Bakersfield, CA – Friday, August 26th, myself and Clutch Clips Hoop co-hosted our 2nd Annual Central Cali’s Next Up Top 30 Showcase at Dignity Health Sports Complex in Bakersfield, CA. Last year’s inaugural event featured some of the Central Sections’ top 2024 and 2025 players, as Clovis North’s Connor Amundsen would take home Most Outstanding Player honors. The second year of this event was loaded with some familiar names from last year’s event, along with some new faces from the sophomore class and what looks to be a very promising freshman class of players. The event featured 52 players representing 25 different high schools in the Central Section from the graduating classes of 2025 and 2026 (sophomores and freshmen). Players were placed on pre-selected team rosters, each team played in two showcase games, and all games were live-streamed on BallerTV:
We used collegiate program names from colleges in close proximity to the Central Section for team names, as players were placed on one of the following five teams: CSU Bakersfield, Fresno State, Cal Poly SLO, CSU Northridge, UC Santa Barbara. The event was designed to serve as a platform for up-and-coming high school players in the Central Section to get their names and games on the radar within the Section and beyond. The showcase finished with a bang, as freshman phenom Jace Kellogg of Clovis West hit a game-winning overtime 3-point shot to give Fresno State the win over CSU Northridge, 71-68. Abram Potts of San Joaquin Memorial earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the 2nd Annual Next Up Showcase, as he was sensational, scoring the ball in a variety of ways in both games.
This article takes a look at 25 players that I selected as standout performers from the Next Up Showcase. The article provides a brief recap of each player’s performance, an evaluation of their skills, their player information, and a link to BallerTV for any scouts or coaches that are interested in getting a jump on a very talented freshman class and view the progress of the sophomore class from the Central Section. Although this is a list of my top 25 players, the players are listed in alphabetical order and not in a ranked order. I begin this evaluation by taking a look at sophomore Carson Acevedo.
2025 6’6 Carson Acevedo (Garces Memorial/Bakersfield CA)
Acevedo is a lengthy wing/forward that can space the floor from beyond the arc and is becoming a more serviceable rim protector. Acevedo connected on 3 threes in his first game finishing with 15 points, and added 12 points in his second showcase game. Acevedo has nice form on his perimeter shot, moves well off the ball to set up for catch and shoot opportunities, has solid handles and the wiggle to create off the dribble and attack the interior of the defense, and has good touch on finishes around the basket. Acevedo is solid on the glass, gets the ball out to his guards, runs the floor well, and is tough to defend on the transition corner 3-ball, where he hit all of his three-pointers in the event. Acevedo has good length and does a solid job on weak side help and alters shots in the post and on the perimeter with his wingspan.
2026 5’6 McKae Amundsen (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Amundsen is a shifty lead guard that has the IQ to make the right plays and is a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc. Amundsen, younger brother of last year’s Next Up MVP Connor Amundsen, made it clear that his game is on par with the top players in the class of 2026 in the Central Section. Amundsen finished the event with 13 points in his first game and 9 points and 9 rebounds in the second game, which shows his toughness given he was one of the shorter players at the event. Amundsen has quality handles and keeps the dribble active while surveying the court, makes great reads to open teammates, is a formidable scoring threat from all 3-levels, and has nice touch on the floater over bigger players in the paint. Amundsen makes nice use of hesitations, crossovers, and stepbacks to create space to get up shots.
2025 6’3 Remy Barnes (Hanford-West/CA)
Barnes is a lengthy and athletic wing/forward that impacts both ends of the court and routinely turns defense into offense. Barnes was a last-minute addition to the event and he put his game on full display, scoring 10 points in his first game and went off for 22 points in his second game. Barnes has tightened up his handles, is more decisive when looking to attack the basket, has good moves to get by his defender, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Defensively, Barnes uses his wingspan and agility to lock up and create turnovers on the perimeter, as well as alter shots and collect rebounds with the handle to push the ball up the court. Barnes is an intriguing prospect that will serve as a key piece for the Huskies this season.
2026 6’2 Aidan Beechler (Clovis East/CA)
Beechler is a guard/wing that has crafty moves to create off the dribble, solid handles to weave through traffic, makes good use of the hesitation to get his defender off balance, and has the physicality to finish through contact at the basket. Beachler is effective from the perimeter, with the ability to hit from the mid-range and the 3-point line. He has solid court vision and is good on the glass to push the ball. Beechler scored 9 points in each of his showcase games and showcased an impressive skill set that will be part of a quality group of freshmen at Clovis East.
