Central Cali’s Next Up Showcase Top 10 Performers
By Paul Hernandez
On Friday, August 27th, Central Cali Prospects hosted the inaugural Central Cali’s Next Up Top 30 Showcase at the beautiful Dignity Health Sports Complex in Bakersfield, CA. The event featured a majority of the top sophomores and freshmen from the Central Section of California (Class of 2024 and 2025). The event was an individual player showcase, where players were put on teams and each player played 2 showcase games. There were 5 showcase games played in total, featuring 50 players from the area. The article below takes a look at the top 10 players from the event, as was determined by myself, Clutch Clips Hoops staff, Wes Davis, and the staff that coached the games. There is no ranked order to the players listed in this article. I will release Part 2 of this article that will look at the remaining 20 players to round out our Top 30 from the Next Up Showcase.
2024 5’10 Connor Amundsen (Clovis North):
Amundsen burst onto the high school scene for the Broncos during the shortened Covid season last Spring and has been making the most of his time on the court ever since. Amundsen had a very strong showing at Section 7 where he had multiple 30+ point performances, which he continued through the July viewing periods putting up solid numbers and getting the attention of scouts and coaches. He has been active in the month of August, attending the Cali Hoop Elite 80 Combine, Simply Basketball’s Battle of NorCal, and most recently the Central Cali Prospects Next Up Top 30 Showcase. Amundsen made his presence felt early and often, with a game high 26 points in Game 1 of the event and a display of his all around skill set, which earned him Most Outstanding Player of the event. Amundsen has great court vision, keeps the ball on a string, controls the pace of play, works very well coming off the high screen where he can pick the defense apart. He does a superb job of changing speed and direction with the ball in hand, which keeps the defense off balance and allows him to create for himself or make plays for others. Amundsen is already an efficient 3 level scorer, is knockdown from beyond the arc, and can score in bunches from various spots on the floor. Clovis North and the coaching staff are in good hands for the next 3 years.
2024 6’2 Davon Griffin (West Ranch HS):
Griffin was one of two players from the Northern Los Angeles County area that attended this event and he was stellar with the ball in his hands throughout. He has attended events that have been held in the Central Valley multiple times the past few years and he continues to develop as a playmaker that can score in a variety of ways. Griffin is a lead guard with smooth handles, surveys the floor while directing traffic, quick burst of speed when attacking the paint, great use of the hesitation to keep the defense on its heels, creative finisher at the rim, and good court vision to make some flashy but accurate passes to open teammates. Griffin has a nice shooting form and can light it up from deep, which opens up driving lanes to get to the basket or to use his effective mid-range jumpshot. Offensively, there is not much that Griffin cannot do and he will look to add depth to an already impressive roster for the Wildcats.
2025 6’5 Julius Olanrewaju (Coalinga HS):
Olanrewaju was coming fresh off the CP3 Rising Stars event in North Carolina last weekend and made a strong case for the top freshman in the Central Section at the Next Up Showcase in Bakersfield, CA. Olanrewaju has good size and physicality to operate in the post, using his solid footwork, nice touch and creativity to finish around the basket. Despite his size and length, Olanrewaju is at his best when he is operating from the perimeter, looking to attack the defense from the wing. He has good handles, uses his size and length to put his initial defender on his hip when attacking off the perimeter, has the physicality to finish through contact at the rim, and showed his effective scoring at all 3 levels. Olanrewaju can stretch the floor from three, has a nice one dribble pull up jumper, rebounds the ball very well, and uses his wingspan to alter shots both in the paint and on the wing. Intriguing prospect that is capable of playing the 1-4 positions on the court effectively.
2024 6’4 Godwill Fomusoh (Centennial HS):
Fomusoh has a physical build and does a phenomenal job of playing to his strengths. He was the most dominant forward at the Next Up Showcase. Fomusoh uses his frame and sound fundamentals to control the boards, keeps the ball high off the glass and able to get quick putbacks on the offensive end, great hands around the basket and able to finish through contact, good wingspan to alter shots, and has a relentless motor. He understands his strengths and plays within his skill set, runs block to block and establishes position early to be ready for passes to the post, goes after and wins 50/50 balls, and had a game high 25 points in Game 4 of the Showcase. The Golden Hawks are poised to make a deep run this season and Godwill will anchor the team on both ends.
