Tribune's top boys hoops prospects in 2014 - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Tribune's top boys hoops prospects in 2014

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 5:02 pm | Updated: 11:08 pm, Wed Jul 10, 2013.

Beginning Wednesday, the top boys basketball players from across the East Valley will showcase their skills in front of dozens of college coaches at club tournaments.

This portion of the calendar is known as the July “live period”, the best time of year for upcoming seniors to pick up scholarship offers. Last year, Basha forward Torren Jones’ recruiting took off in July and he eventually committed to Missouri. Upcoming seniors would love to follow that path, and the 2014 class has a level of talent never before seen in Arizona.

A few elite players have already verbally committed to colleges, others are narrowing down their options, and some are looking for better opportunities.

Here is a look at the Tribune’s top-10 seniors entering the July showcases:

1. Payton Dastrup, PF, Mountain View

Credentials: First-team All-Tribune selection as a junior; averaged 18.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game.

Notable scholarship offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, BYU, Cal, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, N.C. State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Texas A&M, USC, Utah, Utah State, Virginia, Washington State.

Verbal commitment: None.

Outlook: Dastrup is the best college prospect in the East Valley because of his rare combination of size (6-foot-9, 225 pounds) and offensive ability. Even though he is a power forward, Dastrup has a deft shooting touch and has developed his range to the 3-point line. Dastrup isn’t a defensive stopper or elite rebounder, but he’s got solid athleticism for his size and great coordination. Top college basketball programs Arizona, Kansas and Florida have reportedly offered, while Brigham Young is also squarely in the mix because of Dastrup’s religious and familial ties to the school. Dastrup plans on taking a two-year church mission immediately following high school, so he won’t actually play in college until 2016 at the earliest. He is rated as a four-star prospect and the 77th-best senior in the country by Rivals.com.

2. Dorian Pickens, SF, Pinnacle

Credentials: First-team All-Tribune selection as a junior; averaged 17.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals, shot 55 percent, led Pioneers to D-I title game.

Notable scholarship offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado, New Mexico, Weber State.

Verbal commitment: None.

Outlook: Pickens has been on the radar for a long time, as he picked up an Arizona State scholarship offer as a freshman and has been a focal point with Pinnacle the past three seasons. His best asset is his shooting ability, as Pickens has picturesque form and has always knocked down shots consistently. Pickens’ basketball IQ is very high, as he moves well without the ball and is an underrated passer. He isn’t a great athlete and has trouble breaking down defenders off the dribble, which somewhat limits his potential. However, between his shooting and good decision-making, it’s easy to see Pickens being a productive player in a high-major conference. He is rated as the 114th-best senior in the nation by Rivals.com.

3. Casey Benson, PG, Corona del Sol

Credentials: Tribune Player of the Year as a junior; averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals for D-I titlists

Notable scholarship offers: Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado, Creighton, Gonzaga, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Oregon State, Saint Mary’s, USC, Washington State.

Verbal commitment: Oregon.

Outlook: Benson made his verbal commitment on Sunday night, choosing the Ducks over many other good options. Benson is a great floor leader and has a fantastic motor, playing full tilt whether it’s the state championship game or a summer league scrimmage. His shooting has improved immensely as Benson has evolved from a facilitator early in his career into a deadly scorer. He has good handles and rarely turns the ball over while also showing good vision. Benson isn’t the quickest player, which is especially a problem at point guard, as he may struggle at times guarding elite opponents and penetrating against them. However, Benson is a skilled shooter and is crafty enough to find ways into the lane at the college level, which makes him a very enticing option to college coaches. Benson is rated as the 145th-best senior in the nation by Rivals.com.

4. Connor MacDougall, PF, Corona del Sol

Credentials: Averaged 14 points and eight rebounds for Phoenix Westwind Prep’s national team as a junior

Notable scholarship offers: Arizona State, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon State, California, Utah State, Saint Mary's, Portland, Boise State, Northern Arizona, Weber State.

Verbal commitment: Arizona State.

Outlook: MacDougall committed early in his junior year to the Sun Devils, and even then he had compiled an impressive list of offers. If he were to re-open the process, there would be many more high-major colleges interested in him. He is in fantastic shape and is always hustling. MacDougall excels at the little things — battling in the paint, rebounding, running the floor — and has solid coordination for a power forward. While he’s not as naturally gifted offensively as Dastrup, it is clear how much time MacDougall puts into making himself better. He has a great motor and is making the most of his potential. He’s listed as the No. 102 senior recruit nationally by Rivals.com.

