Hoophall West: 5 Things We Learned
National Grassroots Editor
Ronnie has evaluated basketball talent for 20 years and has over 15 years of experience in publishing, editing and managing high school sports websites for companies such as Student Sports, ESPN and Ballislife. Ronnie compiles the FAB 50 National Team Rankings while serving as an account manager and consultant for grassroots event run by Ballislife and other companies, in addition to serving as a color commentator on high school broadcasts.
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We evaluated all the games at Hoophall West in Scottsdale, Ariz. and these are the most prominent things we took away from the three-day event.
More Hoophall West: The Maturation of Melo | Pinnacle’s Preparation
1. The Top Players Are Living Up To The Hype
The 3-day Hoophall West featured 16 games and 24 teams and every single star player lived up to his advanced billing. There wasn’t an elite player who didn’t make some sort of impact in his respective game(s). Nico Mannion of Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.), Isaiah Mobley of Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.), Jalen Green of San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.), Anton Watson of Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.), De’Vion Harmon and Jalen Wilson of Guyer (Denton, Texas), Kyree Walker of Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.), LaMelo Ball of Spire Institute (Geneva, Ohio), Jaden Hardy of Coronado (Henderson, Nev.), and the Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.) duo of Javon Blacksher and Jaelen House all played to the level expected. There were some young players who turned heads and some unsung heroes, but the big guns were the difference in the top games. The one player who stood out because his production is beginning to match his immense potential and his No. 1 ranking by some recruiting services is 7-foot junior Evan Mobley of FAB 50 No. 23 Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.). His size, length and immense skill is all coming together and most importantly, impacting Rancho Christian’s games at a much higher level than his sophomore season. Evan Mobley wasn’t as confident and didn’t have the stamina he now does because of nagging injuries and pains associated with physical growth. He can finish around the rim with alarming quickness and authority unlike any big man in high school basketball and the rim resembles a nerf hoop when he squares up to it and converts a quick flush. Rancho Christian is effectively working a high-low with the Mobley brothers that it didn’t utilize last season and the results have been terrific so far. Evan Mobley had 20 points in a 78-59 victory over Simeon (Chicago) and came back the next night to score 25 points in a 89-79 win over Pinnacle in which the Mobley brothers combined for 47 points.
2. The Hoopla Hasn’t Hurt Melo
When Lavar Ball walked into the gym at Chaparral High School, many of the youngsters in the crowd went nuts as if their favorite WWE wrestler made an appearance in the building. With all the attention and the Facebook “Ball In the Family” cameras following the Ball’s every move, it could easily hurt a young player’s development. That’s not the case with LaMelo Ball, who is attending SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio) this season after playing professionally for a year overseas and in his father’s JBA league. He continues to track as one of the top players in his original high school class (2019) and is a 17-year old tall (6-foot-6 ish) and unselfish point guard who impacts the game in a variety of ways. The “pro” experience certainly hasn’t put Melo head and shoulders ahead of his 2019 peers, but it certainly didn’t hurt him, either. For a deeper breakdown of Melo’s game, CLICK HERE.
3. Isaiah Jackson Needs More Ink
Melo Ball and 2019 guard “Rocket” Watts grab most of the headlines on SPIRE’s team from the media and social media havens, but Isaiah Jackson, a 6-foot-9 2020 combo forward, is an electrifying prospect. Jackson runs the floor well and is a hard check because he’s so active. Jackson is a leaper who explodes off the ground for shot blocks and positive defensive plays. There isn’t too many players in the country that can go get a block shot or alter one as a secondary defender like him. He doesn’t touch the ball enough to lead to rapid offensive development in a high school setting, but perhaps the best thing about his game is he doesn’t need the ball to make an impact on the game.
4. Tyler Mcghie Is Denton Guyer’s Secret Weapon
The most impressive team of the weekend was the Wildcats, who entered at No. 16 in the latest FAB 50 National Rankings, and came away with two victories: a 80-62 win over No. 14 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) and a 80-74 victory over talented Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.). Guyer is a physically strong team with a multitude of versatile talents, including Michigan-bound Jalen Wilson, who is one of the toughest checks in the country with his ability to play outside or take smaller defenders inside. Oklahoma-bound De’Vion Harmon is a terrific leader and imposes his will on teams, but it could very well be Mcghie that will be the difference-maker in Guyer’s state championship aspirations. Wilson, Harmon, and 6-foot-9 junior JaKobe Coles combined for 55 points in the victory over Bishop Gorman and Wilson and Harmon combined for 50 points in the tough win over Hillcrest Prep. Mcghie played well in both games, as he picks his spots and is a terrific spot up shooter. Mcghie, a 6-foot-4 junior, is a bit unassuming on the court and just kills teams with his timely shots and heady plays. He had four 3-pointers and 13 points in the win over Gorman and three 3-pointers and 14 points versus Hillcrest. “He moves well and has great feet,” said Guyer head coach Grant Long.
5. DaRon Holmes Jr. Has A Real Chance
There were plenty of talented young (2021 and 2022) prospects in attendance who played well and had big moments for their teams, such as sophomore combo guard Jaden Hardy of Coronado (Henderson, Nev.), freshman center Max Allen of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), and Holmes deserves mention even though he didn’t have a monster game or lead Millennium (Goodyear, Ariz.) to a big win. The 6-foot-8 2021 4-man really moves well and has plenty of offensive ability and is a good patient passer. Holmes is a long-strider who finishes well and is a high-level two-handed rebounder. Holmes also tracks the ball well for blocking shots and already fields offers from Ole Miss, New Mexico, CAL, ASU, Grand Canyon. He was 4-of-6 from the field for 10 points, had five rebounds and two blocks in Millennium’s loss to Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro, Calif.).