Ron Massey: 3 Things We Learned!

We took in both days at the Ron Massey Memorial Fall Hoops Classic at McBride (Long Beach, Calif.) and review what we learned from the event. Although the challenge of champions title game was a letdown, the event taught us plenty and introduced us to some fine young prospects. We also present the event’s all-tournament team.

1. Tounde Yessoufou Could Be Special
St. Joseph (Santa Maria, Calif.) was the last entrant into the eight-team Challenge of Champions bracket and the Knights did not disappoint, mainly because of their ultra-talented 2025 wing. Last season, he was on our production-based 15-man Underclass All-American team for freshmen (2025). We also feel the Benin native is a top 15 prospect in the national sophomore class based on what he displayed at Ron Massey. Yessoufou has long displayed tremendous finishing ability, terrific hands on the catch and the boards and a physical level of play that you just don’t often find in a sophomore. What Yessoufou added to his offensive game is deeper range on his jump shot, better ball skills and the ability to create space off the dribble. He also attacks the offensive and defensive glass with a vengeance and has improved his horizontal explosiveness since last season. Package all that together and you have the most impressive overall player at the event. Yessoufou averaged 33.7 ppg in three Challenge of Champion games, including a 40-point performance in a 71-64 loss to defending CIF Open champ Centennial (Corona, Calif.). Yessoufou was working hard for his points because of his expanded ball-handling duties and tired a bit during his second game on Sunday in the 77-73 consolation final loss to St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.) in which he finished with 30 points. Once this powerful sophomore improves his play off pick-n-roll situations, learns to make quicker movements off the ball to put himself in prime scoring position and gets more comfortable with his teammates, the sky is the limit for him and his team.

2. The Trinity League Race Will Be Fun
The kingpin of the Trinity League, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), captured the 2022 Ron Massey Challenge of Champions championship with a 55-42 victory over Centennial (Corona, Calif.), as freshman (2026) small forward Che Brogan led the way with 16 points. Now, the championship game was tempered because Centennial did not play its normal starters (the Huskies return three from a team that finished ranked No. 1 in California and No. 5 in the FAB 50) and in response the Monarchs substituted liberally. Regardless, the Monarchs have a totally different and improved look since we last saw them earlier in the summer at Section 7 during the scholastic live period and other events. An influx of talented first-year players, including Brogan, will do an admirable job in aiding the Monarchs in its attempt to keep two remarkable streaks alive. Mater Dei is looking to win its league title, shared or outright, in 2022-23 for the 35th consecutive season and is the only program to appear in the ultra-competitive CIF Southern Section open playoffs every year since its inception in 2013-14. In June, those streaks looked in serious jeopardy, but Ron Massey showed us it will be exciting to see if other Trinity League teams can put a halt to both streaks. Brogan is a big reason for the excitement, as the slashing left-hander in the mold of Manu Ginóbili is off to a good start for the Monarchs. He earned all-tournament honors after averaging 14.3 ppg in Mater Dei’s three victories. Brogan can score well off the dribble, moves well without the ball and has good defensive instincts to boot. He’s the son of 1985 McDonald’s All-American and current Mater Dei assistant coach Tom Lewis, who played for current Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight. Brandon Martinsen is another 2026 for McKnight that will make an impact and like Brogan he’s also a lefty with a multitude of skills. Martinsen is 6-foot-8 (about three inches taller than Brogan) with good shooting and passing skills, and is also a fluid athlete for his size and grade level. Another freshman is 6-foot-3 Luke Barnett, a talented spot up shooter he made some noise at Ron Massey. The Trinity League champ will make the CIFSS Open playoffs and the event showed Mater Dei will be in a nip-and-tuck battle for the league crown with the likes of St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) and Santa Margarita, not to mention JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.). St. John Bosco played in the Challenge of Champions bracket and lost by one point (56-55) in the semifinals to Centennial and has a talented group of play-makers. The Braves had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Kade Bonam’s 16-footer just missed. The 6-foot-7 sophomore showed plenty of improvement since the end of last season and will be a big reason why the Braves will challenge for the Trinity League title. Santa Margarita didn’t play in the bracket, but the Eagles have plenty of size and good team defense and will be tough to beat at home. JSerra did not play at the event, but has a talented roster led by 6-foot-9 2024 forward Sebastian Rancik.

