The young guns are coming. If Saturday’s sophomore all-star game at the Rocky Mountain Fall Showcase was any indication, the class of 2018 is going to leave a major mark on Colorado basketball. Talent was in deep supply in a…
The young guns are coming.
If Saturday’s sophomore all-star game at the Rocky Mountain Fall Showcase was any indication, the class of 2018 is going to leave a major mark on Colorado basketball.
Talent was in deep supply in a game that featured a who’s who of highly regarded players in the Prep Hoops Colorado rankings – a number more who could find themselves on that list before long.
The MVPs. Six-foot George Washington point guard Jon’il Fugett set the tone from the beginning. The strong, compact Fugett is dynamically athletic, getting to the lane with one quick burst. He has great finishing skills and has worked hard to develop an outside shot that he nailed consistently on Saturday.
What Fugett did most impressively, though, was find teammates. His eyes are always up, and he demonstrates a knack for seeing two or three passes ahead. He helped the Black Team excel in transition by getting the ball up the court. Defensively, he makes the opposing ball-handler work for every dribble – and that was during an all-star game. Add in the fact that he is a high-academic student, and Fugett will have plenty of opportunities at the next level.
Fugett’s co-MVP, 6-foot-4 Highlands Ranch forward Brendan Sullivan, did everything during the game, battling on the boards, fighting for loose balls and knocking down open shots. In short, Sullivan kept coming and coming, the kind of player who makes a lot of little plays that add up. He should be a great piece for a Falcons team that has some nice young pieces to couple with some strong senior leadership led by Jack Fiddler, who earned co-MVP victories of the senior game later in the afternoon.
Athleticism abound. The 2018 class oozes athleticism. It made for an up-and-down transition game that was entertaining to watch from start to finish. Daylen Kountz, who we profiled last week, saved his best work of the day for the top-20 game later on, but even in the sophomore game I could see what had has made him a coveted prospect. He’s long at 6-foot-4, and he has a great long step to the basket. He plays with an edge, but he’s also consistently under control. Then there was the bounce. Nobody got above the rim more in the games I watched.
Kountz is our top-ranked player in the 2018 class, but Sam Masten could easily be a 1B. Masten is one of those players who seems to have learned a new skill each time you see him. He such a productive slasher to the basket, equipped with the long first step and crafty finishing skills to get to rim on a consistent basis. I’ve probably seen Masten play a dozen games over the past few months, and what always stands out to me is his ability to grab a game by the throat when the moment is necessary. He can sense when he needs to put his fingerprints on a certain play and sequence and how to do it. It’s an element coaches covet but is difficult to teach.
Elsewhere, Kaison Hammonds (ThunderRidge), Tyson Gilbert (Highlands Ranch), Xai’Vion Jackson (Eaglecrest), Keonte Kennedy (Cherokee Trail), Xavier Cooper (Thomas Jefferson), Breon Harper (Thomas Jefferson) and Shawn’Trell White (George Washington), all of these quick, athletic guards had big moments Saturday.
Under the radar. We saw Jaylen Harden, a 6-foot-5 lefty out of Columbine, for the first time at our combine last week, and he was impressive then. It was more of the same Saturday. Harden is efficient, putting himself in position to take smart shots. He has a great short-range baseline jumper, with a high loft that makes it tough to block. Harden also has solid athleticism and runs the floor well. He has good hands, catches the ball well in traffic.
Other intriguing big men: John Harge and Tray Pierce – both 6-foot-7.
Harge, a sophomore who will playing at Smoky Hill this season, is a highly-skilled stretch four, who handles the ball very well. Harge will create plenty of mismatches because he can beat even smaller guards off the dribble and is long to the basket, where he finishes at the rim. Pierce will have to put weight on a slender frame, but he has great length and the look of a player who could be a great rim protector for a George Washington loaded with guard talent.