Bakersfield, CA – This past Sunday, Central Cali Prospects, which is made up of myself and Clutch, hosted our 3rd Annual Next Up Top 30 Showcase. This event was designed to shine light on the next wave of high school basketball talent in the Central Section of California, and featured players from the graduation classes of 2026 and 2027, the current sophomores and freshmen. There were 60 participants in the showcase, and they were split up and placed on five teams, which were taken from NBA names: Lakers, Warriors, Suns, Kings, and Clippers. Each player played in two showcase games, which were spread out over a schedule of five games for the event.
The Warriors won the opening game of the showcase over the Clippers by a score of 94-82. McKae Amundsen led the way for the Warriors, while Tristan Beechler did his best to keep his team close. The second game was the best game of the event, as the Suns won on a buzzer-beater over the Lakers by a score of 105-104. Ja’Vance Coleman led the charge for the Lakers, but was not enough behind the Jace Kellogg-led Suns. The 3rd game was a lopsided win for the Clippers led by Tristan Beechler over the Kings, who were led by a stellar scoring display from Dalen Felder. Game 4 of the event was another good one, as the Lakers, behind Aidan Beechlet and Coleman, defeated the Warriors, led by Amundsen, by a score of 119-112. The last game saw the Suns take away in the second half led by Myron Pondexter, but Kellogg put on a scoring clinic for the Kings in the 137-111 loss.
The remainder of this article lists the top 30 players from the event in ranked order, based on some feedback from event personnel but ultimately I made the final decisions. Ja’Vance Coleman Jr. was the Most Outstanding Player of the event, making a solid case for top player in the 2026 class in the Central Section, although Julius Price, his new teammate Dalen Felder, Parker Spees, and a few others are in the mix for that spot. Nevertheless, Coleman was phenomenal and displayed the growth and maturity in his game to blend with the skill and savvy style of play. In the article below, I provide a brief summary of how each player performed at the Next Up Showcase, recorded statistics from the games, the players’ information, the number of where I had them ranked, and some notes on the players’ skill set. I will be updating the Class of 2026 Player Rankings before the season starts in November and releasing the first Class of 2027 Player Rankings around the same time.
1.) 2026 6’2″ Ja’Vance Coleman (Bullard/Fresno CA)
Coleman is a physical and skilled lead guard who makes plays for others, can create his own scoring opportunities, and is an underrated on-ball defender that can lock down perimeter players. Coleman came to the event with a purpose, which was to show that he needs to be considered for tops in the Central Section’s 2026 class, as he would go for 25 points connecting on 3 threes in his 1st game. Coleman followed that up with a strong double-double showing of 27 points and 10 rebounds. We did not keep assists but I would guess he was really close to a triple-double and earned top player of the 3rd Annual Next Up Showcase. Coleman has a tight handle on the ball, makes good use of the hesitation to get by his initial defender, has the physical attributes to finish through contact at the basket, and is accurate from the perimeter off the bounce, with the moves to take and make tough shots. I was most impressed with his decision-making as a floor general, the court vision to make play to open teammates, and the footwork and agility to be a lockdown perimeter defender. Coleman plays at his pace and is comfortable with being the facilitator or the scorer given what the game is calling for at the time.
2.) 2026 6’0″ Jace Kellogg (Clovis West/Fresno CA)
Kellogg is a shifty combo guard who has great on-court speed and can knock down shots from 3-levels at a high clip. Kellogg was one of the top performers last year at our 2nd Annual Next Up event and put down another dominant scoring display this year, as he would go for 25 points in his first game, and followed that up with a single game scoring high for the event with 36 points and 11 rebounds to close out the showcase. Kellogg has dynamic handles, crafty moves to create off the dribble, great on-court speed to blow by his defender, nice touch on his floater, is accurate with the 3-ball, and has a deadly stop-and-pop mid-range jumper. Kellogg has solid court vision to make plays when on the attack and has active hands on defense to create turnovers and open court buckets. One of the best kept secrets in the Central Section and looking to have a bigger role for the Golden Eagles this season.
