From Damian Lillard to Patrick Ewing, stars come out for Section 7 high school basketball tournament

Five-star Duke commit Jared McCain plays on-ball defense in the Section 7 basketball tournament at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The four-day event drew players and coaches from around the country. (Photo by Chris Nano/Cronkite News)

Carter Bryant, a four-star recruit from Fountain Valley High School in California, walks onto one of the courts inside State Farm Stadium, which usually serves as the home of the Arizona Cardinals. (Photo by Chris Nano/Cronkite News)

Chandler High School guard Kaden Garber is locked in during a game against Glendale’s Raymond S. Kellis High School. (Photo by Chris Nano/Cronkite News)

Chandler coach Jonathan Rother, right, surveys the court during his team’s game against Kellis High. Many of Arizona’s top basketball programs played in the event. (Photo by Chris Nano/Cronkite News)

Bryant gets in his defensive stance against De La Salle Saturday. The Wednesday before the tournament started was the first day college basketball coaches could contact rising high school juniors like Bryant directly under NCAA rules. (Photo by Chris Nano/Cronkite News)

GLENDALE – Hundreds of college coaches attended the Section 7 tournament this last weekend and doled out college scholarship offers to deserving players who shined on the biggest stage of June high school basketball. The event drew over 500 college coaches, including Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd, Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, Memphis’ Penny Hardaway and many more who were looking to scout some of the top players in the nation.

Lloyd was grateful to have a top-notch tournament in his own state with prospects practically coming to him.

“The decision-makers out there that allow this to happen, they need to be commended,” Lloyd said. “This is becoming the best event in the country for the June high school recruiting window. I think it is really second to none and will continue to grow.”

Lloyd applauded the event for allowing players to showcase their skills for coaches of all levels, not just Division I, and said it is valuable for him to see prospects play a different role than he has seen them play before.

“What’s great about college basketball is that there are so many opportunities, so many layers to it and so many different levels for all of these kids that want to continue playing and need a landing spot. Out here there are all different levels of coaches watching,” Lloyd said. “Another thing is that kids sometimes look different with their high school teams than they do with their club teams so it’s great for us to see them in both settings.”

Section 7 brought out stars from the sports world, including Larry Fitzgerald, Damian Lillard, Cameron Johnson, Robert Horry, Mike Bibby, Eddie House and more who were looking to watch family members or just very high-level high school basketball.

The weekend was full of basketball highlight moments, including when Chandler 2024 guard Kaden Garber swished a deep 3 to win against Dobson. Or Bishop Gorman 2024 guard Ryder Elisaldez taking it coast to coast and cashing a 1-footed floater to beat Olympus High (Utah).

Top players in the country were there including Duke commit Jared McCain, Andrej Stojaković (son of former NBA player Peja Stojaković), Cameron and Cayden Boozer (twin sons of Carlos Boozer), Duke commit Caleb Foster, four-star Carter Bryant, four-star Devin Williams, four-star local prospect Cody Williams from Perry High School. The opportunity to showcase their skill sets in order to raise their recruiting stock or, as in the case of social media sensation and top prospect Jared McCain, raise the stock of his teammates, was too valuable to pass up.

McCain, the 24th-ranked prospect by ESPN in the 2023 class and the most recent California Gatorade state player of the year, is famous for his flashy play and showmanship on the court but may be even more famous for his following on TikTok, where he has over 1.6 million followers. McCain committed to Duke recently but was ecstatic for the opportunity to help his teammates get college looks and offers.

“It’s amazing to be here,” he said. “feel like this year I’m taking that senior leadership role and my main goal is to get my guys offers. I want these young guys to get interest and to get out on the floor and prepare to win a (California) state championship.”

Caleb Foster, a five-star Duke commit from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, runs the offense against Bishop Gorman’s rising prospect Christopher Nwuli. (Photo by Chris Nano/Cronkite News)

With a massive social media following like McCain’s comes noise from both fans and haters.

When asked how he drowns out the noise to focus on his final high school season he said, “It has a lot to do with my mental state. I do meditation and yoga to help keep myself grounded and to not get caught up in all of the hype or the hatred. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t see is the hatred I get. Staying grounded in the present is the main thing for me.”

High school coaches were just thrilled for the opportunity to watch McCain and others.

Tim Tucker the coach at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, California said, “It’s special to be invited, not everyone is. (Section 7 director) Matt King blessed us to be able to come out. It’s just a beautiful atmosphere. It is so organized with the number of teams they have out here. To house over 200 teams in a football stadium without having a cramped, AAU feel is incredible.”

Jonathan Rother, coach of Chandler High School, has seen Section 7 grow into one of the best June recruiting events in the country.

“This tournament gets bigger, better and more organized every year,” Rother said. “They’re bringing in better teams from around the country each year and I’m really looking forward to it next year. This is a great opportunity for college coaches to see these players play under high school structure and run offensive and defensive schemes that they don’t often see in club basketball.”

Section 7 made a change this year and teams were seeded into 14 different brackets. They played a tournament within their brackets to produce 14 bracket champions.

(Graphic by Omar Iakub/Cronkite News)

Max Campodall’Orto m-a-cks camp-oh-dall-Or-toe (he/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Max Campodall’Orto expects to graduate in December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports business and a bachelors degree in sports journalism. Max is assigned to Cronkite Sports Phoenix this semester.

Chris Nano Chris Nano
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Chris Nano expects to graduate in December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism.

Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Omar Iakub expects to graduate in August 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Iakub has interned as a social media marketer at Green Desert in Phoenix.