SAN PABLO, Calif. -- Though the sixth annual Nor Cal Clash at Contra Costa College was lacking its marquee attraction – the still-recuperating five-star Ivan Rabb, who’s nursing a sore ankle – and arguably one of its top 2016 prospects in injured four-star California commit Oscar Frayer -- who sported a blue and gold walking bear sweatshirt on the bench – the event was still a barn-burner, as the Class of 2015 downed the Class of 2016 114-100.
The Class of 2015 was led by Player of the Game Paris Austin, who poured in 18 points while adding a game-high eight assists and eight boards – just three off the game-high, recorded by Anthony Townes of Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian.
“Coming into this game, I knew it meant business,” Austin said. “I didn’t have the summer I wanted to, so I just had a chip on my shoulder to come out. Knowing that the 2016 kids were talking smack, I was ready to come out here and play.”
Austin shot 8-for-15 from the floor and led his squad at the point, despite the absence of his Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd teammate Rabb.
“His ankle was hurt, and he didn’t play in the Elite 24, so he decided not to come today,” Austin said.
Austin – the three-star, No. 25-ranked point guard in the 2015 class – has offers from San Jose State, Florida State and Boise State, Montana and St. Mary’s, and is focused on the Broncos, Grizzlies and Gaels.
He has one official visit scheduled for Sept. 12 at Montana.
“They tell me I can come in and play,” Austin said. “I’ve got a vibe with the players, and I get a really good feeling with the other assistant coaches, even the ones who aren’t recruiting me. I want to look at the campus and meet new people.”
• The game’s leading scorer was Carlos Johnson, who transferred four months ago from Phoenix (Ariz.) Shadow Mountain to El Cerrito (Calif.). Blackwell was a force down low and in transition for the 2016 squad coached by Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian’s Richard Midgley, who, without any true bigs, leaned heavily on the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder.
“I like the school,” Johnson said of El Cerrito. “I’m getting a hold of things. The classes are a little longer, so you’ve got to stay focused more.”
Because he was relied on so heavily, playing a game-high 29:40, Johnson fouled out with just over two minutes left.
“I was just trying to play hard,” Johnson said. “That’s just how I play.”
Along with his game-high 31 points, Johnson added seven rebounds and two assists, shooting 4-for-8 from the field, 3-for-6 from three-point range and 12-for-15 from the free-throw line.
“I never played with that ball before,” Johnson said. “We play with a different ball in Arizona, so I had to get used to the ball a little bit.”
Being selected for the Clash was a surprise for Johnson, given that he’s only been in Northern California for such a short time.
“It means the hard work is paying off, but there’s a lot of hard work I still have to put in,” he said.
Johnson said Cal, Arizona, St. John’s, San Francisco, San Diego State, San Jose State, Arizona State, Southern Utah and Cal State Bakersfield have shown interest, while the Bears and Grand Canyon University have offered. He said he plans on taking another visit to Berkeley, but didn’t have a date. St. John’s, Cal and Arizona, Johnson said, are recruiting him the hardest.
• 2016 prospect Jordan Ford out of Folsom (Calif.) made a big impact, going 7-for-13 from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point land, showing off a silky-smooth jumper that was graded as one of his weaknesses headed into the summer.
Ford was second on the 2016 squad with 18 points, adding eight rebounds, an assist and a block, along with three steals in over 29 minutes on the floor.
He said he’s been talking with the Golden Bears the most, primarily head coach Cuonzo Martin.
Other schools in the mix include Gonzaga (“They’ve been recruiting me pretty hard”), Pepperdine, Stanford and UC-Santa Barbara. He has offers from the Bulldogs, Waves, Cal State Northridge, UC-Davis, UTEP and UC-Irvine.
“Right now, from the offers I have, I’d say Gonzaga sticks out, because they’re a top-25 program, and they compete, and they make it to the tournament pretty much every year, so I like Gonzaga a lot,” Ford said.
Ford said that he plans on visiting Cal and Santa Barbara. Arizona State will be coming out to his high school to watch him work out soon, as well.
• Roseville (Calif.) Woodcreek guard Noah Blackwell was a terror in transition, and showed a hot motor on both ends of the floor. He shot 8-for-16 from the field and 1-for-5 from three, adding five rebounds and three assists to his 17 total points.
Fresno State, Arizona State, Maryland, Washington State, Boise State and Long Beach State are recruiting Blackwell the hardest. He currently has offers from the Sun Devils, the Cougars, the 49ers, the Terrapins, Loyola Marymount, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, Oregon State, Sacramento State, Southern Utah and St. Mary’s.
“I took an unofficial to Fresno State, and I’m taking a couple officials after the ACT I’m taking on Sept. 13,” Blackwell said. “I’m not sure yet, but I know I’m taking Arizona State and Washington State, for sure.”
What did the Sun Devils and Cougars do to earn those officials?
“They’ve just been talking to me throughout, they’ve been on me and tell me how great I’d be for the program,” Blackwell said. “That’s what I really look for, and a family atmosphere. I want to see how the coaches are, how the teams play and see how they connect and play together.”
• Sacramento (Calif.) was set to have two of its stars in the game, in guard Christian Terrell and forward Solomon Young, however Young was sidelined by a sprained ankle. Terrell, though, held down the fort for the Dragons, going 7-for-15 from the field and 1-for-3 from beyond the arc for 15 points, adding in a team-high nine rebounds to go along with two assists.
Recruiting-wise, San Jose State, UCLA, Cal, Washington and Irvine have been recruiting Terrell the hardest.
“The most right now is Tulsa, just because they call me every week just to check in on me,” Terrell said. “I talk to [Cal assistant] Yanni [Hufnagel] all the time. Tulane, Montana, Colorado, I talk to them a lot.”
Terrell wants to take visits to Washington, Gonzaga, UCLA and USC.
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