Bakersfield, CA – Friday night, May 5th, myself and Clutch Clips Hoops hosted the Inaugural Central Cali’s Senior Showdown at the NOR Riverview Community Center. The event featured 20 seniors from various areas in the Central Section (Bakersfield, Fresno, Arroyo Grande, McFarland, Delano, Lemoore, Kingsburg, and Rosamond). Players were placed on one of the two showcase teams, (Team Black v. Team White) and played in two showcase games. The event was live-streamed on BallerTV and games can be accessed for post-event viewing by clicking the link below.
Game 1 was won by Team White by a score of 85-84, with Jayden Abuyen and Jhace Boston leading the way with 21 and 18 points respectively. Team Black was led by Prince Ellis with 15 points and an even distribution of scoring for the rest of the line-up. Game 2 was a thriller that went into overtime with Team Black scoring the only basket after regulation to win 87-85. Team Black was led by Roosevelt of Fresno’s Mykayle McCoy and Josh Nicholson with 20 and 14 points respectively, as well as 12 points a piece from Henry Madden III and Connor McFall. Team White had five players in double-digit scoring, as Jhace Boston had 13, Jayden Abuyen and Christopher Samaniego with 12 points, and Damareya Cooks and Deven McCullough with 10.
Below is a brief evaluation of each player’s skill set and strengths of their games, as well as all relevant player information. All the players on this list are from the class of 2023, so I will not include that in the player’s information. The list of players below is in alphabetical order and not in ranked order. This is purely an evaluation of all players that attended the event. I have each player’s contact information if any coaches or scouts are interested in any of the players listed, please reach out and I can provide this information.
Karsten Adeleye 6’ Stockdale (Bakersfield, CA)
Adeleye is a shifty lead guard with dynamic handles, moves to break down the defense, and is lights out from beyond the arc when catches fire from deep. Adeleye keeps the ball on a string, weaves through the defense, has the court vision to find open teammates, makes good use of the hesitation move, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Adeleye has the moves to create off the bounce and can score effectively from 3-levels. Adeleye moves well without the ball and when he is on is a knockdown shooter from the 3-point line.
Jayden Abuyen 6’1 Centennial (Bakersfield, CA)
Abuyen is a crafty combo guard that can create his own offense and is a lockdown perimeter defender that generates turnovers and transition points. Abuyen was the event’s overall leading scorer, as he led all players with 21 points in the first game followed by 12 points in the second game, for a total of 33 points. Abuyen has a lengthy wingspan, moves well laterally, and is able to keep his man in front of him, which leads to turnovers and forces bad decisions by opponents. Offensively, Abuyen has shifty moves with a solid handle, is able to create separation from his defender off the dribble, and scores the ball effectively from 3-levels. Abuyen has nice touch around the basket and moves well off the ball to get open for catch-and-shoot opportunities. Abuyen will continue his basketball career at Reedley College next year with the potential to play at the four-year level with continued development as a primary ball handler.
Jefferson Banaag Jr. 5’11 Ceasar Chavez (Delano, CA)
Banaag is a shooting guard that is lethal from beyond the arc and has limitless range off the catch and shoot or off the dribble. Banaag was the top 3-point shooter at the showcase as he would connect on 6 in game one and a total of 8 over the span of both games. Banaag has great shooting form, has a quick release to get his shot off over taller defenders, and once he starts connecting from the 3-point line there is not much the defense can do. Banaag has a solid handle, showed he can hit shots off the dribble, as well as fluid movement off the ball to get open for catch-and-shoot opportunities. Banaag is currently considering going to the Philipines to play basketball after high school but would be a nice fit for a junior college looking for an instant spark off the bench.
Riley Bermke 6’4 Lemoore (CA)
Bermke is a physical and athletic forward that dominates the boards and can finish with
authority at the basket. Bermke has nice touch around the basket, can space the floor with the perimeter shot, has enough handle to attack off the wing, the strength to finish through contact at the basket, and can rise up with great bounce. Bermke controls the glass, can alter shots at the rim, and has the physical build to defend bigger players, as well as the athleticism and footwork to switch on smaller players and defend effectively. Bermke had 6 points and 8 points respectively in the two games played.
Aaron Blake 6’ Rosamond (CA)
Blake is a physical lead guard that plays with nice pace and has the court vision to make plays for others or can create his own offense. Blake has a solid handle on the ball, has a nice burst of speed off the dribble, attacks downhill with the build to absorb and finish through contact, and can space the floor with the 3-ball. Blake is a solid rebounder for his size, which allows him to get into the open court where he is tough to contain, as he makes quality decisions with the ball in his hands. Defensively, Blake has good foot speed to stay in front of his opponent, active hands to create turnovers, and the strength to keep his opponent off balance when trying to create space.
