Damien Classic: Standouts & Risers

Who took in two days of the Classic at Damien (La Verne, Calif.) and went over our notes to come up with 10 stock-risers who are certain to get more attention from college coaches in the future. The players range from Top 10 future McDonald’s All-Americans to sleeper D1 prospects.

The Big Three Juniors

Carter Bryant, Sage Hill (Newport Beach, Calif.) 6-9 2024 SF
When looking at the landscape of the high school basketball scene today, most of the Top 50 players in each national class play with another Top 50 player. It’s just the nature of the business right now, as most elite players look to team with other elites. This is certainly not the case for the talented Bryant, who spent his first two seasons at an Orange County public school (Fountain Valley) and is now at a small private school where he plays for his father (former Long Beach St. player D’Cean Bryant). The dust is not close to settling, but there could be some time before the the 2024 cycle is complete where it won’t be a stretch to say Bryant is its best long-term prospect. The way the rankings are currently compiled it won’t happen, but he’s that talented. He does need to show he can dominate a high level high school and/or grassroots game, but the tools and package is there. He can see the game, pass out out of the double team, shoot over the top of an oncoming double, has a good stroke, and can quickly finish plays around the rim without wasted motion in the mold of the late Len Bias. He is scheduled to make his official visit to Arizona on Feb. 24 and the Wildcats are the clear leader in the clubhouse to get a commitment.

Zoom Diallo, Curtis (University Place, Wash.) 6-4 2024 PG
When looking at this power point guard, he has the look of a future NBA player. He is already one of the nation’s best prospects and arguably the best prospect at his position in the 2024 class. The polish to his game continues to shine through, as he is never rushed and always under control. In addition to a good first step and tight handle, Diallo uses a quick pull up to keep defenders honest and has the strength to finish through high major contact. Diallo outplayed highly-regarded point guard Tyler Rolison in an easy first round victory over St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.) and went for 22 points in a 66-62 quarterfinal victory over battled-tested American Fork (Utah). The defending Class 4A state champions battled FAB 50 No. 13 Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) in the platinum division semifinals.

Dedan Thomas Jr., Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 6-1 2024 PG
Similar to Diallo, Thomas is one of the best point guards in the nation and has his team in the platinum division semifinals, where Liberty battled Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.). Thomas has long been considered the best point guard in the West Region in the 2024 class and nothing he’s done lately will change that notion, although a strong case can now be made for Diallo. It has nothing to do Thomas’ play; Diallo is just that good. Thomas has a feel for the game that isn’t taught and a unique inside-out game that makes him a tough check. He knows how to keep his dribble in tight spaces, can finish from a variety of angles, and is a big shot maker from the outside. Thomas is looking to lead a young Liberty club to a second consecutive NIAA Class 5A title and has two official visits set up in the coming months. One to UCLA and one to Arizona.

Tournament Fast-Risers
(Listed Alphabetically)

Isaiah Fields, West Ranch (Valencia, Calif.) 6-6 2023 SF
The break out performer of the Southern California high school scene so far, Fields is a rangy athlete with length who can run the floor and finish. He also can knock down an open jumper and competes for loose balls. He is a mid-major athlete with an emerging skill set, but it will remain to be seen at which level he ends up because his grades have to predict. Fields is a perfect candidate to develop more at a JUCO or portal up down the line.

Jalen Glenn, Inderkum (Sacramento, Calif.) 6-5 2023 SF
We’ve been high on Glenn for some time now and he continued to impress at The Classic. Glenn has all the makings of a talented low major plus wing and will run through a brick wall in basically any system. Not only is he tough, Glenn is an excellent rebounder and an underrated passer in both the half court and on the break. Glenn had a terrific matchup with Etiwanda’s D1-bound wing, 6-foot-7 Curtis Williams, and held his own. In that matchup, it was clear Williams’ defensive capabilities show Glenn shouldn’t shoot too high with regards to level he’ll eventually play at. He has some D2 interest and is waiting to see if any D1 will come in late. Big West and Big Sky programs would be smart to take a long look. As for Williams, San Diego St. is the leader in the clubhouse for his services.

Julian Gomez, La Mirada (Calif.) 6-3 2025 SG
This talented lefty combo guard has been ripping up all comers so far for a Matadores club that has advanced to the Silver Division semifinals. Gomez is a natural scorer who handles the ball well enough to see minutes at the one on the next level. How much he grows will determine at what level he eventually settles in to. Gomez has a terrific outside shot, gets by enough defenders to create shots for himself and others, and has a terrific array of moves around the basket. Gomez is also unselfish and moves his feet well on defense. His recent play has reportedly earned him a D1 offer from UCSB and he’ll be closely watch on the grassroots circuit this upcoming spring and summer.

Doug Langford, St. Pius-St. Matthias (Downey, Calif.) 6-8 2025 PF
Plenty of national scouts and some college coaches closely watched Langford’s teammate, 6-foot-6 2024 wing Tyrone Riley, but the ones with a sharp eye are also tracking this talented post player. He was a break out performer at the Section 7 live scholastic event in June and continued his upward tick in La Verne. Langford’s best trait is he knows what he is: a back-to-the back forward who takes up space and scores inside while staying at home defensively. Langford has a good base and good feet underneath him and is hardly ever caught off-balance. He also compliments those feet with solid fundamental moves and footwork in the post. Langford also possesses good hands on the catch and keeps the ball high. Another St. Pius-St. Matthias 2025 prospect to watch is 6-foot-3 shooting guard Tariq Bridges, who shot well from the outside.

Hudson Mayes, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 6-3 2025 SG
The Seahawks may be taking their lumps now, but the team will be much improved to make a CIF Southern Section playoff push as their young pieces get game experience. Mayes is the most talented of the lot, as he got eligible after the 30-day sit out period and made a positive impression at The Classic. Mayes’ frame stands out right away, then watching his game you notice how smooth offensively he is. Mayes can get by defenders with ease and sees the game in front of him a step or two ahead. He also utilizes a nice crossover dribble and is a capable defender. Another talented guard for coach Reggie Morris Jr. is 6-foot-3 2024 Devin Ringer, a good outside shooter with quickness. S.J. Madison, a 6-foot-4 2026, is another terrific guard prospect in the fold.

Caleb Newton, Birmingham (Van Nuys, Calif.) 6-3 2026 SG
The Patriots have produced quite a crop of talented players in the past 10 years and for veteran coach Nic Halic this talented guard is the latest off the assembly line. Newton is a terrific shooter and was dialed in from downtown in the two games we evaluated. Newton is a quality ball-handler and has good instincts on both sides of the ball. California’s 2026 class is off to a great start and conservatively Newton is a Top 15 player and one day could be a national Top 150 prospect.

Aaron Powell, Campbell Hall (North Hollywood, Calif.) 6-1 2024 PG
We’ve tracked Powell’s progress since middle school and he continues to improve nearly every time we evaluate him. Powell has improved his physical attributes, and at the same time, his explosiveness and that is uncommon for many high school prospects. Not only is Powell’s physique maturing, he’s taking and hitting quality shots, making good reads for teammates and displaying good defensive traits. Powell not only makes an impact on both ends of the floor, he’s also a quality student and that has aided his recruiting options. Among the schools that have offered, Arizona St., Portland and the University of San Diego are recruiting him the hardest.

Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at [email protected]. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

One Reply to “Damien Classic: Standouts & Risers”

  1. Amare Campbell Etiwanda. Goes for 17 versus Harvard Westlake and 21 tonight versus American Fork. Shut down HW’s highly vaunted point guard. Best defensive guard in the tournament.

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