2025 6’7 Isaiah Carter (San Joaquin Memorial/Fresno CA)
Carter is a lengthy and active forward that has expanded his shooting range and emerged as one of the top prospects in the 2025 class. Carter was the top big at the showcase and was dominant on both ends of the court, as he had 20 points and 8 rebounds in the event opener followed by 26 points and 15 rebounds in his second game. Carter controls the boards on both ends, has a nice touch on finishes around the basket, alters shots with a big wingspan, and is effective with the mid-post shot. Carter knocked down a three and pushed the ball up the court a few times to show that he has been working to expand his overall skill set. Carter is playing his best basketball and will only climb up the player rankings if he keeps progressing, with the build that college coaches are looking for.
2026 6’ Fred Davis (Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep/San Francisco CA)
Davis is a shifty lead guard that makes plays for others, as well as being able to create his own offense. Davis made the longest haul of any player at the Next Up Showcase, coming from San Francisco, and he made the most of his opportunity scoring 10 points in his first game, followed by a 12-point and 6 rebounds second game. Davis has crafty handles, shifty moves to create off the perimeter, makes good use of the hesitation to keep his defender on their heels, and has a nice touch on the floater or is a creative finisher around the basket. Davis showed consistency from the 3-point line, with the ability to knock down tough perimeter shots off the dribble. Defensively, Davis has active hands and gets into his opponent’s dribbling space to cause havoc on defense.
2025 5’10 Gabriel Gutierrez (Bakersfield Christian/CA)
Gutierrez is a crafty lead guard that is capable of making plays for his teammates, as well as creating his own offense. Gutierrez had a monster opening game at the Next Up Showcase, as he was scoring the ball from various spots on the court and had a game-high 24 points. Gutierrez has elite handles, keeps the ball on a string while he constantly surveys the floor, makes great reads in tight windows, and makes nice use of the hesitation to keep his defender off balance. Gutierrez has shifty perimeter moves to create off the dribble, gets downhill with the creativity to finish over taller players around the basket, is efficient from beyond the arc, and has shown he is a playmaker that can score from all 3-levels. Defensively, Gutierrez has good lateral movement and active hands that lead to turnovers and easy transition points.
2026 6’5 Jensen Hirschkorn (Kingsburg/CA)
Hirschkorn is a long and active forward that showed nice touch on shots around the basket with creativity on his ability to score the ball. Of the five Kingsburg players to attend the event, Hirschkorn had the best showing, as was evident in the first of his games scoring 13 points and finishing the event with 6 points and 5 rebounds. Hirschkorn has a good shot, controls the glass, has the wingspan to alter shots, and will be a key piece for the Vikings over the next four years, as their future looks bright.
2025 6’3 Loukas Jones (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Jones is a true shooting guard that impacts the game on both ends and can light it up from beyond the arc. Jones displayed his 2-way capabilities at the showcase, as he generated turnovers, showed his range from the 3-point line, and had a solid second game with 10 points and 5 rebounds. Jones has solid handles, good moves to create off the dribble, is accurate on perimeter shots from fifteen feet to the 3-point line and is a crafty finisher at the basket. Jones is pesky on defense, turns defense to offense, and has the court vision to make plays when on the attack and in the open court. Jones is active on the boards and looks to push the pace of play in transition.
2026 5’11 Jace Kellogg (Clovis West/Fresno CA) – Featured in Photo
Kellogg is a shifty and skilled lead guard that can hit tough shots in clutch situations. I have seen Kellogg a few times with his high school team in June and club team in Spring and Summer and I was impressed with his game. Kellogg took full advantage at the showcase, as he was in his bag often and early in his team’s first game. Kellogg scored 19 points in the first game, 13 points in his second game, and knocked down an off-the-dribble 3-point overtime game-winner to end the event. He has tight handles and keeps the ball on a string, weaves through traffic and makes great use of the hesitation to get by his defender, and has a smooth touch on his floater. Kellogg is a knockdown 3-point shooter that has the moves and shift to blow by any defender over pursuing on the close-out, where he is able to stop on a dime for the mid-range jumper or take it to the basket. Looking forward to seeing Kellogg battle it out with fellow class of 2026 MaKae Amundsen of Clovis North the next four years.
