The 2014-15 prep basketball season might seem a long way off, but for many teams around the state, it is already here as they participate in summer leagues.
One group seeking to derive the greatest benefit is the boys team from Phoenix St. Mary’s.
The Knights went 9-0 at the recent Arizona State camp and were wrapping up their summer over the weekend by participating in the Best In Summer Invitational at Tempe High.
All of that was accomplished with a very young team, one that had seven freshmen on the varsity team that finished 16-11, but one that is gaining more experience by the minute.
Coach Ty Amundsen had to mix and match some of his players, because they also play football and were involved in summer work, including the Arizona Football Coaches Association 7 on 7 passing competition on Saturday (June 28) at the Surprise Stadium complex.
“In a way, it is good, though,’’ Amundsen said. “It gives more guys a chance to play.’’
He can see the maturation process taking over.
“They are growing up,’’ he said. “They don’t get too up or too down. It’s a matter of not being scared going into a game. They are ready to win, ready to compete, more than they were before.’’
One of the key players is sophomore-to-be Donte Barge, who at 6-feet-6 is quickly becoming an inside force. At the Best in Summer, he worked the glass well and converted quite a few putbacks.
The guy that makes everything go is 6-1 soph-to-be Marcus Shaver, who already can be considered one of the state’s top point guards. He already has had contact from ASU, Arizona and UCLA, according to Amundsen.
St. Mary’s should get a boost from rejuvenated senior guard Jon Rivera. The 6-2 player had knee surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament as a sophomore and was limited to about half the season as a junior. Amundsen said the left-handed-shooting Rivera “has come a long way.’’
The youngest of the young in the new season will be incoming freshman K.J. Hymes, who is about 6-6 or 6-7 and looks to be still growing. He has had a strong track record in middle-school competition and camps.