Jhace Boston 6’3 Stockdale (Bakersfield, CA)
Boston is a combo guard that controls the pace of play, has the court vision and size to make nice reads at the top of the key, and the moves to create his own scoring opportunities. Boston was the second overall leading scorer with 18 points in Game 1 and 13 points in Game 2, for a total of 31 points. Boston has solid handles, moves to shake his defender, uses his solid frame to attack downhill with the strength to finish through traffic at the basket, and can knock down shots with accuracy from 3 levels. Boston has the moves and handles to create off-the-bounce and the court vision to find open teammates when on the attack. His mid-range pull-up jumper makes Boston truly tough to defend. Boston is an excellent rebounder, which allows him to initiate the transition offense and push the ball up the court. He has recently committed to Redlands College and will be paired up with Bakersfield native Cameron Brown.
Gustavo Chavez 6’1 West (Bakersfield, CA)
Chavez is a shooting guard that can knock down the 3-ball with consistency off the dribble or the catch-and-shoot. Chavez hit a huge three in Game 2 that sent the game into overtime, where his team would get the win. Chavez has smooth handles, the moves to break down his defender, and can light it up from beyond the arc with next-level range. Chavez’s accuracy from the 3-point line forces defenders to over-extend, which opens up lanes for him to attack where he is a creative finisher around the basket. Chavez has solid court vision and if he keeps developing as a lead guard that would open up more opportunities for him at the collegiate level. He had games of 10 points and 8 points respectively.
Damareya Cooks 6’ Mira Monte (Bakersfield, CA)
Cooks is a lead guard that can score in volume and is an elite on-ball perimeter defender that generates turnovers and easy buckets. Cooks was arguably the top overall defender at the showcase and he made life hectic for his opponents in both games. Cooks has tight handles, shifty moves to shake his defender, can stop on a dime and gets nice lift on his mid-range jumper, can hit tough shots off the dribble, and is a creative finisher over size at the basket. Cooks has great court vision, the ability to thread the needle and find teammates in tight windows, and is tough to defend when he attacks the basket, as he can find the open man or create his own offense. Defensively, Cooks has the lateral quickness, active hands to disrupt the opponents dribbling space, and the tenacity to keep relentless pressure on his man that leads to turnovers and forced poor decision making. Tough-minded two-way player that can help a program at the next level.
Prince Ellis 5’8 Independence (Bakersfield, CA)
Ellis is a shifty and crafty point guard that can create shots from various spots on the court and scores in bunches. Ellis had 15 points to lead Team Black in a tough one-point loss in Game 1 and showed he can score the ball in various ways. Ellis keeps the ball on a string, keeps his dribble alive as he maneuvers through the defense, and has the court vision to make plays and find open teammates when on the attack. Ellis has the moves to create separation off the dribble, is accurate from the 3-point line, has nice touch on his floater in the paint to score over taller players, and is a creative finisher around the rim. Ellis plays with nice pace, makes good use of the hesitation move, and keeps relentless pressure on the defense.
Isaac Herrera 5’10 McFarland (CA)
Herrera is a shooting guard that can knock down the 3-ball with accuracy and has range from beyond the arc. Herrera moves well off the ball, gets to the open spot, and is a threat from deep behind the 3-point line. Herrera has good court vision and is a capable facilitator.
Henry Madden III 6’4 Central East (Fresno, CA)
Madden is a wing/guard that impacts both ends of the court in various ways. Madden had a solid Game 1 but got it going in Game 2 finishing with 12 points and one of the top plays of the event, as he drove past his man for a monster one-hand dunk over his defender. Madden has a solid handle on the ball, does a great job cleaning up the glass, pushes the pace of play of the rebound, and has the vision and play-making ability to find open teammates up the court. Madden is effective from the 3-point line, has nice touch on shots within 15 feet, and is a crafty finisher around the basket. Defensively, Madden can guard perimeter players, as well as bigger players with his physical build and length, he creates turnovers on the wing, and alters shots in the post. Madden will be an interesting player to track at the next level, as he has the potential to develop into a big guard that makes quality basketball decisions.
