Unsigned Washington seniors hoping WIBCA Basketball Showcase leads to bigger last-week scholarship offers

In terms of last-month recruiting, Kentwood High School senior basketball standout Jahvonta Jones is in a win-win situation.

Jones, a 6-foot-3 wing, has scholarship offers from a handful of Northwest Athletic Conference programs, including Big Bend Community College, Highline Community College and Pierce College.

But just in case a four-year university has a late opening on its roster, a few of Washington state’s top unsigned high school seniors like Jones are playing in this weekend’s 17th annual WIBCA Basketball Showcase at Bellevue College.

It’s not just seniors playing in up to three showcase games Saturday and Sunday. College hopeful underclassmen make up a large portion of the 16-team rosters.

Jones, an all-North Puget Sound League Cascade Division first-teamer for the Conquerors, is still weighing his college options, even though the basketball signing period expires May 15.

“A lot of times, especially when you are not necessarily with one of those top AAU programs, college coaches do not get out and see you in a lot of the high school games,” Kentwood boys basketball coach Blake Solomon said. “So the main benefit is for some four-year schools, mainly (NCAA Division II), that did not see him, they get last eyes on him here.”

Jones was Kentwood’s leading scorer (15.0 points) and rebounder (6.5 rpg) last season, and can play anywhere from shooting guard to undersized power forward.

“Most seniors, they know what they are, but they hope for what things (offers) jump out,” Solomon said. “He is ready after this to sign if he does not hear from somebody this weekend.”

Battle Ground’s KeAndre Holiday-Hunter, a 6-4 senior, is in a similar spot. He has interest from Northwest junior colleges, but is hoping for something bigger.

“He wants to play somewhere … and he’s trying to have as any opportunities as possible,” Battle Ground coach Manny Melo said. “His mom wants him to go somewhere where he can live on campus, and have the college experience.”

Game schedule and rosters

Mario Mengarelli has been the head coach at 1A Zillah for three seasons, and has coached in the last four showcases.

Mengarelli leaps at opportunities to get his players exposure to college basketball coaches, which as a young coach, he says can be challenging.

“In Zillah we haven’t had a whole lot of success getting the guys success at the next level,” Mengarelli, whose Leopards won the 1A state title in March, said. “I don’t have a lot of connections at the next level. That’s where this WIBCA showcase is a big thing, getting my guys out there.”

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