2025 5’11 Dereon King III (Hoover/Fresno CA)
King is a crafty lead guard that can score at a high clip, as well as make plays and break down defenses. King had a solid first-game performance scoring 13 points and showing he can score the ball in a variety of ways. King is shifty with the ball in hand, the quickness off the dribble to get by his initial defender, and the ability to finish at the rim through contact. King can score the ball from all 3-levels, but is at his best when attacking downhill getting into the defense with the court vision to make reads to open teammates. King will be the main scoring option for Hoover this season and I expect a big year from the rising sophomore.
2025 5’9 Drew Minnear (Bakersfield Christian/CA)
Minnear is a poised lead guard that plays at his pace and has great court vision to make quality decisions with the ball in his hands. Minnear had a solid showing in both of his showcase games, as he went for 10 points in his opening game and 7 points and 8 rebounds in the second game. Minnear has good court vision, tight handles to keep the ball on a string, keeps his dribble alive to survey the floor to make plays, and is an effective perimeter scorer off the dribble or the catch and shoot. He does a nice job of playing at a steady pace and does not let the defense rattle him or force him into bad decisions.
2026 5’10 Joshua Padilla (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Padilla is a crafty point guard that has good shift and body control when attacking the defense, with the ability to score at the basket or from the perimeter consistently. Padilla gets into the defense and keeps his dribble to weave through traffic and find open players or create for himself. Padilla had a monster second game where he had 19 points and 8 rebounds and connected on 4 threes. The Clovis West versus Clovis North rivalry will be fun to watch with the two backcourts looking set for the next four years, with Kellogg and Smith of West and Amundsen and Padilla of North.
2025 6’2 Abram Potts (San Joaquin Memorial/Fresno CA) – Featured in Photo
Potts is a combination guard that effectively scores the ball from 3-levels and has a smooth shooting form. Potts had a great showing at the Next Up Showcase, as he scored 17 points in his first showcase game and 23 points in his second game. He was awarded the Most Outstanding Player honors for the event, as was decided by media and staff in attendance. Potts has a tight handle on the ball, shifty moves to create off the dribble and create space from his defender, is accurate from the 3-point line, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Potts makes good use of the stop-and-pop mid-range jumper, and his step-back perimeter shot is becoming his go-to move. Potts continues to develop his overall skill set and already has one of best shooting forms in the Central Section.
2025 6’ Silas Rodriquez (San Joaquin Memorial/Fresno CA)
Rodriquez is a crafty lead guard that breaks down a defense with his ability to create for others or his own scoring opportunities from various spots on the floor. Rodriguez has performed well at previous events that we have hosted, but he took his level of play to another gear, as he would put up 21 points in the event’s opening game and showing he is more than just a facilitator with the ball in hand. Rodriguez has a tight handle and does not waste dribbles, good court vision to make plays when attacking the defense, and is able to make the right reads to teammates in tight windows. Rodriguez gets to his shot spots, is accurate from the 3-point line, makes good use of the mid-range jump shot, and is a crafty finisher over height around the basket. Defensively, Rodriguez has the agility and toughness to guard perimeter opponents and gets into their dribbling space, generating turnovers.
2025 5’10 Amarius Rowel (Independence/Bakersfield CA)
Rowel is a quick and shifty guard that can light it up from the perimeter and break down any defense with his speed and skill. Rowel had the single-game scoring high, as he went for 29 points in Game 3 of the event and was unconscious from beyond the arc connecting on 5 threes. Rowel has dynamic handles and crafty moves to create off the dribble, a great burst of speed when attacking downhill, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Rowel is active on the defensive end, has quick lateral movement to stay in front of his opponent, and creates numerous turnovers on the perimeter that lead to easy points in the open court. Rowel is a volume scorer that can catch fire in a hurry and has solid court vision to make plays on the attack.
2026 5’10 Sean Smith (Clovis West/Fresno CA)
Smith is a combination guard that can orchestrate the flow of the offense and can fill it up from the perimeter. Smith had a solid first-game performance, as he went for 13 points and connected on 3 threes. Smith has crafty handles, good shift on his moves off the dribble to weave through the defense, and showed range on his 3-ball off the bounce. Smith has a quick first step to get by his initial defender, is a creative finisher around the basket, and has enough court vision to make reads to open teammates when on the attack. Smith will be a solid backcourt mate with fellow freshman Jace Kellogg for the Golden Eagles over the next four years.