3.) 2028 6’2″ Tristan Beechler (Reyburn Intermediate/Clovis CA)
Beechler is a skilled lead guard that plays with great pace and feel for the game, with the ability to make shots from all 3 levels with accuracy. Beechler was the only 8th grader invited to the Next Up Showcase, and he let it be known why he was given the opportunity to play up in this event, as he would go for 21 points in his 1st game before erupting for 30 points and 5 rebounds in his second game, which was one of the top performances of the event. Beechler controls the pace of play with the ball in hand, does not get bothered when the pressure is thrown at him, has great court vision to find open teammates, and is coming into his own as a scorer and shot-maker. He has the handles and moves to breakdown his defender, is accurate from the perimeter off the dribble, does a solid job on the glass to push the ball up the court, and is really tough to guard when he starts heating up from beyond the arc. Could start for almost any team in the Central Section if he were in high school this season in my opinion.
4.) 2026 5’8″ McKae Amundsen (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Amundsen is a shifty led guard who plays with a relentless motor and is a tough on-ball defender who makes life difficult for opposing guards. Amundsen is coming of a productive Summer with Clovis North and West Coast Elite, and he set the tone from the jump in the opening game at the Next Up Showcase. Amundsen had 16 points and 7 rebounds in his first game, and took it to another level with 26 points and 8 rebounds in his 2nd game. Despite the impressive play on offense, it was Amundsen’s relentless pressure on the opposing ball handlers that stood out most for me, as he was picking guys up full court and displayed great instincts and timing that led to countless steals and transition buclkets. Amundsen has solid handles, the moves to get by his initial defender, the court vision to make plays when on the attack, and is a creative finisher around the basket over height. He is accurate from the perimeter off the dribble or the catch-and-shoot, and, as mentioned above, an underrated on-ball defender.
5.) 2026 6’2″ Dalen Felder (Bullard/Fresno CA)
Felder is a combo guard that plays well on and off the ball but is at his best when he looks to create his own offense. Felder has one of the best all-around scoring packages in the Central Section regardless of class, as he led the TRAC in scoring as a freshman, and he had this on full display in his 1st game. Felder dropped 33 points in his only game, scoring 20 of those after halftime, and scored in countless ways off the bounce. Felder has elite handles and moves to create off the dribble, plays with great pace to keep his defender off balance, is capable of taking and making difficult shots from all 3-levels, and has one of the purest shooting forms in California. Felder is accurate with the 3-ball, but what impresses me the most about his game is the footwork and shot-making from the mid-range that makes him really tough to defend. Felder recently transferred to Bullard and will make up one of the best backcourts in the Section with Coleman as his teammate.
6.) 2026 6’1″ Aidan Beechler (Clovis East/CA)
Beechler is a combo guard that can be a playmaker with the ball in hand, as well as a scoring threat from 3-levels, with a deadly mid-range game that he went to time and again at the Next Up Showcase. Beechler had 24 points in 2nd game of the event, with 22 of those points coming after the break. He would go for 29 points and 8 rebounds in his second game, as he showed the 3-level scoring ability with 3 threes and multiple jumpers from the mid-range. Beechler has a strong handle on the ball, has the physcial build to bully his way through traffic, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Beechler has a smooth stop-and-pop mid-range shot that he goes to frequently, the ability to space the floor with the 3-ball, and the court vision to find open teammates when on the attack. Beechler does a nice job on the boards and is a solid perimeter defender who can guard bigger players with his solid frame.
7.) 2027 6’3″ Jeremias Killebrew (Bakersfield Christian/CA)
Killebrew is a wing/forward that impacts both ends of the court, and has the skill set to operate on the perimeter. Killebrew is one of the top prospects in the South Valley and overall for the class of 2027 in the Central Section and he displayed his versatility at the Next Up Showcase. Killebrew had a solid showing in his 1st game, finishing with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Killebrew got in his bag in his second game, as he would finish with a big-time double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds and was controlling the pace of play and showing off his guard skills. Killebrew does a solid job on the glass, has the handles to push the ball up the court, has the vision to find open teammates when on the attack, and can space the floor with the 3-ball. Killebrew has the handles and moves to create off the wing, can defend the 1 through 4 positions effectively, and is an underrated shot blocker/rim protector. He will play significant minutes for the Eagles as a freshman this upcoming season and is one of the more promising long-term prospects for the 2026 class.
