West Valley Preps
For the sixth year, West Valley Preps has announced honors for the best boys basketball players it covers in the West Valley. This time around, we started covering Millennium and saw so many quality players that a third team was necessary. Here is the all-West Valley Preps boys basketball team:
F — Cassius Carmichael (Senior), Ironwood
F — Anthony Garza, (Junior), Shadow Ridge
F — DaRon Holmes (Sophomore), Millennium
G — Johnny Diaz (Senior), Deer Valley
G — Jalen Scott (Sophomore), Paradise Honors
F — Dariyan Matthews, (Sophomore), Dysart
G — Justus Jackson, (Sophomore), Millennium
G — K.J. Patrick, (Senior), Willow Canyon
G — Kaleb Brown, (Senior), Peoria
G — Dominic Gonzalez (Junior), Ironwood
F — Jerry Iliya (Junior), Paradise Honors
F — Tanner Mayer, (Junior), Sunrise Mountain
G — Josh Holloway, (Senior), Valley Vista
G — Isaac Monroe, (Junior), Peoria
G — Kiran Oliver, (Sophomore), Shadow Ridge
Underclassmen to watch: Bailon Black, G, (Sophomore), Ironwood; Colin Carey, F, (Sophomore), Sunrise Mountain; Aiden Clayton, F, (Sophomore), Mountain Ridge; Matur Dhal, F, (Sophomore), Paradise Honors; Foune Doucore, C, (Freshman), Liberty; Coleman Fields, G, (Sophomore), Millennium; Riley Fornerette, G, (Sophomore), Dysart; Logan Hopkins, G, (Freshman), Northwest Christian; Trenten Lavender, G, (Freshman), Centennial; Nathaniel Pickens, G, (Freshman), Dysart; Pike Tancil, G, (Freshman), Willow Canyon; J.J. White, G, (Sophomore), Ironwood.
Player of the year
DaRon Holmes – A versatile 6-9 forward that can do a bit of everything is a major asset to a college basketball program. At the high school level, the same player is borderline unfair. As you might expect, Holmes ticks all the big man boxes with 19.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and an eye-popping 4.2 blocks per game. And he can pass out of inevitable double teams (3.2 assists a contest) and has quick hands, with nearly two steals a night. Only a sophomore, he needs only to make small tweaks to his game and add some lean muscle mass. Holmes’ ceiling is vaulted.
Johnny Diaz – If Holmes looks like a prototypical next-level prospect, Diaz at first glance seems like a steady veteran point guard that runs the offense as a senior following a couple years coming off the bench. Technically that’s true but Diaz proved to be so much more. He set up the offense and had to finish it most times as well, since the Skyhawks lacked natural scorers. Also, the point guard displayed the uncanny knack to take and make late-second shots to win or put away games, even with the opposition knowing it was coming. Few players have willed themselves into a starring role quite like Diaz.
Cassius Carmichael – Teammate Dominic Gonzalez claimed the Peoria Unified School District player of the year award. But Carmichael gets the nod here for his versatility. The closest thing Ironwood had to a post player, he managed to grab more than nine boards a game while fending off larger players inside. Offensively, he could function as a fifth guard or slide in the post. He scored at a 14-point clip and could handle like a point forward and fuel the Eagles’ transition game with nearly three steals per contest.
Coach of the year
Jed Dunn, Deer Valley – It’s easy to go unnoticed since Dunn sent a team to the state finals for a second straight year. But this was an even better coaching job. The 2017-18 team featured four senior starters that had played together for three years and all are now playing at four-year colleges. This year’s team had 11 seniors, but only five played on the varsity last year and only one started. It’s fair to say that every Skyhawk in the rotation, which could go 14 deep, had a bigger role than last year. Dunn made it work with the defensive principles he’s ingrained in this program. Offensively, the Skyhawks relied on easy buckets from their press but also found ways to play off Diaz and generate buckets.
Jordan Augustine, Ironwood – This was Ironwood’s most entertaining and successful team. It was an incredibly skilled group but Augustine had to find ways to cover their lack of size. The Eagles managed to walk the line between playing with freedom and making correct decisions with the ball. They took a bucket-load of threes but most of them were good looks. More than anything, this squad shared the ball better than any team this side of Hickory High.
Ty Amundsen, Millennium – This winter was our introduction to Millennium, and with the night of the Tigers epic quarterfinal at Ironwood booked, it was a late introduction in the state semifinals. Two things were immediately apparent — DaRon Holmes and Justus Jackson are as good as advertised, and the Tigers are much more than a two-man team. Five other guys get significant time, understand their roles and fit in seamlessly. Amundsen is not just collecting talent and rolling them out, he’s imparting the nuances of the game.