The 2020-21 Arizona high school basketball season is finally underway. Here are some players and teams to watch in 4A boys basketball.
Players to watch
G De’Marion Anderson, so., Peoria
The 5-10 point guard had a tremendous freshman season at Youngker, averaging 20.6 points, 9.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. He worked on his jump shot over the summer to complement his exceptional passing and court vision.
G Wyatt Bell, sr., Paradise Honors
The honorable mention all-conference and first-team all-region selection broke through last season for the Panthers, averaging 14.6 points per game and shooting 38 percent from three-point range.
G/F Keiren Brown, sr., St. Mary’s
One of two nonseniors to receive All-Arizona recognition last season, the first-team all-conference selection averaged 15.2 points, 8.3 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.
G/F Shay Cain, sr., Desert Edge
The Scorpions are a team on the rise with Cain, a second-team all-region selection last season, leading the way. He averaged a double-double as a junior with 17 points and 11.2 rebounds per game to go with five assists and 2.9 steals while shooting 55 percent from the field.
G Nate Calmese, jr., Mesquite
The 6-3 guard ranks among the top recruits in the Class of 2022 and has received offers from Nevada, Portland State and UC Santa Barbara. ArizonaVarsity.com named him its 4A Underclassman of the Year after he helped lead the Wildcats to the state tournament, averaging 22 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. With nine players graduated from that team, he’ll have to carry even more of the burden this season.
G Andrew Camacho, so., Peoria
The 6-0 guard earned second-team all-region honors as a freshman in helping the Panthers reach the state final. He averaged 14.7 points per game, shooting 40 percent from three-point range and 50 percent overall, to go with 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
C Jeremiah Cherry, jr., St. Mary’s
Cherry is a strong rebounder at 6-10, 265 pounds. He has developed into a top low-post player who also can score in the mid-range.
G Jimari Grayson, sr., Apache Junction
The 6-0 point guard was named 2019-20 Black Canyon offensive player of the year for a last-place team, averaging 22.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field. Unfortunately, the school announced Jan. 12 that it would opt out of the basketball season because of the pandemic.
F/C Daryian Matthews, sr., Dysart
The reigning Desert Sky player of the year and honorable mention all-conference pick averaged 16 points, 15.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game last season while shooting 64 percent from the field as an undersized 6-5 center.
G Dylan Pendleton, sr., Coronado
The Dons went 17-9 last season, their second winning season in the past 12 years, thanks in large part to the play of Pendleton, a first-team all-region guard who earned Metro East defensive player of the year honors.
G Jalen Scott, sr., Paradise Honors
The 6-3 point guard signed with Colorado State after earning Metro West defensive player of the year and first-team all-conference honors as a junior, averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game.
G Garrison Phelps, jr., St. Mary’s
The 6-5 shooting guard can score at all three levels. He was a second-team all-region selection as a sophomore and is quickly developing into a Division I prospect.
Teams to watch
Despite losing top scorer Nathaniel Perkins (16.4 points per game last season) and promising post Logan Pohl to prep schools, the Panthers still have plenty of talent as they hunt a first state championship in the program’s 10-year history. Junior guard Blessing Nwotite (7.8 points, 4.6 rebounds) and senior RJ Jenkins (4.1 points) should complement Bell and Scott in the lineup as Paradise Honors makes the jump from 3A.
The Panthers lost to Salpointe Catholic in overtime in last season’s 4A final as the No. 1 seed. They graduated two first-team all-conference players in defensive player of the year Deandre Petty and West Valley player of the year Isaac Monroe, but Camacho, Anderson (once eligible) and senior guard Corey Perry (8.1 points, 43 percent three-point shooting) will keep Peoria in contention.
The Lancers last season finally won their elusive first title in their sixth trip to the final, including back-to-back appearances in 2017-18. They graduated 4A player of the year Evan Nelson, offensive player of the year Grant Weitman and each of their top five scorers, but don’t count them out. This season’s team will be led in part by all-region senior Brady Ramon (4.5 points, 3.2 rebounds).
The Knights haven’t reached the championship game since winning the title in 2009, but the reigning Skyline champions have a loaded roster that includes seven players on the Arizona Republic’s Elite 100 list.