I didn’t have a chance to dive deep into the SDSU team camp the way I would have liked. But on a Sunday afternoon, I caught a few hours of action, and left with some key takeaways looking ahead to the 2019-20 season.
SDSU Team Camp: Five takeaways
1.Foothills Christian will start in the Top 3 in San Diego
The Knights ran through the second SDSU team camp session, defeating Trabuco Hills, Mission Hills and Arroyo Grande by double digits on Sunday to claim the championship. They appear to be clicking on all cylinders, spearheaded by the smooth playmaking of rising senior Yassine Gharram, the improved scoring and defense of fellow 2020 Jalai O’Keith, and the explosive slashing of 2021 W Derrien Carter-Hollinger. The addition of Mater Dei Catholic shooting guard Nico Meza gives the team a reliable floor spacer. And rising sophomore Jaden LeBel appears to be taking the next step in Year 2.
2.Watch out for Christian
The Patriots have had a tumultuous off season and came into the event with an interim head coach and lots of questions. They left looking like a potential Top 10 preseason team. Buoyed by a quartet of returning starters and the addition of two key transfers, Christian has surprising depth and can beat you in a number of ways. Rising senior point guard Miles Williams is small but dynamic. Fellow senior Patrick Roberts is an improving rim protector and rebounder. Mater Dei transfers Jake Tawhiao and Vincent Warren provide toughness and added scoring punch. And they have a bona fide floor spacer in the form of 5-9 sophomore shooter Vinny Signorelli.
3. Kobe Sanders is rising in 2020
But the story with Christian has to be the rapid improvement of rising senior Kobe Sanders. He started his career as a 5-11 shooter at Steele Canyon. Now, Sanders has sprouted to 6-6 – and growing – but still has the ball skills and shooting. As a result, mid-major colleges have started to take a hard look at him. Cal Poly SLO offered in recent weeks, and more will likely follow.
4. Arroyo Grande is a team to watch
While I don’t cover the Central Coast, I know enough to know that Arroyo Grande has been one of the better programs in recent years. That doesn’t look to change, as the Eagles made a nice run to the title game. As fundamentally sound of a team you will see, they have a go-to scorer in 6-3 Gage Gomez. The lefty sharpshooter has a strong frame and has made strides scoring off the bounce. After watching a lot of NCAA Division 2 games this March, I could see Gomez being a perfect fit at that level.
5. Mission Hills is on the rebound
After one of its worst seasons in the past decade last year, the Grizzlies appear to be tracking in the right direction. The team starts four underclassmen -6-5 sophomore Diego Czarnowski, 6-4 forwards Justin White and Mike Miller, and 5-10 PG Austin Schultz. But they have a reliable – and prolific – scorer in 6-0 senior Robert Ligayon that puts it all together. The team pack-line defensive concept makes it tough to score against them, and the young Grizzlies are starting to learn how to score it too.