8.) 2026 6’4″ Lydell Farmer (Clovis East/CA)
Farmer is an athletic and rangy wing/slasher that is emerging as one of the best two-way players in the Central Section 2026 class. Farmer was dominant within fifteen feet, as he would score 16 points and pull down 7 boards in his first game, and followed that with 18 points and 7 rebounds in his 2nd game. Farmer is a versatile defender, with the foot speed and agility to defend perimeter players, as well as the height and length to defend in the post. He uses his wingspan to disrupt passing lanes, create turnovers, alter shots on the wing and in the paint, and controls the glass with the ability to push the ball up the court. Farmer has good handles, makes nice use of the wide crossover to create separation from his opponent, and attacks downhill with a purpose. If Farmer continues to develop a consistent perimeter shot, he could be one of the top prospects in the 2026 class in the state.
9.) 2026 6’2″ Myron Pondexter (Central/Fresno CA)
Pondexter is an athletic wing/slasher that is a ball hawk on the perimeter and turns defense into offense routinely, with some high-flying dunks. Pondexter had a good showing in his first game, as he would finish with 10 points and a couple of monster dunks in the open court. Pondexter turned it up another notch in his second game, as he put 29 points and 5 rebounds and showed he can space the floor with the 3-ball to open up the defense. Pondexter has active hands on defense, good length to jump passing lanes, the bounce to alter shots around the rim, and is a creative finisher around the basket. He does a solid job on the boards, runs the floor well in transition, and makes himself available to receive passes in the open court or cutting off screens. If Pondexter works on his perimeter shot and tightens up his handle, he could be one of the better long term prospects in the 2026 class.
10.) 2026 6’7″ Parker Spees (San Joaquin Memorial/Fresno CA)
Spees is a lengthy wing/forward that can light it up from beyond the arc and is one of the top 2-way players in the Section for the 2026 class. Spees had his full skill set on display in the opening game of the event, as he was knocking down threes, creating off the bounce, showing off his touch around the cup, and displaying his ability to protect the rim from the post to the wing. Spees finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds before he rolled his ankle and had to call it a day. Despite only playing one of the two games, Spees was one of the top 10 players at the event. Spees has enough handle to create off the bounce, can knock down shots from 3-levels with accuracy, and looks to push the pace of play in the open court. He is a solid passer from the high post, and is one of the top long term prospects in the Central Section regardless of class.
11.) 2026 6’9″ Jackson Scarborough (Clovis/CA)
Scarborough is a lengthy forward has great touch around the basket and is one of the top rim protectors in the Section. Scarborough had 16 points and 6 rebounds in his opening game, which was followed by 15 points in his second game. Scarborough has enough handle to create off the perimeter, can stretch the floor with the 3-ball, has a nice mid-range jumper he can get off over most defenders, and can push the ball up the court with good vision to find players ahead. Scarborough has good hands around the cup but his ability to block shots on the strong and weak side in the paint is what separates him from most other bigs in the Section for the 2026 class. Runs the floor well in the open court.
12.) 2026 6’8″ Brayden Harris (Buchanan/Clovis CA)
Harris is a physical power forward that dominates the boards, has the footwork and post moves to score around the basket, has nice touch on the baby hook, and protects the rim. Harris uses his size and frame to back down his defender and is solid on the offensive glass, which leads to second-chance points routinely. Harris had 10 points and 5 rebounds in his first game, and followed that with a big double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds. Will be a player to keep an eye on for the next few years with the height and post-presence to be an impact guy at the next level. If he were to add a 3-ball to his game with consistency and be a stretch-four that would open up his options at the next level.
13.) 2026 6’0″ Sean Smith-Sharkey (Bullard/Fresno CA)
Smith is a shooting guard that can light it up from the perimeter and has range with the 3-ball. Smith is another guard from the 2026 class that transferred to Buallrd, which gives them 3 legit scoring options on the perimeter. Smith had his sharp shooting on display at the Next Up Showcase, as he would put up 21 points in each of his two games. Smith has shifty moves and smooth handles to weave through the defense, good court vision to find open teammates, and can score the ball at 3-levels. Smith moves fluidly off the ball, gets to his shot spots, and can catch fire quickly and score in volume.
