COTC 2018: Frosh sleepers

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 09/13/18 4:33 PM

Yeah, it’s a little late, but it’s my event. 

After closing the books on the 2018 3P Creme of the County, I had a chance to look back through notes on some players who really made an impression. Call them ‘sleepers’ or ‘under the radar,’ but these players were very good despite coming in with lesser visibility than their peers. 

First, I’ll start with some of the youngsters in the class of 2022 (ninth grade for those keeping score at home).

COTC 2018: Frosh sleepers

Vincent Berlucchi, 2022 W, Santa Fe Christian

Berlucchi stood out among his peers in the 2022 Select Game due to his metrics (6’3″ with nice length), his skill and nonstop motor. He competed on every play, and despite not scoring it a ton, had a huge impact on the proceedings. He’s a freshman to watch in San Diego.

Braden Kirkwood, 2022 W, Carlsbad

Let’s get this out of the way: Kirkwood doesn’t pass the eye test. At 6-2 and built, dare I say, chubby, he looks more like a football player than a hooper. But he’s good. Kirkwood has a nose for the basket, and scores on aggressive straight-line drives. He gets to the free throw line a ton as a result of the pressure he puts on the defense. As he improves his conditioning, his stock will only continue to climb. 

Angelo Rodriguez-Gil, 2022 G, Helix 

Rodriguez-Gil has a strapping frame for a guard, and looks to score off the bounce, and did so with regularity in the 2022 Select Game. He was tough once he got going downhill, and showed some shiftiness as well. He needs to develop his off hand and become more consistent shooting the deep ball, but the assertiveness and competitiveness are there. 

Chris Eugene, 2022 G, O’Farrell

O’Farrell has a good future building block in Eugene, the cat-quick pass-first point guard who caught my eye with his quick first step and unselfish passing. He was almost unselfish to a fault, as I wanted to see him take some of those shots off of strong dribble penetration. He’s got some growing to do (5-7), but he’s one of the better freshman point guards we’ve seen in San Diego.

Beau Rabe, 2022 G, La Costa Canyon

Rabe surprised me after clocking in at 5-6 because just 8 months ago calling him 5-2 would’ve been generous. Always a very skilled, crafty guard, the growth spurt has led to a spurt in confidence that was on display in the Select game. Between his passing, midrange and three-point shooting, Rabe had himself a day.

Evan Record, 2022 G, San Marcos

If there was a winner of the “all motor” award, Record would have been a runaway winner. With his team being demolished, Record game in and was disruptive to the tune of 8 steals in a 15-minute span in the 2nd half. This allowed his team to get back in the game. Additionally, Record’s speed with the ball and passing stood out. If he can finish plays through contact more consistently, he’s going to be an impact player for the Knights sooner than later. 

Nick Clotfelter, 2022 G, Bishop’s

Clotfelter is a player who screams “upside.” He’s wafer thin, but at 6-2 he’s got broad shoulders, long arms and a nice skill set on the perimeter and off the bounce. Don’t be surprised if sooner or later he’s playing in the Creme Game for his grade group.

Robert Aguirre, 2022 G, Marina

Hailing from my colleague Devin Ugland’s Orange County alma mater, Aguirre showed he could light it up much like Devin did back in high school. Aguirre, measuring at 6-0, has a picturesque and quick release and can shoot it from just about anywhere. Maybe it’s something in the water.

Josiah Novelozo, 2022 G, San Marcos

Novelozo gets a game ball from me simply by having the moxie to beat the best shooter on the West Coast (Ryan Langborg) straight up in the three point contest. He performed well in the Select Game, pairing with Aguirre and Record in the group that got the East team back into the game. 

Jacob Baba, 2022 F, San Marcos

It’s not easy being asked to guard a 6-10 kid at 6-4 (believe me, I know), but Baba did a fantastic job defensively and on the boards for the West Team. At 6-4, he’s raw offensively, but his length and defensive prowess are apparent. 

Justin White, 2022 W, Mission Hills

Justin White is a player who in a few years is going to be a problem. He’s just starting to turn the corner athletically, and his ball skills have come a long way since last year. His upside is definitely obvious.

Jaden LeBel, 2022 W, Foothills Christian 

LeBel was the fourth player on the East Creme team’s best lineup, and his contributions were huge. He scores it with ease around the rim, finishing plays through contact and in transition, where he ran the floor well. LeBel’s rebounding was also very potent, creating second, third and fourth chances on some possessions for his team.