3. The Basics Are Holding Many Prospects Back
There is no question the overall talent pool in high school basketball is better than ever before. Young players, including many in Southern California, enter the high school ranks quite skilled with the ability to shoot and score better than players of a generation or two ago. Even the players with size (6-foot-5 and above) are expected to be able to shoot it and dribble just enough to keep defenses honest. Tall players of yesteryear were reared and pushed towards the post, were taught the game inside-out and were not expected to do much else expect rebound and rim protect. With all the shooting skill and athleticism, however, we do notice more players than ever that are out of control that lack the basic fundamentals that would take their game to the next level. Specifically those fundamentals are the the ability to stop and start off the dribble, move effectively and with purpose without the ball and knowing how to attack defenses in the half court setting. Playing under control is the basic fundamental aspect of the game that lacks the most and is holding players back from reaching their potential. There are simply too many players (talented ones too) that crash into defenders. Now once in a while it will happen, but the true elites of the game rarely crash into defenders because they know how to stop, start, and change direction. Often times, a player’s eval and reputation is made based off his prowess in the open court. We’ll go on record in saying most players are impressive in the open court; it’s the ability to effectively break down defenders in the half court that separates the men from the boys. Dribbling is the most overrated offensive skill in basketball and much of the out-of-control narrative is because young players have a tendency to try to create offense off the dribble. There needs to be an increased emphasis on practicing and perfecting jump stops, explosive first step dribbles off both pivot feet, utilizing both the chest pass and bounce pass off the jump stop with both hands and in a controlled manner, and cutting hard and with purpose off the pass. Young players would be amazed how much improvement in these areas, along with less dribbling, would open up their game.

There is always room for improvement, but if the Ron Massey all-tourney team below is any indication, there is plenty of young talent that will blossom over the next few years.

2022 Ron Massey Memorial Fall Hoops Classic Honors

Most Outstanding Player:
Tounde Yessoufou (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) 6-6 F 2025

All Challenge of Champions Team
(Listed Alphabetically)

Cade Bonam (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-7 F 2025
Eli Bradley (Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas) 6-3 G 2023
Che Brogan (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-5 G 2026
Zack Davidson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-8 F 2023
Eric Freeny (Centennial, Corona) 6-4 G 2024
Elzie Harrington (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-5 G 2025
Christian Jones (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) 6-3 G 2023
Aaron McBride (Centennial, Corona) 6-7 F 2023
Chris Nwuli (Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas) 6-8 F 2025
Kevin Patton (Rancho Christian, Temecula) 6-7 F 2023
Julius Price (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) 6-2 G 2026
Tyler Rolison (St. Bernard, Playa del Rey) 6-1 G 2023
Caleb Versher (St. Bernard, Playa del Rey) 6-3 G 2025

All-Showcase Team
(Listed Alphabetically)

Kaiden Bailey (Crean Lutheran, Irvine) 6-3 G 2026
Dylan Benner (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) 6-7 F 2024
Zyier Beverly (Washington Prep, Los Angeles) 6-8 F 2023
Carter Bryant (Sage Hill, Newport Beach) 6-8 F 2024
Brayden Burries (Poly, Riverside) 6-4 G 2025
Jontue Cooper (Mayfair, Lakewood) 6-2 G 2023
Jason Crowe Jr. (Lynwood) 6-2 G 2026
Nils Cooper (Crossroads, Santa Monica) 6-6 F 2023
DeShawn Gory (Oak Hills, Hesperia) 6-6 F 2024
Jacob Huggins (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood) 6-8 F 2023
Brody Kozlowski (Corner Canyon, Draper, Utah) 6-8 F 2024
Osami Maciel (St. Paul, Santa Fe Springs) 5-10 G 2025
Aaron Montez (St. Anthony, Long Beach) 6-1 G 2023
Mason Pacheco-Robinson (Lakewood) 6-0 G 2023
Styles Phipps (St. Mary’s, Phoenix) 6-2 G 2024
Rockwall Reynolds (Santa Margarita, RSM) 6-9 F 2023
Tyrone Riley (St. Pius-St. Matthias, Downey) 6-5 G 2024
Ben Roseborough (Monterey Trail, Elk Grove) 6-4 G 2024
Alex Stewart (Pacifica Christian, Newport Beach) 6-6 F 2024
Mikey Williams (San Ysidro) 6-4 G 2023

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

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