transfers as well. Roy Eze provides the group with a versatile 6’7 PF who can shoot the basketball well and attack the rim with great aggression.

In addition to Eze, Jerry Iliya, Matur Dhal, and Wyatt Bell. Iliya and Dhal bring the team length and versatility as well. Iliya is a skilled wing with great length, athleticism, and skill. Dhal is a little more raw. However, he is 6’10 and has a tremendous motor. Bell will be a knockdown shooter who will stretch the floor for the group.

While 3A will be talented, it is hard to see anyone in the 3A world knocking them off.

2. Winslow

The defending champs will be good next year and contend for the state title once again despite losing their leading scorer. What they will bring back is some youth and Darius James. James will go from being the second leader in the vast majority of the statistical categories to being the top dog.

In addition to James, Winslow will have Yoann Djassa as well as Zach Wagner. Both of these 2020 prospects played huge minutes and substantial roles for the team this past season despite their youth. They will get more opportunities this upcoming season and more pressure. However, they have demonstrated that they know how to win. This will be a tough group to beat.

3. Blue Ridge

Much like Winslow, Blue Ridge, who finished 2nd in the state championship game last year, lost their leading scorer. However, they bring back multiple prospects who have proven that they can be productive playmakers at the 3A level.

The top prospect coming back for Blue Ridge is Darrien Burnette. Burnette was the second leader in scoring and rebounds for the team in addition to being the leader in assists this past season. He is ready for a bigger role and has demonstrated that he can run a team and make his teammates better.

In addition to Burnette, Corey Endfield had a lot of success on the varsity level last year and figures to be a big part of the plans for the team this upcoming season. With Endfield and Burnette running the show, expect RJ Tate to step up and play a bigger role for the group.

4. Valley Christian

Valley Christian will be without a doubt one of the top teams in 3A. This group has a number of solid returners with Connor Braun leading the headlines. Braun provides the group with a versatile 4/5 who can score the basketball from an array of spots on the floor. He will most likely lead the team in points and rebounds.

In addition to Braun, the team will have contributions from Zach Timmer, Jalen Grijalva, and Logan Phillips. Timmer led the group in scoring last year while Grijalva led the team in assists with Braun averaging nearly 3 a game as well. Phillips is a skilled underclassmen who will step into a bigger role as a junior.

This team has plenty of pieces to be competitive at the 3A level.

5. Florence

Unlike most of the teams on this list, Florence will have the benefit of having their top prospect returning Nick Tucker. Tucker averaged nearly 18 points and 6 rebounds per game for Florence this past season in which they had a lot of success and made a deep run in the state tournament.

Expect much of the same from the team with Tucker running the show once again. Tucker will have plenty of help as well with Rarey Sommer returning who led the team in rebounding this past season. His presence on the glass was vital to the team’s success as he aided the team in winning the vast majority of rebounding battles.

Sommer and Tucker will also have help from Zion White. With these three prospects returning, Florence is more than capable of doing damage this upcoming season.

Honorable Mentions: Chinle, Wickenburg, American Leadership Academy, Globe, Safford