14.) 2027 6’3″ Zander Jensen (Redwood/Visalia CA)
Jensen is a wing/guard who has the moves to create his own scoring opportunities and was able to score in the post and from the perimeter. Jensen had 11 points and 5 rebounds in his 1st game, which was followed by a strong showing with 20 points and 8 rebounds in the final game of the event. Jensen has solid handles, moves to create off the bounce, plays with good pace to keep his opponent off balance, and has the frame to finish through contact at the basket. Jensen showed he can space the floor with the 3-ball, does a solid job on the glass, can push the pace in the open court, and makes quality decisions with the ball in hand. He should be a welcome addition to Redwood and add some perimeter play to go with the size in the post.
15.) 2027 6’0″ Jaxson Silverstrom (San Joaquin Memorial/Fresno CA)
Silverstrom is a combo guard that is capable of scoring in bunches, has good handles to control the pace of play, and showed the moves needed to create space from his opponent and get open looks from the perimeter. Silverstrom had a solid first game but got it going in his second game, as he would go off for a team-high 27 points and 4 rebounds. Silverstrom can space the floor with the 3-ball, has nice touch on his stop-and-pop mid-range jumper, attacks downhill, and has nice touch on finishes around the basket. Silverstrom was one of the players that put his name and game on the scene in the Central Section with his play at the Next Up Showcase and could be a player that provides a scoring punch off the bench if he plays varsity for the Panthers.
16.) 2026 5’11” Noah Coulton (Fresno Christian/CA)
Coulton is a lead guard that has impressive court vision to find open teammates and has range with the 3-ball with accuracy. Coulton has solid handles, the moves to break down his defender, makes good use of the hesitation to keep his man off balance, and can create his own perimeter shots off the dribble from the mid-range to the 3-point line. Coulton had 12 points in each of his two games and some dimes to open teammates. Emerging point guard in the Section and looking to have a big sophomore season.
17.) 2026 5’11” Josh Padilla (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Padilla is a physical and crafty guard that can make plays for others, as well as create his own buckets. Padilla had two solid showings, as he would go for 17 points and 5 rebounds in his first game followed by 13 points and 6 rebounds in his final game. Padilla has a strong handle on the ball, keeps it on a string to survey the floor, has the court vision to make the right reads when on the attack, and is effective with the 3-ball to open up the court. Padilla is a tough on-ball defender, has the strength to finish through traffic, and is a creative finisher around the basket. He is at his best when getting to the mid-range for the stop-and-pop jumper.
18.) 2026 6’4″ Gavin Christian (South/Bakersfield CA)
Christian is a wing/forward that has a solid handle to push the ball up the court, court vision to find open teammates, and can spread the floor from beyond the arc. Christian is one of the lesser known names in the Central Section but a player I have been high on since first seeing him early last year as a freshman. He backed up my expectations of him with 10 points in his first game, followed by a 12-point and 5-rebound performance in his 2nd game. He is accurate from the perimeter, has the ability to put the ball on the deck and attack the basket, and does a solid job on the glass. Christian will be a key piece for the Spartans this season and has the potential to be a double-double guy over the next three years.
19.) 2026 6’5″ Elias Gish (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Gish is a wing/guard that can light it up from beyond the arc, as well as get to the basket off the dribble. Gish had a solid second game, as he would go for 12 points and 5 rebounds and showed his range with the 3-ball. Gish has the handles and moves to create off the wing, has the length and size to shoot over most perimeter defenders, has a sweet shooting form, and is tough to defend when he catches fire from deep when driving lanes open up. Gish is a versatile defender and has the wingspan to alter shots in the paint and on the perimeter.