5. Jake Toolson, SF, Highland

Credentials: First-team All-Tribune as a junior; averaged 18.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 steals per game, shot 54 percent

Sholarship offers: Arizona State, Boston College, Brigham Young, Saint Mary’s, UC Davis, Utah State.

Verbal commitment: BYU.

Outlook: It’s clear what Toolson brings to the table: He is an elite scorer. The 6-foot-5 small forward has a quick, accurate release from 3-point range, and as the tallest player on the Hawks, has developed a nice variety of low-post moves. His assist and rebounding numbers aren’t going to overwhelm at the next level, but Toolson should be able to contribute in both categories. His dream school growing up was BYU, and once the Cougars offered him a scholarship, he didn’t take very long to accept.

6. Isaac Allen, C, Mesa

Credentials: Honorable mention All-Tribune as a junior; averaged 8.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game

Scholarship offer: Northern Arizona.

Verbal commitment: None.

Outlook: Allen probably has the largest unfulfilled upside among East Valley players. He is already an impressive shot-blocker, and at 6-foot-10 has the height colleges crave. His offensive game is still raw, but Allen has started to get more consistent with a nice jump hook. His biggest attribute is his defense in the lane, although Allen needs to gain more strength to avoid getting moved around by stronger post players. Allen has good length and maneuverability, which is always intriguing to college coaches. If he can string together an impressive next few weeks, he has the chance to really improve his stock and receive more scholarship offers.

7. Kodi Justice, SG, Dobson

Credentials: Averaged 10.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists per game as a junior

Scholarship offer: Arizona State.

Verbal commitment: Arizona State.

Outlook: Justice committed to the Sun Devils as a sophomore and showed his promise that year, but dealt with a frustrating junior campaign. He missed the first portion of the season with an ankle fracture and had trouble finding his role on a disjointed Mustangs team. This is an important time for Justice as he looks to silence the wonderment of if he’s good enough for Pac-12 basketball., Justice is a solid shooter with one of the quickest releases in the state. He’s a good passer for a wing and has long arms, which helps him defensively even though he’s not super-athletic. There were too many times last year, though, when he took ill-advised shots. At his best, Justice can be a long-range assassin, and he hopes to show that potential as a senior.

8. Jordan Howard, PG, Perry

Credentials: Second-team All-Tribune as a junior; averaged an East Valley-best 25.6 points per game on 48 percent shooting

Scholarship offers: Northern Arizona, Weber State, Grand Canyon.

Verbal commitment: None.

Outlook: As a junior Howard showed just how explosive he could be offensively, putting up points in bunches for the Pumas. He’s a bit undersized at 5-foot-10 and could stand to add some strength, but his speed and shooting ability make him a tough cover for defenses. He’s similar to former Peoria star DeWayne Russell, who averaged 14.4 points per game as a freshman at Northern Arizona last season. Howard could take a similar path, choosing a low-major college where he could excel right away. Howard was slowed by a sprained ankle earlier in the offseason but has the talent to add more offers with a good showing this July.

9. Roberto Reyes, SG, Gilbert Christian

Credentials: Honorable mention All-Tribune as a junior; averaged 13.7 points, 4.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game

Scholarship offers: Northern Colorado, UC Irvine.

Verbal commitment: None.

Outlook: Reyes plays in Division III in high school, so even though the Knights have won two state championships with him as a starter, it’s tough to evaluate him against the lower-tier competition. That’s why the summer is such a key for Reyes, as he plays for the high-profile Arizona Power club basketball program. He’s already gotten low-major scholarship offers, but if he can show the ability to play point guard and shoot well from the perimeter, Reyes is a guy who can see his stock improve. He’s already a very good defender without many holes in his game.

10. Ryan Richardson, SG, Dobson

Credentials: Honorable mention All-Tribune as a junior; averaged 16.9 points, shot 48 percent from 3-point range

Scholarship offers: Cal State Fullerton, Denver, Northern Arizona, Portland, UC Davis, Utah State, Weber State.

Verbal commitment: None.

Outlook: Richardson has nice size for a shooting guard at 6-foot-5 and a very good shooting stroke. He hit nearly half his 3-pointers last season and can make a living doing that at the college level. Many colleges have already shown interest, and if Richardson can improve on his ability to put the ball on the floor and get into the lane, it will help his stock. Richardson won’t be a huge contributor in other areas, but his ability to score has low-major programs interested.

Best of the rest: Rolando Rhymes, PG, Desert Mountain; Sam Jones, SF, Gilbert Christian; Jonathan Sims, PF, Skyline; Zach Green, SG, Mesquite.

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