Bakersfield, CA – This past Sunday, December 4th, myself and Clutch Clips Hoop hosted the inaugural Central Cali’s Future Prospects Middle School Showcase for the graduating classes of 2027 – 2029 (8th – 6th grade) at Dignity Health Sports Complex. The event featured 50 players from various areas throughout the Central Section, as well as one player from Riverside in Southern California. Each participant would play in two showcase games, one against their own age group/grade and in one of the two all-star games, which were broken up into a Top 25 Game and a Next 25 or Top 50 Game. The event kicked off with the Class of 2029 Game for the 6th-grade players.
The first game of the showcase featured the youngest hoopers in the event from the Class of 2029. The team rosters were constructed before the event and organized according to height. Team White came out firing, as Malique Davis pushed the tempo and looked to get to the basket or let it fly from deep. However, Team Black had a more balanced scoring attack and was able to get double-digit points from multiple players. Despite the monster scoring output from Davis, an event game-high of 35 points, he failed to convert on a last-second 3-pointer, as Team Black would edge out Team White by a score of 68-66. Team Black was led in scoring by Jaychris Turner with 25, Jaxon Baker had 16, and Dorian Powell Jr. added 13 points. Along with Davis’ 35 points, Team White also got 10 points from Beckem Norcross of Clovis, CA. Davis and Turner were selected to the Top 25 All-Star Game and both held their own against the older 7th anf 8th graders.
The second game of the event was for the Class of 2028, which would be the 7th-grade participants. The rosters were put together before the event, as I did my best to balance height and talent to make for a competitive game. Team Black got out to an early lead, as RJ Shehee and Braylen Smith were turning defense to offense and getting routine open looks in transition. Cameron Saenz also contributed on the boards and scored the ball for Team Black, but things would start to turn in the favor of Team White, as up-and-coming prospect Tristan Beechler entered the game and got to work.
Team White trailed by double-digits going into the 2nd half but Beechler, along with Hideo Yamaura Jr., continued to put up buckets and crawled to within a single possession. However, the impressive 2nd half-scoring of Anthony Smith would be enough for Team Black to edge out the win, 63-62. Team Balck was led in scoring by B. Smith with 19, Shehee and Saenz added 13 apiece, and A. Smith finished with 11 points. Team Black was led by Beechler with a game-high 26 points, along with 15 points for Yamaura, and 9 points for Nico Gonzales. Although the player of the game would go to Braylen Smith, the best player on the court would prove to be Beechler, as both would be selected to the Top 25 All-Star Game, along with 5 other players from this game.
The final game before the all-star games would be for the participants of the Class of 2027. Team White got off to a hot start behind the play of Bryce Hanson, Jaxson Silverstrom, and Spencer Kubit, who combined for 23 points to take the lead into the half. Team Black would get it going in the 2nd half, as Carter Fulton, Cobi Posas, and Anthony Gonzalez; scored a collective 28 points to get the game within single digits. Kai McCrary provided the balance throughout the game for Team Black, scoring 6 points in each half, but Team White got a big lift from Ethan Saenz with 9 of his 11 points coming after intermission. Team White won the game 61-55 but the level of play on both sides was high and competitive. The player of the game for Team White was Hanson, but Posas may have been the most impressive all-around player as he controlled the boards, altered shots, and was nearly unstoppable around the basket.
Team White was led in scoring by Hanson with 14 points, Saenz added 11 points, and Silverstorm had 8 points. Team Black got 13 points from Fulton, 12 a piece from McCrary and Posas, and Gonzalez chipped in 9 points.
The personnel working the event, myself, and a few of the high school coaches in attendance helped select the players for both the Top 25 and Top 50/Next 25 All-Star Games. Once selections were made and rosters were announced, the Top 50 Game would be the first all-star game played, and the fourth game of the showcase. The rosters were a blend of players from the 2027-2029 classes, which would favor the 7th and 8th graders a bit more when it came to scoring, as they would have the size advantage. Nevertheless, all players performed well and Team Black would get the win by a score of 55-52.
Team Black was led in scoring by Jaythan Rivera with 15 points and earned player of the game honors. Benjamin Landwehr added 11 points to help Team Black secure the victory. Team White was led by Sier Harbin, who had a game-high 18 points, as well as 12 points from Aidan Mancilla.
The final game of the event featured the top players from the showcase, as decided by the personnel mentioned above, in the Top 25 All-Star Game. The game was competitive throughout, as Team White would get big contributions from Tristan Beechler and Carter Fulton, with 9 points and 13 points respectively in the first half. However, Team Black got a big half from the Hanson brothers, as Bryce would score 8 and Carter would add 7, as well as 6 points from Ethan Saenz to give their squad the 3-point lead at intermission, 48-45.
Jeremias Killebrew got going in the 2nd half for Team Black and scored 8 of his 10 points after the break, as well as 8 points from Eddie Ramey. Cobi Posas had a balanced game with 6 points in each half, and Kai McCrary added 7 to help Team White stay close, but it fell short by a final score of 80-77 in favor of Team Black. Fulton and the Hanson brothers were Co-Players of the Game for the Top 25 All-Star Game and Beechler was the consensus overall Most Outstanding Player for the event.