20.) 2027 5’9″ Kai McCrary (Bakersfield Christian/CA)
McCrary is a crafty combo guard who keeps the pressure on the defense by attacking downhill and knocking down shots from beyond the arc. McCrary had 13 points and 6 rebounds in his 1st game, and followed that up with 13 points in his second game. McCrary has nice touch on the floater down the lane, can take and make tough shots off the dribble, and is a creative finisher over height. McCrary has active hands on defense, quick feet to stay in front of his opponent, and turns defense to offense. He has soid court vision and when he looks to make plays, he drops off some fancy dimes.
21.) 2027 6’0″ Ty Schalk (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Schalk is a crafty shooting guard that can create off the dribble or knockdown shots off the catch and shoot. He had 18 points in his second game and has the moves and handles to get his own shot off, has nice touch on the floater, and has range on the 3-ball. Plays with good pace and makes good decisions with the ball in hand.
22.) 2027 6’1″ Jahlil Montgomery (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Montgomery is a rangy and athletic wing/slasher who leaves his mark on the game in a variety of ways. Montgomery had 13 points and 5 rebounds in the opening game, which was followed by 11 points and 9 rebounds in his 2nd game. I am not sure what position to label the young prospect but would lean toward wing/forward. He has nice touch around the basket, runs the floor, and generates turnovers on defense. Intriguing prospect to track the next few years.
23.) 2026 6’0″ Irvin Calloway (Bakersfield Christian, CA)
Calloway is a wing/guard that impacts both ends of the court, is a solid on-ball defender, runs the floor well in the open court for transition buckets, and is effective with the 3-ball. Calloway had 18 points and 5 rebounds in his opening game, which is even more impressive given he has been focused in on football the last month or so. Calloway plays with a great motor and gets to the basket off the dribble and is a creative finisher around the basket.
24.) 2027 5’10” Ethan Saenz (North/Bakersfield CA)
Saenz is a crafty lead guard plays with nice pace and control, is capable of creating his own shots off the dribble, and has the court vision to make great reads from the top of the key. Saenz had a solid showing in his 2nd game, as he would go for 16 points and 4 rebounds and connected on a pair of threes. He will lead the show for the Stars as a freshman this season and he faired well against some of the top talent in the Section overall.
25.) 2026 5’9″ Donnovan Smith (Hanford West/CA)Smith is a physical guard that plays downhill, uses his build to bully through contact, and has nice touch around the basket. Smith had 19 points and 7 rebounds in the last game of the event and will be a welcomed contributor for the Huskies to help standout junior Remy Barnes who will shoulder the bulk of the scoring load this season. Solid showing for Smith.
26.) 2026 6’5″ Devin Gaines (Fresno Christian/CA)
Rangy and athletic wing/slasher that is oozing with potential as a long-term prospect. Had 13 points in his second game but if he puts the work into developing a true perimeter game, Gaines has the frame that college programs desire in a prospect. Solid defender as well.
27.) 2026 6’0″ Clifford Willis (South/Bakersfield CA)
Willis is a lead guard that has the moves to create off the dribble, sees the court well to make plays, and can knockdown the 3-ball with accuracy. Had 12 points in the opening game.
28.) 2027 6’0″ Giovanni Fomusoh (Centennial/Bakersfield CA)
Fomusoh is a wing/guard that has a long wingspan, generates turnovers, and has decent handles and moves to attack the defense. Showed flashes of a promising young prospect.
29.) 2026 6’3” Carter Finley (Buchanan/Clovis CA)
Finley is a wing/forward that does a great job on the glass, has nice touch around the basket, and can switch off on and hold his own against bigger players.
30.) 2026 6’1 Tye Tibbett (Immanuel/Reedley CA)
Tibbett had a solid second game, scoring 10 points and showing his range with the 3-ball. Does a solid job on the boards, can push the ball up the court, and has a strong build.
31.) 5’9 2026 Jacob Baldovinos (Garces Memorial/Bakersfield CA)
Baldovinos has good handles, is accurate with the 3-ball, and has nice touch around the glass. He had 7 points in his first game and 10 in his second game. Could be a nice piece for the Rams this season.
32.) 2026 6’1″ Brock Beshwate (Bullard/Fresno CA)
Beshwate did a solid job on the glass, makes the hustle plays, and showed he can knockdown perimeter shots, which could really benefit from playing alongside two of the top 5 players in the 2026 class in Coleman and Felder.