Ladera Ranch, Cal. — The stars were out as the Prep Hoops Next West Coast Kick-Off tipped off on Saturday from the Ladera Sports Center in Orange County, California. The opening day delivered as promised, with several thrilling games, including a trio of buzzer-beater finishes, and a number of sensational individual performances. Here’s a rundown of the best prospects from Day 1 through the lenses of Prep Hoops Next’s West Coast lead scout/correspondent, Bruce Williams, and myself (Spencer Pulliam)…
Brayden Burries | Corona, CA | Class of 2025
Bruce Williams’ take: I hadn’t seen Burries play much, but it didn’t take long to get it. He was probably the most dominant downhill finisher on the day. It didn’t matter if he got a length-of-the-floor head start or was only going from 15-feet in, the 6-foot-4 wing relentlessly attacked the basket. Perhaps his most impressive game was his 29-point performance against Gametime (WA).
Spencer Pulliam’s take: Burries demanded the ball on Saturday, and once he got going, he was the most dominant player in the gym. The strong-bodied wing did the majority of his damage in the paint as defenses could simply not keep him out the lane. He’s a brute force at this level but there’s an element of deceptive athleticism that allows him to be even more effective in scoring the ball. “Team DTermined (CA)” dropped a pair of tough ones in the closing minutes, including a triple-overtime, sudden-death finish that was arguably the game of the day with Burries starring in each despite the unfavorable outcomes.
Jake Hall | Solana Beach, CA | Class of 2025
Bruce Williams’ take: Hall had himself a day. The smooth scoring guard put up a “measly” 75 points in two games. Now I understand what his team name, “Multilevel Basketball (CA)” means, as he was able to score from a variety of levels. He knocked down 3’s and used his crafty ball-handling to get to the line and knock down free throws.
Spencer Pulliam’s take: When a young player has a day like Hall had on Saturday, you remind him to smile, and take time to enjoy the moment. Whatever mojo the 6-foot-1 guard had working on opening day at the West Coast Kick-Off, there’s no doubt he’ll hope to recapture it when he steps on the court on Sunday. Hall was the most prolific scorer of the day, showing off deep range on his jumper, and the confidence to consistently put the ball in the basket every time it touched his hands.
Justyce Lucero | Moreno Valley, CA | Class of 2025
Bruce Williams’ take: I could have picked a couple of the guards on Team A.O.N. (CA), but I went with Lucero. He played well on both ends today. Playing on the top of A.O.N.’s pressure defense, he used quick hands and instincts to force steals and deflections, while showing the ability to get out and finish in transition.
Spencer Pulliam’s take: Team A.O.N. (CA) has more than a few guys beginning to build their reputations in the Class of 2025 so it was a pleasant surprise to see Lucero step up and garner attention in his own right. The keyword for the 5-foot-11 dynamo on Saturday was, “motor”. The effort the lead guard displayed was second-to-none and his presence on both ends of the court was ultimately the reason his squad will be playing in the championship bracket as opposed to a consolation game on Sunday.
Koa Peat | Tempe, AZ | Class of 2025
Bruce Williams’ take: A.E.B.C. (AZ) only played one game on Saturday but Peat was as good as advertised. A fluid runner, Peat showed good hands, and some serious finishing ability around the basket. Nothing soft with him; Peat put opponents into the basket along with the ball.
Spencer Pulliam’s take: Peat is the next in line from a family of elite athletes. His sisters hoop at the Division I level while his brothers have taken the football route at the highest level. At 6-foot-7, Peat is one of the most physically impressive players in the country from the Class of 2025 at this stage, and he has game as well. Capable of playing either forward role, Peat flashed touch in the lane and advanced feel and instincts with the ball in his hands. I’m curious to see where his continued physical maturation takes him during the next few years but it’s obvious that he’ll begin his high school career tracking as an elite talent on the hardwood.
Mckel Shedrick | Rancho Cucamonga, CA | Class of 2025
Bruce Williams’ take: When he reaches high school, Shedrick will be a candidate for my, “All-wired-to-score” Team. The lefty just found ways to score. He slashed to the basket, made open 3’s, and was able to find garbage buckets around the rim. He was his team’s best player in all 3 of their games.
Spencer Pulliam’s take: Shedrick has my vote for the most surprising prospect on opening day at the West Coast Kick-Off. The “Team Eleate (CA)” guard stands 6-foot-1 and is in the mold of a true combo guard based on his ability to facilitate and score. He looked comfortable and steady with the ball in his hands regardless of the defense thrown at him on Saturday and was his club’s most reliable player from start to finish. It’s a successful day when an unknown player like Shedrick capitalizes on the platform provided and takes advantage of his opportunity to make an impression.
Stay tuned for more from Prep Hoops Next!