LA VERNE — Damien high school played host to its annual Classic at Damien post-holiday high school hoops tournament and the competition didn’t disappoint. The event drew 80 teams from multiple states and were spread across five divisions. The Platinum…
LA VERNE — Damien high school played host to its annual Classic at Damien post-holiday high school hoops tournament and the competition didn’t disappoint. The event drew 80 teams from multiple states and were spread across five divisions.
The Platinum Division featured the best of the best with Rancho Christian upsetting Sierra Canyon, 85-81, in an overtime thriller. Gonzaga-bound point guard Dominick Harris led the Eagles with 32 points, while junior guard Jaden Byers had one of his best overall games of his career, finishing with a controlled 20 points. Evan Mobley, widely regarded as the No. 1 player in the country for the class of 2020, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
For Sierra Canyon, it was Ziaire Williams leading the way in his Trailblazers’ debut, scoring 28 points, while Kentucky-bound guard B.J. Boston added 27 as Sierra Canyon fell for the first time this season.
While the huge crowds, television crews and mixtape producers were focused in on the top teams and prospects at Damien, we wanted to shine a light on some of the top unsigned seniors who have the ability to help college programs at various levels.
Brantly Stevenson, Etiwanda
Stevenson played out of his mind in the Eagles near-upset of then-state No. 1 Sierra Canyon. The 6-foot-3 combo guard showed his versatility as a defender, rebounder and distributor, while connecting on perimeter set shots at a consistent rate. Stevenson remained cool, calm and collected during crunch time and made big play after big play for Etiwanda.
Justin Gladney, Fairfax
Gladney is the definition of a crafty scorer. The 6-foot-1 left handed combo guard is quick and shifty in both half-court and transition settings, he gets low on his drives which allows him get his shoulder by defenders, draw contact and get to the free throw line. Gladney also uses his length well in Fairfax’s all-out pressure defense resulting in pass deflections and steals.
Justyn Hunter, Fairfax
Hunter is another high IQ guard for coach Reggie Morris, Jr. He’s more of a pass-first point guard compared to the above mentioned Gladney, and with so many quality scorers on that Fairfax roster, Hunter’s style of play fits in perfectly. At 6-feet-1, he does a nice job of controlling the pace of the game and setting the table for his teammates all while limiting turnovers. Hunter can knock down the open catch-and-shoot perimeter shot and gives good energy and effort on the defensive end.
Jayce Catchings, Rancho Christian
As I tweeted during the championship game where Rancho Christian upset Sierra Canyon, Catchings is that basketball cliché of a guy who does all the little things that won’t show up in a box score. The 6-foot-4 wing can guard positions 1-4 on the high school level, he crashes the offensive and defensive boards with reckless abandon and he’s the first on the ground for a loose ball. Catchings may not tip the scales as a high level scorer or flashy creator, but he makes winning plays.
Bryson Stephens, Rancho Christian
Stephens is one of the most explosive athletes in Southern California and the rest of his game is starting to blossom. The 6-footer has blow-by speed in both transition and half-court settings, covers ground quickly when getting to the rim, and can finish above or through contact. Stephens has shown game-changing defensive ability with his quick hands and natural anticipation. The next step for him is to continue to get his perimeter jumper right.