It’s only June, but this is the time for Arizona high school basketball teams to make a statement. Not only locally but nationally.
Section 7 provides a platform to show what they can do and maybe make amends from last year when it was a humbling experience for state powers such as Phoenix St. Mary’s, Gilbert Perry, Phoenix Sunnyslope and Phoenix Mountain Pointe.
But all those teams got better from playing against top teams from California and other parts of the country.
Here’s a look at some Arizona teams and players to watch for Thursday through Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, including Scottsdale Christian freshman Elijah Williams, the son of Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams.
Styles Phipps keeps emerging at St. Mary’s
Style Phipps turned heads last year at Section 7 as a sophomore. This is now his team and he’s just a junior. The All-Arizona point guard keeps growing his game and is never satisfied. Watch for him to take over more. He bleeds green and won’t let the Knights take a back seat to anyone. Those around him should get better. The Knights are playing in the Visit Arizona bracket and open Friday at 1:10 p.m., against ‘Iolani School of Hawaii on Court 5.
Desert Vista turns page
Obie Tann steps in as Desert Vista’s third coach in four years, replacing Jordan Ballard, who was not retained after two years. It was just March 2020 that the Thunder won the 6A championship. But turmoil seems to follow this program. Tann hopes to get DV back on top.
“I want our players to soak it up and enjoy the experience,” said Tann, who is making the move from Tucson.
He said players he expects to see emerge are Class of 2023’s 6-foot-1 Brooklyn Swindle, 2024 6-4 Corey James and 2026 5-9 Nikko Velez.
The Thunder are playing in the Legacy Foundation bracket, opening Thursday at 4:30 p.m., against Tempe Marcos de Niza on Court 1.
Cody Williams leading Perry
With 6-8 sophomore Koa Peat in Colorado City for the USA Basketball U17 camp, 6A champion Perry will rely heavily on 6-8 senior Cody Williams, who can show why he’s among the top 100 players in the country.
“For us it is a chance to challenge our team against great competition and a chance for our guys to get great exposure (to) college coaches this weekend,” Perry coach Sam Duane Jr., said.
Perry is coming off a championship in the Monarch Sports’ PrimeTime Invitational over Brophy Prep.
Perry is in the Fiesta bracket, the toughest of the 12 brackets. The Pumas open Friday at 2:20 p.m., on Court 4 against Corner Canyon, Utah.
“Playing in such a tough bracket will allow our guys to compete against great players and teams and see how we stack up,” Duane said. “I think all guys have a great chance to do well and help themselves this weekend.”
Along with Williams, this is a chance for Ben Egbo , D’Andre Harrison and Barron Silsby to all help themselves.
Scottsdale Christian features freshman Elijah Williams
After capturing the 2A championship, Scottsdale Christian is moving up to 3A. Coach John Anderson will use this event to further develop with a mix of veterans and young players who have a chance to help the Eagles make a 3A title run.
Top returners are led by 6-foot senior guard Michael Fan, who was the starting point guard last year. “Michael has added strength to his frame and is incredibly adept to drawing contact and using his body to finish around the rim,” Anderson said. “After leading our team to state this last year, Michael has the potential to be the best point guard in the 3A as he has both the skill and the veteran leadership to run a high-caliber team.”
Hunter Wales, 6-6 junior: “Hunter has grown since last year, and his wingspan has eclipsed his height. His scoring abilities will be on full display this next year as he has drastically improved his 3-point shot, and he adds that to his already crafty game around the rim. Hunter will need to fill the role that his brother (Braden) leaves behind as he will be the main basket protector for our team.”
Top newcomer is 6-4 freshman Elijah Williams, whose father is Suns coach Monty Williams.
“Elijah is about to make some waves in the Arizona high school basketball scene,” Anderson said. “At 190 pounds and an incredibly strong frame for just 14 years old, Elijah is already playing way above the rim. His skill set is on par with, if not better than, his already amazing athletic ability. Elijah can score from all three levels, and his strength that he has while attacking the basket is rarely matched. Along with his tremendous skills and athletic ability, Elijah brings incredible maturity and wisdom that has been passed down by his father, Monty Williams.”
Another strong newcomer is 6-4 freshman Jacob Webber: “Jacob, along with Elijah, will form one of the best, if not the best, freshman duo in the state. Jacob is an absolute lights-out shooter, and has a mid-range that is usually only seen at high-level college programs. He has been putting teams on notice this summer with his scoring ability and efficiency. He has already had some amazing shooting games this summer, including a 8/12 (3s) against Paradise Valley, and a 7/10 (3s) game against Gilbert Christian.”
Scottsdale Christian is playing in the LEO Foundation bracket and opens Friday at 7 p.m. against Bonanza/ATA (Nevada).
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