Spring Kickoff Recap: 2026 First Impressions
Spring is here and that can only mean one thing. It’s Circuit Season! The Prep Hoops Circuit is upon us. I will be covering and providing exposure for the Hustle Region Circuit. The Hustle Region Circuit consists of AAU Programs…
Spring is here and that can only mean one thing. It’s Circuit Season! The Prep Hoops Circuit is upon us. I will be covering and providing exposure for the Hustle Region Circuit. The Hustle Region Circuit consists of AAU Programs from California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico. The circuit features 10 stops including the Hustle Region Final in Irvine July 15th – 17th. Stop number 2 took place in Denver, Colorado with the Spring Kick-Off. The event featured nearly 100 programs ranging from age 15U – to 17U. Although this event was a high school event, it had several middle school standouts. In this article, we provide our first look at these standouts.
Madden Smiley 6’2 PG Rocky Mountain Fever – Smiley was the most complete middle schooler I saw during the weekend. He has a ton of skills that I could talk about, however, it was his handle that impressed me the most. Not only did he show a strong handle with both hands, but he also translated it into the game. Smiley was terrific against pressure, staying poised and moving the ball against double teams and traps. He also showed some big-time finishing ability, getting the bucket and finishing layups in traffic with either hand.
Ryan Vanalsburg 6’7 SF Rocky Mountain Fever (featured image) – Smiley may have been the most complete player, however, Vanalsburg was probably the top prospect. With his size and mobility, it’s difficult not to see the potential. He’s a really good athlete that showed it on both ends of the floor, Vanalsburg has enough lift to get up and dunk the basketball, and used his length to be one of the top rim protectors at the event. I was impressed with his offensive IQ as well. Vanalsburg recognized traps and made quick reads from the high post when opponents went zone. The 8th grader should get used to it, as he looks like he’s going to be seeing junk defenses for a while.
Rocco Cali 6’1 CG Elevation Green – Cali is a positionless type player that impacts the game with his mind as much as his physical skills. I was impressed with his handle, perhaps even surprised by it. Cali showed that he could get by defenders off the bounce, using angles and deception just as much as speed. In addition to his ballhandling and facilitating, Cali was able to get to the rim and finish at a high rate. He was the leading scoring for the team in the game I watched, finishing with 19 in a win against Rocky Mountain Fever.
Joseph Haubert 5’11 PG Elevation Green – Haubert was one of the better pure PGs I saw during the weekend. He was unselfish as a passer and didn’t overhandle as kids his age tend to do. He had some shake to his game as well, showing the ability to score the ball off the bounce. I was most impressed by his finishing ability, as the young guard was able to complete layups with his off-hand effectively.
Oliver Junker 6’2 SG Elevation Green – Junker was another talented player for Elevation. He was mostly a glue guy in the game I watched but he still managed to put up 8 points. I was most impressed with his grit and rebounding ability. Junker was one of the better in traffic rebounders at the event, showing a willingness to battle for boards and a competitiveness that allowed him to win his fair share.