High School hoops is picking up steam as the playoffs are just weeks away from getting started. This installment of Jared’s Jumpshots consists of some notes from around the state that have caught my eye this week.
Return of Lightfoot and Licavoli: The ruling came down from a judge last friday night overruling the AIA’s decision to make Gilbert Christian’s Mitch Lightfoot and Tony Licavoli ineligible. Tuesday night was their first game back on the court for Kurt Keener and the Knights as they knocked off Poston Butte 74-58. Lightfoot, the future New Mexico Lobo, seemed to have been let out of a cage in this game as he went off for 20 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and five dunks. He was averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks before initially being ruled ineligible by the AIA. The Knights are quite the force to be reckoned with in Division II.
Most Improved Player: I am sure there have been many players from around the state that have made great improvement from the junior to senior year this season. But the only I keep hearing about the most is Desert Vista senior forward Brandon Clarke. The Thunder last season were a young and talented team that was having trouble getting over the hump against other elite teams in division I. This year that has all changed as the Thunder are out to a 16-1 start. A large part of that has been because of the play of Clarke who has elevated his game to another level. He is averaging close to a triple double in the 17 games played at just under 17 points, just under 10 rebounds and six blocks per game. All are stats that lead the team. Last season he averaged nine points, five rebounds and two blocks. His presence along with the three other teammates that average double digit scoring per game is the result of the Thunder already at the beginning of January matching the exact number of wins they had all of last season. San Jose State is getting a fantastic player who is just getting better and better in Clarke.
Chaparral Sidekick: We have got to know Kenzo Nudo very well around the high school hoops scene in this state as he is one of the elite AZ prospects that will come from this 2015 senior class. We know his ability to shoot and score as spectators just as well as his opponents know it. That knowledge of his presence on the court has drawn double teams and extra attention from opposing defenses. Because of it, another Firebird is seeing many open looks and doing a fantastic job of taking advantage. 6-0 sophomore Colten Kresl is averaging just over 10 points per game and is shooting 49% from the floor and 40% from three. The Firebirds have great leadership in seniors Nudo and Brandon Hoffer, but the emergence of their super sophomore has added a new wrinkle which has made the Firebirds that much better.
Stat Sheet Stacker: While we are on the top of GCU commits for 2015 like Kenzo Nudo, Sahuaro senior forward Nate Renfro is putting together an unbelievable senior season thus far. He leading a very talented Cougar team who is 17-2 on the season. Renfro on Tuesday night against Rio Rico, had a triple double in three quarters of play with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and five blocks. A 6-7 or 6-8 player who can score from anywhere on the floor, has great court vision and can create for others and has a presence on the defensive side of the ball sounds like a pretty fantastic young prospect. What a great get for Dan Majerle and company.