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Posted On: 08/6/18 4:28 PM
With Football right around the corner, it is easy to get excited about Friday Night Lights. However, for those of us who need basketball in our lives, there is light at the end of the tunnel. November is quickly approaching and here are the top teams that will via for the crown in 6A.
There is a simple formula to winning the 6A state championship: Beat Pinnacle. While it looks easy and is simple, it is quite a challenge to accomplish. Nico Mannion is one of the top prospects in Arizona and in the nation. The elusive guard makes everyone around him better. Needless to say, he is the real deal.
As if having to guard Mannion is not enough, Pinnacle brings to the table three other prospects who are earning NCAA Division-I interest in Jordan Mains, Trent Brown, and Tosh Baker. Mains and Brown can both shoot the lights out of the gym and understand their role within the team. They rarely make mistakes and do things that win games. Baker is an improved post presence for this group as well.
One of the biggest questions lingering over the group is who will be the fifth starter? After watching this past club season, my bet would be Marcus Libman. Libman fits really well into this group as he makes good decisions with the basketball and makes his teammates better. Further, he is a knockdown shooter from deep; thus giving Pinnacle four shooters on the court along with a solid post presence. Lastly, he is a skilled on ball defender.
While Pinnacle lost a couple of key pieces from last year’s team, this group has the potential to be better and deeper than last year. Bad news for 6A: It won’t be easy to dethrone the king!
While Mountain Pointe, Brophy, and Desert Vista were legitimate contenders to knock off Pinnacle last year, this team has the potential to be better than all of Pinnacle’s challengers from last year.
The group will be led by an extremely talented guard in Jalen Williams. Williams possesses good length and can shoot the basketball as well as any guard in the state. Last year, he lit opponents up while averaging nearly 22 points per game. In addition to Williams, Kyle Patterson is back. Patterson is one of my favorite prospects in the state do to his do it all mentality. He can fill up a stat sheet quickly and does everything well.
In addition to Williams and Patterson, Carter Van Hammond and Dylan Anderson provide this team with more length than any team in 6A. Van Hammond had some success at the varsity level as a freshman. Further, he played well this past live period. He looks poised to be a solid contributor on this roster. Anderson, who does not have any varsity experience yet, might be one of the best big men in the state. He currently holds multiple NCAA Division-I offers while not touching the varsity hardwood.
This group has more depth as well in prospects like Bauer Bongard, D’Shayne James, Jase McCullough, and Evan Skeoch.
While Mountain Pointe lost some of their key contributors from last year’s team, they still look stout and prepared to compete at a high level. The top prospect on this team is without a doubt Jalen Graham. Graham has had the potential and has blown up throughout the live period while participating with Team Why Not.
Graham is a versatile big man with a soft touch around the rim and the ability to posterize anyone who dares to rotate in help side. He is one of the most skilled forward/center prospects in the state and will make this team difficult to beat.
In addition to Graham, Mountain Pointe has a bulldog in their point guard Khalid Price. Price is the ultimate competitor who is not afraid to compete with anyone. He is a lockdown defender who understands how to put his teammates in positions where they can be successful. He will be the guiding force for Mountain Pointe this upcoming season.
Further, Mountain Pointe features up-and-coming big man Dre Henry. Henry averaged nearly 7 points and 7 rebounds per game last year. He recently made the decision to quit football, despite being a big time prospect, as a means of focusing solely on basketball. During his time with Team Harden this summer, he showed more skill and he was more durable.
Chavez has one of the best backcourts in the state returning, with Pinnacle probably being their biggest competitor in this regard as well. TyTy Washington has the best mid-range jumper in the state and is consistent from 3 as well as in the paint. His ability to score from all three levels makes him tough.
Ricardo Sarmiento is the second part of the backcourt. He makes the team go due to his high basketball IQ and toughness. He is as good of an on-ball defender as there is in 6A. Further, he makes great decisions with the basketball and plays hard. Both Sarmiento and Washington are not afraid to get after it with the top dogs. Their confidence is contagious and this group will feel like they can beat anyone on any night. Heads up: They can.
While Brophy will be young and lost their key prospects from last year’s state tournament run, they should still be solid. Ryan Gilburn and Marquise White will primarily lead the way for the team. Gilburn is a knockdown shooter from deep who can manage the tempo of the game while White gets after it on the defensive end. These two will need to play well in order for Brophy to hold this spot.
In addition to these two, Basil Ribakare showed flashes of being able to provide a consistent and effective post presence over this summer with Factory. Despite battling through injuries Ribakare demonstrated good athleticism and a soft touch around the rim.