Notes from Desert Duel Memorial boys hoops tournament
I had a chance to see each of the four Arizona club basketball teams that participated in the Desert Duel Memorial Tournament on Thursday. Here are some notes/quotes/observations that I gathered:
– It’s been a long wait, but McClintock forward Cameron Forte finally committed to a school on Tuesday. Texas Tech offered him a scholarship, and with only about a month left before school starts, Forte jumped on it. He was planning on bypassing a few lower level scholarship offers to hone his game at La Jolla Prep in San Diego, but liked the opportunity to play with Texas Tech. Forte said he’s happy to finally have a destination. “Man, every day I get people writing me on Facebook, calling me, texting me, asking me where I’m going,” Forte said. “Now everybody knows I’m going to Texas Tech, so that’s good.” Forte has been a pretty divisive player the past couple years. He put up fantastic high school numbers (Forte was the Tribune’s Player of the Year as a junior and he averaged 36.2 points and 12.7 rebounds as a senior) but his lack of energy on defense and his unconventional shooting motion seemed to keep most of the top colleges away. However, Forte said he received a full ride scholarship offer from Texas Tech, so it will be interesting to see if he can prove the critics wrong at the next level.
– Desert Ridge guard Derreck Brooks said he has been inconsistent at times this year on the club ball circuit, but when I watched him Thursday morning, he was quite good. The wiry senior had 19 points in the first 13 minutes of action and finished with 25 with several college coaches looking on. Brooks has a scholarship offer from Grand Canyon University, but he said he wants to wait to commit for awhile to see if he can rack up more offers. Brooks played on a lower level club team last year, and he said it’s been an eye-opening experience playing in front of famous coaches. “Seeing them every dead ball just sitting over there, it makes you nervous,” Brooks said. “But you get used to it.”
– Pinnacle sophomore Dorian Pickens plays on the same club team as Brooks. He didn’t have a huge impact in the game I watched, as he tends to defer more right now, but there’s no denying how sweet his jump shot looks. Maxpreps said he shot 59 percent from the floor last season, and while that would be hard to believe for almost any other shooting guard in the state, Pickens may have done it. He doesn’t shoot a bunch, but when he does, he is quite efficient.
– I got my first look at Arizona State’s latest commit, forward Kenny Martin of Raymond Kellis. He was a defensive force in the game I saw, as he tallied seven blocks. According to those that saw him on Wednesday, this might have been his worst game of the tournament, as he reportedly had double digits in rebounds and blocks in both of his games on that day. Martin doesn’t have a great post game offensively from what I observed, but he has a nice shooting touch. However, his defense in the paint is what stands out most about him. Hard to believe he was so under the radar until this offseason.
– Drew Bender made a shot from beyond half court at the halftime buzzer of one of his games. Not as impressive as this one to beat Horizon in a regular season game last year, but cool to see, nonetheless.
– Martin and Chaparral’s Joe Boyd are on the same club team, and they matched up against another Arizona team that included Mountain View’s Camyn Boone. I was looking forward to watching Boone go against those two, but he only played the first couple minutes because of an apparent ankle injury.
– Desert Vista’s Jeff Lowery and Brophy’s James Harper both played well. With Lowery and Danny Powell, the Thunder expect to be in the mix for the Division I state crown. The Broncos made the championship game last year, but will need a big season from Harper to have a chance at returning in 2012.