The youth movement with high school basketball has been evident over the last three years as freshman have come in and made big impacts for great programs like Corona del Sol, Perry, Desert Ridge and more.
This year, it has been the case for Pinnacle as their starting point guard, Trent Brown, and one of the first guards off the bench, Spencer Rattler, are freshman playing big roles for the Pioneers.
“It’s definitely been different from the lower levels of play,” said Rattler. “We came in and went straight to varsity. We weren’t on freshman or JV but it’s definitely different from club to varsity. We’ve just got to work harder and keep practicing and we will be good.”
“My job mainly is to take care of the ball and run our offense,” said Brown. “The post is our main go to but if that isn’t there, I can take the shot when I need to and run our offense.”
Quite possibly, the person that needs to adjust more than the young players suiting up at this level for the first time, is their head coach.
“Adjustments in that I have to have a little more patience with them because you know they are going to make mistakes,” explained Pinnacle head coach Charlie Wilde. “So that’s an adjustment when you have veterans over the past three, four or five years but these kids are so intelligent basketball-wise that they pick it up pretty quick.”
Rattler now is no stranger to being a young gun going up against guys who are as much as three years older than him as he came right in as a freshman and started at quarterback for the football team, leading them to a playoff appearance this past fall. It has been a whirlwind of a first year for him playing at these levels already.
“Football I did not know if I’d play right away but basketball I kind of knew because I played with the varsity over the summer,” Rattler mentioned. “It’s been a great experience.”
“He is such a mellow kid about all the success that he has and he just wants to win and just wants to compete,” added Wilde. “He came in after football season and we asked him to do whatever it is and he did it, we’ll say ‘you’re not working hard enough,’ he worked harder. That’s the way the kid is.”
Pinnacle has good balance as they have senior leadership in the front court with Nik Mains and A.J. Elliot to go with the young guards. During their trip in December to the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in California, Wilde had the freshman room with Elliot so they could learn and gain chemistry with the senior. It is looking to have paid off as Pinnacle has won four in a row to get back over .500 on the season. The Bigs have been big in the young guards’ development.
“They have been a huge help with me and my confidence,” stated Brown. “They have pushed me along to do better and respect me as a point guard. That helps and now we are really starting to play like a real team.”
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“It helps a lot we always get open shots with our big men because our team revolves around them,” explained Rattler. “We’ll kick it into them, they will kick it back out. So it’s good.”
“Luckily, we like to get up and down the court a lot so there could be easier decisions for the young guards to make passes for,” mentioned Wilde. “In the half court it has been a struggle at times but they are starting to figure out where the big men want the ball. It’s all about being part of a team and trusting each other and I think it is slowly coming around.”
Nik Mains, who committed to play basketball at Air Force last month, has a younger brother Jordan who is also a freshman who is getting gaining great experience at a young age. He has been working with both the JV and varsity levels this season.
For Brown, playing the point guard on varsity as a freshman is no easy task. But he has had great guidance his whole life as his father is a former division I college basketball player having suited up for Michigan State initially before finishing his career at Western Michigan.
“My Dad has been my whole basketball career,” Brown stated. “He’s been my coach pretty much my whole life. He has taught me everything I know.”
“The thing Trent is realizing is that defenses pack more of the middle of the court and are more fundamental with less openings,” explained Wilde about Brown. “So he is learning to jump-stop and read the defenses. That may be the biggest thing with both freshman, reading the defenses rather than just taking your man and hoping that it’s open.”
Quite possibly the most valuable entity of all of this is that the two have each other to learn and grow with at a young age which could set them up great for years to come.
“I love playing with Spencer,” stated Brown. “He can hit those shots when we need them and he’s a great passer. He knows how to play defense and he’s a good player.”
“Trent and I, we’ll be pretty good when we are seniors because we know how it’s going now on the varsity level,” added Rattler. “It’ll be a good learning experience.”