2026 6’8 Jackson Scarborough (Clovis/CA)
Scarborough is a long and lengthy forward that impacts the game in countless ways, most impressively his ability to protect the basket. Scarborough was the most known and the prospect with the most long-term potential of the 2026 class and will be a heavy contender for the top spot in my first player rankings for the current freshman class. Scarborough did not dazzle scoring the ball but that did not prevent him from leaving a major imprint on the Next Up Showcase. Scarborough controls the boards on both ends, has the instincts and size to be an elite shot blocker, has enough handle to push the ball off the glass, and has nice touch on finishes around the basket. He has the skill and the ability to create off the perimeter and can space the floor from the 3-point line. He had a sequence of five plays in a row where he blocked the opposing players’ shots and made it look effortless. I would like to see him assert himself more around the basket and that would allow him to get involved early and often. There is a lot to like about Scarborough’s game and the potential he has as a prospect and I look forward to seeing his progression over the next four years.
2026 6’4 Parker Spees (Buchanan/Clovis CA)
Spees is a lengthy wing/forward that controls the glass and is a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc. Spees was one of the top players from the freshman class at the showcase, as he went from 20 points and 8 rebounds in his first game and 11 points and 9 rebounds in the second game. Spees has the handles and the perimeter moves to create off the dribble, moves fluidly off the ball for catch and shoot opportunities, has a smooth stroke on his perimeter shot, and makes good use of the pump fake to get by his defender and is confident on the mid-range shot or finishing at the rim. Spees controls the boards on both ends, has the court awareness to push the ball up the court, and has the wingspan and versatility to alter shots at the basket or on the wing. Spees will be a great building block for Buchanan over the next four years.
2025 6’1 Elijah Wade (Garces Memorial/Bakersfield CA)
Wade is a physical and athletic combination guard that plays with great energy and puts relentless pressure on the defense when attacking the basket. Wade displayed his physical style of guard play at the Next Up Showcase, as he bulldozed his way through defenders and scored routinely around the basket with 17 points in each of his two games and showed why he will be a rising sophomore to keep an eye on this season. Wade has the handles to create off the dribble, does a superb job of getting downhill with the strength to finish through traffic at the rim, and is a solid rebound with the ability to push the tempo off the glass. Wade keeps relentless pressure on the ball, has strong hands to rip the ball from his opponent, and generates perimeter turnovers that lead to transition points. Wade has improved his accuracy from the perimeter and connected on a few threes, which will give him more space to attack lanes as defenders are forced to close out on his shot.
2025 6’5 Dallin Crawford (Frontier/Bakersfield CA)
Crawford is a forward that has good touch around the basket, rebounds well and has enough handle to dribble the ball out, has good footwork in the post, and is a player to keep an eye on with fellow sophomore Zach Garnett for the Titans.
2026 6’ Cliff Willis (South/Bakersfield CA)
Willis is a shifty guard with good court vision to make plays when on the attack. Willis has a smooth perimeter shot that he can knockdown off the dribble or the catch and shoot. Willis will be called upon to be a key peice at South this season but he has the desire and the toughness to shoulder that work load.
2025 7’ Enzo Lane (Kingsburg/CA)
Lane is a big presence in the post and, although he is still developing, shows signs of promise if he increases his cardio and works on agility and footwork. Lane dominated the glass, protects the rim and alters shots, and has a decent touch at the basket. I want to see him get to the point where he is dunking anything near the basket and he has the potential to get there. The ceiling is very high considering he has played less than 2 years of basketball.
2026 6’ Moses Curry (Liberty/Bakersfield CA)
Curry has the poise and handles to orchestrate the flow of the offense as the point guard, as well as create off the dribble and score effectively from various spots. Curry rebounds well, has a solid understanding of the game, does not get rushes when pressured, and has an accurate shot from 3-point.
2025 5’11 Nolan Birchall (Clovis North/Fresno CA)
Birchall is a player that does all the little things to help a team win with the ability to score the ball. He had a solid showing in his second game with 14 points and 6 rebounds and will be a perfect fit for the Broncos over the next three years.