2024 6’2 Bentley Waller (Bakersfield Christian HS):
Waller is a skilled and knowledgeable lead guard that can pick the defense apart by making plays for others or looking to create his own offense. Waller is coming off an impressive freshman campaign for the Southern California Regional State Champ Eagles and he had his full arsenal on display and showcased his high level 2-way play at the Next Up Showcase. Waller has elite handles, keeps the ball on a string, is calm under pressure, and constantly surveys the floor to make the right play. Waller has limitless range from beyond the arc, shifty moves when attacking off the perimeter, changes directions and pace with ease putting immense pressure on the defense, and is an effective 3 level scorer. Waller has quick hands on defense and good reach to disrupt passing lanes and create transition offense. He picked his opponents apart at the Showcase with the high pick and roll, finding fellow standout performer Godwill Fomusoh countless times diving to the basket. With the departure of 4 year starting point guard Seth Marantos, Waller looks ready to move into that position for the Eagles this season.
2024 6’4 Zy’Kayvious Reese (West HS):
Reese has a solid build with the agility to be a threat in the post, as well as play off the wing. Reese was a force on both ends in the paint at the Next Up Showcase. I first saw Reese in December of 2019 at the Pangos Central Cali Middle School Showcase, where he had a game high 34 points in the Top 20 Game. I did see him a few times during the Covid season as a freshman and saw flashes but wanted to see him in this environment. Reese was impressive and one of the top 10 players in the event. He has the strength and instinct to control the boards, gets off the ground quick for putback buckets, has great feel and touch around the rim creating contact with his defender and making moves off his man to create space and scoring opportunities in the post. Reese is effective from beyond the 3 point line, which forces his defender to close out, opening up driving lanes. He has enough handle and quickness to create off the dribble and has a nice mid-range jumper. Reese is tough to defend, as he is too quick for bigger defenders and can bully smaller players, getting to where he wants for scoring opportunities. Reese takes pride on the defensive end and turns up the pressure on his man, creating turnovers. He is also an underrated shot blocker, which he did well at the Showcase. He averaged 19 points per game in the 2 showcase games he played.
2024 6’4 Zykiar Henderson (Frontier HS):
Henderson has good size and agility as a wing/guard that can play forward effectively. Henderson was another player that performed very well at the Pangos Central Cali Middle School Showcase in late 2019 but I had not seen much of him since then. Henderson showed his versatility on offense, scoring from the post and from the perimeter at the Next Up Showcase. Henderson is a quick leaper with a lengthy wingspan that controls the glass, he has solid handles to push the ball off the glass and initiate transition offense, consistent threat from the 3 point line, solid moves to create and attack off the dribble with a nice pull-up shot. He alters shots on the wing and in the paint with the length of his wingspan, and is a strong finisher through contact at the rim. Frontier has a gem that could be a major impact player.
2024 6’2 Jordan Espinoza (Clovis North):
Espinoza has a strong athletic build and is an impressive wing/guard prospect. I had heard a little about Jordan through the AAU season, as he played with Swoosh Elite, but did not catch any of his games in the one event I scouted. Espinoza made the most of this event and left the Showcase staff talking highly of his all around skill set at the Next Up Event. High motor athlete that competes at a high level and has a knack for being around the basketball on every play. Very good rebounder for his size and position, nice ball handling skills to push the ball off the glass, has good court vision to push the tempo in transition, and the wherewithal to either make the right read or finish on his own. Espinoza is able to create his open offense when attacking from the perimeter, taking contact and finishing through at the rim or being able to knock down shots consistently from 15 feet to the 3 point line. The Broncos have some really good young talent to go with their veteran lead guard, Niko Jones.
2024 6’5 Rippen Gill (Centennial HS):
Gill has good size and height that shoots the ball well from all over the court. Gill is a high level rebounder that has the handles and court awareness to either push the ball or find the primary ball handler and get out to the wing so he’s ready for the catch and shoot transition 3. Gill has decent ball handling skills, consistent off the one dribble fifteen foot pull-up, and is efficient from the 3 point line, especially the corner 3 ball. Gill’s court vision and playmaking abilities are improving, which makes him more effective playing on the wing. With his size, he also plays well with his back to the basket and has good footwork and post moves. The Golden Hawks have some impressive young talent, as Cash Stockley and Michael Gutierrez also participated in the Next Up showcase and played well.
2025 6’1 Loukas Jones (Clovis North):
Jones has good length and height as an emerging combo guard that is ready to let it fly as soon as he crosses half court. I first saw Jones at an open run we hosted last summer and he was unconscious from beyond the 3 point line and pulling up from 30 feet. I have seen Jones play multiple times since then at various player showcases or tournaments during the club season and he brought that additional year of experience, work, dedication and skill development to the Next Up Showcase and performed very well. Jones also had a solid showing at the Cali Hoop Elite 80 Combine a few weeks back, and at the Next Up Showcase he left his mark with numerous plays that were tops in the event. Jones is a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc, has limitless range from deep, shifty movement with the ball in hand, has good body control, rapidly improving court vision and skills as a playmaker, a creative finisher around the rim, and sees the game at an advanced level for an incoming freshman.