Dallas, Tex. — The stage is set for the 2021 youth hoops season as Coast2Coast Preps concluded the 2020 circuit calendar in impressive fashion with their “Season Premiere” event in conjunction with Jermaine O’Neal and Drive Nation. Here’s a look at some of my favorite storylines that resulted from a talent-filled weekend in the Lone Star State…
Blue Chips Reaffirm Their Dominance
The level of youth hoops talent in the Lone Star State is as strong as I’ve seen it in my 15 years of covering grassroots basketball. Despite the number of players and teams that continue to emerge on a regular basis, the Houston Hoops Blue Chips (H.H.B.C.) hold the crown at the moment when it comes to supremacy in the Southwest region. This was further exemplified by the three (3) titles the organization took home in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade divisions at the “Season Premiere” tournament. I’ll give you my thoughts on where their teams stand nationally when we debut our National Travel Team Rankings at PrepHoopsNext.com to begin the month of January.
No Clear #1 Player In The Class of 2025
I was fortunate to be able to watch a lot of basketball in 2020 despite the COVID pandemic. After attending nearly a dozen youth hoops events and seeing more than 1,000 players in the Class of 2025, I’m still not convinced that there is a clear-cut #1 player, but instead, a number of prospects that could be considered for the top spot. There were many national-caliber prospects on display in Texas this past weekend and I’m excited to release our initial National Player Rankings at PrepHoopsNext.com in the coming weeks.
The Class of 2026 Is Taking Shape
Once again, Coast2Coast Preps delivered an excellent platform to evaluate elite-level youth hoops talent, and with players from nearly every region in attendance for the “Season Premiere”, it’s clear that the Class of 2026 isn’t being very patient when it comes to waiting their turn for attention. That’s not a bad thing, as the now seventh-grade group has shown promise at every position, and there’s a depth chart of sorts starting to form among players as well as a hierarchy of teams scattered nationally.
Guest Play Trend Grows During Pandemic
I recently made a reference to this on social media, but the concept of “guest play” has expanded even more during the COVID pandemic. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the term refers to players temporarily joining teams outside of their state and/or region in order to participate in tournaments. As an evaluator, my main objective is to see as much talent as possible, as often as possible, but I can also understand the frustration that some groups have expressed based on the competitive advantages (or disadvantages depending on your perspective) that can result from the formation of these “super teams”. In an effort to create travel team rankings that reflect a national balance, our upcoming list at PrepHoopsNext.com will include a “border rule” guideline. Therefore, in order to be eligible for consideration, a team can have no more than two (2) players that reside in a state with a shared border to the respective “home state” of that program. Additionally, teams will be ineligible for the list should their roster includes any players from a non-bordering state.
An Early Look At The Class of 2027
We’ll be as conservative (and responsible) as possible at PrepHoopsNext.com as we begin to evaluate the talent that the current crop of sixth-graders offers nationally. It’s important to remember just how rare it is that the same players who dominate at the elementary level can duplicate that success at the middle school level and again in the high school ranks. For that reason, it’s time for the coaches, players, and parents in the Class of 2027 to reset expectations and focus on growth and development at the middle school level for the next three years. I didn’t see everything this group had to offer at the “Season Premiere”, but I saw quite a bit, and I’ll provide some thoughts on the players and teams that I was able to watch as the week moves forward.
Stay tuned for more from PrepHoopsNext.com!