Saturday, April 2nd, Trust The Process Basketball Program hosted the Inaugural Middle School Boys and Girls All-Star Games in Bakersfield, CA. The event was put on by TTP director Mark Davis, and included 42 players from various middle schools throughout Kern County. Each team had a captain, and the captains of each team picked the players that made up their rosters. Players wore their school jerseys, paying homage to the late 90s and early 2000s when NBA players wore their normal team jerseys. The boy’s game featured a match-up between Team Killebrew and Team Derek, and came down to the wire before Team Derek edged out the 66-60 win. For the purpose of this article, the focus is on the boy’s game, and takes a look at the Top 5 performers from the game. The article looks at each player’s performance in the game, as well as the skills they have displayed up to this point in their development. There is no particular rank order to this list, as I had these 5 players as my All-1st Team of the event. I begin with the MVP of the boy’s game, Cliff Willis.
2026 5’11 Cliff Willis, Combo Guard (Thompson Jr. High/Bakersfield):
Willis put on a scoring clinic, as he displayed his ability to score the ball from all 3 levels at an efficient rate. Willis led all scorers with 24 points, showed his range from beyond the arc connecting on 4 threes, and earned Most Outstanding Player honors for Team Derek, who won the Boys All-Star Game. Willis has solid handles, rebounds the ball well for his position, has the ability to push the ball off the glass to accelerate the transition offense, and can take it coast-to-coast or can make the long pass ahead to open teammates for easy baskets. Willis has good moves to create off the perimeter, and with his ability to shoot the ball from 3 with good efficiency, this opens up driving lanes to attack the rim. Defensively, Willis has active hands-on defense, good lateral movement to stay in front of his opponent, and can turn defense into transition offense quickly. I was impressed with his confidence in scoring the ball from various spots on the floor and his motor on both ends.
2026 6’ Irvin Calloway, Point Guard (Actis Jr. High/Bakersfield):
Calloway is a dynamic lead guard that can score at a high clip, as he led Team Jeremias in scoring with 19 points. Calloway has good size and length at the point guard position, and keeps pressure on the defense all game long, relentlessly attacking the basket. Calloway has impressive handles, changes direction while on the move with poise and control to keep the defense on their heels, and has good court vision to make plays for others or create for himself. Calloway showed to be effective with the corner and straightway 3-ball, but his strength is using his wingspan, handles, and quick first step to get by his defender, where he is a creative finisher at the rim. He does a solid job on the boards, disrupts passing lanes when locked in on defense, and uses this to push the tempo in the open court where he is tough to contain. Calloway’s ability to create off the dribble and get into the paint forces the defense to contract, and he has the court awareness to find open teammates around the basket or spotting up on the perimeter.
2026 5’7 Derek Jimenez, Point Guard (Norris Middle School/Bakersfield):
Jimenez was clutch down the stretch for Team Derek, as he connected on four free throws in the last minute to seal the game for his squad. Jimenez finished with 14 points and displayed his skills and poise as a true point guard, capable of running the offense and setting up his teammates, or scoring the ball off the dribble or off the catch-and-shoot. Jimenez is solid with the ball in hand, keeps his head on a swivel to survey the floor, is a willing facilitator when on the attack, and moves fluidly off the ball and around screens to create space for his shot. Jimenez also displayed the court vision necessary to operate at the point and had some nice passes to cutting teammates.
2026 5’10 Acen Zuniga, Guard (Norris Middle School/Bakersfield):
Zuniga is a Swiss Army Knife on offense and impacted the game in a number of ways for the winning team, Team Derek. Zuniga finished with 11 points and close to 10 rebounds, as he made his presence felt on both ends of the court. Zuniga has good handles and size to operate at the lead guard position, good body control and footwork to create space for finishes around the basket, has a nice mid-range shot, and showed he can score the ball from all 3 levels. Zuniga has active hands-on defense and around the basket, and routinely finds the ball in his hands with good instincts and relentless effort going for 50/50 balls. Zuniga likes to put the ball on the deck and attack the defense, and sees the court well to make reads to find open teammates when the defense over commits.
2027 6’3 Jeremias Killebrew, Wing/Forward (Warren Jr. High/Bakersfield):
Killebrew was a force out of the gate for his team, as he set the tone early with two baskets and numerous rebounds to provide his team with second-chance points. Killebrew finished the game with 11 points and 9 rebounds, along with a couple of block shots, and was the top 7th grader in the event. Killebrew has a nice shot from beyond the arc that he hits with consistency, enough handles at this stage of his game to create off the dribble when defenders over pursue, and has a nice touch around the rim. Killebrew controls the glass, uses his long wingspan to alter/block shots around the basket, and is versatile enough to guard players on the perimeter, as well as in the post. In my opinion, Killebrew has the highest ceiling of any middle school player in the South Valley with his size and ability to score from the perimeter, and if he continues to put in the work to be a true guard/wing, he will have a bright future in hoops.