A Letter From The Editor – Anthony Ray

by Anthony Ray | Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2021

Thank you for your patience, as our staff and administrative support team have worked for the past month, behind the scenes on the Arizona Preps website. After operating this website for 20+ years (since 1999), we needed to do some clean up to the site, and also are working hard to release a NEW exciting look and feel to the website soon. STAY TUNED

Amidst a very difficult time in our nation's and state's history, socially or athletically, our staff has worked very hard to bring you the best in basketball coverage in Arizona over the past 20+ years, and especially over the past (9) months, during the very difficult national health crisis caused by the very alarming COVID-19 pandemic. Even while most basketball and overall athletic activities have been cancelled and limited by the pandemic, our staff has masked up consistently and worked hard to bring you some of the state's best overall events, as we developed and organized our biggest event ever, the Arizona Preps Fall Showcase.

The 22nd event of it's kind in October (2020), the event was organized and performed for more than (100) different high school varsity basketball programs in the state of Arizona, boys and girls. The event was held with no team entry fee for all of the state's high school varsity teams that competed, as the expenses for the event were covered by our wonderful local sponsors, which included Greta Clark of Inspire Courts, EXP Realty, DLC Resources, Zipps and the Arizona Magic Youth Outreach Inc. (501 C-3 Organization). The event was the best installment of it's kind and was nothing like we have ever seen @ Arizona Preps. We are more than excited to continue this event and to make it even better in 2021.

We also feverishly organized the Arizona Preps Diamond Discovery in a very shortened period of time, and were very successful in organizing our first ever middle school exposure event. The event was filled with more than 60+ top-rated individual middle school prospects from the state, and left our staff feeling very appreciated and also very rejuvenated to work harder now in this space - working hard now to raise the level of opportunities available to Arizona's best younger basketball prospects. This pursuit will now be instantly impacted, as Arizona Preps signed a partnership with The BIG Baller Brand, and now will be organizing the Regional All-American Camp for The BIG Baller Brand organization. (Coming in April)

Our staff has also worked diligently to cover the many events throughout the state that have taken place. While masked up, our staff has, in many cases, put their lives on the line to cover and promote the best basketball talent in the West and in Arizona - traveling to numerous events even outside of the state. This tremendous commitment by myself and the many volunteers on our staff to help promote the state's and the West's best basketball prospects, during a time when it is highly needed for any basketball prospects that have a desire to play college basketball. Without the presence of almost any college coaches during this time of the pandemic, there is and continues to be an increasing importance and need for college recruitment. The Arizona Preps' platform, whether you believe it or understand it or not, has been vital in telling the story for basketball prospects across the West - alongside many other media and scouting outlets.

During this wild and crazy time that we have all experienced and persevered through, it has been a time that has changed us all, and definitely changed basketball operations and the culture, as we once knew it. it. A lot has changed. For instance, before the pandemic began, we watched as Desert Vista High School won a big 6A State Championship. Led by terrific Head Coach Gino Crump in the championship victory, Crump overcame a tremendous attempt by the school to fire him and relieve him from his coaching duties during the season.

Now, just months later and before the start to the 2021 AIA basketball season (starts Tuesday, 1/19), Desert Vista HS will play their first game this week - looking to defend their 6A State Title, but without the services of Gino Crump as their Head Coach, without the exciting play of star junior guard Dasean Lecque, without the services of Andrew King (Rice commit) and without the leadership provided from point guard Marcus Wady. Crump left the program to take over Bella Vista Prep; Lecque transferred to Hillcrest Prep; Andrew King transferred to PHH Prep and Wady transferred to Bella Vista Prep. Are you serious?! When do you remember anything like this ever happening?

It is highly unlikely now that Desert Vista will have the opportunity to defend their 6A State Championship this high school season, and it will be very interesting to see which teams will actually be able to keep their programs intact this season, as the recent decision by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) to postpone the high school season several times, then cancel the season and then bring the high school season back, but with the use of masks during competition, has been an absolute roller coaster. But why wouldn't it be? With everything that the Arizona high school basketball culture has endured during this national crisis, it is just one more hurdle that we will have to climb and conquer.

My heart goes out to all of the Arizona high school varsity players around the state, but especially the seniors. Arizona is still a very under recruited state for basketball prospects. While the state has definitely improved a great deal in the amount of basketball prospects we have, and the wealth of overall talent that resides in the state, the majority of basketball prospects in the state still soar well below the recruiting radar. For this year's seniors from the 2021 class, there will be an immensely large amount of players and prospects that will not have one scholarship offer, as 99% of the state's best prospects have never been seen by one college coach during this COVID pandemic evaluation period. Division-I college coaches have not been permitted by the NCAA to watch any basketball prospects during the pandemic, but most college coaches at any level have not been out, NCAA or NJCAA. This large number of seniors will soon be faced with the very harsh reality of trying to land a college home, and without a scholarship, as most college programs will be returning next season with the same cast of current characters, as current college players will be granted another year of eligibility to make up for COVID. What about the high school prospects around the country? Shouldn't they be granted another year of eligibility also? Another year, for those that want to exercise it, would be an excellent option to allow for more time in the recruiting process for seniors that need it or desire it.

Regardless, it will be a very interesting season for 2021, as we begin this pursuit this week. Watching all of these AIA high school games with the participants wearing masks, will be almost uncomfortable, as much of the country that does currently compete does not wear them.

The Canyon Athletic Association (CAA) will be very enjoyable to watch this high school season though, as the organization begins their Open Division with a nice loaded field of teams from all over the state. The games will be very competitive and have already made for some very exciting games - filled with many sleeper prospects for college programs. The league created by the CAA will also have shot-clocks utilized throughout their games. The CAA is definitely on the rise in the state, and has gone to another level over the past year - adjusting to the changes in the basketball culture in Arizona.

Welcome to a new era in Arizona basketball. We will all get through all of this together, as we already have persevered through the last (9) months. There is no idea how long it will take to get back to a new normal, but, during the process, our staff is committed to providing opportunities for Arizona's best basketball prospects to gain exposure, and to highlight as many accomplishments by Arizona's prospects as possible.

Thank you for your continued support!

Anthony Ray - Arizona Preps

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