Mykayle McCoy 6’6 Roosevelt (Fresno, CA)
McCoy is a forward that controls the paint on both ends and can extend the defense from the perimeter. McCoy tied with Boston as the second-highest scorer overall, as he had 11 in Game 1 and a high of 20 in Game 2 for a total of 31 points. I did not keep other stats but he had at least 10 rebounds in Game 2, which is a monster game. McCoy has solid footwork, good post moves with back to the basket, has enough handle to attack from the mid-post, showed he can space the floor with the 3-ball, and can rise up and throw down big-time dunks. Arguably play of the game was McCoy taking flight and throwing down a monster dunk off the lob. McCoy has good touch on his shooting and with his size and frame could be an impact player at the next level of he can develop more perimeter skills to play both inside and outside offensively.
Deven McCullough 6’5 McFarland (CA)
McCullough is a lengthy and rangy forward that has tremendous upside as he develops and grows his offensive skill set and overall game. McCullough was one of 4 players to score double-digit points in both games and made his presence felt on the boards, as well as having some impressive blocks. McCullough controls the glass, uses his length and quickness to protect the rim, has nice touch on finishes around the basket, and has enough handle to attack off the perimeter and mid-post to get to the cup. Versatile defender that will be interesting to track over the next few years. If he locks into getting the work necessary to expand his game he has the intangibles you look for in a player at the four-year level.
Connor McFall 6’3 Kingsburg (CA)
McFall is a lead guard with size, plays with good pace, and can make plays for others or create offense for himself. McFall played more of the facilitator in Game 1, as he looked to get others involved and did not look to get his own buckets. He made the adjustments in Game 2, as he had 12 points and scored from beyond the arc, off the dribble, and at the basket. McFall has a great motor, the court vision to be a quality playmaker at the point, has a nice burst of speed off the dribble to get downhill, and is a creative finisher at the basket. McFall is efficient from the 3-point line, has a solid handle and the moves to get by his defender, and can score it or find the open man for the assist. McFall will benefit from only focusing on basketball and he puts in the work, so anticipate he will have success at the JUCO level with the potential to play at the four-year level.
Fred Milsap 5’7 Ridgeview (Bakersfield, CA)
Milsap is a shifty and explosive lead guard that has elite on-court speed and has improved as a threat from beyond the arc. Milsap pushes the pace of play, has good court vision to find open teammates when on the attack, and is a creative finisher around the basket when attacking downhill. Milsap is a pesky defender, has active hands to disrupt passing lanes and create turnovers, and has the footspeed to stay in front of opposing point guards.
Josh Nicholson 6’4 Roosevelt (Fresno, CA)
Nicholson is a wing/forward with good size and skill to play off the perimeter, as well as being effective in the paint. Nicholson had a good Game 1 with 9 points, but he showed his potential as a scorer in Game 2 with 14 points. Nicholson has nice touch within 15 feet, can knock down the jumper efficiently, and has the handle to attack off the dribble. Nicholson is one of the top players in this showcase I feel could have some success at the next level, as long as he puts in the work and takes advantage of gym time, Josh could develop into a strong wing/guard and at his size that would be appealing to 4-year programs in a year or two. He does a solid job on the glass, is a versatile defender with size to guard bigger forwards and the agility to switch on guards as effectively.
Isaiah Perry 5’11 Garces Memorial (Bakersfield, CA)
Perry is a combo guard that has solid court vision and is a lock-up defender on perimeter players. Perry has great footwork, lengthy wingspan to cause havoc on opposing players, and does a solid job on the glass as a guard, which allows him to push the tempo in the open court. Perry is effective from the 3-point line and gets downhill with the toughness to finish through contact around the basket.
Christopher Samaniego 5’11 McFarland (CA)
Samaniego is a guard that can knock down shots from beyond the arc and makes plays that create scoring opportunities. Samaniego hit a three in Game 1 but got going in Game 2 with 12 points, including two more threes. Samaniego moves well off the ball to get open for catch-and-shoot opportunities, got to the basket off the take, and was able to score at the basket over size.
Adam Silmon 6’3 Arroyo Grande (CA)
Silmon is a physical and athletic wing/forward that does a solid job on the glass, can defend a number of positions, and can get to the basket off the dribble. Silmon did not score a bunch but he does a lot of things that impact the game. Silmon does a solid job on the glass, good footwork and agility to lock up on defense, has the handle and enough moves to get separation from defender, and can space the floor. Silmon plays hard and with the development at the next level has the potential to be a quality all-around guard/wing.
Elijah West 5’8 Centennial (Bakersfield, CA)
West is a poised led guard that makes quality decisions running the offense and can knock down shots from the perimeter with consistency. West has shifty handles and moves to create off the dribble, has nice footwork to create space and make tough shots off the dribble, and the court vision to make plays to open teammates when on the attack. Heady player that understands how to run a system.