The remainder of this article provides a ranking of the event’s Top 25 players, based on my observations. This list of players may include some players that were not in the Top 25 All-Star Game, but performed well enough to make the Top 25 for this article. I begin with a more in-depth look at the Most Outstanding Player of the event, as well as the next 10 players that made up the 1st Team All-Showcase, for a total of 11 player evaluations. The players will be listed in the order they are ranked, and not in alphabetical order. That will be followed by a list of 25 players I felt were the best at the event, along with all relevant player information provided. The criteria for my Top 25 is based on the player’s performance at the showcase, as well as their projected future as a prospect going into high school. I begin with the event’s top overall player Tristan Beechler.
Most Outstanding Player:
2028 6’1 Tristan Beechler (Reyburn Intermediate/Clovis CA)
Beechler is a crafty lead guard that plays with great pace and poise, with the ability to create for himself or make plays for teammates when on the attack. Beechler has good court vision, keeps the ball on a string to survey the floor, has the moves and handles to create off the dribble, and can squeeze passes in tight windows when on the attack. Beechler has good range and accuracy from beyond the 3-point line, is a creative finisher around the basket, and has good lift on his stop-and-pop mid-range shot, making him a true 3-level scoring threat already. Beechler plays well on and off the ball, moves fluidly to get open for catch-and-shoot opportunities, does a solid job on the glass, and has the court awareness to make quality decisions with the ball in hand. Beechler had 26 points in the 2027 Game and 14 points in the Top 25 All-Star Game and lived up to the hype I had heard leading up to the showcase.
First Team All-Showcase:
2027 6’2 Jeremias Killebrew (Earl Warren Jr. High/Bakersfield CA)
Killebrew is a lengthy wing/guard that impacts the game in a variety of ways on both ends of the court. Killebrew is one of the more highly touted middle school prospects in Central California and he displayed his unique style of play in both games. Killebrew has solid handles, good moves to create off the perimeter, the court vision to make the right read when on the attack, and a smooth stroke from the 3-point line. He does a nice job on the boards, looks to push the pace off the glass, and uses his wingspan and timing to alter shots around the basket or on the perimeter. Although Killebrew has the ability to put up big scoring numbers, he looks to facilitate and make plays given that he draws so much attention from opponents. Jeremias had 8 points and 10 points at the showcase and will be playing with the Oakland Soldiers on the Made Hoops West Middle School Circuit, which will get him ready for the high school level.
2027 5’8 Carter Fulton (Epic Charter School/ Riverside CA)
Fulton is a shifty and crafty combination guard that has a great burst of speed off the dribble to keep pressure on the defense. Fulton made the longest trip of any player, coming from Riverside, CA, he made the most of his trip earning Top 25 All-Star Game Co-MOP honors. Fulton has a solid handle on the ball, makes good use of the hesitation move to keep his opponents off balance, gets downhill with a purpose, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Fulton has a nice stop-and-pop mid-range jumper, is effective from the 3-point line, and makes good decisions off the pick-and-roll action. Fulton had 13 points and 17 points in his two showcase games, in which he was the leading scorer for his team in both games.
2027 5’8 Kai McCrary (Norris Middle School/Bakersfield CA)
McCrary is a crafty lead guard that can score the ball in a variety of ways and plays with good control with the ball in hand. McCrary has dynamic handles, keeps the ball on a string to survey the court, has quality court vision to make tough passes in tight windows when on the attack, and has nice touch on the floater over size in the paint. McCrary has the moves to shake his defender when creating off the perimeter, the shotmaking ability to score from 3-levels, and deep range on the 3-ball. McCrary does a solid job defending on the ball, gets into his man’s dribbling space, and has strong hands to generate turnovers and easy points in the open court. McCrary plays with good confidence and makes good decisions with the ball, as he scored 12 points and 11 points in his two showcase games and is one of the better scoring guards in the 2027 class in the Central Section.
2027 6’3 Cobi Posas (Brighten Prep Academy/Fresno CA)
Posas is a lengthy and rangy wing/forward that has nice touch around the basket and controls the boards on both ends of the court. Posas may have been the player with the best long-term upside depending on how much he grows and develops his overall skill set, but at the showcase he used his length and size to dominate around the basket. Posas controls the glass, alters/blocks shots around the basket, has a soft touch on finishes at the basket, and runs the floor well to get to open spots for easy finishes. Posas did show some nice touch on his mid-range shot and if that continues to mature and extend to the 3-point line, he will become more of a threat off the wing. Posas had 12 points in both the 2027 Game and the Top 25 Game.
2028 5’8 Braylen Smith (Lakeside Middle School/Bakersfield CA)
Smith is a combination guard that has a fluid style of play with the ball in hand or moving off the ball with a smooth shooting stroke from the perimeter. Smith has quality handles, the moves to create off the dribble, weaves through the defense to find openings, can stop and pop on a dime, and can light it up from the 3-point line. Smith has good court vision and can find open teammates when on the attack. He runs the floor well in the open court and makes himself available with good court awareness. Smith led his squad with 19 points in the 7th-grade game.
