Justin Hemsley

SoCal wing Justin Hemsley emerges in 2017

LA VERNE, Calif. - Justin Hemsley used opening night at Damien's The Classic tournament to show why he's one of the west's top unsigned seniors.

From an early stage in evaluating the 2015 recruiting class, Jeremy Hemsley was always one of the top prospects on the West Coast.

A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from La Verne (Calif.) Damien, Hemsley was long ranked in Scout’s Top 100 and ended up at 75th nationally, signing with San Diego State.

Now a sophomore with the Aztecs, Hemsley is San Diego State’s leading scorer at 16.2 points per game.

Jeremy’s little brother, Justin Hemsley, has taken a different path.

The 2017 unsigned senior has always been much more prospect than player. He’s a year young for the class and should be 2018, which probably was never taken enough into account, but he’s also a late bloomer.

On Monday at The Classic on Damien’s home floor, Justin showed how far he’s come. He’s grown a couple inches to 6-foot-6, 175 pounds and his game has evolved as well.

He’s got good size, long arms, has improved athletically, showed a smooth stroke, the ability to put the ball the ground and finish, impressive vision and a high motor.

“It’s my senior year and I have a lot of weight on my shoulders so I made it a mission to improve the things I need to improve to help my team out,” Justin said. “I’ve worked on my jump shot, my court vision and playing hard whenever I’m on the court.

“It’s all just clicking. I realized I have to do what I have to do to help my team because I’m a leader now. I need to do what I can to lead us to victory.”


Having an older brother with the type of success that Jeremy had early can bring added pressure to a younger sibling.

While there was never any doubt about Jeremy as a prospect, Justin used being under the radar as motivation.

“Me and my brother had two different high school careers,” said Justin. “He was the man from the start and I had to work my way up. I’m still trying to work my way there.

“Really, I just want to win and I’ve used my brother as motivation to be even better than he was and carry on his legacy here.”

Jeremy has also played a role in helping his brother find his way to success on the court.

“At first there was pressure but I’ve talked to [Jeremy] a lot and he’s calmed me down and told me to just focus on the game,” said Justin. “Over the years I’ve tried to take that advice and just worry about what’s going on on the court and to not compare myself to him.”

With Justin’s late development, recruiting has taken its time as well, as he has no offers at this point despite being on path to qualify academically.

His plan is to play out his senior season and then play AAU in the spring in hopes of earning a scholarship.

“I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully it will happen soon,” Justin said. “I don’t even care where I go, I just want to go to a D-I school. That’s it.”

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