If your looking for the best high school basketball players and their teams in the state of Colorado this summer, there is a pretty good chance that you could find them on Monday and Wednesday nights at the Denver East Summer League. This year the league features 24 teams, divided into two conferences, with the Eastern Conference playing at Denver East High School and the Western Conference playing at Manual High School. The Eastern Conference is loaded with teams and talent featuring Denver East, Rangeview, Aurora Central, George Washington, and Highlands Ranch. In the Western Conference Abraham Lincoln, Cherokee Trail, Fairview, Thunder Ridge and Montbello are the top five teams.
This years edition of the Denver East Summer League should be very entertaining with some of the state’s top talent going head to head. Denver East featuring Dom Collier ranked 35th by ESPN super 60 for 2014 vs Aurora Central led by Carlton Hurst while not a nationally ranked player he has nine Division I scholarship offers waiting on him. Rangeview vs East or AC should be a thriller. AS Rangview touts Jerimiah Paige a long but thin combo guard that has already been offered a scholarship to the University of Colorado. When Denver East and Lincoln get at it, it will feature not only Collier but two forwards that currently hold offers from the University of Wyoming, East’s 6’7 Leonard Davis and Lincoln’s 6’8 Gabe Vasquez. Both are on the thin side but both can get the job done inside and out.
Tonight was my first night of the DESL and I made a major mistake. I should have just stayed at one of the venues and not split my time between the two gyms.
In the 6:00 games at East, Cheery Creek played Jefferson Academy in the big gym, while in the small gym Denver Science and Technology faced off with Aurora Central. Cheery Creek won by 18 points with what appeared to be a mix of junior varsity and varsity players. Cherry Creek had a strong performance by #21. #42 for Cherry Creek is some one to keep an eye on, could possibly develop into a solid wing/forward type of player. #32 for the Burins seems to be a “glue” he may not have filled up the sate sheet but he had a very solid game. Jefferson Academy played tough and made Creek earn the win. The Jaguars run their motion offense exactly the way there coach wants them to, I saw very little freelance which is so prevalent in summer ball. #44 for the jaguars has decent size at about 6’5 – 6’6 and shows some ability to drive, dish and knock down a three pointer while still handling post duties. It also wasn’t uncommon for the Jaguar guards to make a three point shot, don’t leave them open.
In the small gym Carlton Hurst and Aurora Central took on Denver School of Science and Technology. Aurora Central won by 20 but were up 43-16 half time. DSST had a small bench only having 2 subs for the game while AC appeared to have its entire squad. DSST has some players that could develop and turn them into a solid team in a couple of years. A bright spot for DSST could be the 6’8 forward/center. He did block a couple of shots but was heavy footed and not very active in the first half. The biggest issue tonight was that the Knights were simply out matched by Aurora Centrals bigger, stronger, more physical guards. Carlton Hurst had solid first half acting more as a facilitator than scorer for AC, don’t get me wrong he still had a couple of highlight real dunks and finishes. His brother Leonard also has a solid game from the three point stripe. Aurora Centrals guards all seem to be proficient ball handlers, passers and defenders, however they need to work on finishing. The knock on AC right now is that it appears their tallest players is 6’3 Carlton Hurst, while a capable rebound he is going to need some help during the regular season.
The 7:00 game in the small gym featured Rangeview and George Washington. I left at half time and Rangeview was up 15-10. I should have stayed. Rangeview’s team has one post person which is fine considering they run a 4 out 1 offense when they set one up. Rangeview plays fast and hard. They are going to do one of two things drive and get to the rim or shoot a three. Did I mention those guys are fast? Jeremiah Paige started off with Rangeview first seven points. He was playing with a wrapped right wrist and essentially playing left handed. #11 also played a good first half for Rangeview as did their post player. George Washington was hanging strong with quick point guard play from #2. #7 and Taylor were having solid games. Again I should have stayed for that game.
In the other 7:00 game Highlands Ranch was playing DSST. I briefly watch this game and Highlands Ranch was starting to pull away at half time.
I then left and went Manual were Thunder Ridge played in the 7:00 and 8:00 games defeating Denver Christian by 20 points and also defeating Bear Creek I believe. I did not get to see enough of Thunder Ridge to comment on individual players.
In the other 7:00 game JFK was playing Legacy. Legacy plays really well together. They don’t have a lot of talent but they play hard. This was my second time seeing JFK this summer and I thought they would be better. JFK has Reggie Hammons and Alex Coleman both very solid and capable basketball players. JFK also has solid role players as well. While JFK did win the game, it was closer than it should have been. They played the same way against Thornton at the Metro State Camp earlier this summer.
The 8:00 game in the big gym at Manual featured Montbello vs Denver East’s JV team. Montbello won by 20+ points. Montbello’s AJ Hays has to be one of the best 3-point shooters in the metro area. Patrick Jackson had a solid game causing a number of turnovers. Lee Burger also had a solid game, he is an undersized forward that gets the job done with his athleticism. East’s JV team had #24 Ben ? about 6’4 can step out shoot from deep. He could be a solid player for East in a year or two.
Next week I will be going to the games on Monday and hope to catch Denver East’s Varsity, Fairview, and Thunder Ridge.