Its early on in the high school basketball season and there have been a few things that have stood out to me right from the start.
The biggest thing that has caught my eye is the return of the Shadow Mountain Matadors. They have already matched their win total of last season which was nine and are two years removed from a one win season. They are led by senior Keegan Hansen but that only tells part of the story.
The Matadors have taken a core of freshman who have all grown up playing together and brought them straight up to the varsity level. The starting point guard is a familiar number ten in a Matador uniform. Michael Bibby Jr., son of former Matador, Arizona Wildcat and NBA star Mike Bibby. Bibby Jr. is very quick and skilled ball-handler at the point guard position and plays with good intensity. Only thing missing at the start is that sweet consistent Bibby jumpshot which I’m sure will only improve with time. Their story in full coming soon to Pros2Preps.com.
Two other freshman along side Bibby Jr. are a 6’3” freak of an athlete by the name Carlos Johnson and a talented 6’2” JJ Rhymes. This Matador team is young and will most likely hit a few speed bumps throughout the season but they are very good and over time should return the Matadors to the glory days of hoops from the 90s and early 2000s.
After the Pinnacle Pioneers lost center Cody McDavis and Kevin Bowman there was concern of whether that the talented team would have enough depth to maintain as one of the top teams in division I despite having two of the state’s top recruits. The two, Drew Bender and Dorian Pickens, both told me over the summer that it was going to be a young team and that they will really need to come together.
Well behind their senior leader Drew Bender, the team is off to an undefeated start as well. Bender has led the team in scoring in each of their games including 32 against North Canyon and 23 against Tolleson. Between him and Pickens, Pinnacle still has one of the most dynamic duo’s in the state.
This weekend is the 2nd annual Christian Cup being held at Gilbert Christian High School. The local teams participating along with the defending champion Gilbert Christian Knights are Valley Christian and Northwest Christian.
Gilbert Christian is poised for another state championship run in division III. Another member of this great 2014 class in Arizona is 6’7” small forward Sam Jones who is putting up over 20 points per game through four games this season for the Knights. Along side Jones is fellow junior guard Roberto Reyes and senior guard Dylan Bliss.
This however will be a very tough road for the Knights. As a write from here in Nashville, TN at the baseball winter meetings, there is a Tennessee team that is going out to Arizona to compete in the Christian Cup. That is Briarcrest Christian.
People are familiar with this school. It is the school that Michael Oher, famous from the movie ‘The Blind Side,’ attended. In the movie, the school was called Wingate Academy but in real life, the school is called Briarcrest Christian. While Michael Oher will not be suiting up this time around, they do have a very talented 6’8” power forward named Austin Nichols who is committed to play for Josh Pastner and Memphis.
Another player to keep an eye out for in the tournament is Mamadou Ndiaye of San Diego’s Brethren Christian who is committed to UC Irvine.
The Christian Cup is the 6th through the 8th and is sure to bring some exciting basketball to Gilbert Christian high school. If you’re a hoops junkie, I suggest you check it out.