{{ timeAgo('2019-12-30 08:06:50 -0600') }} basketball Edit

Mobley shows out and more from West Coast showcases

Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley (Bob Blanchard / Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)

LA VERNE, Calif. – The talent was not in short supply this week in southern California. The Classic at Damien and the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic drew some of the elite to the playing floor along with a few under-the-radar prospects. Leading our top takeaways from our time out west includes the heated race for the No. 1 ranking in the 2020 class, Mikey Williams’ abilities, and the upcoming breakouts from Jahmai Mashack and Ty Harper.

MOBLEY MAINTAINS SLIGHT EDGE IN TIGHT RACE FOR NO. 1

Maybe not since the 2016 class have we seen three so heavily talented prospects make up the race for the best prospect in a single class. Four years ago, it was Josh Jackson, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum that vied for No. 1; this year, it is Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green fighting for the top spot.

Seeing each in the past week, while Cunningham is the sturdiest of them all, Green the most athletic, it was Mobley who showed to have the freakiest of abilities. No one of his size should be as agile footed but also has gifted with the ball. The debate over the No. 1 ranking will continue on well past their high school graduations.

WILLIAMS IS MORE THAN MIXTAPE SENSATION

Sure, he has to improve his shot selection, but Mikey Williams' talent is abudently clear with the elite freshman. In the early conversation for who the best prospect is in the 2023 class, Williams is a difficult shot-maker that has great pace and instincts. He is an alpha-dog of sorts that impacts the game, not just on the offensive end, but also defensively thanks to his quick hands and know-how of where to be. There is an aura about him that he and only a select few exhibit.

A SLEEPER EMERGES WHEN I WAS ALMOST SLEEPING

I wanted to hit the bed early on Friday evening and lucky that I didn’t because I was able to see one of the more entertaining games of the high school season. Coming up with the double-overtime win, Ty Harper was sensational thanks to his ability to get to the basket with relative ease, crunch time shot making and defensive exploits in guarding the ball. The Georgia native just moved to the west coast last year and reclassified into the 2021 class. He holds a single offer from Detroit but that all needs to and will change. Harper is a high-major potential scorer that is easily labeled as a ‘sleeper’.

A TOP SPRING BREAKOUT WILL BE JAHMAI MASHACK

A supremely well-built wing with a great mid-range game, Jahmai Mashack is most known for his perimeter defensive exploits. Now healthy after missing the summer with an ankle injury, Mashack more than looks the part of a high-major, two-way impact guy at the next level. He has yet to earn a high-major offer, but that won’t be the case once the travel season begins and more eyes are placed on him. He has to regain his explosiveness and improve his perimeter jumper, but Mashack is going to be a heavily recruited wing that has caught the eye of Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma and UCLA.

MALIK THOMAS GETS BUCKETS

Malik Thomas was often overshadowed on the travel circuit playing alongside top-20 guard Isa Silva and five-star sophomore Kijani Wright. His time to get his appropriate due is now. The strong-bodied guard began the week with a 29-point showing that looked relatively easy. Holding offers from Washington and Washington State, it is a little surprising that more programs aren’t involved with the four-star. Shot-making and offensive creators remain at a premium, and Thomas fits the description in both areas. He is going to see his recruitment soar this summer.

PEYTON WATSON IS WELL WORTH NATIONAL RECRUITMENT

The story of Peyton Watson is something else. The now 6-foot-8 small forward was barely known throughout his state this time last year; thanks to his emergence at the USA Basketball Mini-Camp this summer, not only does he hold offers from some of the west coast’s best, but also has become a top target for Maryland and Virginia. Watson oozes with upside and takes great pride in his versatility and what he can do on the defensive end. He has already taken official visits to Arizona and Washington, and will next be off to UVA. Expect for his recruitment to be one of the more heated ones in the 2021 class with the nation’s elite involved.

THE SIERRA CANYON SHOW ROLLS ON

I was there for the 12,000-person showing earlier this month when Bronny James and his squad group rolled into Columbus. While the attendance numbers paled in comparison this week, the attention driven towards James and the five-star crew is something that the sport has not seen in recent memory. The Beatles of the high school game, fame and adulation are not in short supply for the west coast bunch. LeBron James and Los Angeles Dodgers icon Tommy Lasorda were on hand for their game Wednesday and one can only imagine the packed houses and famous faces that will continue to show up as the younger James matures in the coming years.

DARIUS CARR IS ONE TO WATCH IN 2023

Most of the talk surrounds Reese Dixon-Waters on a talented St. Bernard's team, but it is not difficult to see all that Darius Carr can be. A good-looking freshman guard that has a great first step on the drive to the basket, Carr shoots it with confidence to the perimeter, Carr will be in the conversation for who the best guards are in the 2023 class. His recruitment has yet to begin, but drawing scholarship offers should not be difficult for the speedy Carr.

WRIGHT TAKES NEXT STEP

Consistency has been the primary knock on five-star Kijani Wright up until now. No one has ever knocked his ability to impact the game or his talent base, but rather observers never knew which Wright would show up. After what he displayed over the weekend, that deficiency of his can be put to bed. Wright dominated his area around the basket, showed an improved ability to alter and block shots, rebound in traffic and also score off of the pick-and-pop. A tremendous student in the classroom, Stanford and Vanderbilt have already offered, but so has Arizona, UCLA and USC, among others.