2027 5’8 Bryce Hanson (Old Lady of Perpetual Help/Bakersfield CA)
Hanson is a crafty lead guard that can make plays for others or create his own scoring opportunities. Hanson has good shift and body control when attacking off the dribble, gets into the defense with the handles and moves to score with the floater, midrange, at the basket or from the 3-point line. Hanson has good lateral movement and active hands on defense to create turnovers and disrupt opponents which leads to easy points in the open court. He is not afraid of the moment and had a team-high 12 points and was Co-MVP of the Top 25 All-Star Game. Hanson had 14 points to lead his team in the Class of 2027 game.
2027 5’9 Ethan Saenz (Norris Middle School/Bakersfield CA)
Saenz is a true lead guard that plays with a calm demeanor and impacts the game in various ways. Saenz has a solid handle, surveys the floor well to make plays, good shift to create off the dribble and the moves to get by his defender, and has good touch and creativity on finishes around the basket. Saenz is accurate from the 3-point line and plays with good pace and control with the ball in hand. He had 11 points in the 2027 Class game and 6 in the Top 25 Game.
2028 5’4 R.J. Shehee (Norris Middle School/Bakersfield CA)
Shehee is a creative and skilled point guard that can create his own buckets but is at his best when making plays and locking in on the defensive end. Shehee has great handles, the moves and shift to get his defender off balance, the shotmaking ability to connect from the free-throw line to beyond the 3-point line extended. Shehee has the court vision and the skill to find teammates in tight windows for some flashy dimes. Plays with grit on both ends and embraces key moments in games with a winners mentality. Shehee had 13 points and countless assists in the 2028 Class game.
2027 6’4 Asher Thompson (Reyburn Intermediate/Clovis CA)
Thompson is a rangy and versatile wing/forward that controls the paint on both ends and can space the floor with the 3-ball. Thompson alters shots around the cup, hounds the glass on both ends, has nice touch around the basket, and enough handle to create off the perimeter and push the ball up the court off the rebound. Thompson is effective from the mid-post and showed he can knock down shots from beyond the arc. Thompson had 6 and 7-point games and I liked his ability to defend in the post and on the wing.
2029 5’ Malique Davis (Berkshire Elementary/Bakersfield CA)
Davis put on one of the most entertaining scoring displays at the event of any age group in the Class of 2029 game. Davis had an event single-game scoring high of 35 points in the opening game of the showcase. Davis is super shifty with the ball in hand, the moves to shake his defender, can launch it from deep with accuracy, and is a creative finisher around size. Davis held his own in the Top 25 Game and connected on a 3 in the 1st half. Was not afraid to compete against any player and that was impressive given the level of talent in the Top 25 Game.
|1||Tristan Beechler||2028||6’1||Reyburn Intermediate (Clovis CA)|
|2||Jeremias Killebrew||2027||6’2||Earl Warren Junior High (Bakersfield CA)|
|3||Carter Fulton||2027||5’8||Epic Charter School (Riverside CA)|
|4||Kai McCrary||2027||5’8||Norris Middle School (Bakersfield CA)|
|5||Cobi Posas||2027||6’3||Brighten Preparatory Academy (Fresno CA)|
|6||Braylen Smith||2028||5’8||Lakeside Middle School (Bakersfield CA)|
|7||Bryce Hanson||2027||5’8||Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Bakersfield CA)|
|8||Ethan Saenz||2027||5’9||Norris Middle School (Bakersfield CA)|
|9||RJ Shehee||2028||5’4||Norris Middle School (Bakersfield CA)|
|10||Asher Thompson||2027||6’4||Reyburn Intermediate (Clovis CA)|
|11||Malique Davis||2029||5’0||Berkshire Elementary (Bakersfield CA)|
|12||Anthony Gonzalez||2027||6’1||Alta Sierra Intermediate (Clovis CA)|
|13||Jaxson Silverstrom||2027||5’11||Granite Ridge (Fresno CA)|
|14||Jassy Mander||2027||6’5||Earl Warren Junior High (Bakersfield CA)|
|15||Anthony Smith||2028||5’11||Clark Intermediate (Clovis CA)|
|16||Carter Hanson||2028||5’4||Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Bakersfield CA)|
|17||Hideo Yamaura Jr.||2028||5’6||Woodrow Wilson Middle School (Hanford CA)|
|19||Cameron Saenz||2028||5’10||Norris Middle School (Bakersfield CA)|
|20||Spencer Kubit||2027||5’9||Kastner Intermediate (Fresno CA)|
|21||Sier Harbin||2027||5’7||Glacier Point (Fresno CA)|
|22||Jaythan Rivera||2028||5’5||Stonecreek Junior High (Bakersfield CA)|
|23||Aidan Mancilla||2027||5’9||Terronez Middle School (Fresno CA)|
|24||Jaychris Turner||2029||5’5||Pioneer Middle School (Delano CA)|
|T-25||Eddie Ramey||2027||5’9||Sequoia Middle School (Bakersfield CA)|
|T-25||Ty Schalk||2027||5’11||Granite Ridge (Fresno CA)|