(H/T Sierra Canyon Sports)
The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers enjoyed a memorable 2017-18 campaign, winning the CIF Open State Championship while accruing a 27-4 season record. Head coach Andre Chevalier's rotation will feature seven returners and a couple of impact transfers that should keep the Trailblazers as the team to beat in California. The senior trio of Cassius Stanley, Scotty Pippen Jr, and Kenyon Martin Jr is amongst the best in the country, and anything short of another CIF title would be considered a disappointment for the Trailblazers.
This lineup is chock full of talent, but their best player is undoubtedly Stanley. A 6-foot-6 wing with athleticism for days, Stanley enjoyed a terrific spring and summer in the NIKE EYBL, earning All-Peach Jam honors while helping Team WhyNot to the Peach Jam championship game. He's skilled offensively and has great body control on both ends of the floor. Stanley averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals in 24 EYBL games, and that success should translate into a dominant senior campaign. Outside of the Trailblazers' team success, Stanley is gunning for a McDonald's All-American bid, as well as a selection to the Jordan Brand Classic. Consider Stanley to be one of the leaders in the clubhouse for preseason California Mr. Basketball.
Martin and Pippen would be the 'stars' on basically any other team, and they should be treated as such. Martin and Pippen combined to help lead the Oakland Soldiers to the NIKE EYBL's final eight teams, and they stood out as individuals in the process. Martin, who goes by KJ, proved to be an elite rebounder in 23 EYBL games, averaging 8.7 rebounds including 2.6 offensively. Martin is a terrific rim-runner in transition, and his 10.5 point per game scoring average in the EYBL indicates that he's an effective threat down low. Pippen was a catalyst offensively for the Soldiers, and he'll play the same role for the Trailblazers. Pippen averaged 17.4 points per game in the EYBL regular season (16 games), and that experience and production should translate into senior year success.
7-foot senior big man Christian Koloko - also of the Soldiers this spring and summer - transfers in to join his grassroots teammates. Koloko, committed to Arizona, will be counted on for the same production he provided Oakland; defense and rebounding. Koloko averaged 2.3 blocks per game this spring and summer in 23 EYBL games - a top-five mark on the circuit. Junior swingman Terren Frank also returns, and he also starred in the EYBL this spring. The 6-foot-8 Frank averaged 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 13 games, establishing himself as one of the best true scorers in the 2020 class. Frank will likely take a backseat to his elders this season, but he offers a ton of firepower in a reserve role. Seniors Andrew Austin (6-foot-6) and L Simpson (6-foot-1) will see big minutes for the Trailblazers. Austin should be a great complement to Stanley on the wing, while Simpson is a battle-tested veteran. Freshman Amari Bailey is a super-talented youngster, and should receive minutes is a limited role.
This squad is talented, experienced and they know how to win close games. Stanley, Martin, and Pippen will lead a rotation that will go at least 10 deep, and the depth will be needed considering the schedule they will face. The Trailblazers will head to the 'Iolani Classic and Les Schwab Invitational, and they'll take on No. 1 Montverde Academy at the HoopHall Classic. They have some lofty expectations, and if they stay healthy, they can realistically contend for a national championship.