With the Christmas food having weighed on me, both literally and figuratively, and spending the week in Portland, what not a better way to spend those awkward days between the holidays at the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro. The buzz of the tournament was none other than Sierra Canyon High School of Chatsworth, California, who compete in the CIF Southern Section and feature the sons of none other than Scottie Pippen and Kenyon Martin. Sierra Canyon, AKA your favorite player’s favorite high school team, have been obliterating the competition and their only loss this season was during the ‘Iolani Classic to Montverde Academy of Florida, who was ranked number one earlier in the season. During the duration of the week, Pippen Sr., Martin Sr., Zach Collins of the Blazers, Draymond Green, and Jimmy Butler were in attendance to check out the all star Southern California basketball team.
Fans and teams were awestruck, all on their feet as the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers warmed up for their first time, taking an aerial assault on the rim like it owed them money. Sierra also features McDonald’s All American hopeful Cassius Stanley, who has world class speed to go with his 40-something inch vertical and is currently choosing between Oregon, Kansas, and UCLA. The Trailblazers also showcased Christian Koloko, Arizona commit, ESPN 60 Terren Frank (offered by the Beavs), freshman sensation Amari Bailey (UCLA commit), and intriguing 7 foot 2 transfer from China, Harold Yu. Wayne Tinkle was attendance amongst all the hoopla, as well as Dana Altman, and Cal was in the house as well. Here are some stand out performers from the tournament, as well as Oregon State targets as well as players that should be on their radar.
Oregon State Recruits:
Wayne McKinney III, Lake Oswego, 2021 - Wayne displayed a confidence and composure beyond his years, as the sophomore for Lake Oswego handled the point guard role, slashing to the basketball and finding his team mates in critical situations. Wayne has a knack to get to the basketball and making acrobatic finished as well as can knock down the open jumper. Field general for the Lakers showed that he is all business this season.
Ben Gregg, Columbia Christian, 2021 - Columbia Christian made an appearance at the LSI, uncommon for a 2A school. There, they met up with Gonzaga Prep, Grant, Southridge, and Barlow. Ben displayed why he is on the national radar with a 30 point triple double versus Grant and had the crowd talking about him all week long. Gregg played stellar defense against Gonzaga Prep’s Anton Watson (Gonzaga commit) and didn’t back down again competition all week, displaying his simple but effective moves to the basket. Ben has a skinny frame, but is strong with the ball, a capable rebounder, as well as play maker and this week he continued to make himself a household name amongst Oregonians as well as regionally.
Darius Gakwasi, Central Catholic, 2021 - Darius and Central Catholic stunned 2018 6A State Champs Grant in the opening round to meet nationally ranked University School of Florida. The sophomore showed much mature versus the Sharks, did not back down, controlled the tempo very well and hit key, in rhythm shots. Led the Rams led the Sharks 31-29 at half time before falling down to Vernon Carey, Jr. and Scottie Barnes 72-62, but fought tough the entire game in which they could have very much won. Gakwasi, like Wayne McKinney III, is in the talented 2021 class of Oregon, has taken his unofficial visit to Oregon State, no offer….yet.
KJ Martin, Sierra Canyon, 2019 - Martin looked awfully like his father, catching alley-oops, dunking with authority, spiking down shots, and being an atrocious interior player like Martin Sr. during his tenure in the NBA. Needs to work on his perimeter game, as he didn’t make an outside shot all tournament, but that will come with time. Currently weighing his options, as Oregon State rounds out his top six along with the likes of Georgetown and Cincinnati. Martin is the alpha dog of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers, as he leads them with his tough play on both ends of the court, as he plays a lot bigger than his 6’7” listed height.
Players Oregon State Should Look Into:
Harold Yu, Sierra Canyon, 2021 - enormous emerging big man for Sierra Canyon stands up all 7 foot 2, around 270 pounds and Father Time worked on his behalf as he became eligible by the CIF for play by the time LSI rolled around, as he was a transfer from China. The big man showed good footwork for a 7 footer, getting deep post position as he is nearly unstoppable by the time he gets the ball. Scored 16 points off the bench in 10 minutes of play versus Jesuit in the second round. The secret about the 16 year old from the People’s Republic is out, as Cal offered him. The Beavs should look into him, as he is one of the more intriguing mid-major prospects from the Southern Section.
Micah Garrett, West Linn, 2020 - junior for the West Linn Lions showed major improvement in his game, as he was mainly known as a slasher during his early years. Micah is automatic from mid-range as well has a good three-point stroke on him. Emerging junior prospect played for Nike Team Northwest and had a great showing at the LSI, putting several showcases of 20 point games.
Scotty Pippen, Jr., Sierra Canyon, 2019 - the most underrated of the Big Three for the Trailblazers had one of the games of his lifetime, with 18 points at half time of the championship game versus University School. He finished with 29 points, with a myriad of three-pointers, timely passes, dunks, and overall solid point guard play. He currently only holds five offers, including Washington State and Vanderbilt. Pippen would provide the Beavs with a bonafide point guard with a chip on his shoulder, as he’s always been under the shadow of his more athletic peers.
Top performers of the tournament
Aaron Deloney, Grant, 2019 - scored a LSI tournament record 47 points, an impressive feat, considering the likes of Brandon Jennings, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Kyle Singler, Aaron Gordon, Payton Pritchard, Marvin Barley, and Michael Porter, Jr. have played in this tournament. Averaged 33 points for the Generals, as the Vermont signee showed that he will be scoring at will during his senior campaign and you can only hope to contain him and pray to stop him.
Anton Watson, Gonzaga Prep, 2019 - dominant big man for the Bullpups showed why he is suiting up for Mark Few next season as he was the most dominant player of the tournament. With his tough defensive play, athletic dunks, and overall leadership, he lead Gonzaga Prep to 3rd place and nearly upset University School before the Sharks woke up at the end of the fourth quarter.
Vernon Carey Jr., University School, 2019 - 6’10”, 275 pound behemoth dominated the tournament with a myriad of dunks and finesse moves before being stifled by the pestering Sierra Canyon defense. Carey woke up late game versus Central Catholic and single handedly beat the Rams by dunking on defenders and taking it up court, putting it behind his back before jamming it. Also had a sequence where he was sprinting up court, out of control, and threw it off the back board to himself, and when it grazed the rim, he finished it him. Carey is headed to the Duke next fall with Boogie Ellis of Mission Bay (San Diego).
Jed Tai, Oregon Prep Hoops - for the company, listening to my banter the course of the week, and for all your knowledge on the Oregon high school basketball scene.
David Brownhill, Jefferson fan - for your back and fourth conversation/arguments on who is the better athlete/team, you’re always a great person to watch high school basketball with.
Reggie Walker, Primetime Sports - for organizing such a great event and gathering Oregonians for such a great cause.
SSVisualWorks - for providing stunning visuals and videos not only during the tournament, but throughout this and last season.
Sierra Canyon - for being such gracious guests and not beating any team more than 17 points.
L-Simpson, Sierra Canyon High School - for having the most swag out of anyone in the tournament, still surprised they didn’t ask you to perform your hit single, “Over”.
Keylin Vance, Jefferson High School - for putting up 35 points in 26 minutes off the bench, someone sign this kid!!!!