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January 1, 2013MESA, AZ - VisitMesa.com and Monarch Sports played host to the 2012 Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge this past week at Mountain View High School. The event brought top teams from across the nation to compete with some of the area's best teams. The event was headlined by St. Johns Jesuit senior forward, and Ohio State commit Marc Loving and Dobson High School senior guard Jaron Hopkins who is committed to Colorado. Aside from these players, several others used their four days in Mesa to make a name from themselves.
Jahmel Taylor - 2013 guard from Pacific Hills (CA)
Taylor is high scoring combo guard from Californian that attacked the basket and helped lead his team to an undefeated tournament. At 6-foot tall Taylor is undersized, but he plays hard and smart. Taylor has a great pace to his game; he can shoot from the outside, but does not settle for long range shots. He was able to get in the lane on command and finish at the rim. Taylor is a high major athlete and plays aggressive defense both on the ball and in the passing lanes. The senior guard has offers from Washington, Oregon, Washington State, USC and Virginia Tech.
Casey Benson - 2014 guard from Corona Del Sol. (AZ)
Benson is one of the best point guards on the entire west coast, let alone Arizona. The lefty is crafty with the ball and possesses high major court vision. The junior has good size at 6-foot3 but must make defense more of a priority. Benson has added a good deal to his game this season, his coach is allowing him to play more off the ball and his ability to catch and shoot off screens has really improved because of this. Benson has offers from San Francisco, Arizona State, Gonzaga, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, and Saint Mary's.
Payton Dastrup - 2014 forward from Mountain View (AZ)
Dastrup is the best known name in Arizona right now and for good reason. The junior forward stands 6-foot-9 and is an impressive athlete. Dastrup is adding more and more on the offensive end, and it was clearly shown over the four day event. The junior has a good deal of low post moves on the block, but also has the size and strength to overpower his defenders. Dastrup is also adding consistency to his jump shot; he made several three point shots over the week. The rising junior has offers from BYU, Arizona, Florida, Utah State, Oregon State, Virginia and Arizona State.
Jordan Alexander - 2015 forward from Hoover (CA)
Alexander was the best surprise player from the Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge. The 6-foot-4 small forward has a solid build and was one of the most explosive athletes over the week. Alexander is still raw offensively, but he sandwiched a four point outing on Thursday in between a 28 point and 8 rebound game on Wednesday with a 23 point game on Friday. The sophomore forward also became a crowd favorite as Hoover High School ran several down screen ally-oop plays that demonstrated Alexander's already impressive athleticism.
Namon Wright - 2014 wing from Pacific Hills (CA)
Wright was one of the more impressive players at the 2012 Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge. At 6-foot-5 and over 200lbs the junior looks like a college player already. Wright is a powerful wing that shot well from distance, but is more comfortable in the lane or on the low block. The junior was too strong for many of the guards playing against him, and much too quick for any of the forwards to handle. Wright is a major reason Pacific Hills ended the tournament undefeated; the junior has offers from Oklahoma State, Oregon, Utah, USC, New Mexico and Gonzaga.
Dorian Pickens - 2014 guard from Pinnacle (AZ). Pickens is one of the best shooters in the state, and is adding more on offense as well. The junior wing takes great shots and plays in the flow of the offence. Pickens not only scored the ball at a high rate, but very efficiently as well. The rising junior has offers from Northern Arizona, New Mexico, Arizona State and San Francisco.
Kaleb Warner - 2014 wing from Mercer Island (WA). Warner has good size at 6-foot-6 and long arms, but he must add strength. The junior is a solid shooter and was too long for most of the forwards guarding him.
Sam Jones - 2014 forward from Gilbert Christian (AZ). Jones scored the ball really well over the week; he was one of the best three point shooters at the event. The small forward has great size at 6-foot-7, but must add weight to his slender frame. Jones shot selection can be questionable and he does not project well on defense, but he is a lights out shooter and plays hard. The junior has offers from UC-Davis and Northern Arizona.
Ryan Richardson - 2014 guard from Dobson (AZ). Richardson probably had the best week of any player outside of Casey Benson and Jahmel Taylor. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard had five first half three pointers in front of a packed house on Thursday night. Richardson is a scorer; he has a great shooting stroke and a solid first step when attacking the basket. The rising junior has an offer Weber State.
Frank Woodford is a special contributor to The Recruit Scoop. Specializing in West Coast and Southwest coverage - specifically Arizona - Woodford can be followed on Twitter at @FrankWoodford34.