LIVERMORE, CA – The Nor Call Summer Tip Off produced by longtime respected boys basketball analyst Gerry Freitas showcased some of the top boys talent with teams from California, Oregon and Utah participating.
The one and only NCAA Summer Viewing Period event had 60 teams and almost 75 college coaches on hand to observe the over 500 players that played two games on Friday and two on Saturday with action on Friday at Mountain House High and on Saturday at Las Positas College.
There was also action at the Livermore Community Center on both days for mostly younger teams but all the top teams played their games at Las Positas.
Five games were covered on Saturday, all at Las Positas.
Of all the elite teams at the Tip Off only one went 4-0 and that was Team Arsenal 17 Elite out of Oakland and coached by Arsenal club director “KP” Kelvin Potts.
Arsenal started out strong on Friday beating two other elite teams, first dispatching a very tough Lakeshow 17 based in Danville, and then Team Lillard from Oakland in their evening match-up.
On Saturday they beat a shorthanded YBA 17 from the Metro Sacramento area with Prep2Prep covering the game and evaluating the players, 75-53, and they finished up the Nor Cal Tip Off with a win over a very solid Hoop from Salem, Oregon.
“I really like my team,” KP remarked. “They’re a low maintenance group of guys but they give effort, effort, effort; and that three-guard front we have is crazy.”
KP was set at guard with 6-2 Zyon Pullin, a 2019 from College Park, and 6-0 Iniko McNeil, a 2019 from Bishop O’Dowd, but when what KP call “the new face” showed up things changed a bit. That new face is 5-10 Brett Thompson.
Thompson, a 5-10 incoming senior that plays tough as nails, was forced to sit out last season by the NCS after transferring from Mountain House in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Because he lost his junior year he is “not well known” according to Freitas. That has certainly changed since he showed up at KP’s doorstep.
“The kid (Thompson) came to my tryouts at Fremont in Oakland and I already had my guards,” KP said. “I showed him a couple of plays and he ran the heck out of them. He’s the toughest guy on the team and doesn’t back off on anything; and not just this weekend. I took him down to play against the top players in the nation and he didn’t back down.”
As for this past weekend Thompson certainly turned some heads. “He definitely has looked good,” was the initial assessment of Freitas.
In the win against YBA he made five three-pointers and finished with 21 points, four steals and three assists.
Pullin, who impressed the scouts and college coaches on Friday and looked solid on Saturday, drained three treys against YBA and finished with 11 points.
The three guard front has helped the team’s star Isaiah Hawthorne as well. The 6-8 incoming senior forward from Tracy High had seven points and eight rebounds in the YBA win and dominated the paint on Friday against Lakeshow.
“Our three guard front allows Isaiah to shine,” KP said.
Another Arsenal big man that is playing well and has caught the eye of noted analyst Dinos Trigonis of Pangos is Jhaylon Martinez of Vanden. The 6-10 from 2020 just joined KP’s 17 Elite team and isn’t in the picture we’re using of the team for this feature.
“Really like the progress of Martinez. Big young post with nice shooting touch,” Trigonis wrote on Twitter.
Martinez had 14 points and six rebounds, and the big fellow even drained two three-pointers in the YBA win. He also played well on Friday according to analysts and scouts queried.
“We just brought Martinez up,” KP said. “He really likes to shoot and mix it up and fits well with this group. He’s maturing and the older boys are showing him the way and getting him ready.”
McNeil had a solid game defensively and two other Arsenal players showed some flashes of brilliance in the YBA win. Simeon Richardson, a 6-4 forward from 2019, had eight points and eight rebounds, and big Vincent Olma, a 6-9 post from 2019, had six points, five rebounds and two blocks.
YBA was playing without two players but still got a solid game from 2019 guard Gabe Bansuelo. The 2019 guard from Bishop Manogue-Reno, Nevada, played hard but always under control and finished with 12 points.
Team Arsenal now has two stops left in the July NCAA viewing period, the Hoop Summer Premier event in Salem, Oregon, and the Adidas Rebound event in Las Vegas.
In the final game observed YBA 17 came from down 59-52 with less than two minutes to go to win 61-59 in sudden death overtime over Team Lillard when Izayah Talmadge, a 6-2 forward from 2019, who midway through the second half had a four-point play after being fouled on a made three-pointer, connected from the free-throw line to end the game. Talmadge finished with 12 points.
Bansuelo, whose twin brother Daniel Bansuelo was one of the players out with a sprained ankle, led the way again with 14 points. Jordan Bryant, a 6-5 guard from Del Campo-Fair Oaks and the class of 2019, added eight points and nine rebounds.
Team Lillard got 13 points from 6-5 Grant-Sacramento 2019 forward Steven Richardson, 10 points and seven rebounds from 6-8 Valley Christian 2019 power forward Jay Allen-Tovar, and 10 points from De Juan Pruitt, a 6-7 incoming senior from Grant.
The first game observed was a 61-54 victory by Lakeshow 17 Black over Salt Lake City Metro 17 Gold.
Very few stats were kept but players were evaluated. Some names to watch for are 6-8 power forward, Kris Bortz, a 2019 from Monte Vista. He has good size, is solid around the basket, showed nice touch and on three occasions made difficult tip-ins from below the basket. Bortz finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Asked about his prowess for tip-ins Bortz had this to say. “I watch the shot and anticipate where it will go if it misses.” Sounds easy but it certainly is not.
A Lakeshow player Freitas said was “looking good” and played well was Alex Allen of Head-Royce, a 6-4 incoming senior power forward.
Another Lakeshow player that got to perform in front of his father was Matthew Musselman of Monte Vista, a 2019 point guard and the son of Nevada-Reno men’s Coach Eric Musselman that Freitas called “a tough competitor.”
Team Arsenal 17 Select played Salt Lake Metro 17 Gold and despite only leading 34-29 at the half they pulled away from the tiring boys from Utah who were playing in back-to-back games.
Several players from Arsenal 17 Select will garner evaluations but two players stood out against Salt Lake Metro, Gabriel Hawkins and Mason Friesch.
Hawkins, a 6-3 power forward from 2019 and James Logan, played bigger than he is, and Friesch, a 6-5 wing with a lot of hop that allows him to explode vertically, also showed a nice touch around the basket, ran the floor well, and displayed solid passing abilities.
One game was observed involving all underclass players, including incoming freshman. In that game West Coast Elite NorCal 2021 Black was a 53-45 winner over a Bay Area Warriors 16 team with several incoming juniors while the winners had all incoming freshman and sophomores.
Three incoming freshmen for West Coast Elite were the top players in the game. Aidan Burke, a 6-2 point guard could make some noise at Archbishop Mitty in the next four years. Christopher Bunch, a 6-4 wing that can go inside and out, made two three pointers and showed he can handle the ball, needs improvement in several areas and if he does he could be a breakout player at De La Salle. Aidan Braccia, a nifty lefty with a nice touch and range, dropped in three three-pointers and could be a big contributor for Sacred Heart Prep.
The top performer in the game for Bay Area Warriors was William Cotton Jr., an incoming junior guard at Hillsdale
A short evaluation of the all top performers at the Nor Cal Summer Top Off, including players mentioned in this feature, will be out this coming week.