Posted On: 11/12/18 12:26 AM
We have waited far too long and basketball season is finally upon us. On Monday, November 19, the season will officially kick off for many of the teams in Arizona.One of the top tournaments in the state the past couple of years has been the Tip Off Classic, which is hosted by Salpointe. Below is an in-depth look into the event:
1. Structure of The Tip Off Classic
One of the features that has made this tournament special in the past is that it usually brings together the Tucson and Phoenix teams. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this upcoming season.
With that said, there is still plenty of talent at the event. Pool A, which features Desert View, Ironwood Ridge, Sahurita and Salpointe; will all play each other with the top two teams moving on to bracket play while the bottom two teams move to consolation.
As far as Pool B is concerned, they will have Canyon Del Oro, Nogales, Pueblo, and Tucson
2. Top 3 prospects
Evan Nelson 6’2 PG 2020 Salpointe
Nelson is paired with the other top prospect at the event in Majok Deng. Nelson has vastly improved his game. He is more than just a playmaker who uses on ball screens extremely well.
Rather, he is a knock down shooter from deep who can score the basketball at all three levels and makes great reads with the ball. While Salpointe is loaded and Deng plays his part, Nelson is arguably the most important piece to this team.
He gets guys involved and makes people better while being able to score the basketball at an alarmingly high rate.
Majok Deng 6’5 SF 2019 Salpointe
Deng’s abilities are well documented. He is a stat sheet stuffer whose biggest strength might be his ability to shoot the basketball at an extremely high rate from deep while being a solid on ball defender.
Deng does a little bit of everything which has made him intriguing to colleges at the next level. They love his motor, strength, and shooting. Deng will provide all of those things for Salpointe this upcoming season.
CJ Cervantes 5’11 PG 2019 Nogales
Cervantes is one of the top shooters in this event. He can let it fly as well as anyone. He plays with a lot of confidence and the team will look to him to provide a lot of scoring due to Sammy Legleu’s departure.
Cervantes will be the go to prospect for Nogales in the 5A world. This will be his chance to have a breakout week prior to the start of the season. Make no mistake about it, he will do just that.
3. Stock Risers to watch
Kolby Lathrop 6’4 SF 2020 Ironwood Ridge
Ironwood Ridge played well this summer and fall under the new leadership of Head Coach Le’Sean Marks. Lathrop was a huge part of that. He is versatile and athletic. As he continues to improve his consistency, Ironwood Ridge could become a state tournament contender.
Eli Williams 6’5 SF/PF 2019 Desert View
Williams will be a key part to whatever success Desert View has this upcoming season. He is long and has a great motor. He is a monster on the glass and creates plenty of scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
While Desert View has a long ways to go, Williams will be a crucial part of the team’s overall improvement. He is a balanced prospect who will be a head ache for opposing teams to slow down due to his versatile scoring abilities and toughness.
Luc Rosenblatt 6’2 SG 2019 Salpointe
Rosenblatt was a key part of the huge lead that Salpointe built in the state championship game due to his shooting abilities from deep. He will provide Nelson another target to kick out to when he gets into the paint. Rosenblatt has decent size and can let it fly as well as anyone at the Tip Off Classic.
Byron Brown 6’2 SG 2020 Sahuarita
Brown has been a key part of Sahuarita for the past couple of seasons. His role will be that much bigger this upcoming season. He will be looked to be the team to not only be competitive in this event but for the duration of the season. He is no longer an underclassmen and steps into the ranks of an upperclassmen with a lot of pressure riding squarely on his performance.
4. Top Teams in Pool A
Without a doubt, Salpointe is the top overall team in this event. In fact, Salpointe is poised to be one of the top ten teams in the state regardless of classification. With that said, the top tier teams in 4A are nothing to joke around about. There is plenty of talent at that level and Salpointe will need to be ready to play every night and win close games if they are hoping to play for their third consecutive state title.
Ridge is going to be one of the most surprising teams in 5A this upcoming season. While they still have plenty of work to do, they have some pieces to build around with Lathrop being the biggest piece. They should be able to finish 2nd in their pool which will most likely enable them to see Nogales or Tucson in the championship side of the bracket.
5. Top Teams in Pool B
Nogales will have some new faces scoring the basketball at a high rate this year with Cervantes being the most notable. While this team did lose their top scorer from last year, they bring back a good portion of talent from last year’s team which should help them due to their experience.
Joseph Shelby and Mark Hunter are still unknowns to an extent. They have scored the basketball effectively and contributed at the varsity level. However, losing Eddie Cordova and Derek Williams will be huge for the team. With that said, Shelby and Hunter will be the go to prospects, and they will be ready to go.